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“How do you do it?”

Huh? What on earth is she talking about? This is what a friend and fellow mum asked me when I was home over the holidays. It then dawned on me that with the onset of children, some people (this friend in particular) don’t take holidays that require air travel. Which sounds bizarre, especially for those of us that take advantage of the UK’s the proximity to Europe or as expats or who have partners from a far-flung locales where long haul travel with a small child is a rite of passage. So how do we do it?

Top Tips:

  1. There is little that can be done if you are facing a 23 hour flight but what has worked for us is booking a flight that coincide with meal service. A midday flight, if possible. Ideally, the early wake-up plus the excitement of being on a plane will equal a (long) nap.
  2. Bring your own child-sized earphones. We did invest in a portable DVD player but nothing captures a child fascination more than the in-flight entertainment system. Just don’t forget to bring headphones that fit your child; lest you spend the entire flight placing them back on your his/her head.
  3. Bring plenty of activities, such as books, colouring, stickers, etc. I tend to squirrel away a few of Little Miss A’s favourites in the weeks leading up to a trip to be reintroduced in case of emergency.
  4. Bring plenty of snacks and if necessary, your own meals. This is one place I bring my own food to avoid the uncertainty of “chicken or beef?”.
  5. Multiple changes of clothing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught out and have had to rinse out soiled clothing in a ridiculously small bathroom during mild turbulence. NB: wring and pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Comfort blanket or toy.
  7. Surprises. I keep a stash of small toys/trinkets that have been gift wrapped as rewards for good behavior (or the passage of yet another hour). Ignore the air hostesses dirty looks and wrap multiple layers gift wrap for game of pass the parcel.
  8. Take plenty of walks. A couple of laps around the cabin will be good for both you and your little one’s circulation.
  9. Book seats in the middle of the plane. You have access to more luggage space (one of the perks of boarding first) and easy access to the aisle.
  10. Insist on taking your pram on board. The first time I flew home by myself my pram went under the plane to be spit out at the luggage carousel. I nearly burst into tears when an airport golf cart pulled up to offer us a lift as I struggle with all my luggage and (a very heavy) baby Little Miss A around my neck.

Good luck! How do you survive a flight?

Me & Little Miss A

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