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Tips On How To Fly Solo With Young Kids In Tow

Jetlag and Mayhem Kids - shrink

I live in Hong Kong and my family live in the UK.  I also like travelling.  This means that over the years, I have clocked up many hours and airmiles flying longhaul alone with my kids.  Some flights have been plain sailing, other flights plain horrendous.  But follow these guidelines and I promise you it will be far better than you anticipate!

Preparation

  • Don’t overpack your hand luggage.  Print off a packing checklist (like mine) and work through it methodically.
  • Make sure your hand luggage is practical.  Whilst it’s not the most stylish, I favour a big backpack so that I can have my hands free and organise my bits in all the pockets.
  • Be cautious in what you let your young child carry onboard.  Chances are YOU will end up carrying it.  I have found the Trunki to be a disaster if I’m on my own with two kids.  I prefer my oldest to carry her own small backpack and not have them fight over who sits on the Trunki.
    Sky with backpack at airport
  • Pack your baby carrier in hand luggage.  This will be indispensable for when you hand in your stroller.  At some airports e.g. Paris Charles de Gaulle this may even be as early as check in.  I love my Ergo baby carrier and have used it for many years. It also has a useful pocket on the front for storing phone etc.  When travelling on your own, be prepared that you may have to go to the toilet with your baby attached to your front!Sky in the Ergo on plane

At The Airport

  • Allow yourself plenty of time at the airport.  Moving from A to B as a lone parent with kids is not easy.  Or quick.
  • At check-in it’s worth looking a bit nervous and fraught.  Getting an upgrade is wishful thinking but you might find the check-in staff will put priority tags on your luggage so that they come off the carousel quicker.
  • Do some research on your airport in advance.  Perhaps they have a free kids play zone?  Hong Kong airport has several areas where kids can crawl around or watch cartoons on TV.  This is a great chance for you to unload your bags, sit down and fret about the flight ahead (I’m joking, don’t fret.. it will all be fine)
    Watching cartoons at HKG Airport
  • Whilst you are often entitled to priority boarding with kids, you might want to wait until a bit later to board the flight.  Let your kids run around and burn off some steam before you set foot in the confined cabin.

Onboard

  • Let the Cabin Crew know you are flying solo.  90% of the time they are incredibly helpful from watching your baby/kids whilst you nip to the toilet to bringing you extra snacks.
  • Smile at everyone you see.  Those passengers who are parents themselves will recognise your plight and you may be able to count on them for help during the flight.  My eldest daughter once puked all over the seat within the first five minutes of being onboard.  A fellow passenger kindly held my vomit covered baby whilst I cleaned myself up and cabin staff cleaned the seat.
  • Just to reiterate – if you need help, ask for it.  Whether it’s watching your baby while you go to the bathroom or getting your hand luggage down from the overhead bin.
  • Approx. 45 minutes before landing, get all your things ready; shoes on, everything packed (check those seat back pockets) and all your immigration documents and phone easily accessible.

Landing

  • Always double check with the staff where you are to pick up your stroller.  Airports have different rules as to where they will unload them but it’s often just after you exit the aircraft.  You don’t want to trek all the way to the luggage carousel only to find it was waiting for you by the aircraft door.
  • Look harrassed at immigration.  They might rush you to the front of the queue.
  • Ask someone to help you with lifting your bags off the luggage carousel (I find fatherly looking businessmen are best for this)
  • If you think you need extra help loading your bags up and departing the airport, pay for an Airport Porter service.  Costs vary between airport – Heathrow has its Skycaps service where from £9 they will meet you by the luggage carousel and then escort you to transport/waiting relative.
    Another use for the luggage trolley...

9 comments

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  1. gezinopreis

    Thanks for these helpful tips!

  2. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)

    Helpful! Thanks for sharing =) #mbpw

    1. Nicola

      thanks for stopping by x

  3. Herself's Mama

    Hehehe. Look harrassed at immigration. An excellent tip, as is allowing your kids to run just a leeeetle bit wild if the queue is very long.

    I must say I have never understood why you would want to get on the plane first with children.

    1. Nicola

      looking harassed at immigration is my top tip AND my default expression in immigration queues!

  4. littlemissmum

    Hi Nicola. I’m flying solo with a 4-year-old to Brisbane in May. On the LHR-SIN leg it’s the A380 with 3-4-3 seat configuration. What do you think is best for the two of us; taking the window and middle seat, or a middle and aisle seat (or aisle seat in the block of 4)? It’s night flights both ways. Thanks.

    1. Nicola

      That’s a tough one but I would probably suggest taking middle & aisle in the vain hope that you might possibly get the seat next to you free. It’s less likely in a 3 as the aisle will get taken by somebody else. Good luck and happy flying!

  5. Wendy

    Thank you so much for these tips! I’m flying solo in April with my 7 month old and 2.5yr old from Perth to London. I’m really nervous about it and trying to get as prepared as possible. I’m hoping for an extra seat at least, as my 7 month old is a big boy and not sure how he’ll go in the bassinet! We are flying emirates…

    1. Nicola

      Hi Wendy I’ve now flown Emirates so not sure how big the bassinet is. Hopefully he will still just about fit! Safe travels

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