You know you are a displaced family who doesn't think twice about travelling long distance when you pack your passport for an internal flight! I actually only realised recently that I didn't need it for an internal flight. Flying has become a second nature in our family. Hubby and I (used to) fly for work regularly. When we became a threesome, we never wondered why or even if we would cut down on flying and travelling. Ok, we are not going around the world every week. But we have flown long and short distance with our now nearly-3-year-old daughter quite a few times. She got a passport done when she was 8 weeks. She flew for the first time when she was 4 months. We have flown as a threesome and as a pair with our daughter (mum and daughter) on different occasions. Our life as expats would be much more difficult if we didn't fly.
|Play structure at Frankfurt airport Terminal 2 - hours of fun!|
I have read many articles about flying with babies, toddlers, etc. What to pack, what to do before, after, during. But, to be honest, I have never really understood what the whole stress and panic is supposed to be about. I was shocked to discover that parents would give pills (however mild) to cause drowsiness to their kids on long-haul flights or long car journey. What about teaching patience and occupying yourself? Long car journeys (10 hours), small plane rides or long haul flights have never been a problem for us. We have never had to resort to bribing either other passengers either like a recent family in the news. I am not saying we are perfect. We have had our share of disasters too (potty-training while on a 12-hour flight - not the best idea in hindsight). But we have always got our daughter used to waiting and occupying herself with whatever she could.
I am sharing some of our tips here:
- Before you get on the plane
- Explain about the trip however small they are. Don't underestimate how much they understand.
- Potty training: get used to big toilet before going on your flight! It is very awkward trying to hold a child on the toilet in a tiny space when there are turbulences. But most importantly, watch out when flushing. It is really noisy and scary!
- Let them run around in the airport as much as possible! Who cares if they run, sing and dance at the gate (better that than on the plane).
- Travel light. Yes, I know it is difficult with kids but honestly, who wants to carry around a huge bag. A few toys, change of clothes and wipes are enough.
- On long-haul flights, we bring out the pyjama and other night-signalling items to make sure she understands when it is time to sleep.
- Make them pack. I tried this recently and it is a great idea. They will remember what they have packed and will get excited about opening their bag once on the flight. P.S. We use a Trunki suitcase (brilliant for toddlers).
- Breastfeeding is great during flights if you are at that stage. During take-off, landing and to fall asleep it was so useful when LJ was young. If your child is older or you are not breastfeeding, make them chew on something or suck a thumb or a dummy when take-off and landing, it helps the ears.
- Some low-cost airlines (like the orange European easy one) refused to warm baby food on-board (health and safety stupidity). So, be prepared!
- Few airlines provide anything for kids. I only just recently discovered that you need to pre-order kids' meals! How stupid is that? Surely, they know there is a child on-board.
- Buying a new toy or book (doesn't need to be anything big) is a great idea I have seen recommended lots of times. It means they play with it for longer.
- Technology is a saviour. Ipad is a great invention and used wisely, it can save you. Prepare a couple of new apps or cartoons to be watched! Limit it to the worse times.
- Read airline the safety sheet that can be found in the seat in front of you. Yes, you might like to have a look at it too, but trust me, your child will find it interesting. Our daughter looked at it for about 20 minutes examining every little person on it.