Holidays! We all love them! The opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of different cultures, introduce your taste buds to exotic delicacies, grab a bargain at the bustling street markets, interact with creatures in their wilderness and choose souvenirs for friends and families to take back home. Holidays can allow you to escape back in time with the tour guides taking you to lavish palaces and ancient ruins; or allow you to escape the present as you watch the fiery sun gradually recede over the calm waters. *I feel transported already, do you?*
However, before we set foot onto our holiday destination, we have the daunting task of flying there. I’m talking about the long queues at the security checks, the uncertainty of whether your packed-to-the-brim luggage bag will get checked in and the agonizing wait at the departure gate. And on top of that, if like me, you are going to be travelling with a toddler; even just one, well… God, give me strength!
Last summer we travelled to England with Azmu on her first ever flight. She was a baby then, who fit just perfectly in the bassinet where she slept for almost five out of the seven hour journey. The other two hours, she happily sat in daddy’s lap and watched ‘Dora the Explorer’ on the screen in front of her *in her haircut, she looked like Dora at the time*, or just played in whatever little space was available. Infact, at the time of take off and landing, I nursed her and there was not a single peep from her. She was simply the perfect baby to travel with.
Hubby-bi and I are planning for a small get away this spring break with ‘a-now-toddler’ Azmu, and I can’t help but feel a little apprehensive. However, I do have a few tricks to make the flight journey a tiny weeny bit managable.
- Just before you board your flight, change your toddler’s nappy. With the lack of space available in the flight toilets, you’ll be glad you did it already.
- Try to get the front bassinet seats. Even if your toddler, like Azmu, is all grown up and no longer able to fit into the bassinet, the extra leg room will be a great space for the toddler to move around, stretch and play.
- Opt for the window seat. The room next to the window will allow you to place a pillow where your toddler can rest his/her head while dozing off. With the support of the pillow, you might have your hands free to change your TV channel or sip on some drink.
- Bring some toys. A few familiar ones and few new toys. The familiar ones will be great to calm the anxious young traveller while the new toys will keep their curious minds engaged. I would suggest some colouring pages, crayons and playdough too.
- Try to get a night flight. This way, their sleep pattern won’t be disrupted and for most part of the journey they will be asleep. This means the parents can enjoy their movies or catch a nap themselves, if they wished.
- When travelling with your partner, see if you can pre-order your meal online, as it arrives earlier than the other meals. On our previous trip, I had pre-ordered the sea food meal for myself. So, while I was having my meal, hubby-bi looked after Azmu. After a while when his meal arrived, I was already finished with my tray stacked away and able to look after Azmu.
- Carry lots of wipes. I mean lots. With babies and toddlers, you just never know when they will decide to poke your food, spill the drinks or dribble all over their toys.
- Flying at an altitude can be dehydrating for yourself and your toddler. Keep offering water, regularly change nappies and even go the extra mile and lather some good deep moisturising baby lotion on your precious little one.
- Bring various kinds of finger food for your toddler. They will enjoy munching on them while watching TV and will surely keep them distracted for some part of the journey.
- Relax. Try to get some sleep yourself. Once you land, there is the immigration and baggage counter, and then some more travel before you finally reach your hotel. It ain’t over yet!
Flying before Azmu was born, I remember eagerly going through the movie list for the in-flight entertainment, enjoying my meal with cutlery in both free hands and going through my in-flight beauty routine consisting of hydrating face creams and eye masks. It’s all a different story now! Wish me luck on my upcoming flight!
What are your tips on flying with a toddler?