[ad-gifted: I mention Jet2 in this post because we’ve paid to fly with them for the last 8 years now. Our Easter flights were gifted to us but I wouldn’t be writing this if we hadn’t genuinely enjoyed our experiences flying with them. The other items I mention below were also gifted to us but have been a total dream – and they’re cute! I’ve also included an affiliate link.]
We’ve continued to travel since having kids, our first holiday as parents was when our daughter was just 11 weeks old and we travelled at a similar time with our little boy too. We’ve flown, we’ve driven around the UK and even driven to a ski holiday, up the mountains in France. So we’re not afraid to travel with our kids but our Easter trip will be the first time flying with a three year old and a baby: an 11 month old that is. Last time we flew, our baby boy was 5 months old, still breastfeeding and way less fidgety, so we’ll be planning ahead…
Flying with two kids – The preparation
We’re flying to Italy, so it’s only a short flight of 2 hours 15 minutes – not too bad at all. But with the checking-in and hanging around at the airport beforehand and the driving at either end, it’s usually about a 6 hour experience in total and one that needs to be navigated around sleep, eating and now boredom!
We therefore have to pack and plan wisely to make the trip as comfortable as possible. Here’s how…
What to bring and what gets checked-in
We fly to Italy, from Manchester, with Jet2 all the time and have found them a really great airline when it comes to travelling with kids. When they spot you have a baby or young ones with buggies etc, they tend to give you priority queuing through security and when boarding, which can really help if you’re anxious about feeding times particularly.
They also allow you to check in a car seat (which we always bring with us as we drive when we get to Italy), as well as a buggy or travel-system, on top of any luggage allocation you’ve booked. Even better, they let you take the buggy or travel-system as far as the gate or even the bottom of the plane steps (depending), before they ask you to fold it up so they can store it in the hold. This makes navigating your way through security checks and the departure lounge much easier and more comfortable and if your little one needs to sleep, you’ve got the option of your buggy. Your buggy or travel-system then ends up with the luggage at the other end, so you only have to navigate your way through passport control without it.
The Importance of hand-luggage
It’s worth knowing that everybody on a flight is entitled to one piece of hand-luggage and this goes for your children too. If you have a baby, who will be flying sat on your lap, then you are allowed to have a nappy/baby bag as well as your piece of hand-luggage. So it’s worth spending some time and packing these two bags well, as they can be your life-savers on board the flight.
You’re allowed to travel with bottles of milk (breast/formula) for your baby in your hand luggage, just note that they may test it when you go through security.
Note: This is the travel baby/nappy bag of dreams! Mine is the Mia Tui Jennie Bag in Graphite. It’s vegan leather and the perfect hand luggage size!
So here’s what I tend to pack in my hand-luggage and baby bag:
- Passports, travel documents, wallet etc.
- Mobile phone
*I tend to carry as large a bag as possible as my hand-luggage so there’s spare room should you need to pick-up anything as you go.
Nappy/Baby bag (make sure this is still a reasonable size – ie. the size of hand-luggage acceptable on your airline):
- Nappies (plenty).
- Wipes (plenty – you use them for all sorts when travelling/flying).
- Bottled water (get this at the departure gate to avoid it being thrown away at security).
- Baby/toddler snacks – dry eg. Ella’s Kitchen puffs, breadsticks, crackers (dry is less messy!) and pouches of puree or yoghurt that don’t require refrigeration. Bring plenty!
- Bottle of formula or breast-milk if needed. Note: if you use formula, get the Milk Powder Dispensers that you can measure out 6 or 7 oz into and prep 2 or even 3 of those (I’ll explain later!). Pack 2-3 sterilised bottles ready to mix whenever you need. (This is where the bottle of water comes in handy and you can always ask the flight attendants to bring your boiling water or even prep the bottle for you under your instruction). I use boiling water, topped up with bottled sterilised water to mix our formula bottles, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for it to warm-up or cool-down (important, if you’ve got a screaming hungry baby on a plane!).
- Dummies – if your baby takes them, pack 2 or 3 clean, sterilised dummies.
- Books & Toys – something that’s always a winner with your baby that you can pull out when you need to distract them (like when the plane is taxiing). We’re loving our Taf Toys Activity Centre and North Pole Pyramid (which you can clip on anywhere!).
- iPad – in my opinion, a total essential for older babies, toddlers and kids! Tip of the day: pack with pre-downloaded CBeebies shows, Disney films and activities/games (whatever floats your boat) when you’re at home and have WiFi.
- Headphones – for the above, so that the annoying voice of Peppa Pig doesn’t make the rest of the passengers on your flight want to kill you!
Planning for delays
This can be a frustrating, yet common part of travelling, particularly when flying. It’s out of our control and can throw absolutely all your planning/schedules/feed-times/nap-times out of the window. A nightmare for any parent, particularly if you have more than one kid to focus on.
Our worst experience of this was our most recent flight, when our daughter was 3 and our son just 5 months. We were delayed for 12 hours at the boarding gate. It was due to weather, so we had no idea how long we’d be delayed for and just had to watch the board for updates and to see our schedule flight time fall back every half an hour. So we experienced delays at their worst and have come up with a few things worth knowing.
- This is when having snacks, spare bottles etc in your hand luggage really helps! Our son was on special goats milk formula. We packed enough for our entire trip, as we knew we couldn’t find it in Italy. We fed our baby boy before arriving at the airport and packed 2 prepped bottles for the journey (enough to see us through 8 hours or so – plenty!). The tin of formula was then packed away in our luggage and checked-in for the flight. When the delay was then suddenly upon us, we had no access to our luggage and were panicking as our baby boy quickly got through his 2 bottle allocation. It was touch and go at one point, but we just about made it home, but it made us realise you can’t prep enough milk, especially if you’re not breast-feeding!
- Make sure the iPad and your phones are fully charged. When an entire airport is delayed due to weather, all the charging points will be used or broken – guaranteed! You do not want a bored 3 year old without Hey Duggee, believe me!
- If you can, access the first-class or priority lounges. My silly-billy husband only realised we had access to the lounge about 10 hours into our delay. When we realised we had access to comfortable sofas, free drinks and snacks, I could have killed him!
- Make friends. We were so lucky that our little girl charmed the pants off the rest of the disgruntled passengers on our flight. This meant they helped us entertain her, gave us reassuring looks when we were trying to rock our baby to sleep and stop our 3 year old running amock. It made the world of difference to chat away to other people, who are inevitably way more exciting to your children than you are.
So I think I’ve covered just about everything we’ve learnt so far, travelling with a three year old and a baby. We’ll be putting all this into action next week, when we fly out for our Easter holidays. (I’ll be sure to report back on how it actually went!).
To finish on, here’s just a few more top tips to think about when travelling with little ones…
Top Tips when travelling with a three year old and a baby:
- Make sure that your baby has something to drink during take-off and landing, or at least has their dummy. The sucking and swallowing will help with the change in air pressure and popping ears.
- If you’re not taking up a whole row, then check-in ahead of time and choose your seats so that you can be sat in an aisle seat. You don’t want to be worried about clambering over some stranger with a crying baby or pooey nappy.
- Pre-book your food on the flight. We always do this with Jet2 when we check-in online. It means we know we’ve got something to eat and something for the kids (just in case snacks aren’t enough) and it’s also a distracting activity that usually passes 20-30 minutes of the flight happily.
Driving instead of flying? Most of the above still applies, but I’ll also be writing a post soon, about driving to Europe with kids so watch this space.