A few days ago I had the daunting task of flying with young kids. I took a flight with both my girls (aged 2yo 11m and 11m) long distance ON MY OWN. To be honest, I am a realist and I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. I am also a planner, and had thought about the logistics of travelling with two young kids long in advance. So here is how I did it.
When to get to the airport with kids
My flight was at 9pm at night which is perfect timing for the girls to fall asleep. My husband is a frequent traveller and he worked out that getting to the airport at 7pm would be ample time for us to get through security and walk to our gate for early boarding. But I knew that the hours before take off they would be at their crankiest. Less time in the airport meant less time struggling with two little people. BUT don’t leave it too late or you will be rushing to get your flight.
How to pack strategically for the flight with kids
With only two hands and two kids to watch, I could only take the necessities. I had two bags to carry everything. Each bag was slung over one of the push chair handles.
Bag one is our trusty purple Longchamp. This was my go-to bag for emergency snacks, nappies or bottles. It contained our trusty pink nappy purse which makes life easy to nip to the loo (see Longchamp link for more). I packed small bags of snacks to grab, bottles to last the entire trip and liquid paracetemol if we encountered sore ears.
Bag two is our beautiful Mamas & Papas Liberty Parker Tote (to be launched this September). This is a bigger bag and I managed to stuff two spare changes of clothes for each of the girls and spare for myself. I also packed muslins, a cashmere blanket (light and very warm) for The Littlest and my laptop. Oh, and a lifesaving iPad with hours of Peppa Pig and Ben And Holly.
How to navigate through the airport with kids
I took our BabyBjorn One Carrier and an old beat up Maclaren stroller that we take on every flight. The BabyBjorn One Carrier is fantastic for such an occasion because you can carry either child in it. So I had one in the carrier and one in the stroller. All the time. Even though Bug protested and wanted to walk, hell would freeze over before I let her out the stroller.
I made sure I got a tag at check in that asked the ground staff at our destination to return the stroller to the aircraft door so that I could put Bug back in the pram when we disembarked. Sometimes they send it through to the luggage hall unless you have a tag asking them not to.
How to keep your nerve getting through airport security
This was the biggest ball ache of the entire airport experience. You need to give yourself enough time to get through this and don’t pay attention to anyone else in the queue because if you get frazzled your kids will get frazzled and it could end in tears (for all of you).
Check what needs to go through the X-ray – I only had to send our bags. Bug had to get out of the stroller and walk on her own through the metal detector. I could keep The Littlest strapped to me and they did a body search to check all was in order.
One of our bags was pulled aside and unpacked because I hadn’t separated the liquids. This delayed us quite a bit and with Bug getting fractious, I whipped out the iPad and stuck her in a corner until we were ready to go.
The airport experience overall
We had a quick pit stop in the airport lounge to change nappies, ensure Bug did a wee and I had a few sips of a cool drink to keep me going. The staff at the gate boarded us first and we really helpful in settling us on to the plane.
I will post the The Airplane Experience soon with tips on surviving a flight on your own with young kids ON YOUR OWN.