The Game Plan – International Travel with Kids
In under three weeks my family and I are undertaking the very daunting task of travelling to the opposite side of the globe with our two young kids (Evie, 3 and Lola, 1). One part of me wants to blissfully enjoy the ‘denial/ignorance is key’ approach, while my more controlling side is writing lists, lists, lists and pestering anyone I know who has ever travelled further than the corner store for their words of wisdom. And in reality I know that the over-prepared, ‘practice packing twelve times’ deal is what will make me feel more calm and collected on the actual day!
So, in the spirit of throwing all my ‘already lacking’ brain power into prepping, I am tackling the complex game-plan of ‘keeping those munchkins entertained for twenty-four bloody long hours!!!!!’
We travelled to Tasmania (approx a four hour flight) last December with both girls and I don’t think I had spared a single thought to ‘in flight’ entertainment or preparation!! 😐 And besides Evie throwing a tantrum of epic proportions when we tried to get her seatbelt on… After about 30 minutes the boredom wriggles had well and truly set in (hence our very #reallife plane selfie above).
So I’ve detailed below a few of the steps we’re taking this time to *fingers crossed* help things go as smooth as possible.
- Role Play! Thanks to Lindsay from These Days for this tip! She says play ‘planes’ as much as you can beforehand with the kids! Role play checking the bags in, finding seats, putting on seatbelts, not taking them off etc etc. This will reduce the ‘unfamiliar’ feelings for the kids, especially if they’ve been building confidence at how good they are at playing planes
- Contain and Entertain! This pearl is from Karen at Jet Set Baby (told you I pester everyone for their tips!). Plan out ways to entertain the kids in their seats to keep them entertained, and try avoid anything with small parts as they’ll probably end up under the seats. Don’t rely fully on in-flight entertainment system (what if it’s broken or your kids hate the earphones?) and be ready to get involved! Evie loves anything like ‘Eye-Spy’ so I’ve done up a Plane Bingo game for her (pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself)….. aim of the game is… As she spots each item, mark it off with a sticker (she loves loves loves stickers) and when the card is full she receives an extra surprise (probably more stickers to be honest haha). I’m heading off to Officeworks to get it printed and laminated (plus an extra for my nephew who’s travelling too) so it can be re-used again and again. Go ahead and download it (free) for your own travels. (all clip art images from clipartpanda.com)
- Pack smart. As a chronic over-preparer I tend to go over the top when packing. This approach will only backfire when on that plane! Because you know what sucks? Getting things out of your cabin bag mid flight!! Yep, the clambering over other passengers, wriggling out that massive bulging bag, trying to not drop it on anyone’s head (because it would probably kill them), and balancing it on your lap while digging into the depths to find the wipes so you can clean up the banana your child has just smeared on their tv screen!… limit this as much as possible! Rule of thumb, pack everything you think you need and then half it! I’m doing mini little satchels filled with ‘The Essentials’ (small pack of wipes, two spare nappies, something entertaining, and a snack) that can sit in the seat pocket in front. Everything in the cabin bags are back ups and all cleverly packed in ‘grab’ groups (i.e. change of clothes with a nappy, small drawing pad w crayons etc). I’ll be doing up a Packing post in about a week to give a bit more detail/method to my madness.
- Be realistic…. You can never plan for everything, this is about trying to help make it as smooth as possible. Remember people travel with kids everyday and all around the world. It’s probably not going to be the greatest 24 hours of my life, and I’m not expecting anyone to be angels (least of all me), but it helps to take little steps to making it more manageable. Because at the end of the day, it’s all going to be totally worth it!
I’m sure you will be hearing some tales of our journey soon afterwards…. make sure you follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (elisewillson) for most of the giggles 😉