My husband and I travelled extensively before we had children. I think back to those days and remember how relaxing it was to sit on a plane for hours on end just eating, sleeping whenever I felt the need, and watching endless amounts of back to back films. Suddenly two little children came into the picture and traveling became not quite as simple.
But, if you are well prepared before you board the plane, then it doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. As they say, a relaxed mum means a relaxed baby. Lucky for me, I have an extremely relaxed husband.
Traveling whilst your baby is between 0-12 months, is pretty smooth going. You are designated bulk head seats with a bassinet on the wall in front of you. So your baby can sleep comfortably and you have the benefit of extra leg room! I wont list off everything that I’d recommend you include in your hand luggage, but if you are not breastfeeding, I would highly suggest you pack a bottle so that your baby can drink on departure and landing. This helps their ears to adjust to the change in cabin pressure, which can be somtimes quite painful for them.
Traveling with a toddler between 12-24 months is not quite as easy, as they are more interested in running up and down the aisle than sleeping or watching tv, they no longer fit in the bassinet, and their seat is your lap. Be sure to pack activities that will hold their interest and keep them busy such as colouring books, a couple of their favourite toys, the comfort item they sleep with every night, and an ipad (loaded up with some great toddler activity apps). Although this age can be quite the challenge, most parents still like to travel as much as possible during these first few years, as from two years of age, parents need to pay almost full price for their child as they are then designated a seat of their own (from 0-2 years of age, you only need to pay tax on the flight).
Traveling with children between two and four is still a little tricky. Even though they have their own seat, kids that age still do not like to sit and be still for very long. Take some candy for them to suck on (a stash of it is good!), a couple of small toys they love to play with, some craft activities such as a bag of pipe cleaners and beads to make bracelets, the iPad of course, and try to have a parent seated on either side. Once they are around four and over, they begin to have more interest in the television/gaming screen and are happy to watch a movie or two if you are lucky. To promote sleep, I like to put the kids into their pyjamas and read them a story. Once they fall to sleep, hopefully mum and dad can then get some shuteye too.
It wasn’t until the age of nineteen that I boarded a plane for the first time. Our children, on the other hand, have already flown three round trips between Australia and the Netherlands, and twice to the Greek Islands. They are just 5 and 7 years of age, and extremely fortunate to be growing up as little world travelers, learning to appreciate different cultures along the way.