Long Haul Travel

I am currently writing this from Sydney, Australia.

At  the beginning of this month, I made the big leap and traveled all the  way here on my own with my two little ones, who I must stress are aged 2  and three quarters (heh) and 14 months. As you can see, I lived to tell  you the tale, and here I’ll share my tips for survival.

I  had been contemplating making the big trip for a very long time – since  January, in fact, but kept putting it off because the very thought of  travelling alone with two small children would either give me heart  palpitations, nausea or both. Come April, the decision had to be made,  and I decided to shut my eyes and just book those tickets, and agreed to  deal with the consequences later.

Unfortunately, time  flew by way too quickly for my liking, as it usually does when you have  children, and I found myself facing The Day of Doom as I like to  describe it, and I was completely bricking it. Given my travel  history, I was already quite well seasoned traveling with one child. We  had some fantastic opportunities to travel up and down the east coast of  Australia, and around Asia, as well as relocating to the UK – all  within my daughter’s first year. Despite our 20 odd plane trips before  my daughter turned one, I’d come to realise that the older she got, the  more difficult it was to keep her entertained and placid on those  flights, so the thought of entertaining both a big toddler and  not-quite-baby-not-quite-toddler was making my hair curl.

I  am quite pleased to announce, however, that the flight and travel was  nowhere near as traumatic as I thought it would be, and my two children  were little champs, given that they had to endure a combined total of 24  hours of flying in a small limited space called an aeroplane!

Prior  to flying, I hit my favourite parenting forums, and asked for any  advice from any travellers. I’d had a bit of trouble finding any info on  travelling with two small children, but there was loads of advice from  some very friendly mothers who had travelled with toddlers (something  I’d not done myself!). One helpful hint almost everyone had suggested  was to invest in a Trunki suitcase for my eldest child. The other  incredibly helpful tip was to carry my youngest in a sling. I found  these two things to be invaluable for helping me travel across the  world.

I decided to carry my youngest in a Manduca  (soft structured buckle carrier), due to it being both incredibly  comfortable and the fact that I could pre-adjust it and just buckle him  in and go. We managed to get through security at Heathrow with little  fanfare or trouble, and I didn’t have to remove my sling (or child!)  when going through the scanner, and having decided to catch a late night  flight, my little one could sleep at his usual bed time without any  trouble, because he was snuggled right up against me!

The  longest stretch of the flight – from Heathrow to Singapore was fairly  easy, admittedly! The kids slept for the majority of the flight, as did  I! The stop over at Singapore was relatively seamless too, and the kids  really made the most of stretching their legs. I went against the advice  of stopping overnight at Singapore, instead making the choice to have a  two hour layover, which I definitely preferred. Singaporeans have a  huge love for children in general so they were extremely helpful and I  had the privilege of three burly security guards stop and spot for me  while I got my little one on my back! The flight from Singapore to  Sydney proved to be slightly more difficult given my two were wide awake  for more of the flight, but with a lot of in flight entertainment and  quite a few empty seats on board, we really had the luxury to spread out  and the crew were happy to humour my eldest with endless cups of drink,  toys, crayons and snacks. On top of all this, I’d packed a very handy  Trunki full of sticker books, little toys, snacks and games for the  kidlets to enjoy. The final leg of our journey – getting to Sydney and  picking up our luggage did end up being the trickiest by far. I hadn’t  really pondered the thought of having to collect my luggage off the  carousel whilst wrangling two small children, but a lovely man was happy  to collect my luggage for me and put in on a nearby trolley for me to  push.

All in all, the flight and travel were a  complete success!! Based on my experience, I’d now like to pass on some  tips that I found incredibly handy!!!

  • Carry your  passports, itinerary, e-ticket (make more than one copy!) and travel  insurance in a bum bag  and keep this on your waist at all times. I  didn’t have to rifle through bags of stuff, and it was all on hand. Make  sure you also keep a pen so you can fill out your arrival card on the  plane, mobile phone, bank card and some money.
  • If budget  allows, invest in a Trunki suitcase, especially for your older toddler.  It is made from the same material as regular hard suitcases, and has  stabiliser wheels which makes it double up as a great ride on. They hold a  fair bit too, and I was able to carry 4 activity books, loads of  snacks, small toys and some nappies and wipes.
  • Pack another  small bag for spare clothes, nappies/wipes, and toiletries. Don’t forget  about international laws for carrying liquids on board – everything  needs to be in containers holding no more than 100ml and it all needs to  be presented in a clear zip lock bag. I carried lip balm, toothpaste,  face cleansing wipes and a small travel sized moisturiser in one zip  lock bag, and carried Calpol sachets, Bonjella and sudocreme in  another.
  • Rather than carrying a whole pack of baby wipes. I put  5 or 6 wipes in a nappy sack and then popped that in a zip lock bag  with a nappy. It made the nappy changing task so much easier, given that  I could just pick up a nappy and go!
  • Do not hesitate to ask  for help on board. It is impossible to fit two little children and  yourself in a plane cubicle, so the staff of board were happy to hold my  youngest while I tended to my eldest.
  • Wear comfortable  clothing! Rubber clog shoes were fantastic for my eldest. Admittedly, I  kept my children in pyjamas for the entire flight. I wore yoga trousers,  a long sleeved tee and light waterfall cardigan, while keeping my feet  covered with ballet flat shoes. Not the most glamorous look for any of  us, but we were comfy!
  • All your food and meal time routines  will go out the window. Flying long haul is a one off thing, so don’t  stress if your kids don’t eat three square meals. My children barely  touched their on flight meals so it was muesli bars, fruit, juice,  water, crackers, pouches and other snack foods for us. It kept them fed  and happy! Don’t be shy to request snacks and fruit while on board, and  be sure to keep your little ones hydrated!!
  • ALWAYS praise  your children for great behaviour. I know it sounds obvious, but try and  see things from their perspective. 24 hours of flying is a lot for an  adult, let alone two little people, and I tried to make sure I praised  them every time I could. My eldest, especially fed off this positive  attention and I believe it really helped. Remember that it’s totally OK  for them to behave a little differently (and by that I mean mortifyingly  wild and loud!). Little children can’t keep their frustrations in like  us grown up are expected to, so just go with the flow and gently remind  them that we’re all in this together!

So that’s my story. Thank goodness my husband will be flying with me when I make the return journey back to the UK 😉

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About sheffieldslings

A relaxed group of people who love carrying our children in slings, sharing our experiences of parenting, supporting and encouraging each other. "Sharing our strengths and muddling our way through the rest together"
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