Hello to all my readers,
Last weekend we had a flight that played out my worst fears of travelling with a toddler. Up until now, travelling on a plane was rather seamless. I would book Winston from the Salvation Army Service at the airport to meet me at the airport bus to help me check in and to guide me to where my departure gate is. There I would settle with Archer and give him something to eat and something to play with. Archer had not reached the stage of walking yet, so keeping him close by was relatively easy.
Fast forward a few months, he is now 14 months old and Mr Independent! He is walking now and our Beagle Misha has taught him how to escape the confines and wander off on a little adventure. So predicting that this might be the case, I put measures in place to help keep him close by and be within my reach. We are going to Italy, France and Scotland in a few weeks, so I wanted to use the flight we had from Melbourne to Hobart as a bit of a practise run to find out what works and what doesn’t. The trip to Hobart was a trip from hell and the return trip was seamless.
This trip was the first trip I had done with Cameron, my husband, in a long time. Most of the travelling with Archer I have done has been solo. Let me tell you, after about half a dozen trips on my own, I have developed systems and set ways of how I like to navigate the airport. Bring a husband into the picture and it put me all out of whack. Sorry Cam! It felt like I had two toddlers. While my mate Winston from the Salvation Army is used to guiding, Cam is not. Lets just say I might have some bruised shins.
The airport is one place where I pull out my cane. It is just easier and people move out of my way. When we checked in, I was disappointed to find out that we had to check in Archer’s stroller. Other airlines I had been on in the past let you put the stroller on at the departure gate so you don’t have to carry your toddler. So we had to lug our dead weight brick of a toddler, his bag, my handbag, my cane, Cam’s laptop bag through to the departure gate. Cam wanted to get something to eat, so he did that while I fed Archer his breakfast. Archer is a pig and started tantruming for more food. Although he didn’t need anymore we found ourselves handing him bits of our breakfast to keep him quiet.
Next Archer wet through his nappy, so we had to give him a complete change. He hates nappy changes so it felt like it took forever. Next Cam loses his boarding pass, so he leaves me with all our bags while he doubles back to look for it. We were still in the food court. I was worried we would miss our flight. We had plenty of time to spare, but didn’t count on these setbacks. Cam didn’t find his boarding pass, so we just made our way down to departure and luckily they printed another one off for him there. By this time, I felt like I had done a workout carrying Archer, while trying to use my cane at the same time. Talk about multi tasking!
We get on the plane and find our seats. Cam feeds Archer the rest of his Yum Box and then gives him a bottle of milk. I am worried that we fed him too much and that he might projectile vomit all over the Italian lady sitting next to me. Archer did not want to go to sleep. He tried to grab at the Italian lady’s glasses, book and note paper. She was very patient. He was kicking the seat of the person in front of us. He was whinging but not full on screaming. By this time both Cam and I are tense and snapping at each other. Great start to our weekend away! The flight continues on like this until the plane starts to descend into Hobart…. What do you know, the little bugger falls asleep. He looked so peaceful and cute. We both fall in love with him again and the trip is over.
What not to do when flying with a toddler..
1. Don’t assume that all airline policies are the same for travelling with children.
It pays to find out in advance on things like if you can take the stroller to the departure gate or not and their baggage allowance. Some airlines allow you to have extra baggage for your child, others don’t. Most allow you to take a pram for free, others charge depending on the weight. I will be taking our back pack to carry Archer in when we go overseas in case the stroller cannot go on at the last minute at the departure gate. I will also be taking our harness and lead so Archer can have some independence, but we still have control.
2. Don’t pack wet snacks.
They are messy and will most likely end up in a trip to the parenting room for a change of clothes. I packed Archer yogurt and stewed apple. I wasn’t prepared at home with snacks because our fridge was empty and yogurt and stewed apple was all I really had for him. Next time I will just pack non messy snacks such as cheese and crackers, grapes, mini quiches and cheese sandwiches to keep him occupied.
Because we travelled a couple of hours from Bendigo to Melbourne airport, then had the rush of check in and finding something to eat, Archer wet through his nappy. He had a massive drink in the car which would have done this. Next time I will make sure I change his nappy more regularly.
3. Don’t dress your toddler in fiddly clothes.
I had Archer dressed to the nines in his cute little overalls and a nodusuit underneath. This is hell to change when you are in a rush. Particularly when you are vision impaired. Dress your toddler in comfortable clothing. Trackies and layers will do next time. We have a night time flight to Europe when we go over in a few weeks, so I will be dressing Archer in his pyjamas.
4. Don’t not bring anything to occupy the toddler.
I know, toys and books are just one extra thing to carry and when you are visually impaired, less is more. However simple things need to be packed otherwise they end up ripping the magazines on the plane and throwing the safety card into the aisle. I will be packing a few cars for Archer on the long haul flight and will also load up my iPad with Wiggles and In the Night Garden. I don’t normally let Archer have a lot of screen time, but on a long haul flight, drastic measures need to be made if it gives us ten minutes of peace to eat our meal. I am hoping that Archer will sleep on the first leg as it is a night time flight. Things never go to plan though, so maybe it is best to expect nothing then my expectations might be exceeded!
I am looking forward to sharing with you all our experience of muddling our way through our first family holiday overseas. I am sure we are going to stuff up, but we will become more experienced and hopefully come home in one piece!