The first time Zayan went on a plane, he was six months old. We were flying to Brunei and I flew solo. (Mumtathil couldn’t go just yet and would meet up with us a week later) It was actually an ok trip, with minimal crying and stress. And I think it’s because I was fairly organised with it.
That’s the secret of travelling with kids, I feel. Things need to be organised and easily accessible. I read an extensive blogpost by this ex stewardess on what to expect when travelling long haul with kids, which was really useful. Unfortunately I can’t find it now :(
So, here’s my take of travelling with Zayan, both as a baby and as a toddler (he last flew when he was 2.5 years old – again on my own):
Arriving at the airport:
– Remember to check in online if you can. The queue for online check in is usually much much less. Toddlers hate queuing!
– Also book your seats, especially if you want a bassinet.
– Think of how you want to have your kid travelling around the airport. It’s such a long walk from the moment you walk in the airport to the gate. When Zayan was a baby, I used the Mobywrap and had him wrapped around me from the get go. I didn’t have to take him out of it at the security check (YAY!). When he was older, I had him in a stroller, which I used all the way to the gate. The stroller can be brought to the gate as long as you inform them when checking in.
– Milk: I brought expressed breast milk once in a carry on bag (I put it in a small cooler bag filled with dry ice packs). I think I was asked to taste it, but can’t really remember now. As long as you inform them at the security check, there wasn’t much of a fuss. They did have to check it in their machine but it wasn’t a problem really (just 2-3 minutes of waiting).
Then when he was older and drinking formula/cow’s milk, I just bought some milk inside the terminal. In Brunei, they didn’t have this of course but I did bring in milk (formula) and they didnt stop me.
– When going through security check, I just had to be efficient. Make sure our outer gear is removed. Pack up the stroller. Have all liquids in one bag. Have electronics (phone and ipad) out.
In the terminal:
– I have learnt that it’s better to eat before going into the plane. Only because it might be another hour or so before meal is served. From house to airport, it takes us two hours so by the time we’re in terminal, Zayan is most likely to be famished. So it’s better to just have a meal. A full toddler is a happy toddler.
– Ditto for toileting activities. Empty the kid’s bladder and change nappy before boarding. It would be another hour before this can be done and anyway, the plane’s toilets are not that big and comfortable anyway. (It was a bit like juggling act to have zayan as a 2 year old and myself in the cramped space of a toilet – and ensuring he doesn’t press any alarms/roll down the toilet roll/any other mischiefs).
– Before getting inside the plane, when packing the stroller, take any bits that are loose. I forgot to take one of the stroller adapter thing and it got lost by the time we arrived in Brunei :( Lesson learnt!
In the plane:
– I have surprise ‘presents’ for Zayan in the plane when he was older. Just small, lightweight stuff like books, stickers, little car. Given at intervals ie before he gets too bored/stresses me out.
– It’s better to bring a lot of snacks as well. Zayan eats a lot of things – he’ll eat rice, pasta, meat, chicken. But he eats what he recognises. So sometimes it takes awhile before he’ll eat something that looks new to him. Or he wouldn’t even eat at all. Also the kids meals actually is not what zayan is used to – he doesn’t eat nuggets, pizza. So, we should prepare to bring stuff which he can eat if he refuses to eat plane food.
– Remember to change nappy every so often! He slept a lot really, maybe in 18 hour flight (two legs of 8 hours each and a stop at Dubai), he would sleep 10-12 hours. Sometimes I wouldnt wake him up so as not to disturb him but actually forgot to change his nappy. Once this happened and I found his seat to be wet and him having a really full nappy *cue crying emoji*. We had 3 change of clothes: one for the overflowing nappy and two for being so messy/spilled drinks. Sigh. SO MORAL OF STORY: Bring at least 3 sets of clothes and also, for yourself.
– When baby sleeps, you rest too! Because usually for Zayan, he would sleep on one leg and then be so energised for the next!
– Organise your kid’s carry on bag well. I like the idea of having ziplock bags and putting a set of clothes for each kid in it. Then I dont have to rummage around looking for Zayan or Ayman’s clothes. Also, have a little bag that only has changing mat, wipes and one or two nappy. Then, you can just whip it out and go to the toilet with it each time.
– If it’s a night flight, I do change Zayan into PJs when we’re in the plane. Basically, treat it like his bedtime at home.
Ok, that’s all I can think of right now. Next: Jet lag and how I hate it.