Travelling with a newborn or a toddler for the first time can be a daunting prospect – even George and Amal Clooney felt the need to hand out treats, headphones and an apologetic note to fellow passengers before taking off.
Flying with a toddler is indeed no walk in the park – in fact, it can be downright traumatic. Sometimes the planets can align, and everything goes swimmingly – but more often than not you're in for a world of pain.
Babies, in particular, have such a difficult reputation for flying that many parents refuse to go anywhere by plane until their child is older and less, well, vocal. But you don't have to forgo your vacation just because your child in arms doesn't travel well – here are 8 great tips for travelling with an infant or toddler in style.
- Go domestic first. If it’s your first trip with your baby or toddler, try a local flight that’s no more than 2 hours long. Why? Because if all hell breaks loose, you’ll be back on the ground quickly. Don’t forget to let the airline know you’ll be bringing a child on board at the time of booking, whether you’ll be holding them in your arms or buying a separate seat.
- Prepare down to the last inch. Follow the scouts’ rule and always be prepared. If possible, book an aisle or bulkhead seat to allow for easier manoeuvrability without disturbing others. Pack carefully the night before and put everything you need for the actual flight out, so the day of departure is as smooth as possible.
- Dress comfortably. Leisure or yoga wear is perfect for plane travel because you need the flexibility to negotiate an aircraft without stress. Dress your child in easy to add/remove layers to allow for potential temperature changes. Bring extra outfits in your carry-on luggage (for you and baby) in case a quick change is needed.
- Pack well. Keep your baggage light while paradoxically ensuring you have everything you need for your trip. It’s a skill that’s alien to most parents who favour adding everything bar the kitchen sink ‘just in case’. But Remember you’ll have enough to carry with children, strollers, safety seats and/or nappy bags – make it easy on yourself. Ensure nappies and wipes are within easy reach so you won’t need to rummage too much in an emergency.
- Check the regulations. New flight regulations mean you can only take around a certain amount of liquid on board – that includes creams, lotions, medicines. Luckily, it doesn’t include milk or food for your baby. Check what’s expected of you before you board or you’ll have to ditch the excess at the airport.
- Arrive early. No matter how much time you think you need, add an extra hour. Give yourself plenty of time to find parking at the airport, check in, eat, change nappies, or forestall tantrums – your trip will be less stressful as a result.
- Wait to board. Refuse airline staff’s offer to board first if your baby’s awake – or face being stuck in your seat for longer with a restless child. The less time stationary with a little person who’s attention span is stretched to the limit, the better.
- Bring a wide selection of toys. Keep little hands and minds occupied by adding an old favourite toy, a new exciting toy and your iPad or smartphone to your carry on luggage. You’ll need a wides selection of techniques to keep your child occupied as long as possible. Snacks are also good for a few minutes of distraction.
Travelling with children is an adventure. But will a little preparation you'll be flying like a pro in no time.