Thank you for all of your well-wishes, they obviously helped. We survived yet another cross-atlantic voyage, with only minor mishaps, which include but are not limited to:
- Almost having an international incident over forgetting Ellis' toy bus that he never plays with but obviously NEEDED on the flight from Edinburgh to JFK
- Ellis vomiting on me on 3 times and then vomiting on some toy cars at a toy store at JFK. We are now the proud owners of a new and now sanitized Mack truck from the movie Cars
- Bringing the wrong sized knitting needles on the flight, so I had to watch a movie. Slumdog Millionaire is amazing by the way.
- Having to stop myself from slugging the 647th person who told me to "Watch his head" when I was boarding the plan with Ellis on my back. They were just being helpful. They were just being helpful. They were just being helpful.
- And I can't not mention the trip to the emergency room the night before we left with a certain German friend, who had better be resting as I type this.
For posterity and to help me remember NEXT time I decide to do this, here is my little bit of wisdom on a matter that I am now officially an expert in.
Top tips for flying with babies and toddlers:
1. SLING. If you have not already been convinced about the wonder that is carrying your child in a sling, airports are THE BEST moment to invest in one. You will need two hands to haul stuff, go through security, show your boarding pass the minimum 600 times required, put your hand luggage up and eat as you run through the airport trying to make your next connection (because your toddler will throw your in flight meal all over you and the floor). This can not be done with a push chair, plus airlines beat the hell out of them.
2. A change of clothes for you and child. You will need it. Being in a confined space with small children means mess. On this trip it meant snot + white sauce from the pasta + vomit...interestingly all the same colour.
3. A rolling suitcase for carryon that is big enough to hold your coats. We are hot blooded people and I can not stand to wear a coat all the time. This also meant I had free hands to attend to needs.
4. More nappies than you think you need. Think about squeezing a tube of toothpaste. I am convinced that the pressure changes have the same effect on children's intestines. YUCK.
5. Toys and books--a mix of old and "new". In our case "new" meant digging around in my purses to find various cars he had not seen in months. Also, do not bring things that involve small parts. Stickers are good (we taught E to stick them on himself, which has the added bonus of entertaining US while on the flight). Remember there is a lot of in-flight entertainment these days, so you don't need much, even for long trips.
6. Snacks. Snacks. Snacks. You will not find many baby and toddler friendly snacks wherever you go, so bring some with you. We love Organix crisps for travel and those squeezey fruit/veg combo smoothy things from Ella's Kitchen. At least its not completely awful for them and they ARE allowed as its classed as baby food.
7. Unless you have a very quiet, laid back sort of baby or toddler, DO NOT board first. Use every single moment you are on the ground to run around and tire them out. If your hand luggage is miles away because the bins are full when you do board, someone will help you get at the things you need.
8. Throw your rules out the window. Travel is stressful. Allowingthings that you may not normally allow is not going to kill them. Watching the movies on flight or eating crap isn't great, and good on you if you can avoid it, but if not, cut yourself some slack.
And just for knowledge-sharing, I have to say that if you have to travel with a toddler car seat, get yourself one of these :