As you can tell from the number of photos on my blog of my kids passed out on airline seats, we usually choose to fly longhaul overnight. My darling friend Sarah lives in San Francisco but regularly travels back to London to see family. Due to scheduling she usually has the joy of flying this route with her two young boys during the day. Today she shares with us how to do it – apt timing as I’m flying longhaul (during the day… gasp!!) tomorrow….
I always read Jetlag and Mayhem and look at Nicola’s hand luggage packing list and ask myself what I’m doing wrong. Why do I need SO much stuff. Ok, so I admit, I’m not good at traveling lite but there is also another difference. Flights from London to San Francisco are always day flights. So that’s almost 10 hours to occupy kids during the day and with very little sleep so I like to be prepared.
Packing A Picnic
First off – I take a lot of food. Even when you pre order kids meals they give you one meal which is just about ok for the kids lunch but then they only serve a lite meal later in the evening (a sandwich or wrap or something but not until about what would be 9pm at night which is too late for the kids to wait). So i take a full picnic – pasta, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, crisps, fruit, yoghurts, snacks. I figure even if they don’t eat it all it’s better to have it in my backpack and leave it than have hungry kids.
Occupying The Kids
I also take a lot of activities. It is definitely easier now the kids are bigger and my almost 5 year old thinks it’s a dream being able to watch 3 films! I love the kids magazines you can buy in England and make a big deal of letting the boys pick which ones they want for the plane. They all come with little toys and have lots of colouring and activities in. I also take stickers, crayons, books, a handful of cars/toys.
This time I got them little lego each which was good keeping them entertained but very annoying to have to hunt for every small piece that they dropped on the floor! I’ll also take a pack of cards to play snap any other small games we have got. I keep everything in separate plastic bags, a book bag, a toy bag and then they are easy to pull out of my hand luggage case and it’s easy to keep track on what I’ve taken out and what I need to look for at the end of the flight.
I still take a spare change of T-shirt/tracksuit bottoms for the kids in case they spill a drink or something over themselves. These fold up really small at the bottom of my bag. I hardly ever need them but feel better having them just in case.
I think that’s all. I’ve got a good backpack which I can wear on my back to still have spare hands free. I then just take a small cross body handbag which I can put valuables in so at the airport I know I’ve got it on me!
I also don’t stress any more about whether they sleep or not, When they were little I used to panic a bit that it was whatever time and they should have had a nap by now or be asleep by now. Now I just let it be and eventually I just take iPads etc away and let them put their heads on my lap and they do fall asleep. but that’s usually about 1 hour before we land so isn’t much use anyway!
I always think you have to remind yourself it’s not how you would choose to spend a day of your life – traveling on your own long haul with 2 small children. But you just have to be strong, be brave and just do it. It’s very tiring (I think it took me about 2 hours to read one magazine!) but the more you do it, the more kids know what to expect and become good at traveling themselves. I always feel proud of us when we have done a long haul fight 🙂