I have always travelled a lot for my work. And I have always loved it. So when I became a Mum, I wasn’t sure how things were going to go in this respect.
Before I even became a Mum I had already thrown myself out of my yet-to-exist Mummy comfort zone, by agreeing to speak at a conference in Europe three months after my daughter was born. Some fifty flights later, I have learnt a lot about travelling with a baby, but toddlers are truly a test of your battle skills.
I think of travelling with a toddler as a combat situation. It’s not me vs. her, but us against the environment I have thrown us into. I plan a series of defences, and the plane trip is merely a fighting retreat, or “advance to the rear”. Sun Tzu had nothing on a Mum in a plane.
My battle plan includes:
- Burn, baby burn Give your little soldier plenty of exercise and fresh air before the flight. Find a quiet part of the airport and let them go crazy.
- Bring your own Don’t rely on the airline or airport to have your toddlers’ favourite food or drink, let alone when you need it.
- Let me entertain you #1 Gone are the days you can slip on your noise cancelling headphones and watch the movie… Take plenty of toys and books (as many as you can stuff into your nappy bag). Avoid anything small – trying to retrieve dropped toys in confined space is mission impossible. I used to put my daughter’s baby toys on those linky chains, so that I could retrieve them easily. Puppets are good. Magna Doodles (minus the little stamps) are also a lifesaver.
- Let me entertain you #2 Once the seatbelt sign has been turned off, you can make use of any electronics you can get your hands on. Portable DVD players are worth their weight in gold. Portable gaming devices or smart phones can also be useful. I am an iPhone girl myself, and I have plenty of songs, movies and apps loaded up for the last stand. I am usually very strict in terms of my daughter’s screen time, but what else would you do on a plane?
- In case of emergency, break glass Keep one last ace up your sleeve. For my it is a couple of Milk Arrowroots (a very rare treat), and a small new toy wrapped up in lots of paper.
- Don’t worry, be happy Travelling is all about the big adventure, and travelling with a toddler is even more so. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, it’s unlikely they will.