How To Keep Sane When Flying With A Toddler

Cousins at Gatwick

My sister and I recently had the pleasure of shepherding our flock on a flight from London to France. Five seconds into meeting her at Gatwick I could tell she was about to lose the plot.  It seems that a previous flight with my nephew was a ‘total nightmare’ and she was ‘dreading every second of this one’. The thing is, once you’ve got kids past the ‘no fly zone’ i.e 14 mths to 2.5 yrs old, you almost forget how horrible flying with a toddler is.  However, she mastered the flight like a boss, my nephew held it together and we were all smiles.  Until we realised Easyjet had parked us at a different terminal to the one our taxis were waiting at.  Thanks Easyjet.

I digress.  Here are my sister’s top ten tips on taming a toddler on the plane.

  1. Lower your expectations. It’s not about enjoyment, simply about survival. Save the Kindle (and large glass of wine) until you get there.
  2. Select your seat carefully. We often fly short-haul on low-cost airlines. I always choose seats at the back of the plane, as this is usually less busy and nearer to the toilets for the kids. You might also want to think about purchasing a seat for your toddler if you are really concerned about space and if the price is right. Bear in mind that they will usually still need to sit on your lap whenever the seatbelt sign is on. Here are my tips on how to book an infant seat on Ryanair (they don’t make it easy for you).
  3. Plan your snacks and meals. Head for somewhere easy, quick and noisy that serves simple food (Pret at Gatwick offers kids sandwiches and highchairs).
  4. Plan your entertainment. We love the kiddy magazines that are on sale everywhere now. Puzzles and stories for our 4 year old, and stickers for our 2 year old, and rubbish plastic toys for them both to fight over.   We also let them watch endless episodes of Peppa Pig on the ipad, with ‘Guided Access’ turned on so that they can’t switch it off accidentally.
    Onboard Dragonair to Sanya
  5. Keep your hand luggage simple. When we are all crammed into a small row with a toddler on my lap, there’s no room for any extras, and when our toddler is having a tantrum, there’s no time to rummage around to find things.
  6. Take it in turns. If the adults in your group outnumber the children, then take it in shifts
  7. Don’t get embarrassed. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about your fellow passengers. But when your toddler flips out during a flight, sometimes there just isn’t much that anyone can do.
  8. Try to keep them in their seat, or at least within your aisle. Once they are up and about it’s even harder to get them to sit back down again.
  9. Remember your spare clothes. You might not need as much paraphernalia as you did when they were tiny, but they can still puke or poo all over you.
  10. Bring your buggy. Even if your toddler is a confident walker, you sometimes have to walk miles to get to the gate. If they’re still happy to go in a sling, then bring that too. On a recent flight back to Gatwick we didn’t get our buggy until baggage reclaim. It was a very long walk with two tired kids and all of our hand luggage. Gatwick does now offer buggies for families to use at this point, but unfortunately there were none available when we landed.
    Gatwick pushchair point

Don’t worry about breaking your normal rules. Let them eat chocolate, watch endless programmes on the ipad, stay up late, whatever it takes. It’s only one day and it won’t set a precedent if you don’t let it.

1 comment

  1. MummyTravels

    Great tips – especially 1! And I’ll consider any methods to get through the flight…

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