Let’s be honest, no one would actually choose to do an 11 hr flight with two kids under four on their own. That’s just insane. Or ‘plane’ stupid…sorry, bad joke! I HAD to do the flight solo. Daddy flew back home to California two months ago to start his new job and, last week, we finally followed.
While it was my first solo flight with the kids, it wasn’t my first time doing this journey with them – we’ve clocked up at least 80 hrs of toddle air miles – and at least 169 more grey hairs between me and the husband. We know that whether there is one parent present or two, flying with little kids can SUUUUUCK! Here are some survival tips:
Don’t be so quick to take the front row– while it boasts the extra leg room for all those kiddy essentials, remember those bulkhead seats have solid fixed armrests that DON’T go up. So, if you have a toddler that’s too big for the sleeping bassinet (aka the padded cell) they offer, you really want the normal seats with raise-able armrests, so they can lie down flat for a snooze. We made the mistake of going for leg room last time, then realised too late that the arm rests blocked sleep – our kids won’t sleep on us, or on anything that isn’t completely horizontal – cue 11 hrs of HELL! The only down side to taking seats further back is that you do increase the risk of severely pissing off other passengers when your toddler discovers the old ‘putting the table up / down’ game. Public apology /shout out to the person in 56 D for the in-flight back massage from Harry last week.
Use the soft play at the airport to tire them out – London Heathrow has a great family lounge with two small soft play areas – one for kids over three and another area for kids under. The kids were in this area for at least an hour pre-flight, so by the time we got on the plane and had the meal, they were absolutely shattered and willing to sleep. Brilliant. Check out the airport’s website to see what facilities are on offer –
sometimes they are hidden away.
Clean up at the 99p Store / Dollar Tree – I pretty much purchased every sticker book, colouring book, activity pack, bracelet making kit I could find in the cheapy
shops the week before we flew. I don’t think I spent more than £15 / $25. We were fully loaded with activities for the journey – and then casually left all the remnants on the plane afterwards to minimise the onward hand luggage. At that price, you don’t care about its short life span.
Take the wine – Just take it. Have a glass. Or two. It’s free. It will chill you out / keep you sane. Happy Mama = happy bubbas.
Bring more food than you think – we were delayed taking off and stuck on the runway for an additional hour and a half, which just happened to coincide with lunch time. Luckily we didn’t depend on the plane food and had heaps of finger foods, pouches, bribes and milk in our hand luggage. We purchased this air side meaning we didn’t have to worry about carrying additional liquids or squish-able goods through airport security. You can even pre-order food and milk at most UK airports to pick up post security checks- just in case you are worried they might not have your particular brand on the day.
Accept help from strangers: Don’t be too proud to accept help from others. Take it. For every death stare you get from kid-haters on the plane, you will find someone with a sympathetic smile and a spare pair of hands. When people saw I was flying solo, I had offers to help a tired Maia on and off the escalators (“magic stairs”), people lifting my cases off of the baggage carousel – even people holding Harry while I pee’d. Yay, faith in human kindness is restored.
Lower your expectations – when I flew with Maia around 18 months, it was hands down the worst flight of my life. She pretty much screamed for 10 hrs. Whined for the remaining one. I almost wanted to sell her by the end of the flight! So this time around, with Harry at 20 months, I expected the worst, and was pleasantly surprised / ELATED! It wasn’t half as bad as I feared. No two kids are the same remember – and no two flights either. Just go with the flow and take it as it comes….
Good luck folks! Safe travels.