I recently had the pleasure of taking my two children, aged 4 and 9, all the way to New Zealand and back so I thought I’d share some tips with you on how to cope with travelling with children.
Packing is key, they must have an aeroplane bag each, filled with exciting treats and new toys. They won’t eat the treats because you won’t let them because you will realise at the last moment that kids hocked up on sugar, and planes don’t really go but you can use them as bribery for “when we land”. They won’t play with the new toys because “they’re boring” and they want their old toys from home, they will plague you with endless questions about when are we going home and will I ever see my toys again.
Also, in their in-flight bags you need pyjamas, toothbrush, clean underwear, nappies, wipes, jumpers and cuddly toys. You will not change them into pyjamas because by the time they admit they are sleepy they will be closing their eyes and you won’t want to make them cold and uncomfortable. Anyone who is not making it through the night without wetting the bed will need to be in a nappy the entire flight, don’t be fooled into thinking their endless use of the exciting aeroplane toilet means they’re empty, don’t give in, keep them in a nappy.
Make sure you order a kids meal ….
…so that you can be inundated with absurdly large food parcels that contain nothing a child would eat and so that you can laugh at the even more absurd hot meals they get; turkey escalope stuffed with mozzarella and spinach and served with a piquant sauce was my particular favourite, especially as the adult meal was sausage and mash.
You will need a first aid kit…
…of sorts including; junior paracetamol, mainly for the placebo effect, a drug-free nasal spray, 3 varieties of ear plug, lollipops, tissues, lavender oil, mints for post-vomiting, plasters for when they finally cut themselves on the packaging that the safety cutlery comes in and diazepam. I’ll let you decide which of those is for you.
You will need books;…
…any older children will keep themselves occupied by reading for hours and not feel even remotely travel-sick. Any younger children will love a cuddle and bedtime story just like at home, only 100 times less comfortable and distracting. The extra weight of carrying the books will be a boon, think how strong you will become!
Make sure you sit in the aisle…
…partly so that you can “hide” your darlings and any whispered admonishments but mainly so that when they do fall asleep you can get up and help yourself to a gin, I mean go to the toilet. Honest. It was a Bloody Mary. It was heavenly.
The most important things to bring are a tablet loaded with games and a comfy pair of headphones.
Kids don’t like things in their ears and if you’ve already shoe-horned ear plugs in they need proper over-ear headphones to go over the plugs. I cannot stress enough how important the tablet is, yes they had seat-back entertainment but it’s fiddly and limited, and often “local”, we flew with a well-known Australian airline who had The Wiggles as kids tv, no Fireman Sam or Paw Patrol, without the tablet my 4-year-old would have exploded. As it was he watched the only episode of Peppa Pig that was on the in-flight entertainment 700 times. I would say, hand on heart, if you only took a well-loaded tablet and some decent headphones you’d be fine. Unless you’re really anal about screen time, in which case you’re screwed. Happy holidays!
Shona Moss for Pf Magazine