Recently we were asked by one of our course attendees if we had any tips for travelling with a toddler. It’s not so unusual these days for working parents to travel with their children on business trips as well as your regular family holiday. The question every parent has asked – especially when it comes to long haul flights – is how do you make travelling with a child a pleasure rather than pain?
The pain of not being prepared
I travelled solo from Sydney to London with my 18-month-old daughter a few years ago. I hadn’t had much sleep that week, especially the night before so was feeling more than a little worse for wear before we even got on the plane. Then of course throughout the two long haul flights – in fact the entire journey – my daughter didn’t sleep at all. Even though she was of normal size range she was too big for the baby beds on the plane and I had only booked one seat. The flight attendants wouldn’t allow her to sleep on the floor either due to trip hazard – not even beneath my feet. Needless to say we were both exhausted by the end of the 24 hour trip.
But don’t let this put you off. I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been and I learnt A LOT from it!
Making travelling with your child a pleasure
Here are a few tips on how I have since made it a pleasure to travel with her.
- Where possible travel with a companion or book an extra seat so you have more room and your child can lay down to sleep – especially if they have outgrown the baby cots aeroplanes have
- Start preparing early to avoid last minute packing and prep stress especially if you’re like me and it effects your sleep in the lead up. You may not sleep on the plane so the more you can get in before the trip the better
- Take as many activities that you can carry (without over burdening your load) – especially activities that tend to be engage them for a longer time
- Take something for them to suck on to avoid popping ears – fresh berries are a great alternative to lollies
- Avoid giving them sugar or things that make them go hyper – it’s hard enough to keep young ones in one place and it would be even harder to prep them for sleeping time on an aeroplane full of people (even if the other passengers are in wind down mode)
- Do something fun like every hour show them a pre-recorded iPhone video of you reading their favourite book or a grandparent talking to them. So easy to do with Smartphones these days! My 18-month year old wasn’t very interested in movies at that age but she loved engaging on Skype with family that she recognised.
- Invest in good kid’s ear phones and download learning apps that they might not have used before, plus some of their favs
- Talk to them about what it might be like – including how you both might get tired especially toward the end. And throughout the trip, explaining to them exactly what is going on and why it’s important. You could give them small tasks to include them more in the travel experience – something that probably feels very foreign to them. Things like carrying a small bag or choosing a pen to fill out the custom forms – anything really that invites them into the process.
- Walk with them around the plane – they’ll enjoy chatting with the other passengers and vice versa
- Don’t forget about you. Muster up every ounce of self-care in the lead up to the trip and on the trip itself – building this foundation will support you in times of stress. Simple things like moisturising your hands, rehydrating, taking your own healthy food instead of eating the heavily processed and mood-inducing plane food, take an eye mask and your own toothbrush. Here’s some free meditations to download if you have 5 minutes to take a pause moment.
- Above all else . . . don’t forget the wet wipes!
We’d love to hear you tips on travelling with young children. As a parent you are a goldmine of experience!
In the meantime, enjoy your travels!