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Top Tips for Surviving Long-Haul Flights with a Toddler.

Do you have any great tips for us which we didn’t include here? We’d always love to know more.

Thank you to Swiss Air for a very, smooth first long-haul flight with our toddler. Your kiddy supplies and your staff on-board were truly world-class and really went out of their way to assist us with Caleb, constantly check if we needed anything and did so with the most genuine of smiles.

Yes!!! Family Check-in Counter. The first airline we've ever flown with who have an entire check-in dedicated to those with kids.

Flights in general can be a terrifying possibility for parents with babies and toddlers. Toddlers especially as they are more active (in our son’s case: highly active), not keen to be seated when the seatbelt sign is on and may find joy in running up and down the aisle for hours. In his young 2 years, Caleb has already been on 31 flights, yet the thought of a long-haul flight still instills mild trepidation within us. As we’ve learnt, there are however a few things you can prepare for and tools to arm yourself for a smooth-ish long-haul flight:

1. Surprises

Whilst you certainly don’t want any surprises while locked in an airtight cube flying across the skies, your toddler most certainly does. So plan well and produce a fun, quirky and inexpensive toy or gadget every 30mins or so. I bought tons of cheap little toys and hid them in mini-boxes, bags with zips he had to try open and little plastic eggs. The added joy of the reveal is half the excitement of actually discovering a new toy. My son refuses to play with any of his own toys while traveling but new ones, Yes (if only for a few minutes).

Before you even board the flight, make sure you have a comfy carrier or lightweight pram to make the in-transit times easier. We never go anywhere without our Ubuntu Baba Stage 2 Carrier,

Even before boarding the flight, don't go anywhere without a carrier for those in-transit times.

2. Stickers, pens and Sticky notes.

The allure of sticking things on himself, me and anyone who may walk past too slowly is just so great. Plus he loved being able to stick notes on the seat in front of us and write ‘on the seat’. Plus stickers really have the added appeal of taking long to loosen and stick. Swiss Air were the first airline we’d ever been on where kids were really catered for. Upon boarding Caleb received a soft toy airplane (which he loved for 5 minutes) but the stickers and sticker card with a Switzerland ski resort setting was something he loved during the flight and on lots of our train rides throughout Europe afterwards.

The awesome sticker book and sticker set provided by Swiss Air on the flight.

3. Snacks

Aside from the myriads of nappies and clothing changes my carry-on bag now carries, snack form an important part. Snacks can prevent the onset of a tantrum or soothe a sore, tired heart. Pack lots of your kids favorite snacks (barring sweets or anything that will bring on a sugar high at the start of a flight). Try include apple chunks, little raisins, rice cakes or other bits that will take a long time to chew and make that an activity in itself. Things like yoghurt and gooey delights are best left for when you don’t mind them getting really dirty.

4. Their very own screen.

Once we discovered that Caleb would lovingly watch kids shows on a tablet, we have yet to travel again without it. In certain countries (thankfully South Africa is one of them), YouTube allows you to save tons of videos to watch online which was truly amazing. Only when we reached Europe did we discover that all his favorite saved shows were not available without wifi. So check which countries allow the saving options else make sure you have downloaded videos and subscribed to your kids favorite channels before boarding.

5. Night flight

I’m not sure I would survive a long-haul flight without it being at night. As here you have the added benefit of everyone else sleeping, lights switched off in the plane (and if you don’t have a massive time difference) and it being your child’s bed time.

Night-flight heaven at Zurich International Airport. An entire room dedicated to babies, kids and parents before they have to fly.Airports around the globe can learn from this.

5. PJ’s Pillow and Blanket

Hopefully you’re on a night flight and it really does help to mimic your child’s bedtime routine as best as possible. Even if it’s only pajamas, brushing of teeth, maybe reading of a story and having a pillow and blanket they like. I’m not which airlines permit this but we were able to place him on blankets with a pillow on the floor in front of us (as he’s too big for a bassinet) where he could sleep undisturbed. He wasn’t yet two years old and didn’t have his own seat so holding him for an entire flight would’ve been a nightmare.

6. Natural and medicinal sanity-savers

Here’s where consulting your paed or child’s doctor is essential. We asked our doctor and he ok’ed us using a medication Caleb has used before which has drowsy effects. He advised that we are able to use it safely and give it to him every 5 hours to help him sleep for a long-haul flight. For us, it was a saving grace as usually Caleb finds it hard to fall asleep in strange places plus he gets quite hyper on a plane. 11 hours of this and we (together with most of the passengers) may have wanted to escape via the sealed plane door. Thankfully he was able to get some sleep, wake up happy upon landing and so were we. Do be sure to test any medication your doctor suggests prior to flying as different meds affect children differently and can hype them up instead of calming.

Do you have any great tips for us which we didn’t include here? We’d always love to know more.

Thank you to Swiss Air for a very, smooth first long-haul flight with our toddler. Your kiddy supplies and your staff on-board were truly world-class and really went out of their way to assist us with Caleb, constantly check if we needed anything and did so with the most genuine of smiles.

For our Domestic journey from Cape Town to Joburg; Thank you to Avios and Kulula for giving us the opportunity to enjoy their new partnership where you can use your Avios points to book flights.

Making use of our Avios points for our domestic journey with Kulula.com

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