Travelling long-haul with a child
If you believe the nay-sayers, you shouldn’t even consider getting on a plane with a child or baby. And even if you are brave enough to book a flight, the only option is to make it a very short short-haul journey.
Fortunately, if you want to venture further afield than France, this is all rubbish. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t fly long-haul with your family… as long as you plan in advance.
There’s no way of avoiding a few meals on board if you’re flying long-haul – if they’re old enough, book a child meal but make sure you have plenty of snacks as well. If you can, eat at the airport before boarding where you can choose something you know they’ll like.
Food and drink for babies/young children is exempt from the usual 100ml rules, although you’ll almost certainly be asked to taste it at security. Pouches travel better than jars and pack extra, as you don’t want to run out at 35,000ft. Most major airlines will heat bottles and food but if your child will drink room temperature milk, it makes travel much easier.
I wouldn’t even attempt a 10-minute journey without some kind of entertainment, let alone 10 hours. But the longer the journey, the more entertainment you’ll need. As well as a few favourite toys/books, something new (ideally cheap and disposable in case it doesn’t survive the flight) is ideal when they’re flagging. Apps and games on your phone/tablet or mini headphones for the in-flight entertainment also help pass the time.
If you’ve got a wriggly toddler, let them burn off some excess energy before you board. An hour crawling around a deserted gate rather than strapped into a buggy might help them tolerate sitting still just a bit longer.
Choose an overnight flight if possible. The fear is that your crying child will disturb the rest of the plane but there’s more chance they’ll doze off at their natural bedtime. The low lights and quiet fellow passengers all help too.
If you’re flying with a young baby, speak to your airline about booking a bassinet, although from six-eight months (depending on their size), this will be too small. As they don’t have their own seat, you’ll be doubling as a pillow. Some airlines will have child belts, but others don’t use them so consider how to keep them comfortable but secure.
The bane of many adult holidays, it’s no easier for children – and as you can’t explain time zones to a 10-month-old, you’ll have to help them adjust. Adapt their normal routine by making small adjustments over the week before you leave so they get closer to the new time zone.
Then stick to the destination time zone as soon as you board, and don’t plan anything for the first day – except trying to get over the night’s disrupted sleep.