I am lucky enough to have two children who are extremely well travelled. My Relaxy Boy knows every 'bing' and 'bong' noise an aeroplane has to offer. He knows when to put his seatbelt on, when the food is coming, how to work the In-Flight Entertainment System, and how to sleep like a contortionist.
He has travelled internationally a total of 12 times (not including the return trips) from the age of 2.5 to 5. My little Squeeler's first international trip was taken at the tender age of 3 months. There have been times where I have done these trips on my own.
Oh and have I mentioned......I hate flying!
Below I have listed some of my tips for travelling long haul (or even short) with kids and keeping your sanity.
Before you Travel
If you're travelling with kids and/or babies, make sure when you make your booking that you are sitting at the Bulk Head. That is the part where the bassinets are kept. Even if you don't have a baby, just little kids, sitting in this position is great as it enables you to spread out and not annoy other people (as much!). Remember to make sure that your children have had a Childs Meal ordered before you go. Not all airlines automatically assume by their date of birth that they need one. So definitely check. Oh...and don't forget the passports!
Drinks and Snacks to Take
Taking snacks is essential. Things like sultanas, crisps, muesli bars, mainly things in packets. Also lollypops, just in case there are issues with the ears. I wouldn't recommend taking fresh things, as they could end up an issue at quarantine (unless you chuck them in the bin before you get there like I do). Water is another thing we all need to carry around with our children at all times. I usually turn up to the airport with their water bottles empty, and fill them once we are past security. Same goes for bottle feeding and formula, I would suggest taking the formula in powder form, and getting your water once you're past security, OR getting ready made formula in cartons and taking the empty bottles - I'm so glad I breastfed!. If you do happen to have liquid, the airport security would most probably just ask you to have a taste. Oh and if you can, take everything in a back pack. Your fancy shmansy top of the wazza full leather over the shoulder baby bag is just not practical! Having a backpack allows you to keep your hands free.
Use a Sling
When Relaxy was younger and Squeeler was a baby, the best option for us was to have Squeeler in the Ergo, and push Relaxy in the Stroller. Now that they're both older, they like to whizz around the airport on their Trunki Suitcases. That's always a good option when you have slow walking kids like I do!
Put them in Pull Ups
Unless you're happy to take them to the loo often! When my little guy first started toilet training, I made the grave mistake of getting on a flight from Singapore to Perth, only to have him busting for the loo on the ascent. Everyone knows you are not allowed to get up during that time. So, if your children are young or newly toilet trained, sometimes having them in a pull up is the safest option, then you don't have to pack multiple changes of clothes.
Take Games & Books
I have an iPad loaded up with fun games for the kids to play in such circumstances as long haul flights. I have also downloaded a handful of books. I also have a DS and my iPhone! So make sure they're charged to the fullest! Another great thing to take is a pencil case and colouring-in books, or even some games which are magnetic, such as Ludo or Snakes & Ladders. But beware, those pieces are small and easily lost. In-Flight entertainment systems are pretty good these days. There are lots of good movies and kids shows they can watch, will will buy you at LEAST 30 minutes.
Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to ask Staff for help. That's what they're there for. It can definitely be a struggle on a flight on your own with two children, and *Bing* Dinner is being served. How are you supposed to help your young child eat (they're on your right and you're right handed!) and eat yourself when you can't put down your tray because your other little one is taking up all the room on your lap, and the person in front of you has gone the full recline, and there are no spare seats around you? Forget having a nice hot cup of tea, it's a hazard, or being able to cut up your chicken, or go to the loo. In my experience some people are really helpful, even other passengers. So if you need help, ask for it.
Whatever you want out ready to go, get it ready before you put your bag in the overhead locker. The iPad, the DS and games, lunchbox full of snacks, full drink bottles and a PEN! You must have a pen and keep your passports close by to fill in those pesky arrival cards.
In the next month or so I'll be embarking on a trip back home to Perth for the first time in 20 months. I'm VERY excited! I'll be travelling from Thursday and not arriving until Saturday morning after 3 aeroplane trips, change of airport and quick stopover in Singapore. 3 weeks after that. I'll have to do it all over again. So wish me luck people! Wish me luck.