When I book a trip to Singapore and then onto the United Kingdom with my toddler, 20 months and my 4 years old everyone told me I was brave, some thought I was completely bonkers. I must a admit I was a bit nervous about flying with children on my own but not freak out like some people when I told them. I wasn’t worried about the flight what I was worried about was customs. Big lines, grumpy passengers and tired kids that were melting into a puddle and you know what? I was right. The flights were fine but customs was the worse of the trip but that was only a short amount of time it wasn’t a worry even though a bit stressful in the moment. I mean I could of stayed home and had the same situation at Target, long line, tired kids, toddlers doing the running and a grumpy Mum. I might as well do the same in Target as I do waiting in line at customs. Yell at my kids to come back, run after them and then turn and apologise to the people behind me. At least we get a holiday out of it.
My top tips for flying with children on your own.
Don’t spend months stressing about the trip before had. There is nothing you can do about the trip from hell. If it’s the trip from hell, remember the trip will eventually come to an end. Nothing last forever and you will get there even if you are tired and bedraggled. I am sure there has been other times with your children it have been harder like 3 days with gastro or stomach flu when both you and the kids are that sick.
Don’t Take Much Hand Luggage
Take as little hand luggage as possible. You only need a few little toys. I wrapped up some little toys they could unwrap and then play with. I wrapped you muesli bars, a few packs of chips and popcorn and a couple of lollipops. Best item I wrapped up was bubbles. The kids were thrilled and we blew bubbles in the our seats. This kept them amused for a while. If you are on a cheap flight take your iPad and load up the movies. The snacks are great on the cheap flights. If you are going on a flight that gives you food like Qatar you won’t need many snack. On Qatar we got a toy bag you won’t need heap of toys either.
As soon as you get your visa or entering papers fill them out. I did mine straight away so as the trip goes on and kids fall asleep on you or get ratty you won’t need to be trying to fill these in while trying to land or at customs. I did up a small piece of paper in my purse with all our passport numbers and flight numbers. Then I wasn’t having to open all the passports to find numbers this made it so much easier.
Change of Clothes
Take a change of clothes for each of you. This was my biggest item in my hand held luggage. I rolled up a small change of clothes for each of us. You need a change for yourself as if they vomit on you you have a change for yourself. This took up most of one back pack. We didn’t need them in the end.
Airport Strollers or Ask for a Buggy
If you have a baby or toddler ask when checking in if the ground crew in transit or at the other end can have a stroller ready. In transit at Doha there was a stroller and this was fantastic and fast to walk across the terminal to catch our next flight. But when we got to London I had to struggle with tired children, my two back packs and no stroller. We had to walk from ages top get to customers with not a stroller anywhere and unhelpful airport staff. On the way back from London in Doha I couldn’t see any strollers and it was the middle of the night. I walked passed a buggy and asked if they could give a us lift. They were so helpful and speed us across the other side of the airport. It was a lifesaver. Ask if you need help and staff are always willing to help when you are carrying children.
Baby Bottles and Lollypops
I had water in baby bottles for both my toddler and 4 year old. Sucking on a baby bottle was fun for the 4 year old and helped with her ear pressure. If you have ever sucked on a bottle you’ll know what I mean. It’s very hard to suck. The lollipops were good and more of a fun thing and distraction for them. I didn’t take any lollies except the lollipops as I didn’t want them having too much sugar on the plane.
Pillows and Blankets
I didn’t worry about taking our own pillows or blankets the plane had them except on our cheap first flight and it was easier not no be loaded down with more stuff.
Once again try and get a stroller to help you manage customs and toddlers doing the running.
Baggage Pick Up
Getting through this part on your own can be hard. The only advise have is grit your teeth, load up your bags and get out of there. You have nearly made it.
A plane trip is an opportunity to stop and do nothing in our busy lives. You get to watch a movie, someone else serves you food and when all else fails buzz the airline host and get a wine with a vodka chaser. Enjoyed the flights and have some time out.
Frequently asked questions about traveling long haul flight on your own with children
Will it be stressful at times? yes
Will your children be tired? Yes
Will your children have fun? Yes
Will you get a break from the the dishes? Yes
Will your kids get sick or hurt themselves? Yes
Will you wish you had brought less in your hand luggage? Yes
Will your child cry? Yes
Will your children have a melt down? Yes
Will you have a melt down? Yes
Will your kids love the little presents? Yes
Will people be kind and help you? Yes
Will you do it all again? Yes
Do all of these things happen at home? Yes
Would you do a long haul flight again on my own? Absolutely
We have gotten our holidays and had a great time, this is what life is all about. Remember your kids get tired at home, they can get sick or hurt at home, you get tired and grumpy at home, all you have to do on the plane is look after them , no cooking or housework required. For me it can’t get any better than that.
Looking for checklist and more information on traveling with children on flights. Check out these great websites for more information.
Nicole Avery Planning with Children – Travelling with Children
Corrine McDermott Have Baby will Travel – Checklists
Travel Mamas – Packing List
Kidspot – 7 must know to make flying a cynch
All the best with flying with your children whether it’s on your own or with someone. Enjoy and don’t stress about it.