The phrase “travelling alone” sounds bliss once you have experienced “travelling alone – with kids”. It is anything but alone.
Even needing the toilet means bringing all your kids and luggage into the disabled toilet and then having to jump off the toilet quickly to stop your youngest from pressing the emergency help button whilst your eldest successfully unlocks the door to show everyone.
Yet despite its hassles travelling alone with kids can be done. No matter how much disaster can incur during the journey, it will come to an end and normal family chaos will resume. So how can you best prepare for the unnerving experience of flying with children without the help of an extra pair of hands?
Don’t overpack. Even if you have help up until security, after all your bags are checked in, you still need to pick them up at the other end and go through customs control before meeting more help. Theoretically all your luggage will need to fit on top of a luggage trolley. This can often be 2 large suitcases and perhaps something extra on top. One child can go in a pushchair whilst the other sits on the BedBox, towed behind the pushchair. The BedBox can contain all their needs for the journey. Finally, a backpack is the most practical hand luggage solution for yourself in this situation. You’ll easily get to the passports and tickets with enough space for anything extra needed. Don’t bring one too heavy as you do not need more tiring out than you already have got. One of the potential requirements of this job is to quickly dash across the terminal after a runaway child.
Passports and Permission
Remember that if you fly alone with children, especially if you do not share the same surname or nationality as your children, it is a good idea to have a photocopy of their birth certificate and/or a letter of permission from the other parent followed by a photocopy of their passport.
Allow for plenty of time. Even if you know the airport well, taking children through security alone and walking through airport corridors takes longer when by yourself. It may be wise to plan enough time to stop and buy a treat for your kids once through security. Characterise the journey as an “adventure”, the kids will be excited hopefully behaved through “activity” at task.
On the plane
If you are using one BedBox, make sure it is place on the window seat or the middle seat in the middle row. If there are multiple BedBoxes, make sure they are not blocking anyone’s – including your own – exit. A good idea would be to have two BedBoxes in the middle seats in the middle row. Encouraging children to keep their seat belts on during the entire flight not only keeps them safe but keeps them from jumping around the entire plane! The CARES seat belt harness works perfectly in combination with the BedBox and keeps children still and safe.
Break the plane journey into several stages depending on the hours and the time. How long will you encourage playing/reading for before naptime? Make sure you have enough food left for the entire journey to use as a distraction during landing. It is sometimes useful to have a surprise fruit pouch for young kids especially if you are stuck in “traffic” waiting to land at Heathrow or another particularly busy airport. Keeping your area tidy and not emptying your bags immediately will help you find what you need quickly without losing it mid-flight.
Air hostesses are friendly and often willing to help out. As long as they aren’t pushing the food trolley or attending another customer, ask them to look after one child whilst you take the other to the bathroom.
Travelling with One
If you have read all of this and travelling with only one child, then fear not. Travelling with one child alone is a breeze. Spending one-to-one time with them whilst on an adventure makes the journey a special treat for both you and them.