Naomi was only 4 months old the last time we embarked on a 14-hour journey with Qatar Airways. It seemed to be a breeze looking back at it now, as she slept in her bassinet for the majority of the flight.
Fast-forward to a year later and we embarked on a longhaul journey again, but this time with a toddler that wouldn’t sit still for more than five minutes. You can understand my nervousness leading up to the flight.
We already had most of our toddler travel essentials sorted, but were a bit clueless as to how we would manage flying with a toddler.
Ever the one to over prepare for things, I had researched and read countless blogs and asked my fellow mommy friends for advice. We also bought a few in-flight essentials that I’ve detailed below.
If you’re about to embark on a long-haul flight or flying with a toddler for the first time, here are my tips:
- When booking your flight, take into consideration your toddler’s sleeping schedule. The key is to try not to disrupt their routine to avoid them getting fussy and disoriented.
- Reserve a bulkhead seat way in advance. The extra legroom makes for a play area and dumping ground for all your stuff. It’s also close to the galley, which is convenient, when your toddler want to roam around. Thankfully, the Qatar Airways flight attendants were really wonderful to Naomi and didn’t mind her running back and forth.
- What to bring in a carry on for a longhaul flight deserves a whole new separate post. My main advice is to pack light but bring everything you’ll need for the flight including her favorite comfort toy and a change of clothes for you and bubs. We used a backpack as our diaper bag. Buy travel sized things if you must, like wipes.
- For your sanity’s sake, it’s important to organize your diaper bag. The last thing you want is to be rummaging through your things mid nappy change. I had individual pouches for toys, snacks and also put together a ‘changing packet’ which is simply a ziplock bag with a change of clothes and a diaper.
- Buy small presents that you can reveal one by one over the course of the flight. I went to the dollar store and got her small knick-knacks and pocket books that she essentially used during our holiday (no need to pack extra toys in the luggage).
- Pack tons of snacks and pack food in an insulated container with an icepack. I packed all of Naomi’s favorite snacks in small sandwich bags (that were then placed in a snack pouch) and had also packed lunch for her, which the flight attendant gladly kept on the fridge and reheated. Apparently, you can request for a toddler meal on a Qatar Airways flight, which is something worth investigating.
- Travel light through the airport. We checked in our car seat and stroller and made use of the airport strollers that are available at Hamad International Airport. We contemplated on investing in a travel stroller but couldn’t be bothered with having another item to lug around. However, this is a personal choice.
- Whether or not you’re a no-electronics family, bring an iPad in case of emergency. It’s a life saver when you want a moment of peace or to stop your little one from throwing a tantrum. There’s also a fantastic Pixar collection on the in-flight entertainment option onboard Qatar Airways. She was fascinated with using the headphones and watching something on a screen that folded down.
- Move around. Toddlers can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes and moving around is good for your bubs so they don’t feel cooped up in your seats. During our flight, Naomi made friends with other toddlers in our row, visited the galley to play peekaboo with the flight attendants and took a walk down the aircraft.
- Have the right mindset. Having a relaxed attitude was definitely vital to us not getting stressed and accepting the things that were beyond our control. She was going through a developmental phase and only wanted her mama. She slept on my chest, ate on my lap, and dragged me everywhere in the aircraft, but she was content and happy and that’s all that matters.
I’m sure there are other mamas that have travelled with toddlers plenty of times so I’d love to know your tips! I’m always interested in getting others’ advice, especially when it comes to travel.