We recently returned from a family holiday all the way out to China. It was a long trip when hubby and I used to go on our own but this is the first time we took the kiddies (both under two). You may think we’re crazy to even consider dragging a baby and a toddler on a 35 hour round trip (which turned into 72 hours) to somewhere with a 13 hour time difference – and you’re probably right! (Standard logical brain deterioration commonly seen in parents).
I’m not going to lie to you, the journey was pretty horrendous. We encountered heavy fog, cancellations across the board, missed flights, dodgy shuttle bus taking us to an even dodgier Chinese airport hotel (15 miles away), delayed flights and 4am airport McDonalds.
BUT don’t lose heart, here are some handy tips that will set you up for success (suc·cess noun ensuring all humans remain alive and with minimal permanent scarring).
1. Organise yourself early
If you’re not naturally organised then learn to be. Regardless of type of travel, transporting small humans from A to B requires you to have thought of everything beforehand, so that you only need to deal with the 50% you haven’t thought of. Make lists, pack early what you can (your child absolutely can wear the same clothes in the days beforehand) and plan an action plan.
2. Mentally prepare
An alcoholic beverage per every 2 hours of expected travel should help.
3. Pack, pack and re-pack
Get all your suitcases out and go through what you will need for each step of the journey. But don’t go overboard as packing light will help you. There’ll be a washing machine at your destination, or at least a place where you can handwash, and if not, then you should probably reconsider bringing your kids here.
4. Night flights are your friend
No one is going to sleep as well as they do in their own beds but it makes a big difference if your kids are naturally tired and want to sleep. Try to get a bassinet or two seats together so the kids can lie flat and bunk down in kiddie first class.
6. Ignore your inner fear
You’ll be judged and possibly hated, depending on the decibels your little one produces, so you may as well make your peace with it now. There were plenty of sighs, eye-rolling and angry stares when we boarded for a 14 hour flight with our two (along with their “Monkey”, pump bag, iPad, rattles, baby sensory toys and sackful of snacks) but I actually found that most people were super nice and helpful. You’ll be surprised!
7. Smile at fellow passengers
It usually forces them to smile back and makes it harder for them to tut at you later. Not out loud anyway. Small wins!
8. Spare clothes
Bring some for everyone, including yourself. If your baby has never projectile puked before in his life, he probably will on the trip. All over you, the seat and the person next to you. (Yes it really happened and no I didn’t have spare clothes. We smelled bad.) Also good when faced with long delays or unexpected overnight stops.
9. Travel light
You’re travelling with kids, everyone already knows you’re superhuman, so dragging around the kitchen sink is not going prove anything more. If you need to get rid of some stuff, take out gifts and toiletries to prioritise the snacks.
After our trip I swore we’d never travel again and yet less than 2 weeks later, I booked us some more flights. Just like labour and childbirth, the brain blots out all the bad stuff and all you remember is the wonderful holiday!