We are back to London. In the last ten days we have taken two transatlantic flights with our little toddler, that's probably why I lost a kilo! I have read many blog posts about flying with a toddler before and everyone has their flurry of tips and suggestions to give. However, in my opinion, at the end of the day it all goes down to the child's mood. By now Emilia is used to flying but you never know how she is going to behave. We had good flights and we had bad flights. She took her first flight when she was just three months old. It was a short flight from London to Pescara, but you'd be surprised at the amount of stress and preparation those two hours on air required. If you have never flown with a little baby, you'll be shocked to see the amount of gear you need to bring along. Since then, Emilia has been on ten flights, not bad for a 22-month-old little girl! Things are a bit easier now, no pram, no steriliser, no baby food and the list goes on and on and on. Flying with a toddler, however, still requires some organisation, preparation and an injection of a super dose of patience!
As we have developed some experience in traveling with Emilia, we have learned to make our life easier. First, we do not take public transportation to the airport. It is much easier and stress-free to hire a private car and have a driver do all the job for you. Sure it is more money but it is absolutely worth it! Emilia is fine to sit in the car, look around, and enjoy the view, as long as her friends are with her, of course! This time she picked Peppa and Hello Kitty for the ride. She also often falls asleep on the ride to the airport, which is great. So, the first leg of the trip is covered.
At the airport, we try to be as organised as possible, especially with her food and toilet needs. As Rob is a BA gold member, we usually take a visit to the BA lounge, which is much more relaxing than any other area at the airport. In fact, we have just discovered that the gold members' lounge at Heathrow 5 also has a kids' play area which we will definitely use on our next trip.
Once on the plane, there isn't really much you can do apart from trying to be prepared, anticipating any issue and praying that everything goes well. We always bring a lot of snacks and drinks and always select the ones she likes the most. Now that she is a bit older, I also pack a trolley just for her and fill it up with books, stickers and all sorts of favourite activities to keep her busy!
One thing I would definitely recommend is buying an extra seat. Little ones are free to fly on their parents' lap up to the age of two but if possible, it makes a huge difference to have a seat just for them. Seven hours on a plane are a long time and it can be difficult to keep a child happy. Emilia is not really into cartoons and tv at the moment and doesn't really play video-games, so it is quite challenging to find something interesting, stimulating, and time-consuming that would keep her glued to her seat. She was attracted by the monitor in front of her and kept touching every single button on the remote on the arm seat but these things can only take you so far. Everntually, after reading her favourite books to her twice, she did fall asleep. And that's when you realise how relaxing flying without a toddler actually is!
All in all, both flights went reasonably well. Our next flight is in just over a month, until then, we can relax...