Hi friends! I am so excited…next week I will be flying with my two children to visit friends and family in Canada. My hubby won’t be coming this time as we are in the middle of building a house extension and he’s gonna keep working on it (meanwhile I’m eager to get out of the construction zone for awhile!).
When people hear that I am flying overseas with 2 kids 2 and under on my own, they either comment that I am crazy or brave. Well, today I want to tell you that flying with kids does not need to be intimidating. Our 2 1/2 year old son has already flown 3 times (this will be his fourth) and for our 12 month old daughter this will be her 2nd overseas trip.
Flying is nothing new to us, and here is some of what I’ve learned along the way:
1) Pack LOTS of snacks! Food is always a great way to keep kids happy and entertained. Don’t forget yourself though, Mama! Be sure to bring along something that will keep you energized. Some of my kids’ favorite (travel-proof = quick to grab and not that messy) snacks include:
- apple sauce squeeze pouches (you’re actually allowed to bring these on board if you declare them as a liquid when you go through security)
- fresh fruit and veggies (blueberries, grapes, apple and cucumber slices)
- cookies/wafers and crackers
- granola bars
One absolute MUST in this regard is investing into a no-spill sippy cup! When you are traveling you do not want to have to deal with cleaning up messes or changing your children’s outfits more often than necessary. We are very satisfied with these hard-spout NUK sippy cups. The only downside to this cup is the tendency for the spout to go mouldy if there is anything else besides water in it, but if you thoroughly clean it shortly after use it is fine! You (or rather, your child) can literally throw these on the floor or shake them and no liquid will drip out. Amazing!
2) Book the flight with the least amount of layovers, and if possible, plan around your child’s nap time. It may be a bit more expensive, but believe me, it’s worth it. I am lucky that there are excellent direct flights going from Frankfurt to Calgary and back, so we never have to worry about layovers when flying to Canada. For this upcoming trip, our departure flight leaves in the afternoon (hopefully the kids will nap on board) and our return flight leaves at 6:00pm local time which gives us a couple of hours on the plane to let the kids explore and play before hopefully settling down and sleeping for the rest of the 9 1/2 hour trip.
3) While we’re on the topic of sleep, let me just be blunt with you…Expect jet lag. If you are flying into a different time zone, I’m sorry to say but jet lag is just gonna happen. They say it takes one day of recovery per hour of time difference, and I’d say that’s fairly accurate. I have found that my children often wake up hungry at night when they are jet-lagged. Giving them a small snack (a banana, for example) and letting them quietly play for a few minutes (not enough to get them wound up) was often enough for them to drift back to sleep an hour or so later. Even though you yourself are tired, try not to “wish it away,” since that just makes you a grumpy Mama. Your children are not intentionally trying to bother you by being awake; their little bodies (and ours) need to physically adjust.
4) Bring along practical and comfortable child restraint devices. Three “musts” for me this trip are our twin stroller, car seats, and our ErgoBaby carrier. Having your hands free is a necessity at an airport since you need to be able to get out passports, access your purse, etc. My son is of course old enough to walk, but I expect he will have a “just wanting to be carried” phase at some point, so our double stroller is a great way to push both kids and our hand luggage.
If you are flying with an infant on your lap and will be needing a car seat at your destination anyways, bring it along on board in case there happens to be an empty seat available. Most airlines are pretty family-friendly, and if the flight isn’t booked out there is a good chance you will get a row to yourself and having a car seat is very practical for putting your baby down when she’s sleeping or when you need to use the bathroom.
I know not all babies love being in carriers, but thankfully my two do. There are many different options out there but we love this Ergo – lightweight, easy to use, adjustable, and could technically be used for either child. One bonus of a carrier is that it’s a great way to get your baby to sleep on a plane. You won’t be allowed to take off or land with them strapped in, but once airborne you can get up and walk around, and I know my kids fall asleep much better in the Ergo than in those airplane bassinets.
5) Pack “new” toys. If you can afford it, buy a couple of small items (for example a sticker book, Lego figure, etc.) for your child and let him unpack them when he’s getting restless. Another alternative is to hide some of the toys a week or two ahead of your departure that you know your children are easily entertained by, and pack them in your carry-on.
6) Use technology. Depending on your child’s age, your smartphone or an in-flight movie can help pass the time. Download a new children’s app on your phone or switch on the family-friendly channel in the air.
7) Last but not least, ask for help. Often on our trips we have met nice, friendly older women seated close to us in planes who are more than happy to take on the role of “grandma” for a few hours. Let someone hold your baby while you run to the lavatory. Ask a flight attendant to carry the car seat out of the plane for you once you land. Ask your seat neighbour to pass you your luggage from the overhead bin.
Well friends, what would you add to this list? I know many of you fly often (but probably wish it was more!) to the other side of countries and continents in order to visit family. Feel free to comment below or in the Facebook Group and share your own traveling story or tip!