I’ve flown with my kids at various ages and stages, including some long-haul flights, and there are a couple of things I’ve learnt – sometimes the “hard way”. By now, I know to always take a spare shirt for myself and have that handy paper bag ready on the plane for “in case”. l mean it! You know it’s in the pocket in front of you, but keep it close, so that you don’t have to frantically rifle through the magazines looking for it.
Here are some do’s I’ve picked up, many of which could work for road trips too:
“I don’t think a flight is the time to take away sleeping or comfort aids.”
- Pack lots of wipes in multiple places, like the nappy bag and your handbag. One pack won’t hack it and, in this case, more is more. Remember, you might be cleaning up more than just a dirty face.
- Take more food and drinks than you think you’ll need, in case there are any flight delays. Also take some snacks for yourself, as a hangry mom isn’t a pleasant mom. I like snacks in resealable packets to prevent chips and the odd sweet landing up at the bottom of my handbag. I usually decant them into small containers or Ziploc bags if necessary.
- Take whatever makes your child feel comfortable, whether it’s a bottle, a dummy or a blankey. My toddler only has a dummy at night, but on flights it’s on hand. I don’t think a flight is the time to take away sleeping or comfort aids. My motto? Do what you can to make the flight as easy and comfortable as possible.
- Take pain medicine and a syringe in case. Kids get sore ears because of the air pressure, so rather be prepared.
- Take entertainment, whether it’s an iPad, books or puzzles. Just watch for toys with small pieces – these could fall off the tray table and there might be tears. I know this from experience when my son’s treasured Lego pieces fell during one flight and I couldn’t retrieve them.
- Dress your child in easy-on, easy-off clothes and add layers for warmth.
- Take at least two sets of spare clothes and extra nappies, and a spare shirt for yourself. This might seem excessive, but do you want to be in the air for a few hours with a vomitey T-shirt? Neither did I when on the way to New York and my son was sick from too much milk – and I didn’t have a spare.
- Pack some plastic or Ziploc bags for rubbish, or dirty laundry and utensils that need washing.
- Keep a lookout for travel-size products that are light and easy to pop into a nappy bag and that will allow you to maintain your baby’s essential routines with little hassle.
- Try to keep a sense of humour, especially when you might be a bit nervous about what other passengers are thinking.
I believe that if you’re stressed before or during a flight, your child will pick up on it. It’s hard, but try to relax as much as possible, and remember that you can only control so much on a trip.
Tanya Kovarsky is a mom of two (Max, 8 and Rebecca, 1.5 years) and works by day in PR and communications, and by night as a blogger on Rattle and Mum. She loves Paris, Jelly Tots, pink things, makeup and sneakers, and running (she can tell her kids that she’s run 11 Comrades and 14 Two Oceans). She also has a personal blog, Dear Max + Rebecca.