Oops, we did it again.
We flew with the kids.
But it’s cool.
I was totally zen about it this time around, even though this time we would be flying overseas on a 20-hour flight. Yes, 2-0 hours. I first wrote on this topic in a previous post, Haute Mommy How-To: Air Travel With Your Infant and Toddler. When we traveled to India for a family wedding a few weeks ago, I discovered a few more tips for surviving air travel with my (now) toddler and preschooler. Some tips are carry-overs from the previous post—they are THAT important.
Make separate packing lists for each family member 2 weeks in advance
This one is still number one. Never, ever, EVER delete/throw away this list. You will find yourself tweaking it as your kids get older and their needs change, but don’t you dare get rid of it. You’ve been warned.
Have your luggage packed 2 days prior to travel
If you pack according to the aforementioned lists, you will be fine. We confined ourselves to two check-in luggages only, and we still had space leftover in the second one. This is very handy, since you will certainly be doing lots of shopping while at your destination, and if your currency is especially strong in that country, then—you do the math.
Pack the diaper bag carefully. Add a few more diapers than you think you’ll need, and take out all the blankets and outerwear. I took these, and it almost drove me nuts how overstuffed the bag was. Blankets will be provided in-flight, don’t worry.
Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours in advance of your flight
This is a no-brainer. As you will be flying internationally with kids, it follows that you will have several other check-in pieces, not including your official check-in pieces. We had Peanut’s playpen (folded and collapsed), which we checked in with our luggage, and we checked in the stroller at the gate. That way, it will be ready for you when you deplane, not at baggage claim.
Keep your kids entertained
This shouldn’t be a problem as international flights offer in-flight entertainment, such as movies and games. Pumpkin watched Cars on the way over, and slept most of the way back. Peanut snored through it all. If you can make them sleep, do it. It will be so much easier on everyone. And it will also help with the kids’ jet lag.
Walk with your kids whenever possible
Since Peanut slept most of the time, I only took Pumpkin for periodic walks around the cabin. She enjoyed stretching her legs and gawking at the other passengers. It really improved her mood.
Don’t worry about how much your kids eat (or don’t eat)
Pumpkin is an EXTREMELY picky eater. As in, she eats nothing without a fight. It’s even worse when she’s in an unfamiliar situation. We had to force the first few spoonfuls so she could decide if she liked the food or not. If she rejected it, we stopped right there. It was the only time I have ever let her have a chocolate muffin for dinner.
IF SHE REJECTED HER FOOD, WE STOPPED RIGHT THERE. IT WAS THE ONLY TIME I HAVE EVER LET HER HAVE A CHOCOLATE MUFFIN FOR DINNER.
Being in cramped seating next to a cranky and jet-lagged preschooler is not my idea of vacation travel. If your kids drink cow’s milk, consider bringing powdered milk to mix with water on the flight. We did this going, but not coming back.
The kids were fine with the milk, but washing the sippy cups is frustrating when the lavatory sink offers only a trickle of water. If your kids drink from an open cup, it’ll be a lot less drama.
Eat your meals in shifts
You and your partner will need to take turns eating and holding your toddler (lapchild) and vice-versa. Balancing kids and trays and trying not to send the whole thing crashing to the floor is a feat in itself, but with a bit of planning before you open your entrée, the better off you will be.
Sleep when they sleep
Remember when your child was a newborn and she woke up every 1-2 hours for a feeding? Jet-lag feels kind of like that. The old adage is true for new parents, and for jet-lagged ones as well.
The flight will eventually land, and you will not be trapped in the plane forever. Babies travel all the time, and trips like this will definitely strengthen your confidence as a parent, as it has mine.
Have a general plan in place, but don’t be afraid to deviate from your normal routine if it suits the situation. Bon voyage!
What other suggestions have helped you while traveling internationally?
This article has also appeared in Women’s Web. To read it, click here.