If you’ve never flown with small children, or have never flown long-haul with small children, it can seem daunting. Heck, even if you have flown with small children it can seem daunting. One thing that will make your life much easier is making sure you have the necessary things to hand in your carry-on bag and making sure you don’t have a load of stuff you’ll not need.
The key thing is to make sure you don’t overpack. If you stuff too much into your bag you won’t be able to find anything, it will be heavy and it will take up more of your valuable foot room.
If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know I’m no stranger to long-haul flights with children. In the past year, I’ve flown between the UK and Canada with my two small children six times – and three of those times I’ve been on my own. So, here are my carry-on essentials!
1. Nappies etc
Obviously, only if you have a child in nappies! Take plenty, along with wipes and plastic bags. (You cant put nappies in the bin in the loos and not all airlines provide bags… that could get very unpleasant, very quickly.)
I take sticker books for my three year-old and a small toy or two for my son, like a car or figurine. Nothing noisy, obviously, as although my neighbours will have to expect some shouting and crying, I think subjecting them to an irritating singing object is a taking it a bit far.
I also have Buddyphones for them (not an ad or an affiliate link or anything – I just got them when they were on offer and think they’re pretty good). Most airlines provide headphones for children so they can watch the television, but they’re not always comfortable or suitable for very little ones. Buddyphones are robust and fit my two well, even if my one-year old does prefer to wear them round his neck.
3. Change of clothes
Essential. Absolutely essential. Half an hour into our flight to the UK last month my son vomited all over his clothes and the seat. I couldn’t do much about the seat, except attack it with baby wipes, but I whipped his clothes off and had him in clean ones in a matter of minutes. When my daughter was the same age, we didn’t even make it on to the aeroplane before she’d tipped milk all down herself. And for younger ones there’s always the risk of a poo explosion. Flying is uncomfortable enough as it is, the last thing you want is a pongy child next to you.
Rice cakes, biscuits, pouches, whatever – if your child is under two, you can get pretty much any food past security so long as it’s sealed and you let the officers know you have it. Top tip for going through security: have all your liquids (including pouches etc) in one place so you can get them out quickly. You can reorganise once you’re in the airport lounge.
5. Baby carrier
Useful for getting your baby or toddler through the airport if they don’t bring your buggy to the gate (they don’t always!) but also for restraining overtired children and attempting to get them to go to sleep. It doesn’t always work but you might get lucky!
6. Reins for toddlers
Controversial, maybe, but if you’re travelling alone with one or more small children, they can really help. At least you can stop your child from running past border control while you’re trying to find your passports. Not that that would ever happen. Probably.