Travelling long-haul with kids: advice from a mum with a migraine
We’ve all seen the images of Angelina Jolie emerging from a flight with her innumerable brood, looking effortlessly chic and well rested. “How does she do it?”, we all ask ourselves as our own broods of 2/3 leaves us looking like we’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards after School drop off. Yes, we know her army of nannies probably takes up the rest of the seats in 1st class along with her travelling masseuse and sunglasses handler. So what are we mere mortals meant to do to avoid arriving at our destination 1) having auctioned off our brood to the highest bidder on the flight 2) looking like an electrocuted raccoon 3) in handcuffs?
Well, after my few trips this year, more specifically this last 36 hr journey from Boston to Harare, I have learnt a few lessons I’m desperate to pass onto you!!
- Pack what you need, not what you think you’ll need should an apocalypse happen and you be stranded in that country. THERE ARE SHOPS THERE. Should the very worst happen, you can always buy extra things. We had a luggage allowance of 46kg per person. But we were only there for 2 weeks. Recipe for a harassed look is emerging from arrivals with 6 suitcases in 3 trolleys with one kid in a buggy and another gliding along on their trunki in the opposite direction. 😐.
- Hand Luggage - leave that magazine you did not read for 6 months. Just leave it. You won’t read it, because even before you travelled with kids you didn’t read it. I know you’re nodding in agreement but thinking “but I will this time, I’ve changed.” You haven’t. Leave it. And leave that cute oversized handbag/ travel bag that you think looks chic. It will weigh 7kg by the time you’re done squeezing all your onboard gear. Plus that magazine. And it’ll be on one shoulder. Get a backpack. You’ll need your hands to push the buggy and also catch any wandering toddlers! There’s plenty of chic ones out there. If you don’t have time, use one of your kids ones and act like you’re carrying it for them. Your back will thank you and you’ll look less harassed.
- Get a stroller that you can carry onboard with you. I have a Babyzen Yoyo that folds up into a bag and you take it onboard. Once you land, you can load one kid onto it and glide off the plane. (Unless the plane is emirates and the aisles are super slim 😫. I had to wrestle Judah out of the stroller after happily strapping him in. He wasn’t onboard with coming out!! Not a good look!!) In February we flew on BA & it was very easy. We got compliments from all the crew, even the captain as they hadn’t noticed I’d brought it on the plane! Ha!
- Get older kids a trunki. Morayo-Hope loves gliding along on this nifty little carry-on in the airport. It always draws a lot of compliments from mums who say “I wish we’d had that when mine were younger!!”. It’s a lifesaver. You can either drag the child along, or they scoot along. Either way they’re too busy having fun to ask “are we there yet?”, on that never ending trek to the gate!
- Pack heavy stuff into the aforementioned trunki! Don’t bother with colouring books etc. When you travel with kids most airlines give you activity packs for them which they’ll prefer to anything you’ve lovingly packed! Put wipes, toothpaste, change of shoes or whatever in there and save your back that aggro. Oh yes, pack the iPad into there.
- Download your kids favourite shows onto that iPad before travelling. (And fully charge it!). Even if the airline has WiFi, videos won’t stream at all and so YouTube kids is out of the question. You’ll suddenly find yourself with an irritated toddler begging you to make it work and you'll be banging your head on the seat in front wondering why you ever thought it was a good plan to travel with kids! Netflix has Mother goose Club (highly recommend for fun rhymes) , Peppa Pig, Teletubbies & all those shows you just LOVE, available to download. Yes, you do love them, you hum the theme tune in your bed.
- Dress comfortably. This isn't the time for stilletos. Converse trainers have become my go-to travel shoes. Paired with skinny jeans, a tshirt, jumper and blazer, they complete an easy chic look. Simply slip off the jumper and put on a statement necklace for a more glam look on arrival.
- Travelling with young kids at night?Dress them in Pyjamas. The plane is not a runway to show off your kid styling credentials - make your life easy & their journey more comfortable. Judah was in PJs and MH in leggings and a long sleeve tshirt. Unless you're travelling business class, they'll need that stretch fabric to contort into the shapes those airplane seats demand of us all!
I wrote this post on my way to Zimbabwe 2 weeks ago desperate to make sure nobody else suffered as I just had! I'm happy to report that I followed my own advice on the way back and packed my huge hand luggage handbag into my suitcase! I just had my tiny handbag for our passports and packed everything else into the trunki! It was a blissful trip back!
I hope you foud my travelling with kids tips useful! Have you ever travelled long haul with kids? Any other advice you'd add to the above?? Please share below!!