So your baby is now two (or older) and they are no longer free to fly...boo!
Look on the bright side, now they get to have their own seat, and you get to eat your meal without balancing a baby and a tray of food. You might actually be able to get some sleep yourself because you don't have someone laying on top of you.
We have been expats for over 10 years and our kids have spent a lot of time on long haul flights. Their longest flight to date was Toronto to Singapore. From the door of our house to the door of the hotel was 27 hours!
Here are a few survival tips based on my personal experience.
- Bring your stroller. You can use it right up until you get to the gate. They will give you a tag when you check in your luggage, but then you get to keep it with you until you board. If your stroller comes apart into pieces, like our Baby Jogger City Select Double, when you fold it be sure to ask for extra tags. Each separate piece will need a luggage tag.
- I always try to book a night flight so that the kids are very tired when they get on the plane. I fill their bellies so that they don't have to wait for the dinner service, and can go to sleep sooner.
- I put my children in layers of dark coloured, comfy clothes, usually pajamas or a track suit. I like to have a zip-up hoodie that I can slip on them after they fall asleep. Socks are a must, again dark coloured because airplane floors are pretty filthy. Undershirts with snaps are good for keeping the lower back warm.
- iPads or tablets loaded with games and child sized headphones are crucial for us. In our house screen time is limited, but on airplanes it's pretty much unlimited! My son gets so excited because he can watch his favourite movies again and again. Some planes have great inflight entertainment systems for kids, but other do not. I always try to be prepared with my own. That being said, if your child is like mine and won't fall asleep watching TV, make sure you actually switch it off when you think it's a good time to sleep.
- Don't over pack toys and books, especially if on a night flight. A few surprises are nice to have, but think small and light. I like sticker books, and books with dry erase pens. Try to avoid games with little pieces that can be dropped on the floor.
- Snacks! Have lots of snacks. I like a mix of healthy snacks and, I'm desperate for you to be quiet now, special treats. They will be bored and likely want to nibble often. Keep in mind that they also might not like the plane food so will need something else.
- Pre-order your children's meals. Just like vegetarian meals, most airlines offer children's meals. With a children's meal, they are served first and the food is often more child friendly.
- Keep them (and yourself) hydrated and be sure to take bathroom breaks.
- If you have a connecting flight, check to see if the airport has a children's area. They might have a climbing frame or slides, something for them to play on and stretch their legs. Also great for before a flight if you have time.
After numerous long-haul flights with my two kids laying all over me, completely uncomfortable, we discovered the LIFE CHANGING 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow.
I'll tell you all about how we found this pillow in Singapore and how we would never fly without it, in my next post. Check it out so that your kids never have to look this uncomfortable on an airplane.