Surviving flights with a toddler

I’ve been wanting to write about our surviving flights with a toddler to and from the UK, how I managed four flights over there by myself with a toddler and some tips; but I am aware that MANY have written about this topic before and I didn’t want to just repeat what you can find with any simple Google search.

Whilst ‘pack lots of snacks and new toys’ is helpful, there are many other hints we learned along the way that may be helpful. So here are my top five (not your typical) tips for surviving flights with a toddler.

1. Expecting the worst is not always helpful.
Before we left I was working on the theory that if I imagined the worst case scenario then whatever happened would be a pleasant surprise.  I was so caught up imagining how difficult Eamon was going to be that I never imagined it would be my body that would cause the problem.  (I had a sick belly from Sydney to Hong Kong).  What’s that saying about making plans and someone will laugh at them…??? At the end of the day my worry and imagining the worst did nothing but stress me out and lost me valuable sleep. Next time I will repeat ‘what will be, will be.’

2.  Don’t use priority boarding!
I really do not understand why anyone thinks priority boarding with kids is a good idea?!  Why would I want to get on first and have to spend extra time on a plane with my little tornado?  My tip – be the LAST on the plane and spend that time chasing them around the boarding gate instead. Burn as much energy as you can in the airport and you may just get to sit down for five minutes on the plane.

3.  Stock up on snacks at each airport.
I started my first flight to Sydney with lots of options for snacks, but for some reason I was too busy making sure I got to the right gate at each airport that I forgot to buy new snacks for each flight.  So by the time we were on our last flight I had very few options.  Also buying new snacks means they are new and interesting for fickle creatures who like something one minute and detest it the next! 

4.  Be nice to air hostesses and airport employees.
Manners, smiling and seeming a little bit helpless will get you everywhere.  On the way over I got an extra seat to spread out on for every flight, at one stage I was even invited to move so that we would have two seats instead of one.  I don’t think I would have survived without the extra space! For some reason on the way back our seats were not booked together and I was not prepared to go through flights alone again (because we all know who the kid would have wanted to sit on).  But we just asked politely and after waiting for 20 minutes or so, we were given extra leg room seats together for no extra charge.

5. Make friends with the other parents.
Even if the only interaction you exchange is smiling with exhaustion, it does a world of good for your own sanity to know that someone else  is also going through the exhaustion of constantly running up and down the aisles, providing constant entertainment to someone with a 3 second attention span, trying to keep a small person quiet for the benefit of other passengers and not sleeping for 48 hours.  Oh and it’s also great to know the other parents because they might even let your kid play with theirs in the airport and you can sit down for 5 minutes.  Win!

With all that being said, let me just say that Eamon was a BRILLIANT traveler. At just 15 months he took it all in his stride. He never cried or showed any distress at flying, being confined for so long or being so out of routine.

So the big question… Would I do it again?



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