Tips for long haul travel with kids
When I told my friends that I was taking a three year old and a baby on a seven hour flight to America, they looked worried. It's an understandable reaction, but with a little preparation, long haul travel can be just as easy as any other holiday, says Philippa Seago, mummy blogger and mother of two.
If you are thinking about a long haul holiday this year but fear the travel with little ones, then we have the help you need. Here are Philippa's tips for how to survive long haul travel with babies and toddlers in tow.
Pack it in
Unfortunately, you can't just fill up the boot with everything you might need – flying will restrict you to just a few suitcases and babies don't have their own luggage allowance. Aim to stock up on nappies, wipes and other essentials once you to your destination; take just enough for 48 hours in case of delays.
The waiting game
Once you get to the airport you'll have to check-in three hours before departure, which gives you a lot of time to kill. The good news is that most airports cater well for kids – expect changing rooms, play areas and family-friendly restaurants. Remember that airports are big places, so keep hold of your pushchair until the last minute (hand it to cabin crew as you board) and consider getting a hard kids case for kids to sit on when they get tired. A few special toys for the airport is also a good idea – an inflatable ball for running off energy or a couple of small cars for racing can work well.
With seatback TVs this may well be the easiest part of your journey. My three-year-old was more than happy to sit and watch the kids' films and TV shows for most of the time (although it is important to have kid-sized headphones with volume controls). For the rest of the time we had a bag filled with stickers, colouring books or toys (mostly found in charity shops to keep the cost down) which were handed to him at intervals over the course of the flight. As back-up, a table with free programmes from iPlayer and free kids apps is a winner.
Babies are likely to spend most of the flight sleeping and using a sling for this is a great way to free your hands. A mini-changer was an essential space saver, while just a few versatile toys can keep a baby entertained for a long time; a flashing ball, a sheer scarf, stacking cups and plastic links. Bassinets are available for babies (ask about them when booking), but be aware that there are restrictions on weight, which varies between airlines, and babies cannot lie in them while the 'fasten seatbelts' sign is on.
Finally, when you get to your destination you will want a few home comforts, so make sure you take a favourite teddy, blanket and nightlight for each child. Children are far more versatile than we give them credit for and they will love all the new experiences that a long haul holiday can give them, so get out and play!