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A guide to stress-free flying with a toddler – yeah right!

On Saturday we depart for the motherland. North Wales via a two-hour flight to Manchester Airport. CK is not quite a seasoned traveller but this will be his fourth return flight in 18 months so he has a few air miles under his chubby belly encircling belt. I’d like to say ‘welcome to a post that will share all manner of secrets about successfully flying with a baby/toddler’ but I’d be selling you a massive lie and having to use examples from somebody else’s family.

Flights 1 and 2 were taken when CK was just five months old; back to the UK to introduce him to his family. Laden down with suitcases, hand luggage, car seat and pram meant simply packing the car and getting to the airport was a Krypton Factor-like ordeal. We booked him his own seat in the hope that he would sleep in his familiar car seat. Oh yes, he slept alright. During landing. After 1 hour and 55 minutes of crying. Any attempts to feed, play, read to him, walk him up and down the plane were met with more and more wails. Not a great success but I’m sure we made the journey a delight for all the other passengers onboard.

He finally sleeps five minutes before the plane lands. Pharoah-look not on purpose.

Flights 3 and 4 at ten months were marginally better but not much. Food played a greater part in keeping him quiet albeit not for long. No manner or amount of toys gifted to him by the super kind and patient Swiss stewards could entertain him for more than a few precious, peaceful moments. Stress levels increasing, screams a-deafening, what a lovely way to start a week’s holiday in the Peak District. The fact that he also didn’t sleep a single night when we were there doesn’t help the memories of that trip (sorry, Helen).

Flights 5 and 6 were taken just after his first birthday in November of last year. His first flight being more aware of other people and his surroundings. The outbound flight can be summed up by telling you that the businessman sitting behind us gave me his iPad ten minutes in to the flight and told me I could keep it to entertain CK until landing. I think we all know how hard it is to part a frequent traveller from his apple goods; gives you some indication of the intensity of CK’s screams. On the flight back to Switzerland, CK decided he would like to stand on my knee for the entire flight and get a closer look at the three sombre Swiss men behind us. Alternating between waving and shouting at them, of course he endeared himself to them and of course, if they see us at the airport again, they’ll be requesting seats next to us.

I’ve read all the books, followed all the advice, but to no avail. Fed on take-off and landing? Done. Military preparation in advance? Done. Pointing at aircraft and reading books about aeroplanes to CK? Done. Scheduling flights to correspond with baby’s routine? Done. Bag full of entertaining toys? Done. What else is left? Nothing, I tell you.

I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I’m the ultimate guru in toddler travel and I’m sure you’re desperately awaiting my top three travel tips. Pen at the ready? Here goes:

1. Consider whether your journey is essential. I stole this from the Highway Code’s advice for driving in adverse weather conditions. And what could be more adverse than travelling with a baby.

2. Work on your self-deluding skills. All those other passengers glaring at you? Jealous. Jealous of your gorgeous, enthusiastic baby. Those cries? Cries of delight at taking a flight at such a young age.

3. Wine. Wine is your very best friend at this moment in time. Turns the glares in to smiles and the cries in to laughs. Plus, due to the altitude you’ll only need a mere glass or two to achieve this result.

There you go. Consider yourself fully prepared.