Much like a lot of things before kids, travelling was a time of relaxation and fun. With kids, it’s still fun but just a different type, and the only relaxing you’ll be doing is during that 15 minute window after the kids go to sleep and before you fall asleep from being exhausted.
Travelling with little humans is not an easy feat and can get pretty overwhelming. Last year, I decided to do the bravest thing I have ever done, and that was to travel from Sydney, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Without my husband. That’s an 8-hour flight with my three year-old and her little baby sister, who was almost a year old. Feel sorry for me yet?
You must think, “Damn, girl. You a crazy biatch.” But I was excited to travel to a place where I once called home and was too excited to be reunited with my friends.
And so, with months of preparation (mostly mental prep and deciding if I should take the medium-sized suitcase or the large one) and research, as well as tips from fellow parents who braved this (masochistic) adventure, I was ready.
I hope these tips will help you:
Planning, planning and planning
Did I say plan? Yeah, I can’t stress that enough. Plan ahead, strategize your packing and make arrangements to allow for an easier travelling time.
For example, you may prefer to fly overnight so that your kids will sleep throughout the the flight. Or if you’re going on a very long flight, make sure you have a sufficient amount of layover time to allow your kids to have the freedom to run or stretch out those tiny little legs before getting on the plane again.
Keep all your scheduling tight and precise but also simple!
Do as much research as possible.
Like any travelling 101, always do your research. Is the place you’re going to family friendly? Do you or your kids need any extra vaccines? Is visa on arrival available? Are the cities stroller friendly? Answering these questions through research will give you a somewhat tiny peace of mind. And also, no unexpected surprises.
Check in early and request for an extra seat.
Getting to the airport early is always a good idea to avoid annoying rush or even stress. Travelling with kids is hard enough, so save yourself some hair-pulling moments and get there earlier. If you have pre-booked your flight make sure you’ve selected good seats (avoid the back of the plane or seats near the toilets). If it isn’t a full flight, try your luck with asking for an empty row at check-in.
Have a small bag of surprise – new books and toys.
Board storybooks are great! Get ones that are colourful, interactive, educational and filled with fun characters. Most kids enjoy a good storys session, so books are definitely a good idea and while you’re at it, have some new (travel-friendly) toys for them to play with. All these will be a good form of distraction and also help keep them busy on the plane. Please note that they toys don’t have to necessarily break the bank. It could be flash cards, small puzzles, plush toys, a colourful squishy ball or anything you reckon it will be fun and easy to pack for your little ones.
The packing checklist.
Oh, the never-ending checklist. Always pack a little extra of every little thing as you may expect the unexpected. Here’s an essential checklist:-
- Extra outfits for baby and for yourself (just in case of any spews)
- Plastic/disposable bags (for smelly diapers or dirty clothes), extra muslins wraps,
- Extra blankets
- Wet wipes
- Extra dummies
- Hand sanitizer
- Healthy snacks and baby’s solid food
- Bibs, sippy cups, water bottles
- Extra milk
- Medical kit (update this kit and have all the common medicines that you’d feel would come in handy.)
When it comes to being on a plane with your kids, an iPad or any form of tablet or smart phone can come in real handy. If your kid enjoys watching a particular show, make sure to download it for offline use. Netflix is one of the apps that have this option. There are also so many educational and interactive games available. Research to see what suits your kid most. Here are some ideas:-
Carrier & travel stroller.
These two are absolute MUST-HAVES. When you’re travelling solo, have your child/children in one of these is a great help. You don’t have to constantly chase after them before boarding time if you strap them into the stroller. And the carrier can be used during the flight when you need to go for a walkabout up and down the aisle.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
A lot of airline services or stewardess will try their best to assist you as much as possible from boarding to arrival. If you needed to go to the bathroom while on the flight, don’t be afraid to buzz for assistance.
Lastly, fear not
Mommies or daddies, we know the idea of travelling with kids can cause major anxiety but if you’ve done your research and do your best to prepare pre-flight, chances are you will survive! Try your best to relax because believe it or not, kids are very intuitive and can pick up on the stress.