We recently spent 5 nights in Vancouver, Canada to attend my brothers fabulous wedding. I must REALLY like my brother as to get there and back we had to catch four flights for a total of 20 hours in the air with a preschooler and a 6 month old baby. Miraculously, I managed not to go bat shit crazy or spend the journey locked in the toilet crying into the hand towel dispenser. The only reason I’m not currently in a rehabilitation facility is because I was prepared… very prepared.
Below are my top tips for surviving a long hauler…
- Let’s start with the obvious. IPHONE, IPAD OR SMART TABLET all of which are like crack to children, load them with kiddie apps and buy yourself up to an hour of relative peace whilst they enter a zombie like trance. I highly recommend the Cbeebies playtime app.
2. DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING THAT WILL ROLL. Nothing is more infuriating than trying to keep crayons on the twatty tray table which, I’m fairly positive, is designed to rest at a slight tilt to ensure that parents spend most of the flight crawling down the centre aisle looking for ‘turquoise blue’. It’s just not worth it.
Instead why not get a drawing app on the ipad or buy a mini magnetic scribbler for a couple of quid –
3. Sensible Snacks. Don’t be tempted to stock up on Haribo or Malteasers as bribing currency as it will send your child into a sugar induced psychotic rage. Usually, I’m all for chucking glucose at any tantrums but not when I have to sit 4 CM away from the offender. Instead opt for raisins, cheese cubes, rice crackers and popcorn.
4. Wipes. Obviously take a brand new pack of baby wipes to easily see to bogies, sticky fingers and stinky botbots but I’d also take some anti-bacterial wipes to clean your areas (not those areas). Just think how many people have sat in that seat and belched over the touch screen TV and tray table. To save yourself from contracting Norovirus or pink eye, grab some handy wipes and have a quick rub down of everything you’ll touch like the seat buckle, tray table (front and back) touch screen tv, arm rest controls and window blind handle. It sounds a bit much but trust me I saw a programme about it and there’s more faeces on your head rest than a public toilet seat.
Also, to quickly clean any dropped dummies or bottles grab some Tommee Tippee soother, teat and teether wipes!
5. Comfort. For longer flights make sure you book early and request a ‘sky cot’ or ‘sky bassinet’. Children under two travel for free but that means you have to seat them on your knee the entire journey unless you hit the ABSOLUTE JACKPOT and end up with an empty seat next to you. Travel Cot’s can take babies up to 20 lbs but there are only so many available depending on what type of plane you are getting on. Don’t think you can rock up to the check in desk and request one. You snooze you lose and in this case, if you lose then you definitely won’t be snoozing with your kid headbutting you transatlantic. BOOK EARLY.
6. Musical Mirror. I got this for the car but when we arrived at the airport I had a light bulb moment and shoved it in my bag. It proved invaluable during the flight to soothe my baby and the baby next to us but also when we arrived I attached it to the hotel cot.
7. Clothing. If you’re flying through the night take pajamas in your hand luggage for your little ones to change into. It’ll aid them in getting ready to sleep so you can try to maintain even the slightest resemblance of routine. It’s also important to remember your toddler/preschoolers pull up nappy pants for when they are asleep if they’re still wet at night. If you forget them, things will get pretty grim.
8. The Holy Grail of travel accessories. I spotted this on my social media feed a month before we were due to fly and was umming and aahing over whether it would be worth the rather hefty price tag (£119+P&P) but the Skykids Bedbox IS WORTH EVERY FLAMING PENNY. It looks complicated but it’s actually pretty simple, it is a children’s ride-on suitcase but rather spectacularly the lid flips over and has a sliding panel which rests on the plane seat on to which you place the included mattress and Hey Presto! You have a sort of bed for your child to put their feet up and stretch out or curl up and sleep.
It’s actually a really good ride on too, the wheels are quite big and have a good turning circle meaning it corners well.
Just buy one, OK.
9. Prepare baby bottles. Depending on how long your flight is, calculate how many feeds your baby will need and have that many bottles plus a few spare sterilised ready for use. You are allowed to take ready made baby formula on to flights even though it is liquid so I highly recommend shoving the mini bottles into every available pocket you have. Mixing up powder at 30,000 ft is STRESSFUL. Just incase of delays take a travel steriliser container and some sterilising tablets.
10. Earphones. Kiddies don’t really like having buds in their ears so it’s worth investing in a pair of child friendly earphones. I got some off Amazon for under a tenner and my daughter LOVED them. They’re specially designed for little heads and ears so they will stay on nicely and they have a volume limiter to avoid any hearing damage. Not everyone enjoys hearing Peppa argue with Susie Sheep for hours on end, so be kind to your fellow travelers and get some.
11. Sit back and relax. Quite bizarrely I was actually looking forward to the flight as it meant I could sit down for a long period of time without mopping floors, preparing meals or generally running around like a lunatic. Unless you’re Jodie Foster in Flightplan then your kids aren’t going anywhere so put your earphones in and stock up on a few miniatures from the drinks trolley.