Flying long distance is quite tedious in the best of circumstances. However, add a toddler to the equation and suddenly you are not only looking at a long and uncomfortable flight, but also a potentially horrendous several hours for you and those around you. Long flights usually mean that you are traveling for a day or more, which means your toddler will need to go through the regular motions of night and day on the plane.
There is no escaping on an airplane; there is no time out corner if your son acts out which is why you need to be emotionally and physically prepared for the flight with your toddler. The best laid plans will not only get you through this journey but will also ensure that at you arrive at your destination with at least some of your sanity left.
Here are my tips:
Try to stick to a routine
While it might seem impossible, your toddler will sleep on the plane. He will also need to eat, to drink and to go to the toilet. Try to keep to a similar schedule as home in terms of eating, sleeping and playtime. For example, if you eat lunch followed by a story and nap, then do the same on the plane.
Pack a lot of snacks
Snacks can be a life saver. Small treats like raisins, fruit gummies and teddies all take a long time to eat which is a bonus for you.
Take advantage of the space during layovers
If you have a layover use this time for playtime. Let him run around the airport; let him stretch his legs and let him get a little crazy. It may be the last time he gets to run and jump for a very long time!
Offer ‘presents’ to open during the flight
While the portable television and movies on planes are great, not all kids will happily watch movies for several hours. Having a small present to unwrap an hour provides excitement when your little one is about ready to crack it. Think small – matchbox cars, crayons, stickers, stacking cups, little dolls, puzzles and travel sized books.
Bring medicine (and plenty of it!)
Hopefully you are taking off without a cough in sight. However, you never know what could happen on the plane. Pack Nurofen or Panadol just in case your little one gets an ear ache or stuffed nose from the high elevation. Ask your chemist for other medicinal options for long haul flights that are safe for toddlers.
Put yourself last
Being a mum means that you are used to having your needs met after everyone else is happy, fed or asleep. However, this is no truer than when you are flying with a toddler. Your main goal for the next several hours is to make sure he is content and quiet which means you will most likely not be sleeping, watching a movie, reading or enjoying a glass of wine on this flight.
Try not to focus on the negatives – that you are tired, thirsty, hungry and uncomfortable, especially when your toddler has been fast asleep on your bladder for five hours. Keep this one thought in mind – the journey will end and a happy and rested toddler is going to make for a much more pleasant holiday. And, hopefully at the end of the flight you will be greeted with a relative that will be more than happy to take over and give you a much deserved break!
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