Travelling with a minor is, well, an interesting experience to say the least, however travelling with a toddler- on your own is just madness. The last time I jumped onto a flight with our daughter, was when she was only 6 weeks old- that is in itself was a mission that I will never repeat at that tender age. Recently however, I travelled to Zambia with my daughter on her maiden trip to the motherland. I had been looking forward to this for so long, I guess it didn’t occur to me that travelling without her father would pose some stress on an otherwise joyous trip. In her defence, she was relatively well behaved (take this with a pinch of salt, as she really is a snotty toddler) and she was compliant most of the time. My major gripes are actually a sum total of my lack of planning and foresight. I learnt the hard way and I have a few tips for you:
- CHECK-IN IN ADVANCE
In this day and age, I feel like it is unforgivable for one to miss out on the convenience of online check-in. I made the mistake of not doing so while travelling with a kid. Needless to say, I was so flustered especially when they said they would have to place my 2 year old and I seats far away from each other (clearly they are clueless about what terrible two’s are). Fortunately, they managed to place us together eventually.
- ARRIVE EARLY
Especially if you haven’t done an advance check in.
- MINIMISE CABIN BAGGAGE
Let’s face it, traveling with a kid already means you have a minimum of 2 pieces of luggage (the kid + the kid’s bag). So it is counter-intuitive to even contemplate carrying your own mountain of bags. I would recommend a small sling bag for ladies, or men for that matter and/or a backpack. In my case, I was wise because I was aware of my daughter’s “carry me” syndrome, so I packed all her stuff (more on her stuff later) and my documents into the backpack and this made my travel so much easier.
- PACK LIGHT FOR YOURSELF
It really isn’t necessary to carry so much clothing and shoes and toiletries and etc. The same principal as the previous point applies- you would rather carry less for yourself and pack wise in order to maximise on your kid’s stuff. Which leads me to the next point.
- DO NOT PACK LIGHT FOR THE LITTLE ONE
It’s just not worth it. Do not do it. Pack it all. As many pants, tights and tops. Every shoe variation- boot, sneaker, slip on, bed slippers, random-ugly-shoe-that-they-insist-on-wearing, Elsa’s Frozen slipper, throw ‘em all in. Just remember to be mindful of exactly what you’ve packed in order to minimise on the items that remain at your destination after you return.
- PACK WARM CLOTHES FOR THE KIDS
Regardless of your destination, pack a few warm pieces of clothing. This is especially essential for the flights that always have their air-con turned up to North Pole temperatures.
- PACK STUFF FOR THE KID
This means pack whatever keeps your child entertained and happy. Stuffed animals, games, books, colouring stuff, play dough, random toys. This will buy time for you when you need to zone out and generally cope.
- PACK ESSENTIAL MEDS
Each parent knows what they require for their kid and so these must be packed even if you are going to a thriving economic country. It just helps to have your drugs ready when you need them. I carried and used the following:
- Panado (Used)
- Antidiarrheal Medicine (Used)
- Antihistamine (Used)
- Buscopan (Didn’t Use)
- Mosquito Repellent (Used it even though it’s not medical, its essential at times)
- PACK SNACKS AND TREATS
You can’t predict when you will actually eat on the flight, or how long you will have to wait. Even with stores around, it is always best to have some snacks on hand for your child. In my case, I even threw in some contraband (sweets) to use as bribery when the kid was out of order and I needed to end it, immediately.
And as a bonus tip:
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BELOW 2 YEARS FREE FLIGHT
My daughter is 2 and a half and so we paid about 80% of a full fare. It hurt because she fell asleep early on the flight and wanted to lie in my arms, which meant we technically didn’t need her seat. If possible, take advantage of the time before they turn 2, and fly as much as you can.