Recently we took to the skies for a trip to Zimbabwe. Everyone was super excited, we had been planning for weeks. We were up early, got to the airport on time and I had some coffee in my system! I felt organised, prepped and ready to go!
But Once at the airport, l was running behind my 18 month old trying to stop him from eating all the little pieces of food off the floor…. My 3 year old was rolling on the floor…. My older two tried to go into every shop. All the while I’m trying to get each kid to keep their back packs ON their backs. Not to mention check-in, security and about 2 hours waiting to board…. I was feeling super stressed. When we finally settled on the plane, I breathed out a sigh of relief….and it hit me… I obviously forgot to pack the ONE thing you need when traveling with kids:
a SENSE OF HUMOUR. It doesn’t matter how much preparation you’ve put in or how perfectly you’ve planned it all, traveling with small children is challenging. Well for us it was! So, if I can in any way help prepare you for your next flight with small (or multiple) kids, then it was ALL worth it. I’ll be keeping these tips as a reminder for the next time we travel and will be adding to it I’m sure!
Some lessons I’ve learnt flying with small children:
- Talk to your children about flying, let them know what’s going to happen and what to expect. Get them excited but also explain safety rules and why we have to adhere to those rules. When they suddenly hear the engines, loud noises etc, it can all be a bit overwhelming and cause some serious meltdowns.
- Make sure your nappy bag has: Gum, wet wipes, spare dummies, enough diapers, enough formula, a water bottle, snacks, a change of clothes for baby, plastic bags (for diapers and dirty clothes), wet wipes, a favorite toy and blanket and more wet wipes!! A back pack nappy bag would’ve been so much better!
- Have a carry on bag for every child, with their activities, a book, water bottle, snacks and favorite toy. LESSON LEARNT!! You are going to end up carrying the bag so make sure your child is able to pull/push it if they cannot carry it on their backs. Invest in some good kid friendly carry-ons.
- Plan who will sit with who. I found it easier to deal with the activities and feeding everyone on the plane while Brad had the baby sleeping on his lap.
- Give older kids gum for take off and landing to help with their ears.
- Planned activities. We had the MOST amazing busy bags from Busy Bean and it made the flight an absolute pleasure. We didn’t have to use any electronics and it kept the kids busy for the entire flight!
- Have some other entertainment just in case, and make sure you have an external charger or power bank. You don’t want the tablet to die in the middle of his favourite episode!
- Accept help! Yes, some people shook their heads at my 3 year old having a meltdown but MOST people are friendly and if someone offers any kind of help, allow them.
- Don’t worry about what the people around you think – don’t waste your energy; you’ll need it for the rest of the trip! The only thing you can do is to entertain your kids, and do the best you can, given the circumstances. Getting tense will only make your kids tense. Remember, you’ll probably never see these people again!
- And FINALLY! The exhaustion, tantrums and meltdowns are worth it in the end. You made memories as a family!