We Flew, We Survived (Surviving a long haul flight with a toddler and a baby)

We flew to Melbourne, Australia at the start of our month of travels (via Dubai) with a 16 week old baby and a 3 year old toddler, and we all lived to tell the tale. I started writing this post way back at the end of March but was advised it was probably best not to publish it until we were safely back on UK soil, having not killed the children or ran off with a dishy pilot. I was slightly anxious ahead of the first 2 flights, mainly because I don’t travel well and having two little ones to look after, plus a 40 year old, was worrying me.  Ahead of leaving for Australia I planned, planned and planned again about what we needed to have with us on the flight. We would be travelling for 24 hours so I wanted to make sure we had enough for us to last this long and more, in case of delays and accidents. I was also conscious that we had to carry all the bags, and baby, and possibly a tired toddler so I made sure we kept all our carry-on to a minimum.

 

We ended up with a backpack, a small holdall, the changing bag and a small rucksack full of toys for Dexter. In hindsight we should have taken only rucksacks or small wheelie suitcases as the holdall and changing bag became a pain in the arse to lug around. Everything was packed with military precision and I winced every time the OH reached into a bag to retrieve something, you know to be “helpful”. The only item we didn’t use was the iPad as the toddler was more than entertained with the in-flight TV and his toys and sticker books.

 

We flew with Emirates to Dubai and then Qantas to Melbourne on the way there and just Emirates on the way back. We booked a bassinet for all the flights meaning we’d be in the bulk head seats. These are located by the galley or toilets and you get plenty of leg space. The only downside is you can’t move the armrests, but that didn’t stop the toddler from kicking back and relaxing. The Dubai flight was a very bright and noisy day flight (7 hours) so Blake didn’t sleep much at all, both ways. Whilst she was quite content kicking about in the bassinet (ample room for her at 12lbs) I was keen to get her to sleep for a bit, just in case she became frantic and that lovely sleep-deprived manic that little baby’s get. All the flights were clean and big and both kids got little goody bags, Dexter was very pleased with his toothbrush and toothpaste (strange kid) and Blake’s pack had some handy wipes and bits in. We were delayed at Dubai for 4 hours on our way there, which was our 1am so we hunted down some Emirates buggies that we’d been told were on hand to rest little legs and get the baby to sleep.  It did take us over 30 minutes of walking to find some. This was a painful process as Dexter was of course exhausted and had to walk, I carried Blake and my flight bag and poor Lee carried everything else. There seemed to be lots of empty buggy lockers around so I assume they were nabbed ahead of us getting off. I did take my Tula sling but went with the advice of the ground crew in the UK and packed it because they said we’d get a buggy with no problem at the gates. Little fibbers. So again, my advice is to take a sling or wrap if you have a little baby as it will free up your hands. I had my sling for our return flights and it made everything much easier, I even managed a trip to the ladies without disturbing a sleeping Blake. TMI? When delayed we got some drinks and food in a bar at the airport and settled down for a few hours of calm whilst both babies slept in the buggies. Whilst Dubai airport is big and bright I found it to be dirty and lacking any decent parent facilities. I asked if there was anywhere I could feed Blake (wanting to be respectful of the local laws and religious beliefs) and I was directed to a family room that just consisted of a changing table, overflowing nappy bin and a sink. I didn’t even change Blake in there as it was so grotty and opted to feed and change her in a quiet seating area. There are awesome reclining chairs scattered about but again we didn’t get there in time to nab any. My tip is if you are delayed or have a long stopover, then head straight to these first so you can grab one. Also the better toilets seemed to be once we were through to the boarding gates. These ones were clean and had dry floors, important if you have a toddler or need to change into comfy clothing.

 

You do require a lot of patience and teamwork when travelling with little ones, and its important to discuss tactics before you travel. Dexter was brilliant until we got to any level of border control and saved the most epic of tantrums for these, and I regret handling it in the way I did (shouting at him) when I should have remembered that he was probably beyond tired, just like the we all were.

 

What we packed

 

1 x change of clothes for Mum and Dad

2 x changes of clothes for the toddler

4 x changes of clothes for the baby

14 x nappies

1 x pack of wipes

Changing mat

1 x pack of nappy bags

4 x muslins

Wet bag in case of accidents

Dummy (in the hope the baby would take it and not cry)

1 x scarf to cover me whilst feeding

1 x sample tube of Burts Bees diaper cream (my all time favourite)

1 x tub of Kokoso Baby (coconut oil)

1 x bottle of baby nasal spray (to help with the air pressure)

Toothbrush and toothpaste for all with teeth

Deodorant for both adults

Femfresh wipes (travel size). Useful for both parents!

Face moisturiser

Hairbrush and hairband

Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream

iPad for toddler

iPad for adults

Sticker books for toddler

Trashy magazines

Jakeman’s Cherry Menthol sweets

Earplanes

Kalms chewing gum

Water

 

A few tips we picked up along the way……

  1. It’s worth investing in a good sling or wrap so you can be hands free once you’ve dropped the buggy off
  2. Hunt down any soft play facilities the airports may have. We found some at Heathrow, Adelaide and Dubai. Burn as much of your childs energy off ahead of the flight.
  3. On the flight, if breastfeeding, try not to sit on an aisle seat as you can get bumped a lot by passing passengers and crew when the lights go down.
  4. Arm yourself with stickers, colouring in books, toys and snacks for the little ones.
  5. If you have the luxury of time, wait for others to disembark the plane before you do as we found tired passengers can be impatient around tired (dawdling) toddlers
  6. Tag-team. We hit turbulence on the way home so had to keep getting Blake out of the bassinet. Ensure you are both getting ample rest, in between holding a baby and entertaining a toddler.
  7. Ask the cabin crew to take your photo. My kids have clocked up some serious air miles over their short lives and I wanted to document this as much as possible.
  8. Make sure you have a small amount of local currency for any stopovers.
  9. Invest in a pair of small headphones for the kids (and take your own ones per adult) as the standard ones are large and we found the audio was rubbish.
  10. Take lots of snacks. Whilst you are fed well on a long haul flight, yours and the kids’ body clocks may not have adjusted to what they are serving. I personally didn’t want to eat dinner at 1am so skipped that meal.

 

Overall try and enjoy the whole process. We flew 7 times in just under 4 weeks. The domestic flights in Australia were just as easy as the long haul international flights because I felt like we were prepared and relaxed.

 

Surviving these flights has made the world a lot more accessible to Family K-D.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Mummy over and out

 

Lx

 

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