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#1. The Mountain of Equipment
- Make long list of things you need while you are away staying with friends that have no children.
- Decide list too long and start again.
- 2nd list slightly shorter but start to realise all the things that you need to look after a baby or to amuse your toddler.
- Phone friend and ask her if she has any friends who can lend stuff but sadly no, you will have to bring everything yourself.
- Make 3rd list crossing off steriliser (we’ll take the risk), baby wipe warmer (cold will have to do) and 10 spare dummies (we can buy new ones there).
- Calculate required luggage and realise you will either have to pay for extra seat for your 1 year old or pay overweight luggage fines.
Lesson: Never plan to stay with friends who don’t have kids, it’s not worth it.
#2. Overweight Luggage
You turn up at airport first time to fly with your no-frills airline or on your super-economy-economy ticket and realise to your horror that bags are overweight by the time you have stuffed in blankie and other baby essentials. Pay a ridiculous fine in order to transport required necessities because of course your child doesn’t qualify for own bag due to being on your lap due to cost of extra seat that you decided wasn’t worth paying for.
Lesson: Never fly with children on so-called cheap airlines, they hate parents and families and will do anything they can to inconvenience you. Your total flight cost could fund 20 day spa treats if you had the time, the energy and the babysitter available.
#3. Security Stress
To go through security with your baby/toddler you need to:
- take everything off the stroller that you have been using as your 2nd pair of hands
- try to take out toiletries and electronic items and coins from pocket
- take off your shoes and answer the questions of your preschooler “Why do you have to take your shoes off Mum?” and “Why are they checking all of our things Mum?”
- make sure everything is on the trays while apologising to person behind who is of course a sleekly dressed business man/woman with a copy of the paper under their arm and a slim laptop heading off to some glamorous destination
- wipe the sweat, sorry perspiration off your brow as you taste the baby’s bottle/medicine/juice cup to show security you are not a crazed Mum-baby-bomber
- reassure your toddler that they can walk in front of Mummy through the magic archway
- endure the extra check as they investigate the talcum powder/baby food/mysterious goo that your toddler has stuck to the bottom of some toy
- get everything back off trays, put on shoes, throw baby/toddler/bags back on stroller
Lesson: What can I say, don’t fly with kids, it’s too stressful
Now that we fly low-cost, the so called “Queuing System” for boarding planes is patently designed to raise stress levels of every parent. Boarding starts early for Gold Members, Platinum Members, Diamond Members, Frequent Flyer Plans that have no Children Members…
No more priority boarding for those of us with smallies, we must try to keep a place in a queue for 45 minutes at least, while trying to jiggle our baby/control sorry amuse our preschooler and stop them running around out of our sight, invariably somebody needs the toilet or nappy needs changing 2 minutes before boarding
Lesson: Get to terminal as early as humanly possible and camp out/have a picnic on floor at front of queuing system. Ignore glares of fellow passengers as you take over a wide circle of space with your belongings, your children and your picnic debris.
#5. On the Plane
You will of course lose your hard earned front spot in the queue as soon as you hit the tarmac and have to take off all the bags from buggy and fold it up.
You will climb on the plane carrying 3 bags, baby under arm, dragging toddler on to find that the only seats available together are in the middle of the plane.
Toddler will need toilet during take off or landing.
Toddler will need reprimanding as they kick seat in front over and over.
Baby will require changing. Ever tried changing a baby on the plane? Believe me it’s a Houdini-like task as you squeeze aforementiond baby plus toddler plus self into tiny toilet, lower changing board, change baby, stop toddler squeezing soap all over toilet floor or throwing paper towels down toilet.
Return to seat and realise you forgot to go yourself and seatbelt sign just went on.
Clean baby decides to do world’s worst poo and you are forced to change them on your lap, you decide to do this quickly on your lap as plane has landed and is still waiting to go to gate and you’ve no idea how long it will take to get off and find a baby changing toilet.
Fellow old lady passenger gasps in horror as nappy unveiled and asks you “Are you sure that’s a girl with a nappy like that?!” (I kid you not).
Manage to clean up baby, throw dirty nappy etc in your changing bag which is stuffed under seat. Twist neck and back and arm getting children and bags off plane.
Arrive injured, smelly and exhausted.
Lesson: As soon as you board ask which end of plane the changing toilet is located at and sit as close as you can. As soon as seatbelt sign goes off, whisk baby & toddler to toilet to get ablutions done. Keep spare wet wipes in bag.
You might enjoy reading 10 Reasons to Holiday with a Toddler or Baby
#6. Long Haul Flights
Having foolishly decided to bite the bullet and take your baby/toddler on long haul flight, you turn up on plane to discover that the reserved “bassinet” turns out to be a Cardboard Box that is put on the dinner tray in front of you. Baby must be taken out of aforementiond bassinet any time seatbelt sign goes off during flight so you will end up waking poor baby up so many times that bassinet becomes storage box for your items and you end up with heavy baby sleeping on top of you for flight.
Lesson: There is no lesson. Don’t take long haul flights and expect baby to lie sleeping the whole time. Expect the worst then if it doesn’t happen be happy.
#7. Yukky Car Seats
You book child car seats in advance online. Turn up after long flight to discover car seats from Middle Ages looking like they have been through a war and back again with many stains from previous occupants. Car hire agent shrugs shoulders and says that’s all that there is. Cry.
Lesson: Take own car seats.
#8. Stroller/pram goes missing at other end
When you climb exhausted off plane clutching heavy carry on bags (how much do wetwipes weigh anyway) to find stroller that was handed over at departure gate has kindly been sent with all suitcases instead of being handed back over at arrival gate. Walk 3 miles dragging bags that would have been slung over stroller until you find baggage hall. Stroller is not in baggage hall. Ask weary looking baggage hall claim person to help. They turn out to be angel in disguise and allow you to borrow a left-behind stroller as long as you leave it at your next departure gate.
Lesson: Watch out for angels in disguise, people are not always as they appear to be. Ok, real lesson is triple check with departure staff that buggy will be at arrival gate. Don’t mind if they think you are anal and uptight, remember you are facing a 3 mile walk with heavy baby and bags
#9. Air Pressure = Ow Ears
I once spent a whole flight (luckily only 45 minutes long – the longest 45 minutes of my life) with my 16 month old screaming and howling at the top of her voice. She was my first child and had never had an ear infection so I had no idea about the whole flying/air pressure/ear agony thing. Well meaning fellow passengers continued to ask me “Is she ok?”.
Lesson: My tip is to give Calpol or Nurofen before you fly if they are slightly under the weather when travelling, e.g. they have a slight cold because the ear tubes may be congested. Breastfeeding is great for take off and landing, bottles/dummies help them suck. Try to keep your baby awake during take off and landing as well.
#10. Favourite Cuddly Toys packed in Missing Suitcase
One straight Destination A to Destination B (known as point-to-point flight in the industry in case you were even slightly interested) flight later, suitcase with daughter’s favourite bedtime cuddlies was missing at other end. Standing with distraught toddler in baggage claim filling out forms late in the evening and facing bedtime without the prospect of her favourites. “Oh you’ll be surprised at the bags that turn up here from round the world” gave me that additional confidence I needed just then in the airline baggage handling system.
Lesson: NEVER PACK FAVOURITE TOYS IN CHECKED BAGS REPEAT NEVER PACK FAVOURITE TOYS IN CHECKED BAGS
Over to you now. Have you any frightful travel experiences with your baby or toddler? Share them below!