Yes, you read correctly I said ‘laughing’ and ‘long haul’ in the same breath and no, before you ask, we did not leave Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper behind. How could you even think that?! With 20 hours of flying and 1700 miles of driving under our belts from our recent family holiday to America, I am about to share with you Working Mum’s Tried and Tested Travel Tips. Now concentrate and please take notes because this is super-valuable advice:
Challenge 1 - The Airport
Juggling passports, tickets, boarding passes, fridge-sized suitcases and a toddler who wants to explore alone and at speed.
Working Mum’s Top Tip – buy a Trunki ride-on suitcase. Large enough to carry all essential toddler items, small enough to count as hand luggage, and enjoyable enough for toddler to ride on for hours instead of racing around madly.
Challenge 2 – Boarding
“Would all those travelling with children like to board first…..?”
Working Mum’s Top Tip – NO! No we would not like to sit on the plane for an extra half hour whilst waiting for everyone else to board and countless final calls are issued for the fools who have gone to the wrong gate. No, we would rather enjoy our last precious minutes of freedom thanks. (Unless, of course, your seats are not pre-allocated in which case run like a gazelle, push to the front and bag those extra leg-room seats.)
Challenge 3 – Take-Off and Landing
Take off and landing are stressful enough without the added tension of a toddler with popping ears and a good set of lungs.
Working Mum’s Top Tip – introduce the Take-off Treat and Landing Lollipop. Throw away all rules about sugary treats, rotting teeth etc and purchase 4 small lollipops. The novelty of having such a forbidden fruit is enough to keep toddler happy (and quiet) for 20 minutes whilst the sucking action soothes their ears. Why 4 lollipops I hear you ask? Isn’t that a bit excessive? Let me explain: 1 for take-off, 1 for landing, 1 to replace the lolly that gets dropped on the loo floor and 1 to replace the lolly that was left half-sucked on the tray table and was cleared away by the air stewardess who mistakenly assumed it was finished with. Trust me, please take 4.
Challenge 4 – 10.5 hours of flying
10 and a half hours. Oh my, whose idea was this?
Working Mum’s Top Tip – follow my hand luggage checklist:
1) Change of clothes for toddler AND you (with travel sickness and the inevitable food/drink spillage, you’re both bound to need a change of outfit)
2) Bag of Cheerios or other favourite cereal (various uses – snacks / bribes / meal replacements / mini-missiles to be launched discreetly at disapproving, child-free couple who keep tutting)
3) Emergency Presents (a few small, new toys such as finger puppets, plastic money and stickers wrapped up individually and to be issued when tantrums threaten)
4) Drinking cup with top (flimsy plastic cups in a confined space are hopeless so buy one of those sports-cap bottles or similar and decant all drinks into it)
5) I-pod with child-friendly earphones (download favourite music and stories onto this – keeps them entertained, provides something familiar and blocks out plane noise if you want them to sleep. Alternatively take portable dvd player/laptop with favourite tv or films)
6) Tiddle pad (for the newly potty trained take a tiddle pad or similar plastic-backed cushion so in the event of an accident the seat isn’t soaked)
7) Normal bed-time items (if you have a night flight follow the usual routine to encourage sleep so take pyjamas, toothbrush, teddy bear, usual bedtime book etc)
And that’s it. Easy really. Just follow my tips and you should cruise through your journey this summer season. But if all else fails, tip your seat back, order a large Bloody Mary, pop those foam earplugs in and remember that most of your fellow passengers are just glad it’s not their child.