FLYING WITH A BABY AND TODDLER ACROSS THE WORLD … SOLO

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(All photos were taken by the amazing Justine of MiltonPhotography. Make-up was done at the crack of dawn, with extreme talent and care, by the gorgeous Katie Kerr)

Outfit inspiration: Red crops | Nautical shirt (here and here) | Striped dress | Girls’ Dresses here, here (LOVE this) and hereGingham top | Leggings| Sparkly shoes Here and here. | Minimoc shoes | Hair bows

We all find ways to parent, to survive, and ultimately, travel with our children. I’ve flown enough with both children, that I’ve learnt they can’t throw a major wild card at me. I’ve even enjoyed some of our “en-route-ness” – especially on our  nine-hour drive to and from Italy with Oma and Opa. 

My two biggest pieces of advice:

  • Expectation is everything. // Lower your expectations and then lower them again. Flying or driving long distances isn’t the most magical and enjoyable experience for adults who generally have full bladder control, wine and movies. Why would it be for kids?
  • You can do it!! // You can do anything for [x] amount of hours. I often break it down to this: I can birth, be sick, fly, drive, suffer … you name it … for [x] amount of hours. Humans are wonderfully resilient people. You can even travel unscathed!  I remember telling friends, “I’m with my kids everyday, this will be no different. I’m their mom on the plane, just the same as on the ground”

One of my biggest accomplishments was travelling solo with the girls. Did I mention my kids don’t play games on the iPad, aren’t allowed to touch my phone and don’t have any tech devices? (One caveat – we did watch Frozen on the iPad while on the airplane.) But absolutely no technology in the car. Can you imagine? Almost like when we were all kids! 

Driving from Italy to Germany

This was an unexpectedly long drive, but circumstances led us to simply travel all the way to our destination in one day. There was some toilet angst with my toddler, where we had to find three rest stops in about 20 minutes, but we survived. Baby nursed every two to three hours and this was also accomplished. We sang, read books, slept and chatted.

Flying from Germany to Canada

While sojourning a three hour car ride to the Frankfurt Airport, my eldest daughter puked. How comforting! We then had three hours at the airport and a nine-hour flight home. And do you know what? We all did great. Baby played on the floor beside me (we sat at the back of the plane), slept in the carrier, fussed here and there, but did great overall. Toddler busied herself with her toy bag, fishing with her headphones, walking up and down the aisle, and listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat. 

Here are my general tips:

  • Age. This plays a huge role in what to expect from your kids. I find 18 months one of the hardest ages to travel by plane, because all children want to do  at this stage is move and play. I found lots of ideas on Pinterest for creative activities. Watching something on the iPad wasn’t even an option at this point as my daughter wasn’t interested. We played with play dough, we coloured, we read, we crafted. Basically, they are busy and they will be busy on the plane. And you can do it. It might not be easy, but let me remind you:  you can do it. 
  • Baby carrier. The baby carrier was my saving grace until the 18 month stage. I’d plop the kid in when fussiness was at its worst and walked the aisles until the child fell asleep. Then I would walk back to my seat and have a mini rest myself. Once I had two kids, my eldest child followed me up and down the the aisle pretending to fish with her headphones while I bounced the younger babe in my carrier. Probably not ideal for everyday behaviour, but when a two year old has been up for 18 hours, you make some allowances for fishing on the airplane.
  • Goal. Do you want to get to your destination? Then whatever the experience in “getting there”, the goal awaiting the other side will be worth it.
  • Snacks. I know people often say “bring a million snacks”. I didn’t use this tactic. Yes, I had snacks. I’m a mom. My title is synonymous with food. But I brought sandwiches, veggies and fruit, and maybe 1-2 treats. My daughters aren’t used to snacking throughout the day at home, so this expectation was already set.
  • Toys. Yes. Bring toys. Books. Stickers. Tattoos. Jamberry nails. Something new to keep them entertained. Pom poms, beads and string, colouring, pretend phone … you know your child best. Scope out the dollar store and Michaels. When my daughter was around that 12-18 month stage, I would pull out a different toy every hour. Sometimes every half hour …
  • Technology. Let your kid watch a movie. But don’t feel you have to have them sit in front of a screen the entire flight. If this is something you do at home, then be consistent. If not, then don’t feel pressure to have apps, movies and shows.
  • Sleep. We had our two year old sleep at our feet when it was really dark. We dressed her in her pyjamas, brushed her teeth and read a story. We maintained her night time routine as though we were at home. No whining, please. You know the rules: lie down, be very quiet and go to sleep. Now hit the hay, my Sweetheart!
  • Stop apologizing. Apologize once, maybe twice (or if your child obviously crosses some personal boundary) but don’t worry about what other people think. You’ve got to get from A to B just like everyone else. If they don’t like kids, well they should have travelled first class. People are very willing to help out and are generally gracious.

What tips do you have to normalize travelling with children?

Let’s keep the conversation going – check out my photos, tips, recipes and style  on InstagramFacebook & Pinterest ! 

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2 Comments

  1. October 10, 2016 / 4:13 pm

    You are one brave lady! As a new Mom, I’m really enjoying reading your tips and tricks and look forward to the little one growing up to the age where he can “go fishing” with headphones ;).

    • Merry Golden
      October 14, 2016 / 6:42 pm

      You are so sweet. Glad to be of help! Our next trip (with me as solo mama!) will be to Nashville!

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