Travelling With A Toddler - Top Tips For Flying Long-Haul With A Toddler

Expect the worst, hope for the best.

This was exactly my mantra when I was mentally preparing myself for flying, long haul, with my 20 month old.

Coming from someone, who has generally never been a good flyer, I was so anxious about travelling for such a long time, in a confined space with Edith. I mean, it’s not like we were ever in a position where we had to do this really.

In general, our flight to Orlando was what was worrying me the most. I had booked a daytime flight, which seemed like a mistake after I'd already booked it. Especially, when resounding ‘ooos’ and concerned faces were being pulled in my direction, after explaining when our flights would be - way to make it not seem like a big deal, huh?

Anyway, before flying, I know I appreciated reading various blog posts before our departure, so I thought I’d compile my own list of tips that helped us on our flight!

Expect the worst

Like I said, this was my mantra beforehand. I had it in my mind that the flight would probably be one of the worst experiences of my life, and I’ve had a baby! However, I definitely think it made the experience much calmer because I was mentally prepared for the travel to be horrendous. Of course, I hoped that it wouldn’t be, but at least I knew that I was ready to handle a potential unruly toddler who wouldn’t want to sit on my lap for 9 hours.

Take plenty of snacks and accept that your child will end up eating a lot of them!

Edith is such a snack monster, in fact, she just loves food. I’m pretty sure eating is one of her favourite things to do, so it was absolutely crucial to have plenty of snacks to keep her busy.

Edith enjoys all sorts, but on this occasion, I figured that she could enjoy some of the naughtier snacks, especially when it would help keep her entertained for a while throughout.

When I packed Edith’s hand luggage, I made sure that I packed twice the amount of snacks that I would usually buy or take for one day, as well as making a pit stop in one of the shops at the airport to buy her a cheese sandwich meal deal, just in case. 

Edith can be quite particular when it comes to her dinners, so I wanted to make sure that she had something on the flight that I knew she would eat, instead of hoping that the inflight meal was good. It’s a good job I did because she refused to eat her tomato and mozzarella pasta bake that was served to her and happily chomped away at her cheese sandwich.

Request a bulk head seat

I cannot stress this enough. If you are flying long or short haul, put a request in for the bulkhead. 

Planes feel cramped regardless, but with a toddler, I can imagine it feels much more tight. This was a lifesaver for us. We had so much more room, and it gave Edith some room to stand up and just have a look in the pockets, or have a look around, without having to hang about in the aisle. I do believe that this really made a difference to our flight experience.

Load up your tablet

I cannot stress this enough. Inflight WiFi is expensive (I’d looked up the price beforehand), so making sure that you have pre-downloaded episodes of your child’s favourite programmes/films is a must.

I can’t tell you how many episodes of Hey Duggee I have available in offline mode - a hint, it’s a lot!

The iPad was also loaded with all sorts of apps that Edith enjoys playing with, which luckily kept her entertained!

Accept that your child won’t sit still for the whole flight

Long haul, is exactly that. It’s long

As an adult, we get bored so it’s inevitable that toddlers will too, but they can’t always communicate that. So, just accept that they will probably want to do various trips up and down the length of the plane, or they'll want to sit on everyone's laps.

Take new things to do

Edith is quite a creature of habit, and she’s quite used to playing with her normal toys, so I thought I’d spice it up a bit and buy some new puzzles that Edith could enjoy on the plane.

I took them out of the original box, which would have been too bulky to take in our hand luggage, so I decided to open a reusable seal-able bag and popped them in to that to take up less space. 

Now, this was a bit of a fail because she wasn't really that interested in doing the puzzles - typical! However, she did enjoy drawing in her new notebook with her crayons that I'd packed for her.

Don't feel the need to keep apologising to people

Children are allowed to go to places. Children are allowed to be out in public. I find that I can be guilty of apologising for Edith's behaviour, when actually she usually isn't doing anything wrong. Usually, she's just being a toddler. 

So, on the plane, I had it in my head that I would not feel bad if she started to cry, or have a bit of a tantrum, because it would be other people with the problem, rather than us. 

Travelling on a plane can be such a unique experience for children, especially when it isn't the usual mode of transport. So, I think it's important to remember that children, especially toddlers, can't explain their emotions. It's overwhelming. Don't apologise for letting them express themselves.

There's no rush (other than if you're about to miss your flight!)

Generally, most people arrive to the airport with plenty of time before their flight. Once you're there, try to take it slow with your child. Walk a few laps of the shops, let them burn some energy off. 

Have fun!

I think this is the most important thing. If this is your first time flying with your child, enjoy it! It's a unique experience for all of you. It's exciting - after all, you're going on holiday! 

I hope that these tips serve useful to you!

Thanks, lovelies.

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