How to fly with small children: Travelling Circus

A friend recently mentioned to me that she was flying to New Zealand (or it could have been Australia and I misheard over the kids being kids) which is exciting. They are a family of four, including a newly turned four year old and a newly turned one year old, and it will be the first time they have flown with the kids.

Being a serial vacationist and all, I thought I would look back over my travel blogs and amalgamate them into one big updated travel blog for her, and anyone else who is brave enough to fly with small people.

Where to start… tips for travelling with small children:

Packing: I am OCD when it comes to holiday packing.  I start about a week before we fly.  I get the clothes out and make sure they are washed.  I put together a weeks worth of outfits and thats the cut off as I use washing facilities while away, and I make sure everything matches – this is for each person as well – so that it minimises the luggage.  I’m actually going for a PB on our next trip, we can fly with either two medium suitcases, or a medium case and a surfboard bag – this trip I’m going for a board bag and a cabin suitcase, and no buggy!  Its going to be epic.  A week also allows me time to organise things like sunscreen and nappies which can be pricey abroad, and also travel money (I do not go shopping with the kids because its a pain in the ass, so sometimes I need to have all this planned five days in advance depending on the husbands work schedule).  I could dedicate an entire blog post to just packing.

Car seats: I have travelled with car seats and I have rented them from the car rental companies.  Obviously its easier to rent them but they seem to rapidly be heading north in the expense region.  Flying with them is fine, you just need to wrap them up and use an isofix protector if you want the bars to stay intact.  I’ve had to claim a new car seat before and it was pretty easy.

Sleeping: I never fly with a travel cot, I always order one through the accommodation and check that it comes with sheets…  My kids both use/used grow bags to sleep in at home, so I fly with a grow bag for my youngest so that he’s sleeping in what he’s used to.  If he sleeps well, everyone sleeps well.  And whatever you do, don’t forget their sleeping feely’s/stuffed animals.  Also ask for a mattress protector or take one with you if they are newly nappy free at night.

Plane cot: If you’re flying long haul, you can be put on a list to request a bulkhead seat where a plane cot can be attached to the ‘wall’.  I have never had this luxury due to age and timings, but seeing people fly with them – they look like they make life easier.

Food: If you’re flying long haul then pre order the kids meals.  You can also take their favourite foods/snacks with you as well.

Milk: If your kids/babies/toddlers like milk then you can fill your bottles up before you fly and travel with a cool-bag.  This will be put into a machine and tested at security.  You can also buy milk from a restaurant or cafe in the airport and fill the bottles up then.  Or nicely ask an air hostess once on the plane.  Another friend of mine travels with small bottles/cartons of follow on milk which is sold by the baby formula brands, which I think is a great idea as it doesn’t need to be kept cold.

iPad: Another friend of mine once told me to buy an iPad before we flew to Florida.  We now don’t fly without one, especially on the short haul flights where the seats don’t have personal TV sets attached.  They are also very handy for delays.  Make sure its fully charged and that you’ve downloaded a couple of movies and a few episodes of their favourite programmes.  Travel with the charger handy.  If delayed, find a wifi spot for some kids you tube.

Goodie bags: The kids are allowed hand luggage, so I pack their little backpacks with activity, sticker and story books.  Also a set of kids headphones, snacks, small favourite toys and their cuddly toy.  They are set.

Baby/toddler carrier: Out of all the times I’ve flown with the kids, I’ve only had the buggy brought to the plane on landing once.  Is this an option?  Can you request it to be there?  It has never been there and one time it just magically turned up.  We learnt this the hard way – walking from the plane, standing in immigration lines and waiting at the baggage claim, all while carrying our baby/toddler.  From then on, we always fly with a carrier, that way the baby/toddler stays in one place, is usually quiet because they’re on you, and you have your hands free to keep taking your passport out and putting it away again.

Supplies: I always travel with a spare set of clothes for both kids.  If they spill something or wet themselves with no change of clothing, you’re fucked.  Make sure you have enough nappies on board to last an extra day incase delayed.  Don’t wear white.  Order wine when you can.

Nappies/wet wipes: I take them everywhere with me.  I have checked the supermarkets in Spain, France, Portugal, America (Florida), Dubai and South Africa and the standard packs you can buy from Aldi for £4 (52/56 nappies) cost anywhere between £18 – £25 in said countries.  I’ve also had a packet of baby wet wipes cost £8!!  WTF.  Worth checking before you fly if you’re pushed for space.  I put a couple of packs of nappies in the car seats before I wrap them and duct tape them in bubble wrap and bin liners – glamorous, I know.

Calpol: I used to take calpol with me to quieten the kids down but I’m not sold that it actually works.  I always fly with it though incase they are actually ill, nothing worse than a poorly baby on a flight.

Thick skin: If you have kids you know that they are not aways little angels. What better time to perform to an audience than in a confined aeroplane cabin.  If you baby/toddler/child is screaming, someone will always tut, sigh loudly, glare at you, turn around and look over the seat or give you some advice.  You know your child so you know they’re just bored, tired, agitated or their ears hurt while the planes descending.  Obviously you try to keep your kids on a leash, physically and emotionally, but it doesn’t always go to plan, and the sooner you learn not to care when it all goes tits up, the better.

Holiday: At the end of all the travelling you have a holiday!  Which is not like a pre kids holiday, but its quality family time, which to me, is awesome.  Its definitely getting a bit easier now they kids can walk, eat anything and sleep well.

Happy holidays!

the ocean and i

The ocean and I go way back.  My first encounter was in the south of France when I was eighteen months old.  My folks walked me down to the ocean and apparently I just kept on walking until the water was nearly over my head.  That was it, I was sold.  I needed the ocean in my life.  Like many millions of other who feel they have a connection to the ocean, I have my reasons as to why I love it, and I’m sure you do too… Here are mine:

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1. Calmness.  When ever I pull up to the ocean, no matter what its doing, I get a wave (pun intended) of relief wash over me.  If you get the feeling you’ll know exactly what I mean, if not, its quite hard to describe.  Its like I’m exactly where I need to be.  The calmness sets in and time doesn’t exist.  (I get this feeling when I’m near any body of water which is probably why wakeboarding has stuck with me seeing as I’m landlocked!)

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2. The lifestyle.  I absolutely love waking up not have to worry about clothes or make up.  When I’m on a surf trip, everything is stripped back.  No outfits, no make up, no hair styling.. just glowing skin smelling of sunscreen, salty hair and slightly burnt lips.  Its the simple life and its fabulous.

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3. The beach.  I have always loved the beach, but now I have a new love for it because of my kids.  I’m doing all the fun stuff that my folks used to do with me, like build sandcastles and bury each other.  The beach is a much more valuable place for my kids to play than an indoor play centre.

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4. The ocean.  If there are waves you can surf.  If the conditions are not right you can do anything else, swim, jump over waves, body surf the shore break, paddle board, the list goes on.

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5. My body.  I absolutely love what the ocean does to my body, because I’m using it, it keeps me fit and healthy.  The salt heals everything.  Everything.  Also there are more negative ions around large areas of water which boost our mood and help us stay positive.  (Seriously, google it).

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So if you’re an ocean lover like me, high fives!  If you’re not, get yourself to your nearest body of water, take a moment to just stare in silence and see you can feel it.

 

Flying Long Haul with a Two Year Old (without an iPad)

To date we’ve done 10 short haul flights with Ethan sitting on our laps.  There has definitely been a correlation between his age/size and how difficult he is to handle.  So you can only imagine how worried I was flying across the Atlantic with him… However, because he had his own seat, things were different this time.

I was a mess, I was over tired, I couldn’t lift/carry anything – I was a lame ass excuse for a human in my opinion, ask my husband, he’ll agree.

We had everything sorted though, a HUGE bag full of toys, snacks, cuddly toys, books, you name it, it was in there – (apart from an iPad).  And then we had another bag full of nappies, milk, change of clothes, sudocrem, calpol… which turned out to be very lucky indeed as we ended up flying the next day, so we had another night in a Heathrow hotel with our luggage stored in Airport security!

The key to flying when 6 months pregnant with a two year old is this… get your partner to look after them.  Jonny boy was amazing, he entertained, fed, changed, napped, ran around with Ethan the whole 10 hour flight, and he was a happy toddler with no tantrums.  It also helps if they win over the flight attendants too, get them on your side so they bring over a constant stream of goodies, activities and treats.

The flight home was a night flight.  We took off two hours late – within 20 mins of sitting on the plane Ethan had managed to fall into the footwell headfirst (which wrongly we found hilarious) hitting and cutting the back of his head.  I had a looooooovely lady sitting just across the aisle warning me about all dangers of concussion (like I don’t know them already, I’m just an idiot wakeboarder after all).  So it was actually lucky we sat on the runway for a couple of hours so I could keep an eye on him before we embarked on an eight hour flight across the ocean.

Just because its a night flight doesn’t mean they will sleep.

Out of the eight hours, he slept for about four of them.  I didn’t get any sleep – its weird, I thought I would if the lil man was catching some shut eye.  But then I couldn’t sleep because I felt like I needed to watch him incase he rolled off the seat again and also the crazy voice in my head saying ‘ what if someone takes him while I’m asleep?’  Absurd I know, but thats just parenthood for you.  So while my two boys were catching flies, I got to watch The Theory of Everything and Wild in peace!  It was the best flight I’ve had in ages!  Just a shame I could have a few glasses of red to top off the experience.

You can take a horse to water.

On our decent into Heathrow we got the juice cup ready for Ethan to enjoy so that we could enjoy a quiet landing.  That didn’t happen.  He didn’t want to drink which meant his ears were killing him apparently due to the size tantrum he threw.  The plane was silent and people were looking at me.  I just shrugged my shoulders… we tried many times to explain to him about how having a drink would take the pain away but he wasn’t having any of it… (and even the shoving it in their mouth tactic didn’t work). Theres only so much you can do when your seatbelt has to be fastened and the child is throwing the mother of all tantrums. 

Tips for flying long haul with a two year old when you don’t have an iPad: 

Toys.  Take lots of toys.  Hide your most decent toys for a couple of weeks before you fly and then bust them out on the plane at crucial moments.  Buy new toys.  Wrap old toys up in wrapping paper to make them exciting again. 

Snacks.  Loads of their favourite stuff to offer at crucial moments to prevent tantrums etc. 

Nappies.  If they are still in nappies then make sure you have loads in case you were stuck at the airport over night unexpectedly with no luggage and your car in long-term parking. 

Clothing.  See above tip.

Stickers.  Activity packs / sticker books / colouring in.  By the time we’d landed, our window area had been redecorated.  We cleaned it before we left though – aren’t we nice. 

Kids Meal.  Pre order a kids meal.  We never got ours on the way out due to flying a day later but the air hostesses threw together a nice little food tray to make up for it. 

Cartoons.  Show them how to play the TV and find their favourite cartoons ASAP. 

Was it all worth it…. absolutely.

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