Travels

Surviving Long-haul flights with a toddler |Flying with baby

 
surviving a long haul flight with a toddler
I’m back with a travel post after so long!
We’re fresh from a grueling long haul flight from the US to visit family in India along with my mom and dad (This is the most important gyan I can share right away. Travel with family or friends when possible). If you’ve read about my travels with my baby on board, you would know that I’m pretty comfortable traveling with him. But he’s been so hyper-active lately that it is exhausting to manage alone! Also the initial mommy adrenaline seems to have died down and I get wiped out so much quicker than a few months ago.
The Journey & what to bring on board
Lufthansa was our choice of carrier and I’m glad we made the right decision (though our luggage was delayed and arrived a day later!). Though middle eastern airlines are good, halting in Europe gives the perfect split to the journey making it sub-10 hours each way.
The entire journey till we boarded the flight was overall smooth (with a few bouts of protests by the baby and some irritation of course). Constantly giving him snacks and water to ensure he is full & hydrated at all times.
Since Baby V started walking at 9 months, he has now mastered the skill and is very agile now. He is very inquisitive and loves seeing new things, new spaces and meeting new people. We let him walk & play as much as time permitted.
Ergobaby 360 baby carrier is very helpful for long journeys making it easy to maneuver airports
Ditch the stroller and use a baby carrier instead. The baby is going to be way more comfortable and you will be much faster at the airport, instead of having to search for elevators, you can hop on to the escalators.
Carry a wheeled suitcase on board and a backpack with baby’s essentials. This will free up your hands. Wear clothes with pockets so your cell phone, passport, boarding passes are easily accessible. If you need to pump, make sure to carry your breast pump and all accessories you might need. Flight attendants will help you out as needed. *Ensure to remove the main pump from the bag during security screening*
Change diaper right before boarding if possible. Most airports have a nursery with comfortable changing tables, cribs etc. This is a much better space to be in than the cramped aircraft toilet. This also saves some hassle for till you take off at least.
Make sure to board before everyone else, all major airlines will accept passengers with disability and passengers with kids before boarding the rest. This gives you some time to settle down.
Once you are on board, ensure to keep toys, snacks, a couple of diapers and wipes in the seat pocket or in a small tote by your seat. This will save you from having to disturb your overhead luggage each time. You can get all this done before other passengers board the flight and the commotion starts.
If you are traveling with someone, get seats in two separate but consecutive rows. It sort of gives the rest of the party some time to catch some sleep.  During our first leg, we were all together and no one got much sleep! If the flight is not too full, you can request for some vacant seats towards the rear of the plane. You can easily stretch out and get a good snooze every once in a while.
I tried the Ear planes and it seemed to actually work! I screwed it on right before take off & before landing. Though during the final landing, he did not want it in his ears and just kept pulling at them. Alternatively you can feed them, offer pacifier or give a lollipop for them to suck on during take off & landing.
Another product that I can vouch for is the Munchkin 360 cup. It is a brilliant innovation that is so convenient while you are on the road. It is very easy to train them with it and I’ll link a detailed review on it later.
Use the leg space as a play area and let them sit down for some time by themselves. You can also some story time & sensory play. Let them engage with other passengers. One of the older passengers said that he was more entertaining than anything on the flight TV!
Ensure the baby is fully clothed throughout the journey. Consider carrying layers if you feel they may get hot at any point. Carry about 2 pairs of clothes for every 10 hours on board. There is going to be mess. Carry a few change of clothes for you as well. There is going to be mess on you too. You can’t be immaculate when there are so many other things happening.
Pack a lot of toys and also carry a LOT OF snacks on board during a long haul flight with a toddlerCarry a LOT OF SNACKS. For both you and the baby. Baby V did not love the food served by the airline too much so he literally snacked throughout the journey. Make sure to keep them hydrated all the time and remember to hydrate yourself too.
Bring on board a lot of new toys and also some known toys on board. Musical toys are perfect. As are board books. A few small things like balloons, tissue paper boxes, craft paper might make for quick  & easy distractions when you see an impending outburst.
Make sure to speak to the pediatrician carry Tylenol, Motrin or any other pain medication recommended with you. Also ensure to check on any vaccinations you may need depending on your destination.
Try and get the bassinet, talk to the airline in advance if needed. It gave me some time to rest my body and the baby also got some sound sleep during this time.
Traveling East & coping with Jet Lag
The journey was probably the easy part. The jet lag that came after was the big daddy. I don’t think I’ve ever had Jet Lag for more than a day. In fact, till I had my baby, I’ve done long haul flights and gone straight to work. But when you put the baby in the equation, things so awry. It’s not only your own body clock, but you are also fighting your little one’s body clock, it is very difficult to predict how they will react. The first 4 days have been unbelievably difficult to manage. Teething with the first set of teeth hasn’t helped either! Now a week after we’ve landed, I’m still unable to sleep through the night.

Dealing with Jet lag after 24 hour journey from west to East, from USA to India with a 1 year old toddler
2 AM shenanigans

I’m lucky that I’ve come home so I don’t really have to worry about anything else (like cooking cleaning, going out etc), but if I were on a vacation, I would probably ensure my itinerary is very minimal and flexible in the first few days.
We as adults can trick our body and mind much easier than the little ones. Give them lots of chances to understand difference in day & night, much like a newborn. Follow your regular routine as much as possible but go with the flow. It’s ok if they are hungry and need to gobble a meal at 2 AM. The vicious cycle of sleep-food-poop will regulate within 7-10 days. It is said our body takes 2 hours per day to adjust it’s body clock so have patience and wait it out depending on the number of time zones crossed.
Hang in there. It gets better. It always does.
Surviving long-haul flights with a toddler.  KEEP EACH LEG AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE  BOOK THE BASSINET  USE BABY CARRIER BOARD BEFORE OTHER PASSENGERS USE THE AIRPORT NURSERY CARRY WHEELED SUITCASE & BACKPACK BRING A LOT OF SNACKS FOR BABY & YOU 1 SET OF CLOTHES FOR EVERY 10 HOURS LAYER CLOTHES EAR PLANES, PACIFIER OR FEED DURING TAKE OFF & LANDING TRY THE MUNCHKIN 360 CUP, IT WORKS! ALL OF YOU STAY FULL & HYDRATED USE THE LEG SPACE OR AN EMPTY SEAT FOR PLAY AND STORY TIMES BRING NEW TOYS & OLD ONES JET LAG TRAVELING EAST IS WORSE, GIVE IT 7-10 DAYS TO SETTLE
What additional tips would you have when traveling East? Let me know what you think!
Much love,
Mama Dee
There are no affiliate links in this post. All views are based on my experience with my baby. Please adapt it based on your circumstances. Leave a note if you would like to discuss anything in detail & I’ll be happy to help.

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18 thoughts on “Surviving Long-haul flights with a toddler |Flying with baby

  1. Very nicely penned learnings & experiences ! I remember travelling with our 11 months old twins …3 weeks , 3 countries , 5 cities….huffff!! now when we look back, it’s unbelievable how we had the guts to even plan such a trip.
    And yes, baby carriers and making use of priority queue- it’s such a big help!

  2. Your post reminded me of the time when I travelled with my 6 months old baby from the US to India. She mostly slept as she was small but I was pretty nervous. Luckily it went fine.

  3. So far, 4 times I air travelled with my son and even though all the time, my son quite behaved, I always get worried if we plan to go by air. These are such useful points. Will take help from them.

  4. First I like your blog’s name, it is my first visit and I love the overall look of your blog. now, the post is very well written and you had given really wonderful tips, now my girls are 9 and 6 and I had a hard time during travelling when they were little. you had planned everything so nicely. enjoyed reading your post. dropped by MBT what’s group

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