The last time we travelled with our son was when he was about 8 months old. We normally travel about once a year and thought we were quite experienced at the point we brought our child with us.
But, travelling with children is a whole different ballpark.
Reality Check 1: You will not be able to enjoy a movie or your meal.
Yes, don’t expect to watch the latest movies or play on the entertainment system. But do expect to be the source of entertainment for your child. Toys, snacks, milk and friendly flight attendants will be your saving grace.
Make sure to bring plenty of these on board. Skip the light up and noisy toys to be considerate for those around you already getting their seat kicked a million times.
Reality Check 2: They may not sleep.
Forget expecting a nap during their regular routine even if you skip it before boarding in hopes that they might nap…chances are if you have a day flight…they won’t. This time around Weston had about 20min on the day flight and four hours on the night flight. Our day flight was nine excruciating hours with a very excited toddler and on the way back, about seven hours that felt like watching a ticking time bomb.
Of course, when you actually on your holiday it’s all worth it but as long as you plan beforehand and expect anything to happen, you’ll be fine.
People have recommended on long haul flights to take turns when travelling with someone to give yourself a break, this sometimes works but I find it easiest to work together as a team and get through it as sometimes the comfort of both parents helps your child settle easier…like in our case.
Reality Check 3: Other passengers on board are most likely to be really nice. Originally we had a bulkhead seat shared with another family. I knew straight away this wouldn’t work for us. Weston loves babies and would most likely be grabbing at and wanting to play. Luckily we kindly asked the man sitting across from us with a whole row to himself to exchange with us, giving us the much needed extra free seat.
NOTE: always book an open seat for your lap child regardless of space once your child is sitting up, crawling or very active.
The family next to us had two children one infant (under 6mos) and a toddler around four, and they were to the quiet family. So, the man kindly moved for us and sat next to the father of the other family leaving him a better seat to enjoy his book in the best peace he could.
So I sat by the window with Weston and my husband had the aisle seat, leaving a free seat between us for Weston and giving us enough space to lay Weston down once he fell asleep.
Reality Check 4: Seats…seats.
Safe to say we thought the bulkhead was the best option for us as we had a whole row of the first bulkhead on our last trip but was not so lucky this time. Thankfully once we switch we figured that this was fine as well, minus all the room for toys and blankets.
On the way back I made sure we had these seats. However, Weston was still considered a lap infant and I did not have to book a separate seat, and to test my luck I just booked a window seat and an aisle seat…hoping no one wanted the seat between us. I think this was the last time I could get away with that one. Next time Weston will have to have his own seat, but this is the best way to not pay for an extra seat for a lap infant. You can check the status of the seats of your flight here to test your luck!
Reality Check 5: Grab a Drink!
If you drink to make use of the small little wine bottles and grab a drink onboard to relax your nerves and get rid of your inhibitions about the people giving you dirty looks around you! IDGAF
Reality Check 6: Just make it fun. Laugh with your partner, talk about the thing you want to do on your holiday, plans for when you return …just try your best to keep your stress low. I used some essential oils and a packet of dried lavender to keep Weston, my husband and myself calm on the flight.
The reality is flying with a toddler is hard, but if you can work as a team, pack loads of snacks, be wise with your seat choices and suck up to the people around you ..you’ll be fine. Because let’s face it …it’s all worth it.