As most of you know, this is a topic I’ve covered quite often. And as my son grows up, his needs, tantrums and my survival tips ( a.k.a bribery and distraction) take on a new light with each flight. Having survived 31 flights ( all Return flights from Cape Town) with him before he even turned two years old, it’s safe to say I have a few pearls to share which may or may not work for your child. Even if not, I hope this serves as a reminder that when your child loses it on a long-haul flight and you have nowhere to run, hide or escape, you are not alone. And every parent will probably experience it in their lifetime. Strength to you! Here’s a few of my top sanity-savers:
1. The Element of Surprise.
Aside from your regular choice of entertainment to keep your child occupied, never underestimate the powerful element of surprise. I either wrap little surprise gifts of little cheap toys/games and present them every 30 minutes or when need. Wrapping is more admin and adds an entire layer ( and length of time) to the opening, but concealing new little toys/books/games or treats in mini-boxes or bags work just as well. Try to keep sugar-laced gifts to a minimum as this will do the opposite of calm your child down. Keep the sweet treats or your child’s favorite snack for when you need your bribery game to be strongest. Whilst bribery is said to not be the best way to discipline or guide your toddler, whilst you’re trapped in a plane with a toddler throwing a demonic tantrum, you will do what you must.
With the mad amount of goodies your baby/toddler and young kids while flying, you have to take extra care to a) Pack only the essentials in one carry-on backpack and b) Always travel with a comfortable and reliable carrier to remain as hands-free as possible. Running after your toddler through the airport crowds wielding heavy bags and your passport is not something you ever want to experience. ( I can’t even imagine the super parents who travel with two or more little people). I have yet to travel without a carrier when my son was a baby and even now with his upgraded toddler carrier which serves as a great sleeping aid on the plane, a great assistance for missioning around while traveling and in-transit and a way to literally bind them to you when you have to go to the toilet or when you’re flying solo.
3. On-Screen entertainment.
Since my son first took interest in a tablet or any kind of on-screen entertainment, we literally never travelled without it. In South Africa and a few other listed countries, YouTube allows you to save videos for offline viewing which has worked like a bomb for us while flying domestically. It didn’t work internationally, so then we had to ensure we had our saved videos. Better yet subscribe to your child’s channels of choice, get them headphones they’ll get a kick out of wearing and live in hope that you too can relax for a short while ( and be seated) for part of the flight.
For more tips from parents-in-the-know watch this video by Travelstart South Africa:
Flying with young kids can be a daunting endeavour but if you hype up the airplane journey before hand and get them excited before they even get on the plane, a small part of your battle will be won. Everytime Caleb goes to the airport, he thinks he will be flying and screams loudly ‘airplane’ and then gets utterly sad when he’s not the one travelling. Be prepared for every possible breakdown or emergency and don’t travel without natural or medicinal sleeping aids ( prescribed by your child’s doctor) Other than that, Good Luck and God’s Speed! To find some Cheapflights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, look no further.
This post was done in collaboration with Travelstart.co.za