Travelling with a toddler
Last weekend I flew to London with our 17month old toddler. At the time of booking she was less active & less independent and as I was going over to visit family I said no bother I’ll take her with me sure it will be grand.
My first tip would be to try and book a lunch time/daytime flight if possible!!! Morning and evening flights are much much busier!! Our flight was booked for 12.30. Now Bebhinn usually goes down for a nap around 11/11.30 so I thought we would manage to push it out. Of course not! she fell asleep in the car on the way to the airport typical!! It wasn’t all bad though as she didn’t wake up when we moved her from her car seat to the buggy. She then slept the whole way through departures and security and in fairness to the lovely people on security that day when they saw her asleep they said let her be! They just wheeled her through the security scanner while I took off bags, shoes, belts, jewellery etc etc.
I had a quick browse in duty free and then toddled over to grab a much needed coffee and snack. Two sips in and she woke (your peaceful time is up mammy). I had taken a booth so I popped her in beside me, gave her a drink and a snack and she was happy out looking around nibbling away & waving at strangers.
Most airports now have a children’s play area and I must say Shannon airport have a great play area. It’s a purpose built area with loads of puzzles and mirrors quite different to anything they would have at home or in the local playground. It is located in a quieter area of the airport but you are not stuck in a corner it’s easy to find and we knocked a good 40 minutes out of it. Which was just perfect as our gate was opening. I would also like to mention that Shannon Airport also have a sensory room for children with autism which was newly opened this summer. I have only seen pictures but it’s a fantastic feature to have at an airport.
Staff on the flight were lovely, I won’t lie it wasn’t easy to keep her sitting on my lap while we waited for take off. Of course she had no interest in the toys I had bought she wanted to see where all the people were going. Once we started moving she sat down and I gave her a bottle. We were nearly up and the little monkey threw her bottle between the seat & the window and of course it rolled backwards. There was nobody behind us so we had to wait until the staff were back on the floor to ask them to retrieve it. The staff were so helpful on the flight. I can highly recommend Aer Lingus to fly with when flying solo with children. My next tip is to call into your local bookshop for a new book this worked a treat for us (throughout the weekend) and I had popped to the Euro shop for a few fiddly toys to keep her entertained which also worked a treat for us.
Another top tip for me when traveling with children in airports is to use a carrier this way your hands are free because at some stage there will be steps and if using buggy and pulley case something is going to have to give! I travelled with both a stroller and a carrier and I used both. I had the stroller for when she fell asleep at the start of the journey and carrier for the busy airport like Heathrow.
Our return journey wasn’t quite so simple! In my wisdom I booked the 8 o’clock return flight thinking it would work perfect with her bedtime! In my grand plan we would arrive at the gate I would pop on her pyjamas & jacket and she would be asleep within minutes….
I didn’t consider what would happen if the flight was delayed for almost 2 hours! Now in fairness to my little princess she was so good for someone who loves her bed she didn’t give out once. On our return we flew back from Gatwick. Again they had a lovely children’s play centre this time it was right in the middle of the airport surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops & duty free. We spent almost an hour playing away here and then we went for something to eat. The flight was still delayed when we finished eating so we went for a stroll around duty free and we ended up back at the play area! By this stage she had her fair share of playing done and it was getting late so she didn’t settle as well this time but between people watching and snacks she played a little or sat on my lap. Finally our flight was called and we toddled down to the boarding gate where there was a massive queue. By this time she was not in the form for waiting in line and was starting to give out. In fairness to Ryanair they came up to the families in the queue and brought us forward. After a 2 hour delay I could feel the daggers in my back by the poor people queuing but I had a toddler who needed her bed and was not going to last much longer in that queue sorry!
Got her ready for bed then, jacket on shoes back on & bottle near the top of the changing bag. By this time she was antsy she wanted her bed and I wanted mine!!! We queued to board and when I walked down the towards our seat I felt sorry for the guy in the middle aisle who saw me coming and thought OH NO PLEASE DON’T SIT HERE (I’ll just close my eyes and she might just keep going!!! Sorry sir I’m going to have to ask you to let me in there!) By this stage Bebhinn was not happy there isn’t room to swing a cat and the poor pet just wanted to lie down and be comfy. I had to give her the bottle straight away she wasn’t going to wait any longer for her long awaited baba! She was asleep in minutes poor pet!! My concern now was she drank all her milk and I was worried about her ears on the journey. I don’t know what it is about children and babies but it particularly hurts their little ears. And so it was, as soon as we begin the decent she erupts in her sleep. She doesn’t take a soother so I’m pretty goosed without a bottle.
I asked a member of staff for some milk but he tells me that the only milk they have is powdered and children can’t have that. When she’s not settling at all I press the buzzer to ask another member of staff for water, juice (whiskey) anything to put into the bottle to settle her I really think she is in pain at this stage. He is a pure gent and says I think there’s some milk down the back not much but it may help. And true to his word there’s only a couple of ounces in it but it does the trick. She’s back sound asleep and we land 10 minutes later. Everyone has their own opinion about Ryanair but I can honestly say the staff went out of their way to help me on our journey.
We’re so lucky to live close to an airport because hubby was outside waiting for us and we were home in our beds by 12 o’clock. It was a long, long day but we already planning our next trip abroad and this time I think we’ll bring big brother & hubby along with us.
My Top Travel & Airport Tips when travelling with a toddler
- Check in online and use the airline apps, I did and I found it a breeze!
- Arrive early there is loads to do at airports and the play areas are great for smallies
- Use a carrier for the airport. If you can, keep your buggy until you reach the plane, that way if there is a delay at least your little one will be comfortable and have a sleep and you can sit comfortably too
- Have some new toys, books and lots of little snacks for the flight
- Bring a spare bottle or actually bring 2 spare bottle full to the top with milk
- If possible book a day time flight, evening flights are busy and if you get delayed it can throw you right off course!
- Use a harness (I forgot mine) this way your toddler can walk around the busy airport with you nearby tiring themselves out for the journey ahead 😉
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