Having braved our first trip with three boys in totally different stages… I decided to blog about my travel experiences and to provide my not too experienced take aways in air travel.
Take away number 1. Don’t negatively psych yourself up before the flight.
We traveled overseas with our first child at 2-months. I remember that well before the flight took off, my husband was frantically pacing the aisles baby in tow. It was an eight hour flight back to new york. And boy was that a long flight….either i nursed the baby, ‘wide-eyed and very alert’ or we took turns with a very stressed infant going up and down the aisles. “That baby is so alert’ everyone kept saying. Having done several flights with kid since then, I can say that the baby’s fussiness was either due to 1) our anxiety that passed over or to
Take away number 2. Contrary to public opinion, benadryl (or any other cough medicine) does not necessarily make kids drowsy on the flight. It cane have the opposite effect. Beware the long-haul seventeen flight to asia or africa
In our case, our two month old first born was positively hyper and became extremely awake for the entire eight hour duration of the flight.
Take away number 3. Travel like you are in the arctic
For some reason, airplanes are alway freezing…unless you are headed to the Carribbean. Same as hospitals and doctor’s offices, the low temperature on flights is designed to make your visit even more unpleasant. Given that, make sure you are equipped with blankets and loads of sweaters otherwise, your kids will remain awake the entire time
Take away number 4. Be organized, have all your diapers and entertainment in one place. Entertainment choices need to be vast (DVD player, books, toys, coloring stuff, etc).
On a long haul flight to south africa, I remember all the kids and babies being placed in one section. Now this strategy can go either way, either horribly wrong…if you have a screaming and tantrumy child or extremely well, if all kids are well behaved. On our particular flight, we had two families ahead of us. On one side, Family A, parents and two boys aged maybe 1 and 2; on the other side, a mom and her two kids, a baby boy of three months and a little girl aged maybe 5 or 6 (Family B). Case study 1, family A….the two boys both kept fighting and screaming. Both mom and dad on the other hand were checked out. It was like nothing was happening. They just chatted to each other and then eventually passed out amidst the cries and ignored both kids. Eventually, an air hostess came over and took each child in turn for a walk around the plane. We even asked to be moved. Fortunately our son was too tired to take notice of the screams (it was a nightime flight). Had this flight been during the day, I find that tantrums from other kids are like the plague, highly contagious. Not good.
Case study 2, family B. Mom was super organized. Little boy was nicely swaddled with a cute blue and white striped hat. Bottle was laid out in bassinet. Diapers were above. The mom kept checking the little boy’s temperature. Little baby slept the entire flight, waking up to feed. Not a sound from this child, a far cry from our first traveling experience. Meanwhile, the five year old girl was adequately entertained reading or watching a movie or drawing. Unbelievable how two families sitting side by side can be so vastly different.
Now I need to stress that ALL your bags need to be in one place. Take away number 6: Get onto the flight as soon as they allow boarding for families traveling with kids. If not, there is a good chance that someone else who is single will be using your overhead compartment. There is no reason why your diaper, food and the entertainment bags are at the front of the plane when you are sitting at the back. And of course this always happens when you are one of the last ones to get onto the flight.
Take away 7: And honestly, if you are traveling with a baby or a toddler that is not breastfeeding, you should keep a bottle of milk in your handbag for take off. You never know whether or not your child will be unlucky enough to have problems with air pressure and therefore ear aches during take off or landing. If you have an older child, then lollipops or sweets in your bags are a must.
Take away 8: If you have two children that tend to fight when in close quarters, separate them. Either sit in between them or have one parent sit with one of them on the opposite side of the plane. It works. On our way down to houston, we were battling a fight with two kids amidst a screaming baby. Nightmare. Our trip back was so much more peaceful. I sat between two kids and and the baby sat with daddy in another section of the plane. So blissful.
Take away 9: You would never think of this, but if you are traveling alone with a baby, how on earth are you going to use the bathroom? Some people take the baby with them to the loo and stick them ontop of the changing area….i have no idea how they do it. And what are you going to do when there is turbulence? If you are traveling alone and need the bathroom, ask the air hostess or a friendly face sitting next to you, to hold the baby while you go. So much simpler.
Take away 10: Change of clothes….hmm, for infants and toddlers – one for every two hours. I know it sounds excessive, but really, its not. And i will tell u why. Diarrhea. Yes, and throw up. Uh huh. Flight down to south africa….our child got the stomach flu. And of course, as life normally has it, it developed when we were checked in. I had packed five changes of clothes for a fifteen hour flight. We went through all the clothes in about 10 hours. Once we were down to our last change, I started to panick. Fortunately, i ran into a very nice mom from Boston who was flying down to Durbin (another stop post Johanessburg) with 11-month old twins. She was awesome…and she very kindly gave me two sets of clothes which I still have. You may not be so lucky the next time.
Take away 11: Homeopathic calming pills for kids. I got mine from our organic store. Saved me a few times when our little boy was trying to get off the flight after nine hours, and we still had another nine hours to go.
Take away 12: Travel with little hand luggage if you are the only adult amidst one or more kids. Chances are your child will be awake the entire flight and will pass out 30 mins before landing. It never fails. Have you ever tried to wake up a child at this stage? Even cold water sometimes doesn’t work and chances are you will have to carry out, a child AND your hand luggage. This can be a nightmare when you are transfering from a long haul flight or if you have arrived from a pretty long journey and you are pretty tired yourself.
Take away 13: Stay friendly with the air hostess. You need them to be on board….coz you will need them to heat up water, get more juice, fix the headphones quickly for a kid, bring more coloring books, and if you are lucky, which i have been more often than not, take your child from you for a few minutes. A bonus.
Take away 14: Have a sense of humor.Probably the most important. Not everyone is going to be too thrilled when your kids keep kicking the back of their seats, or chatting when everyone is trying to sleep on a super early or late flight, or walking from passenger to passenger shouting wake up after the lights have been dimmed at 2 am, or when you are chasing your toddler through the aisles…or when your child throws up in front of them for the fourth time or when your toddler keeps trying to engage the angry, and unchild friendly passenger nearby, or when everyone prays that you and your kids are not sitting next to them, pretty please……but you just can’t care what other people think. And lets face it, you are probably never going to see them ever again after the flight anyway!!!