This summer we’re going on an overseas holiday, to California. Visiting friends, attending a wedding, driving a bit around. I know you probably think we’re surely crazy doing this with a 3 year old and a 14 months old. Well, we have some experience already: we did the same trip when my boy was 15 months old only, 2 years ago. He coped very well back then, but he was the easiest baby and small toddler to handle. (Now a little monster threenager.) However, my daughter is different in almost every ways. So it looks like, that we can’t rely on that “we’ve done this before.” Also, two children is almost always more challenging to handle than just one. (I also flew solo with them already.)
So I also asked my fellow mummy bloggers, if they have any good tips how to manage with small children on an overseas holiday and cope with the long flight.
10 Top Tips For Overseas Holidays With Small Children
Let’s just start with packing because we parents tend to overpack, don’t we? Trying to be prepared for everything and beyond, we could literally pack up the whole house. Don’t. You won’t need as much as you think you do! And anything you forget you can buy out there. Take as little as you can. It’s hard to carry things through the airport/on the plane and chase after a toddler.
2. Book an overnight flight
If you can. It will mean that the children will be asleep for some stretchy hours so you can get some rest too. Check it with your airline, most of them supply carry cot for infants and small babies, but they need to be booked ahead. Call the customer service to make sure you’ll get one if you need one. We also found that booking premium economy seats are more expensive but they give you more space and the seat are more comfortable.
3. Accept help whenever it’s offered
Long flights are tough but flight attendants are usually happy to help. Let them carry your bag if you’re holding the baby, give you extra snacks, etc. Use the family friendly services whenever they are available: lots of airports has some playing area for example – we found them great for tiring them out before the flight. Ask them if you can take the buggy to the gate. Some airports even have strollers available after landing, which you can use until you get yours back.
4. Inflight entertainment
Load up favourite tv shows and games to the tablet and don’t be afraid to use them. Colouring, sticker and story books, aqua draw mats can also kill some time. Let them walk around a little bit, trips to the loo are always fascinating for them. Long haul flights have great selection of children movies available too.
5. Don’t care (too much) about what the other passengers are thinking.
You’re doing your best to keep them quiet, if they have a meltdown or tantrum and they are noisy and they cry – again, you do what you can but sometimes nothing works. Thinking about how others are judging you will just make the situation worse and stressful. Crying helps to clear their ears and get rid of the pain caused by the pressure. There’s little you can do about it.
6. Food on the flight
Pack some of their favourite snacks and drinks, but they normally never eat as much as you take. In fact, try not to over feed them. It happened to my son a few times, that because of the pressure and turbulence (and also at landing) he was sick. If their tummy is too full, the chances are better for this to happen. With babies a strategic breast or bottle feed always calm the nerves.
7. Coping with jet leg
Get them outdoors in the sunshine during the day as much as possible, if they wake up too early don’t force them back to bed, just keep it dark and quiet play and try to keep their nap times towards the middle of the day.
8. Coping with the hot weather
Don’t worry about keeping them naked or just with a t-shirt on, nobody cares and sometimes it’s better to have no clothes on! When out and about in the hot weather, use sun cream and thin layer long sleeves, so there’s no chance getting burnt. The fans which mist water are great too. Lots of water, stay indoors during the hottest times of the day (11am to 3pm). Sun hats, lightweight clothing if any. Find things to do indoors or swimming pools nearby. Frozen hot water bottles in their bed sometimes helps them cool down. Cold food usually goes down better than cooked when it’s hot.
9. Sticking to the routine
As much as it’s tempting to get out and enjoy the weather and location, some parents find it extremely important to stick to the usual nap/feeding schedule with under twos. This depends on your children, but if they’re normally don’t take well when their routine is being changed (lot of small kids don’t) then try to stick to their usual meal times and bed time routine.
10. Let them be on holiday
It’s their holiday too, so let them eat pizzas, ice lollies, drink juice, go to bed later some nights, skip a meal if they’re too excited to eat. You don’t need to buy every single toy or souvenir, but some treats. Don’t get too stressed over small things like one night they fell asleep without brushing their teeth. It’s your holiday too. ?