Flying with two under the age of three requires a few things…organisation, patience and plenty of confidence!
I wasn’t apprehensive until I turned up at the airport. Before then I figured if I thought about what I was doing I might back out. Who flies alone with a 6 week old and a boisterous 2 1/2 year old? I received some crazy and pitiful looks along the way, most notably from the man who was sat in our aisle. But actually he had quite a peaceful journey, although I suspect he must have needed the toilet on landing as he didn’t dare get out or move the entire journey!
So how did we manage it?
This is the first time I have flown alone with both of them. I am seasoned flyer with one. I think we managed over 20 journeys with our first, including New York and France.
On this occasion we flew out to the UK at night and back to Gibraltar during the day. My best advise if you are flying at night is to get the kids changed into their pyjamas before you go through security. Do it before security so you can get some help. I had a whole party of people come to wave me off, either to witness the carnage for themselves or because they actually care! Either way, I managed to solicit their help for getting the kids ready for the flight. It also means if they fall asleep you don’t have to wake them up when you get to your destination.
Making it through security
I suggest always taking a pushchair if your have 2 under 3. It means you can lock…I mean strap one down and have some free hands. I recommend a Maclaren quest or similar as anything else will be a bit too bulky.
Maclaren Quest : RRP £195
Top tip: keep checking boots.com for fantastic offers! I picked up this buggy for £90. Yes really! It was on sale and using my parenting club offers I managed to get it for a bargain price.
The beauty of this buggy is you can fold it with one hand and swing it on to your back as it has a carry strap. In some airports you have to fold the pushchair down yourself and put it onto the conveyor belt. Having something lightweight makes this a lot easier and a lot less stressful. I would suggest putting the oldest one in there as you get to security. It means they are safe, contained and less likely to escape whilst you sort out your bag on to the conveyor belt.
For the 6 week old I used an excellent lightweight sling called the Close Parent Caboo Carrier sold by NCT. It was so easy to store in my bag when I didn’t need it which made a big difference. This one slips over your head and without any help I can pop the baby in and out very quickly. It is also perfect for little babies who love to still be in the frog position. As she gets older we’ll probably need to move onto something else like our baby bjorn or boba 3g.
Make sure all your toiletries,liquids, food etc is all sorted out beforehand. I always put mine into plastic bags and leave it at the top of my bag so it is easy to access. Unload the toiletries/iPads etc and load bags onto conveyor belt. Then, unload the two year old (not into the conveyor belt, tempting as it might make the security journey a bit easier). You don’t often need to take the baby out of the sling so you can walk straight through without disturbing her.
If you would like more details on liquid allowances and general FAQ’s about Aiport security try the Security Q&A on Heathrow’s website.
On both occasions (leaving and returning) we were searched, which meant taking off my shoes, taking the baby out and helping hold my 2 1/2 yr old still whilst he was searched. Clearly I must look suspicious! Thankfully the staff took pity upon me at both airports and helped every step of the way so it was fairly painfree.
Once you have made it through security, grab a stiff drink, if you have a free hand…and find somewhere for the little one to run around. This is no time to shop! Gone are the days of looking around duty free and purchasing some beautiful make up or perfume.
Instead let your toddler run and run and run in a place that is safe for them and means you don’t have to get stressed! Burning off steam is a great way to ensure they fall asleep on the plane. At Gibraltar airport there is a small play area for the kids and there is a Family lounge at Terminal 3 as well. We didn’t get to use the Family lounge this time around as we were running a little late. When we fly in October I’ll definitely check it out.
Before boarding approaches, I always have a quick change of nappies, put on the cardigans/jumpers to prepare for the change in temperature on the aeroplane. Don’t try and answer your mobile phone whilst doing this, it ended up with a pushchair on top of Arthur. I’ve realised I can’t multi task with two in tow.
When they start to call the first passengers, go!!! Leg it to the front of the queue and if anyone quibbles they have paid for priority just stare them down, you have two kids and you are by yourself, you will win!
On the plane
Once on board settle down. The beauty of getting on first means you can use all three seats to sort yourself out. I always make sure the bags are easily accessible (under the seat) and I tend to have something to hand to entertain the older one whilst we wait for everyone to board. This is usually some sort of snack. On BA you will often be given an activity pack as you board and this is a great distraction.
Throughout the journey keep bringing food out, small games, iPad, whatever you can! This is not the time to enforce rules but to be a little care free. I am quite anti IPad but when it comes to the plane I let it all go. He can watch as much Thomas the Tank Engine as he likes, so long as he sits still.
With the six week old it was fairly easy, she just slept. I fed her on takeoff and landing but she didn’t seem to bothered about sucking to help her ears.
The main thing throughout the journey is to remain calm, believe you can do it and use whatever tactics work to pass the time. If they do scream or cry or have a tantrum just remember that many of the other passengers will have been through it before and if they don’t get it, who cares! Are you going to see them again… probably not. Unless of course you live in Gibraltar, which means you will most likely see them down Main Street. But generally speaking, don’t worry about what other people think. No doubt you are doing the best, believe it and keep calm.
Below, I have provided some ideas that we find really useful to pass time on the plane.
When you land, just breathe, you are nearly there! You will make it. When we landed on our inbound flight the pushchair wasn’t available, I hadn’t factored this into my plan. So it did mean carrying a very tired toddler right through immigration. But with a little bribery, yes don’t judge me…I gave my toddler smarties at 12am in the morning! We managed it. Check which airport you are flying into before hand so you can prepare for this!
For picking up the luggage I would highly recommend paying for a porter service. They come to the baggage belt and take your luggage through customs for you. This was worth every penny. It meant I didn’t have to struggle taking my bags off the belt.
Unfortunately we don’t have such a service in Gibraltar which makes things a little trickier. I ended up strapping the baby into the pushchair and holding my 2 1/2 yr olds hand whilst going to the conveyor belt each time and hauling off the luggage. I asked him to help me and actually he took great delight in thinking he was assisting me with the luggage so it worked. I have been told you can ask GibAir for assistance but on this occasion I couldn’t seem to find anyone with a free hand to help. I have found the majority of people don’t help you (despite seeing you alone with 2 children). I have decided this is because I look like I have it all under control.
Once you get there well done! You may feel a bit tired, you deserve a nice drink and at least 30 minutes to recover.
Just remember, if you don’t feel confident at any point, well fake it.
Fake it till you make it, which you will!
Useful tips for travelling with one or two under 3
Always dress both of the children in comfy clothes. Tracksuits, pyjamas, baby grows, whatever is most suitable.
Preparing your on board baby bag
- Always dress both of the children in comfy clothes. Spare clothes for both is also a must (light easy layers are helpful as it can get very cold on the plane.) I pack mine into the Ikea sealable plastic bags. If we have an accident it means nothing else will get wet when we do the change over.
- Calpol (mini medicines)
- Antibacterial hand wash
- Dummies (if you use them bring 2 at least)
- Dummy clip to make sure they don’t fall onto the floor.
- Bottles & formula
I was breastfeeding on this journey so we didn’t need to worry about bottles. I did take along my breastfeeding cover which ensured I had some privacy. Not everyone likes these, but I am fan!
As Elin was only 6 weeks the bag was pretty basic. As she grows I’ll need to expand my selection of items to take. Keep posted on the blog as I provide updates on our journeys.
Preparing your toddlers bag (and your toddler!)
My first great tip which starts before the journey is to talk about in the days leading up. Build up the excitement. We have an Airport book called “Busy Airport” which we read at nighttime before we are going to away. It helps to go through the motion and explain what is going to happen.
Take plenty of nibbles, small things specially prepared for travel work great. If not just buy some small tubs and pop some crisps, popcorn, crackers, ham, golden grahams, cheerios, small biscuits etc in. I also always take a little bit of chocolate or goodies as a treat.
Choose a couple of items suggested below and pop them in their bag. I also recommend buying something new that they can open. It doesn’t have to be big, small things like stickers, crayons, colouring books will work well.
- Sticker book
- Coloring book
- A few cars/trains
- Little plastic animals, dinosaurs they can use on the tray table
- Load up your iPad with plenty of apps suitable for their age.
Take along a water bottle for your toddler, leave it empty through security but ask them to fill it up on board. This reduces any spillages and means you will have a clean and dry toddler on landing!
I also always take Arthurs special toy and his “nana” which he uses for sleeping. This helps just to settle him down if he wants a sleep.