Flying with kids is certainly nothing to take lightly, even when there’s two of you to contain them. Take away one adult and you REALLY have to consider this some dangerous sh*t. I remember being so in awe of a friend who often flew alone with her two. I thought she was amazing and also totally crazy… I thought, there’s no way you’ll catch me doing that! No siree! No, no, no thank you!
So yesterday I flew for the second time with both babies… what can I say? I like a challenge and also to prove myself a strong independent woman! As much as the thought of this scenario used to fill me with dread to the bottom of my very core, i realised that actually I do so many things on my own with two kids, what’s a 2 and a half hour flight book ended by airport negotiations? Living abroad like we do I’m used to having to deal with situations whereby usually, if you had a willing grandparent on hand, you would most definitely palm off one or both of your kids for an easier life. For example, doctors appointments or generally annoying paperwork/important errands are often punctuated with a child either side for me! So I put on my big girl pants and went for it, twice! And the brilliance of it is that I have the freedom to fly home when I want or need to! Though I’ve only flown twice with two I also made a couple of journeys with Henry before Floss came along and I’ve decided to share with you the things that made my life so much easier as a parent flying solo.
1. Plan your journey wisely- Consider different airports and flight times carefully. I had the option to fly either from Gibraltar or Malaga. Both have their plus and minus points so I had to weigh up which would benefit us (mainly me!) the most. Gibraltar is great because it’s a tiny airport, it has only two boarding gates and a single departure lounge as well as a soft play zone for kids. This makes getting from bag drop on to the plane sooo much easier, no ridiculously long walks to the gate, or shoving your way through hoards of people and in general the queue through security is non existent. The flight times from Gib are also very child friendly so we didn’t have to get up at some ungodly hour and I didn’t have to drag two tired, sleep deprived children through the travelling process! Downside to Gib is our nearest arrival airport is Gatwick. Which is about a 2 hour car journey the other end. Malaga, however flies into Bournemouth which is a 15 min car Journey the other end. But the flight times are quite literally the worst! 7am? With two children and a reasonable car journey to the airport… makes me queasy just thinking about it. That ruled it out for me. Luckily I have very lovely parents and in laws that make the journey to Gatwick to pick us up and bring us home!
2. Pack lightly- by lightly I mean one suitcase, I don’t necessarily mean one, LIGHT suitcase. This time we were actually 3kgs over our limit 😳 tell you what it’s bloody hard to pack 3 people’s stuff into one suitcase for a 3 week stay! I’m surprised it wasn’t 10kgs over! Actually we’ve been over a few times now but never been charged.. don’t know if they can sense my ‘mum on the edge’ aroma and feel the awkward snotty, crying situation isn’t worth it. There’s been an exchange of ‘I know you know I know’ looks but never any exchanges of cash! Phew! Having one case is probably sensible though, doesn’t matter so much at departures but trying to negotiate loads of luggage and two small children the other end is not fun. If you’re really clever you’ll find away around the car seat situation too, maybe by borrowing or having spares if you’re an expat like me, but I did have to bring Flossie’s back with me. Lucky it’s light and small!
3. Take loads of snacks and entertainment- I mean LOADS of snacks and charge that ipad up good and proper! I downloaded a few episodes of ‘Ben and Holly’ from Netflix and ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ I also searched for a few new apps which I knew he would like. We haven’t really had much iPad time recently, because basically we only have one plug for both iPad and iPhone.. guess which gets charging priority! So it definitely had the novelty factor, he literally played on it the whole flight 👍🏻 and was I going to worry if people thought I was a negligent mother? HELL NO! He could have munched his way through a 3 pack of kinder eggs, grab bag of quavers and a family sized bag of buttons whilst he was using it and I would sure as hell let him! Anything to keep him happy/quiet. He mostly played on the apps and dipped into Ben and Holly a bit. In terms of snackage we took sandwiches with us this time because last time they’d sold out of anything suitable for a child by the time they reached our seat! (I did complain to easyJet about this but alas no free stuff!)
Floss is a harder age to entertain, she had a sleep and had her lunch then mainly just pulled all the stuff out the seat pocket, pulled the lady’s hair in front and played peekaboo with strangers! Again, whatever kept her happy, asides from the hair pulling I did draw a line there..
4. Accept help and ask for it- actually people can be really lovely when they see you’re travelling alone with the kids. Both times I’ve had really nice people sat next to me. You can bet your bottom dollar they thought their luck was most certainly out when they sat down 😂. Things like offering to hold the baby while you get your stuff out of the over head locker or put the baby carrier on, Just say yes every time. There is absolutely no point in being a hero! Also things like needing a wee are seriously tricky.. I always used to manage a short haul flight without getting up but 2 nearly 10lb babies later and it’s a totally different story. Also you know my son hates hand dryers, can you imagine him facing that aeroplane flush?!! Even I find that scary! Luckily he’s happy to sit in his seat and, so far, hasn’t needed the loo on a flight. Can’t really leave floss in her seat though can I? So I just palm her off on the most child friendly looking air hostess. First time she was totally fine, this time not so much. Cue me doing an extra fast wee and frankly awful, slap dash hand washing! But if you’ve gotta go you’ve gotta go! It’s only a few moments of the journey and the air hostesses have always been more than happy to oblige.
5. Lastly invest in a good baby carrier- seriously they are worth their weight in gold! I have a Connecta which I was lucky enough to be given. It’s honestly been such a saviour and actually Flossie really loves it in there. I use it all the time but it really proves it’s value when it comes to negotiating airports with a baby and a 3 year old. There are so many different types and varying costs and you will often find selling Facebook pages where you can save a bit of money on a second hand carrier. Trust me every penny is worth it!
Hope these little insights help if you have an impending journey and good luck!