There and Back again - Long Haul with kids

Friday, 13 September 2013

To start things off I thought I would write about a subject I get asked a lot about, my experiences travelling with Buddy and Button. A little background, living on the other side of the world to my family I inevitably have to travel, and with the arrival of Buddy we made several trips just the two of us and some with the help of my OH. By the age of 3 Buddy had done over 30 trips on a plane!  Now, with Button on board, we have done a trip one way so far just us three from Auckland to London. 

So far I have done these long haul trips with Buddy at age 6 months and 18 months with a bassinet seat and 2 when he had a seat of his own. Our latest trip at the start of this year was with Buddy at 3 and Button at 6 months luckily with a bassinet seat and a poor young guy who was a godsend in entertaining Buddy the whole way (yay! for mum). However, I will say I did it all on standby, so we had to disembark at each stop, grab our bags, go through customs, check back in and do the dreaded security line all over again. I hope that you never have to experience this and make your travelling plans as simple as possible. 

Here are a few tips from our expeditions to hopefully help you on long haul journeys with your little ones. 

1. Breathe, Sleep and Eat

As I stated above, I went on standby for most of my trips so if you have the option plan your flights around your routine and take a break half way if you can. This will really help, there is no guarantee they will sleep or in my case I will sleep. On one trip from London to Auckland, buddy was almost 2, more active and independent and I hardly slept or ate for the 2 days of travel. Well you can imagine how I was feeling when I got to Wellington to find my OH had surprised a trip up to meet me. I collapsed in his arms and felt like sleeping in the airport there and then. So, take a break, sleep and eat. I found the less stressed I was the more they reflected that. 

2. Two hands are better than one.

For all of my trips with Buddy I either took the front pack or when he was big enough, the stroller. I would always recommend, whether travelling alone or not to take a stroller, right up to the plane if you can. With the two of them I also put Button in the front pack so I had one hand on the luggage and another on the stroller, however last time I made the mistake of not taking the stroller all together. I thought i would need my hands to push the luggage cart and hope that Buddy would walk nicely beside me. Yes, a little naivety on my part. With some very difficult security lines and Buddy falling asleep once we got to London, resulting in a very kind stranger carrying him for me off the plane, I will never make that mistake again

3. Suitcases, Trunkies and carry on Oh My!

What to take, what to take. A question I ask myself every time we go and each time I take more stuff, as they need more of every thing and just more attention! Wow, I feel your pain right now if you are at this stage. I almost always end up with this mess (can you find Buddy and Button?)

So many, too many things to consider, bottles, formula (unless you are breastfeeding, I wore a pashmina which became my cover up and saved taking anything extra), clothes, snacks, nappies, toys/games, lotions & potions not to mention all the paper work and that's just the carry on. Buddy was lucky to get a trunkie as a gift and it is a great thing but from using it I wished I'd have waited till he was older, I ended up carrying it the whole way and would have been better to just take one carry on rather than two.
To make your life easier, lists lists lists! I'll say again make a list of everything you need in each suitcase, carry on, trunkie and leave that list in each bag. Not only will it make packing what is or not necessary, it will also tell you what is in each bag to find that one thing you need so much easier. 

4. Security

Ah security, how we hate you. I have done it so many times I am now prepared for every question they will ask me and try and get it ready before I even hit the line. Yes it makes it harder to move but getting through will be a wee bit quicker. Get your little one out of the pram just before security so you can fold it and get it ready to put up. I always carry my liquids packs in one hand or in a front pocket instead of digging about for them (always be prepared and add time to stop to taste the baby food and formula it can sometimes be a wait if busy).
Slip on shoes are a must, and put those belts, watches, change etc in your carry on before you even start, its one less thing to stop and worry about. If you are lucky you will get nice staff who will let you keep your wee one in the front pack. I did have one time they made me take Buddy out (he was asleep). With my hands full, I had to try and sort out all my liquids back into my bag, get him in the pack, throw my shoes on, while trying not to lose our passports, etc and get back on my flight at the busiest time of day! I felt if I survived that I can survive the flight :)  

5. Comfy Fashion

Biggest tip I found with the little ones clothes, I took a change of clothes and pj's for Buddy and several changes for Button who was a wee spilly baby, to put them in large zip lock bags. This way the dirty clothes stay separate and it also made things so much easier to find. Very organised.
For myself, I tried a dress and leggings once, big mistake! There was me, Buddy in the front pack, a big carry on bag and a dress riding up and leggings falling down. Not pretty at all. I am a jeans and t shirt girl so who knows what I was thinking but I will never do that again. Comfy jeans or bottoms and as you know a comfy top (a tank underneath if breastfeeding, to hide your tummy) and I added a large cardigan or jumper as those planes can get cold. When it comes to shoes, anything that slip ons easily are a must, if only just for the ease at security.
If you want to know exactly what I took for Buddy and Button please ask me, I made a list. :)

6. Scream and Shout

Well here it is, the part every parent wants to know. How do you get through a long haul flight with tired, grumpy, hungry or just plain bored little ones. Well I am sorry to tell you there is no answer to this. As they tell you when they are born every kid is different and this applies to flying too. Buddy got sore ears on the way up and down, so would have some paracetamol to ease the pain. When feeding he was just fine, he would almost always drop off to sleep with a feed. I spent a week, before I went on my first trip with Buddy, training him to sleep on me, to make my life easier on the plane (not so much after, that transition was not as fun) but I found it necessary for both our sanity. With Button she didn't get sore ears at all, if only we were all so lucky, however she wasn't a good sleeper, she would wake every few hours just in case she missed something.

Depending on their age is how you distract them, whether with gift wrapped toys that you bring out when you feel a tantrum coming on, putting mickey mouse on the TV in front of you, or just walking around the plane so they can people watch, find what works for them and you, you have the time to do it. 
My best piece of advice if they or when they scream and shout, don't feel bad about it! Many people on that plane will have been where you are or if they haven't just remember you will never see these people again. They are the ones who have to get over it you just have to worry about yourself and your little ones, plain and simple bugger them!

I hope these help you, though if you'd like some extra advice I think this list sums everything up (click the photo below), but don't worry as I have said countless of times before a flight, 'If I plan for the worst then it can only get better from there'.

                                via Buzzfeed

Please feel free to leave me any questions about your upcoming trip or if you have survived this wonderful (sarcasm?) experience, I welcome any and all advice to survive my next trip. 

 photo tumblr_lu91r8go2A1r2j693o1_500_zps10d84e63.gif

Skye, Buddy & Button

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