Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Flying with a little one: suriving my plane trips travelling with a toddler

The little fella is turning 19mo in a few day's time. And yes, we're travelling, again. We just got back from Seoul about two weeks back and we're leaving for Bali in a day's time. There's a long weekend coming up, due to Harvest Festival (Pesta Keamatan) and my in-laws has decided to treat all of us a short getaway to Bali. Even though we are still flying with an active toddler boy, I'm no more nervous about the trip nor the flight. I used to get nervous about it planning about his food/ snack intake, pre-booking his bassinet, pre-scheduling his nap time etc etc. Maybe I get used or get immune to it. Tips I wanna let very parent know, no, you won't be able to foresee nor plan anything when travelling with a toddler. He slept the entire journey flying from KK to Bali (amazingly!!), and stayed awake the entire journey coming back. Despite your best efforts, there is only so much you can do. You just gotta let yourself know, it'll eventually pass and the plane will land, and you won't be seeing any of the other passengers ever again. Hopefully. Hahaaa
 
At 19mo, the little fella has done quite a number of overseas travelling and handful of long-haul travels. He isn't the perfect little traveler everyone think he is, but he's still our fun and cheeky munchkin who loves greeting every strangers he sees with a shy grin. We have no fear bringing him along for trips cos he has no fear for strangers nor new environment. In fact, he actually gets excited about them and he gets occupied by the new things he sees, which is great for us. He's quite an observing baby. He loves shouting out 'airpane' 'airpane' 'airpane' when he sees one, or anything that resembles or sounds like one.
 
Babywearing him on trips help tremendously!! Seriously, my i-angel hipseat carrier is Godsend, especially when travelling in cities that are not so baby-friendly, like Bangkok or Seoul, eg small alley with uneven ground or underground station with just stairs but not lift (can't imagine what it's like lugging along a stroller in these cities), or going to places where we'll be doing island hopping or dolphin watching (in Bali). When babywearing, I went through custom at ease without needing to move him a bit (which is good if he's napping) and it allowed me to have both hands free to carry his diaper bags and our passports (great for solo travelers).
 

 
Babywearing in Seoul
 
I own an I-angel hipseat carrier that allows for front facing or rear facing (facing towards me) or back carry too. I have done a 3-part reviews on it here, please refer for the links http://a-nutritionist-mom.blogspot.com/2013/09/babywearing-and-travelling-to-kundasang.html. Just Health is now one of the authorized retailer of I-angel hipseat carrier. You may email me for further info.
 
Prior to your trips, call up your flight agency (Malaysia Airlines for my case) and pre-book a bassinet for your toddler (only available for under two year old) and you'll be assigned a seat on the front roll, cos the bassinet can only be installed there. Try calling up as soon as you have booked your ticket, certain flights only allow one bassinet. Bassinets are only provided on flights that's over 2hours flying duration, and are only installed after the plane has taken off (the seatbelt sign is off) and will be removed before the plane starts to descend.
 
By experience, most of budget airlines (for eg Air Asia) doesn't provide bassinet for domestic route even though with over 2hours flying duration. But they do provide bassinet for international routes with Air Asia X. There is no need to call up early for bassinet, but you'll have to purchase yourself a seat that has the 'bassinet' or 'baby' sign when selecting your seats.

At 18mo, he's already a lil' too big for the bassinet.
 
If it's a long haul flight, try choosing one that flies at midnight so that he'll be sleeping most of the journey. We flew from KL to Seoul at 1am, he slept from about 1:30 till about 7am and was up just before the air crew was preparing for landing and was asking to uninstall the bassinet.
 
Now, these are the tips or activities you can do with your toddler to occupy the time spent on flights, that's if he has no intention or whatsoever to nap:
 
  • Pack plenty of dry snacks like puffs, cereals, crackers, dried fruits. Try avoid bringing wet and sloppy food eg yogurt or cakes. It'll be messy.


  • Bring books and crayons for reading and/ or drawing. I also buy books from bookshops at the airport so he has something new to explore on returning flights. I don't spend on toys, but I spend on books for the little fella. I buy books from different travelling destination, so I can remind him of the places we've travelled to when he grow up. Tip: (1) Put away the in-flight magazine if you know that your little one will tear off the pages. (2) Only offer him one crayon at a time, and retrieve it and store it in your bag when he's done. You don't want to be picking up crayons from the floor all the time.
 
 

  • Read or sing along. Hahaa.. this may be annoying to the sleepy passenger seated next to you. But think about it, this is surely much better than a crying toddler. Here's a photo of the little fella being in love in his new book bought at Bali airport and pronouncing everything he knows in the book.
  • Download some short clips or videos onto your phone. This is always my last resort, especially when the little fella is too tired to concentrate on the books or food. This calms him down or even soothes him to sleep. His favorite is pocoyo and pororo.
  • Feed him milk or water especially during taking off and landing to relieve the building air pressure that may cause discomfort. I ask for or purchase bottled water and let him drink from a straw. He somehow likes it and would drink a lot. Drinking sufficient water is very important especially on long-haul flights. It helps to avoid dehydration which may cause a cranky little one.
  • Pack along a new toy or soft toy that's light and handy. Here's a M&M handy fan which I bought at the airport and it managed to keep him occupied for quite a long time. I would be hiding this so I can bring it along during our next trip.


  • Stickers! and.. more stickers!! These are life saviors. He was amused by them and learning at the same time.
 


 
  • A used lip balm, which you're not using anymore. My baby found it interesting to open it and dap it on his arm, on his cheek and then put the lid back on and repeated the entire thing a few rounds before he got bored with it.
  • Keep him in comfortable attire. The air in the cabin gets cooler and drier. So bring along an extra jacket or a little blanket which can keep him warm.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil. This is my must-bring for any travelling. It comes in a 10ml bottle so it's okay to be packed into the cabin bag. I dot a few drops to be applied on his chest, neck and nose so it keeps the airway moist and this also keeps the bugs at bay.
 
 
Last but not least, 'travelling light' does not happen when travelling with a little one. Don't even attempt to. 

Do let me know if there are any tricks that have worked for your little ones. Happy Travelling!

6 comments:

  1. Hi
    May I know where and how can i purchase the Eucalyptus essential oil? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mickey, please can you email justhealthsandakan@gmail.com for the purchase of Eucalyptus essential oil.

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  2. Hi mummy Jeniffer, how do u prepare your lo's solid food when u travelling or to be feed inside the plane? Do u just feed adult food to him like meals provided by airlines? I will be travelling to UK with my lo who will turn 20 months by then. It will be 16 hours flight including 2 hours of transit time. my lo doesn't really good at chewing and she don't eat much rice. Most of the time porridge. I'm kinda headache.

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    Replies
    1. Hi there Rui Shen, I haven't gone on a long haul trip to UK with my LO yet. But if I am and if he's 20mo, I would pack along the dried snacks, some bread rolls, and a hot meal in a thermal jar and bring on-board. A thermal jar would be able to keep the porridge warm for at least 6hrs (tip: put boiling water in it for about an hr and pour away the hot water before you fill up the thermal with hot porridge, this way, it keeps warm for longer). And yes, I would serve my LO some of the airlines meals. Or you may also ask the crew if they have any food for babies/ toddlers. Certain airlines provide that. Do check ahead. Since you have 2 hrs transit time, you can also serve him solid meals over there, however, gotta check ahead the kind of meals served at your transiting airport.

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  3. Hi Jeniffer,

    So glad to read your article sharing tips that travel with toddler. I am going to travel to Germany in Oct'14, with my 14 month old girl. By the time, she will be 18 month old. How do you prepare solid food for your toddler in the trip? Stay in hotel with kitchen, and cook for him everyday?
    I am wondering.....and wish to get your opinion. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi dear, I'm flying to the UK with my 21month old boy in September too. Now that he's eating mostly adult food, I wouldn't be cooking solid food for him. But for your case, yes, you can choose to bring portable size cooker or choose to stay in hotel with pantry/ kitchen. When my LO was younger than 18mo, I did cook for him at the hotel using a portable mini cooker. But once over 18mo, I stopped doing that. I just served him whatever eaten by the adults, whenever on trips.

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