We have just come back from three weeks of what felt like non-stop travelling. Two weeks in Niseko, Japan, followed by a week on Kangaroo Island, in South Australia. On that trip myself, my husband and our two kids (2.5 years & 5 months old), bounced through 8 different airports, spent 29.5 hours in the air, 5 hours on buses, and 40 minutes on a boat (trials of living on a remote island). That sounds like a lot (and it is), but luckily for us it was worth it for the snow (hello powderrr) and the ecstatic joy our toddler experienced when he found out he could eat the white fluffy stuff falling from the sky.
Should you travel with kids?
Travel with kids is certainly challenging. And yep, in my experience, the more you have, the more challenging it gets (duh). For us, travel is a bit of a non-negotiable. We live on a small remote island without an airport - so, to avoid cabin fever we end up travelling off island every two months or so. To achieve this, we have a minimum bus-boat-bus-plane combo, just to get to a regional airport (Cairns). Our families live further than that, so travel is often more trips added onto this.
The temptation is SO there for us to stop travelling or delay our travel until the kids are older. But, we have found that although we may age prematurely during those sometimes long days of travel, it has been worth it for us to get out of the daily routine and explore with our kids. We have noticed big changes in their development with each trip. We have made so many memories which will pay us dividends for the years to come.
Tips to make it all easier
So, how to make this all a bit easier? Here are my tips for making air travel easier for you when you have little kids.
- Have all the snacks handy
- During travel days, the routine is all messed around. So, kids, already being a little unsure with this change, will be all the more unhappy if they are hungry too. Keep them plied with food, even if it is outside your regular meal and snack times. We carry apples, muesli bars and sultanas for this purpose. Extra bonus for sultanas – they can be doled out in individual bits to prolong the eating time but also help them practice with hand-eye coordination.
- Help their ears equalise
- As the pressure in the cabin changes with take-off and landing, so does the pressure in their little ears. I’ve found that offering a feed on ascent and descent really helps with this for my kids. Especially if it means that they fall asleep on the ascent and you get some downtime for the trip! Side note: ideally you wont fly when they have a cold as this will make it harder for them to equalise the pressure in their ears. But, this is very difficult to time!
- Wearing clothing that helps you discreetly feed your baby will make you feel more comfortable doing this - have a look at our breastfeeding friendly collection to find something you will love!
- Think about having new small toys that you gift wrap and present to them on the plane
- The novelty will hopefully mean they will play with it for a bit longer than usual
- Our toddler loves matchbox cars. So, we try to find one he either hasn’t seen before, or hasn’t played with before, wrap it up and gift it to him during the flight once he starts to get bored of playing with the inflight safety card.
- Try, if possible, to time flights with nap times.
- I know this isn’t possible all the time, and that a lot of kids just refuse to sleep on planes anyway, but we have found that if we can slightly stretch our kids awake times, we can typically get the kids to nap on the plane.
- This means that one, they can recharge for the continuing travel on the other side, and two, you can get a change to recalibrate yourself and binge a few episodes/chapters of whatever you are into right now.
Hopefully you find a gem or two for your next plane trip with your family. May the force be with you!