Travelling with kids – no tips, just terror

Travelling with kids can be a challenge.

By Eliza Henry-Jones

If you’re a frequent traveller, chances are you’ve spent a leg of a plane journey listening to the screaming of a young child.

The one thing worse?  Being the parent trying to keep them happy and calm.

Three months out from my first long-haul flight with my not-quite-two year old, I’m feeling pretty terrified. I turned to other parents to get the scoop on what I have in store for me.

“It’s a special kind of hell,” one of my best friends tells me. “But you get through it. Sort of.”

Feeling less than heartened, I turned to Twitter for advice.

People were generous with their suggestions. Advice included breaking biscuits up into teenie, tiny pieces to keep little fingers occupied. New books and toys. More nappies and milk than you’ll think you need. Changes of clothes for the small one and yourself. Crayons and paper. Lots of snacks. And did I mention snacks?

Medication was a bit more contentious. While some people had had positive experiences slipping their distressed child a small amount of prescribed medication such as Benadryl to keep them calm, other people were not comfortable using medication. Some people talked about the medication having the opposite effect than intended. Horrifyingly, these meds may, in fact, hype children up.

“If you decide to get meds, try them at home before the flight,” another friend recommends to me, very darkly, after seeing my Twitter thread. “That was the worst 10 hours of my life.”

I hear stories about vomiting, exploding nappies, jetlag, sore eardrums and parents being in excruciating pain after contorting strangely in order to keep their baby comfortable.

Another person said that the best thing anyone can do on a long haul flight is to make sure that their baby is cute.

I don’t feel prepared. But I’m learning pretty quickly that that’s motherhood and that the only thing you can really do is to take things as they come.