Traveling with small children, why do we do it?
Flying can be a stressful experience at the best of times even when traveling alone or with just a partner: planes to catch, security at airports, making sure you have cancelled the papers, watered the spider plant, given the tropical fish a hefty pinch of food and … oh the list is endless. In fact, the very thought of it is enough to put you off going away in the first place.
But all that is nothing compared to traveling with small children and I don’t mean in the celebrity-first-class-entourage-in-tow kind of way. I mean in the picking up kids, packing, looking for last years factor fifty and turning the house upside down to find travel documents kind of way. Or the leaving for the airport at the last possible minute, only to go back home for Spike the monkey, to placate a screaming child, and leaving for the airport again fifteen minutes after the last possible minute for leaving for the airport, kind of way. Phew!
Believe me, I know what I am talking about. I may not have clocked up as many air miles as Posh with her three kids but memories of the ones I have with my three kids are forever and indelibly etched on my brain.
So I would like to present a few tips for easy flying with children (though to be honest I doubt such a thing is possible-believe me I have tried) but here goes …
1. Before booking any kind of holiday try and find an accommodating relative to take your kids for a fortnight. (This is the best solution for all concerned unless, of course, you are the accommodating relative in question.)
2. If said relatives are not game bribery and pleading are always good options (you may have to swallow your pride here and make wild promises to have their kids, you can deal with this dilemma later; denial is a good tactic). If by some wild inexplicable stroke of luck you manage to convince them stop reading and enjoy your holiday. If it’s still a no no read on …
3. Use speedy boarding if you think it will help but in my experience there are still arguments and tantrums over who gets the window seat as the plane is taking off (believe me your partner will stop sulking and settle for an isle seat eventually).
4. If you have no accommodating relatives (see number one) be prepared to use most of your luggage allowance for soft toys, crayons, coloring books, various inflatable toys, and clothing to cover every conceivable weather condition from arctic to tropical.
5. Record your child’s favorite stories before your holiday; it means you won’t have to keep reading them on a loop. It is essential that you find time to do this however near to nervous exhaustion you might be as failure to do so may lead to the potentially dangerous trying to open a window to climb onto the wing to escape Sponge Bob/Hacker and Dodge/Scooby Doo situation.
6. Alcohol and eyeshades (speaks for itself really, for me not the kids).
7. Insist on taking that single seat at the other end of the plane so that your partner can sit with the kids and isn’t deprived of quality time with them at 30,000 feet.
8. If you are successful with the above indulge in number six.
9. Only hand out the noisy irritating toys once you have nabbed yourself the single seat away from the kids otherwise keep them well hidden or sit on them, that is the surest option.
10. If you have chosen economy class—and I use the word economy in the loosest sense you must either sacrifice your precious hand luggage space, i.e. no travel toiletries, for sandwiches, crisps, etc. or be prepared to pay the equivalent of your whole holiday budget for an onboard sandwich and coffee (and I use the term coffee in the loosest sense of the word). If you choose the first option be prepared to arrive at your destination looking slightly demented with wild hair.
11. Pretend you are sleeping and snore loudly if one of the children comes to you demanding stories/food/toilet/drinks—you may have to work hard at this as toddlers can be pretty persistent (men are very good at this-observe your partner doing this and learn prior to travel).
12. If this all sounds too much effort for a two week interlude of sunburn, squabbles (believe me, your husband will stop sulking about the window seat eventually), and stomachache only to have to do the same thing in reverse after a fortnight, I suggest looking up some accommodating relatives within driving distance and visiting them instead.