Step-by-Step Guide to Surviving Long-Haul Flights with a Toddler


Before I made my first long-haul flight with my eight-week-old newborn I asked a bunch of expat moms for advice. They all assured me not to worry—it’s easy to fly with babies under three months—the hard work begins with they are mobile and don’t want to sleep or sit in your lap.I still thought flying with an eight-week-old was hard since I didn’t get to sleep 80% of the flight.  Then I thought flying with a six-month-old was almost unbearable even though she wasn’t crawling yet.  Nothing prepared me for the worst!  A mobile toddler.   (Except maybe a puking mobile child, but let's not think of such things).  Here is a STEP-BY-STEP guide to get you through your 16-hour flight:Step 1: THE RIGHT MINDSET. There will be no more relaxing while traveling. No more “quiet” moments. There is only survival for you. Flying is now an athletic competition that will test not only your speed and accuracy but also your endurance and strength. Step 2: THE RIGHT CLOTHES. There is no more looking “cool” while jet-setting around the world. Think dry-fit everything and your running shoes.Step 3: LIMBER UP. Get a massage before you head to the airport. WARNING: It is much less relaxing if your child starts screaming half-way through your massage. Also, don’t be afraid to do a few yoga poses while waiting in the endless ticket counter line.Step 4: PACK THE ESSENTIALS. An eye-mask and earplugs so you can’t hear or see your child when they are crying. Don’t forget the “thank you” gifts for anyone sitting near your little tribe. Suggestions: Wine, dark chocolate, and gift cards.Step 5: WHAT HAPPENS ON THE PLANE, STAYS ON THE PLANE. If traveling with a partner, agree in advance that anything you say to them on the flight (and vice versa) will not hold up in a court of law.Step 6: WIPE IT DOWN. Once you have boarded the plane, be sure to get your sanitary wipes out, and wipe down every inch of your seat and tray table. Proceed to wipe down all the seats and tray tables on the plane since your child will probably interact with every passenger and seat during your time on this flight.Step 7: JOIN THE TRACK TEAM. Whether you have a crawler, walker, or just a whiner, lace up those running shoes and get ready to lap that plane from take-off until landing. I would estimate 350 laps, and then add another 100 per hour of the flight.Step 8: BRING 500 LITTLE OBJECTS OR TOYS TO ENTERTAIN. As you know, toddlers are interested in anything that they can sink their teeth into. They pick up a new toy, scrunch it in their hands for fifteen seconds, hold it up to the light for fifteen seconds, then suck and bite onto it for thirty seconds (if you are lucky), before dropping (throwing) it without warning. And they will not be interested in that toy for the rest of the flight. Just running some rough calculations on a sixteen-hour flight: let’s pray that your toddler sleeps for six of those hours, so you are left with ten hours of entertainment. You need sixty new toys an hour, times ten hours, which equals six hundred toys. I bet you can find one hundred objects on the plane—travel toothbrushes, headphones, jam containers, discarded bread rolls, plastic spoons, sugar packets. So, you are probably fine only bringing five hundred. You’re welcome.Step 9: GIVE THANKS. When your child picks up a three-day-old pretzel on the floor and eats it, just be thankful it wasn’t toilet paper covered in poop.Step 10: PASS OUT. When the flight attendant asks to hold your baby DO NOT hesitate. Hand the child over and quickly put your eye mask on and act like you are sound asleep. Next month we are flying again- sixteen hours with a walking one-year-old.  I've packed 500 items for play, bought sanitary wipes, prepped my dry fit bodysuit, and booked my massage.  It's all a go!  Wish us luck!I hope I didn't miss a step, but if I did please help me by listing them in the comments!