Today I’m travelling. Cross Atlantic. On my own. Okay not on my own – because actually that would be luxury- can you imagine? Sitting down for 6 hours, watching a movie, meals being brought to you…reading a book … yeah after travelling with children a basic bog standard flight on your own starts to sound like a mini vacation. What I meant was that I will not have another adulting person with me, instead my travel companions are my three children.
I’ve done this so many times now I couldn’t tell you the exact number. All the flights to and fro U.S.A – U.K have kind of blurred into each other. But what I do remember is the progression. The progression and learning curve that has been 7 years of trans- Atlantic travel since I became a mother.
Here’s to reminiscing on the things that made it just that little bit easier…
Travelling with (one) baby
First time Mama. 3 month old baby. Walking around JFK asking for somewhere to nurse baby only to be told ‘go use the bathroom’ you go use the bathroom and feed your baby using a toilet lid as a chair and are totally not confident enough to wonder if this is acceptable or not. I think standards at JFK regarding this may have improved since 2010.
Life savers : Red eye flight (this basically means an overnight flight so baby or child sleeps) AND Calling airlines before hand to book a Baby bassinet seat. Only good for babies under 6 months old but awesome if you baby actually takes to it and sleeps! Which mine did, hence life saving move.
Preciously saved hand pumped breast milk. Because it was still awkward trying to breast feed in that cramped space.
Travelling with a toddler
Life savers : A totally different attitude to breast feeding. You’re a pro by now and the guy sitting next to you on the airplane doesn’t even realize your 15 month old is having a ‘snack’ under your shawl.
A good neck support pillow. We bought ours at the airport in JFK… best 20 bucks ever spent.
Kid’s dress up fireman hat (or any other obsessed over object – a spoon, a bottle with a screw lid, ice in a cup, stickers, for mine it happened to be said fire-man hat and of all things -tooth-brushes! A brand new tooth-brush kept tears at bay and him occupied for a good chunk of time)
Lollipops – from this day on lollipops are your best friend while travelling with children.
Traveling with child and pregnant with second
Life savers: Kind people sitting next to you who let your child use a drawing app on their iPad
An empty seat next to you because you booked your flight on a random weekday time.
Travelling with three year old and baby
Life savers: $5 child sized headphones
Ergo carrier AND stroller. It’s the first time you really need to take a stroller as you will have baby in carrier and child can sit in stroller while sleepy or too tired to walk.
Travelling with Five year old and Two year old
Life savers: An older kid who is so well trained in air travel by now that he actually (miraculously?) ups the good behavior and listening to instructions part.
One Balloon. Bust it out (but careful not to burst it – pack an extra one in your pocket for such an emergency) while you’re waiting at the gate. Kids play with it and each other, get lots of wiggles out before boarding plane. Best part – when you ask your 5 year old to find another kid he could ‘gift’ it to just before you have to board and seeing the smile on that kid’s face (choose a child that is not on your flight but is waiting at a different gate)
Pizza before boarding from an airport cafeteria (take it with you on the plane if kids not hungry – they will definitely prefer to eat it later over the airplane food being served)
An empty tote folded up in your carry on luggage – it’s amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate with two children by the end of the flight and it’s easier to throw everything in a tote than try to cram everything back into a carefully packed luggage…
Travelling with a First Grader, a Pre-schooler and a Baby
Life savers: I have no idea. This is the first time I will be doing this. See you on the other side!
(I’m taking lollipops and going to pray for Nice People seated near me who don’t think it’s their God given right to be on a flight where no baby or child can act their age.)
What have been some of your ‘life savers’ while traveling with children?