There was one thing that scared the absolute bejesus out of me when my husbandís work took him to the other side of the country.
Looking after two children alone? Nope! Spending every night without him in our house? Nope! We have a dog. Not getting a break from the children? Nope!
Flying with a three-year-old and one year old? Yep, thatís it! Since we were going to be visiting him on a periodic basis, I would fly interstate. And Iím not just talking one flight Ė we had to take TWO flights to get to our destination.
So how did we go? Read on and find out what I learned when travelling solo with my two tots:
1. Ask. For. Help.
And take help, if help is offered. My biggest vice in life is not asking for help. Perhaps it stems from a lifelong fear of rejection, but hey, thatís a whole different kettle of fish. I was determined not to ask my family for help and didnít want to put them out, but my sister insisted we stay at her house the night before and she would help me get me, the kids and our mountain of stuff to the airport. Oh my goodness did that extra pair of hands help or what!
Don't be afraid to ask for, or take, help. If a fellow passenger offers to carry a bag for you or help you get through security, let them. If a member of the airline crew offers to take the baby for a few minutes while you visit the bathroom, let them! Accepting help is just one way to make your travels a little bit easier.
2. Try to travel as light as possible
HA! This is an area I need to practice what I preach in. I am a SERIAL over-packer, especially when it comes to the children. If you are travelling solo, ask yourself if you really need so much stuff. Clothes can be washed, umbrella strollers are dirt cheap these days and you can hire most big baby items such as porta-cots, prams and car seats, or even find them for second hand on Facebook.
3. Try to avoid changing airlines if youíre on a multi-leg journey
Sometimes it canít be avoided, but my goodness it is a pain to change airlines! On the way to see the husband, we flew with the same airline for both flights. Too easy! All our bags made their way to our destination with no dramas and without us having to deal with them.
With our return journey, we booked our flight home through an airline that has a 'code-sharing' agreement with another airline, meaning one leg of the journey was with one airline and one was with another. It was certainly a rude shock to discover these two airlines basically have NOTHING to do with each other and at our stopover had to check in ourselves and our bags again!
When you have two tots and only an hour and a half to get off the plane, walk a bazillion miles to another terminal (my three-year-old was such a little trooper), get your luggage, check in again and get through security, it all gets a bit stressful, so try and stick with the one airline if you can.
4. Wear the baby
A baby carrier will be your friend. It will help you have a pair of hands-free to tend to the toddler, let you grab your things and just generally do stuff! The only drawback to the carrier is that at most airports, you will have to take it off and put it through the security screening, so be prepared for this.
5. Request a seat next to a bassinet
Somehow, on the second leg of our return journey, we ended up with a 'bassinet' seat. This is despite the fact we were probably the last people to check in and there were plenty of other babies on the flight. Well, I wasn't about to question the decision. You can request a bassinet seat although they are usually the first to be snapped up by parents with babies. They can carry children up to around 12kg.
My one-year-old is very small, but long, and only just fit in the bassinet. She did have a sleep in it, so it certainly came in handy for a short break from holding her!
6. Screen time is ok
All that research into the negative impacts of screen time on children has clearly been conducted by PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT TRAVELLED SOLO ON AN AEROPLANE WITH TWO TOTS. If you have the patience and energy to keep two small children entertained during solo air travel without resorting to screen time, please share your secrets with me!
Even though many airlines have an onboard entertainment system, I bought a cheap, portable DVD player prior to our journey and it kept my three-year-old entertained while I kept the baby happy. Even if you donít allow screen time at home, this is one time to relax the rules.
7. Invest in some cheap sticker books or a new toy for the flight
That said, if your children are anything like mine, there is only so much screen time they will take. Grab a couple of cheap sticker books, colouring books and pencils, or even a new toy for the flight to keep boredom away... for a while.
8. Feed, feed, feed!
Food will be another of your friends. Have snacks at the ready, baby food pouches and fruit juices within easy reach. Again, flying is a perfectly acceptable time to relax the rules about food and drink. Just try and avoid too much sugar, unless you want to run up and down the aisles after two hyperactive children.
If you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, feed your baby on the way up and down to help them with the pressure changes.
So, happy travelling! If you are crazy like me and decide to embark on a flight with two young children, hopefully, this will make your travels a little easier.