How to Travel With A Toddler

Laugh at the things that don’t go quite right and think about the big picture – you are fortunate to have health, happiness and family and are going on a trip!!

Holiday Travel Time: This Flight Attendant Knows

It’s that time of year; time to travel with your young children. Whether it is travel by car or by air, or any type of transport for that matter, travelling with a toddler can be really tough, really exhausting and demands that you be prepared every step of the way. Really!

Travelling family

Think You Are Prepared?

Great to double check! May I suggest being “over-prepared”! You never know what will be ahead of you and all comforts of home, routine and resources are no longer options.

Travel Tips For Parents With Toddlers

There are many challenges when it comes to travelling with a two year old. Preparation for travel helps make your life easier, and frankly, is a MUST! Forward thinking and having many options on hand is the key to a successful transport with children of all ages, My family trip remains a fond memory instead of a disaster to try and forget.

Halfway Around the World

We returned from a very long trip, halfway around the world, boarded and disembarked three airplanes in 24 hours –  my husband and a two year old toddler. I returned sane, but I will admit, it was NOT easy. I am a seasoned traveller as it is literally, my profession, however, nothing can fully prepare you for hours and hours of confinement and the sheer exhaustion that is inevitable when it comes to travel and little ones. But you can make it easier. Be prepared when travelling with a toddler!

Ok, I’ve stated, and restated my main premise here. Here’s what to do!

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Before The Big Day

Even before you board that flight, for example, or before you leave the house and attempt to attain on-time departure or stay within determined scheduled deadlines so as to keep to your plans, stress begins to loom. The pressure to remember everything so as to not go without any comforts or needs is important to you and will assist to make this vacation a wonderful experience. It is a tall order!

Make Lists Well Ahead of Time

Create concise, simple, but comprehensive and complete lists utilizing any of our fabulous means of list assistance; mobile phone apps, or pen and paper if this works for you. Categorise in four simple lists; Toddler, Dad, Mom, Family Stuff. Think about basics and then add details. For example – Sleep, Eat, Wear, Change, Entertain, Importants (documents, passports, wallet, keys, phone).

Break down your trip and write it down…. If you are visiting someone for an event, focus on that. What will you wear? Have you packed the gift? Do you have directions and phone numbers. Do you have all camera cables and electronics’ parts and bits?

Again, check you have your pertinent documents and passports for everyone. (I will repeat this again just for emphasis ūüėČ

It’s Not The Destination, It’s The Journey?

I am sure you are aware of the challenges as you are a seasoned mother and it is generally challenging travelling to the supermarket, for instance!  I am not going to sugar-coat it; not after what I recently went through and after all I witness onboard my international flights.

We can, however make the journey go as smooth as possible by arming ourselves with tools to combat all obstacles that may come our way.

First

Arm yourself with patience. Get sleep, pack ahead of time and try to eliminate stressors. Yes, I said eliminate. If you are prone to run a little late, start getting ready earlier. Your little one doesn’t understand all the fuss and he or she is not the reason for being late, or for us forgetting their few simple needs. Don’t forget that comfort toy or blanket. Children don’t understand hurry up!

Eat good food before you get going or pack healthy snacks.

Go to the bathroom.

You get it; take care of all basic needs and get ready to go – help make it a good trip! Sometimes we are so busy being in a bad mood we forget the positives and forget to have fun! Laugh at the things that don’t go quite right and think about the big picture – you are fortunate to have health, happiness and family and are going on a trip!!

Essential Packing

Ok – so what to pack? Attempt with all your might, to pack light. How? Pack smart.

Keep clothing to a minimum. Think ” All-purpose”! Pinterest, for example, offers ideas to mix and match pieces of your outfit in order to create many different outfits. If you have access to a washer and dryer, pack only two pairs of pyjamas, for instance. Or one – perhaps your T-shirt can double as a nightie one night. Whatever you can leave at home, just leave it. I found I overpacked clothing and it was valuable space as I had gifts to transport back home, not to mention, things seem to pack nicely once, but why is it so difficult to repack the same way?

I consulted several Pinterest blogs and various websites regarding packing essentials etc. That was the easy part. What takes a little more time and creativity is sifting through the many ideas and preparing for your unique family.

The best ideas are simple and don’t require store bought toys. Do-it-yourself activity kits are a great idea and mine was a big hit, and an absolute saviour when it came to confinement on an aircraft for a full day.

Visit your local craft or dollar store and purchase inexpensive stickers, paper, coloured pencils, felt shapes and pipe cleaners, pom poms, puzzles, on and on… put them in various pencil-type cases and easily pack them away; ready to entertain and occupy.

My son loved popping colourful pom poms into an empty water bottle I was given onboard. This is just an example of what simple things can entertain for some time. When my son tired of watching his favourite animation, and when music  and playing got old, he enjoyed playing with Mom and Dad. It may have only entertained him for awhile, but the variety helped distract and then he would go back to his iPad games and animated movies, until he fell asleep periodically.

Note: Although electronics have quite a negative placement in our lives, I feel that there are appropriate times and there are many devices that are damn near essential – even though our parents or parents – parents did not have the same.

Lastly

Have you got the basics covered? Remember a change of clothes for everyone.   The first time I travelled with my son, he was one and a half and he threw up all over me at the airport, prior to embarkment. He had a change of clothes, however, I was an unfortunate, smelly mess!

  • Change of comfy clothes
  • Nappies, changing pad, creams, etc
  • Handy wipes and disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Snacks of all kinds – fresh fruits and vegetables and biscuit types
  • Hydrate – Bottles of milk are allowed for infants. Small juice boxes.
  • Sippy cups or bottles
  • Activity packs
  • Electronics
  • Passports and documents

Enjoy your travels!!

Tour De France, Of Sorts

A brilliant layover trip to Paris, France!

It was a “PG” sort of trip; I travelled with my new friend Jale (Juh- lay), and her beautiful mother, Helene. Jale and Helene are of Turkish descent and Jale was born in Australia. Helene was wrapping up a summer trip to Turkey and joined her daughter in Dubai. Jale and I operated the flight from Dubai to Paris¬†where the lovely ladies would continue¬†their mother- daughter visit. I love them both and thank them tremendously for sharing my day – or I should say, for allowing me to share their day! They got along so lovely and I miss my Mom so terribly, so it was sincerely quite¬†beautiful to be in their presence.

We arrived to a beautiful day of 29 degrees celsius, in mid-afternoon. Nine of us crew piled into a cab to set out for the city. What to do, and where to start Рand who to do what with who?! We talked of champagne below the Tour Eiffel (named after Gustave Eiffel) in the Champs de Mars, leaving the Trocadero district we would join a bus tour followed by a Siene River boat cruise to save our feet after working a long flight, and finally, a formidable dinner!

Jale, Helene and I set off on our own. Our afternoon began at Pont Neuf, which means “new bridge,” however, it is the oldest standing bridge in Paris. For the first time, I saw the River Siene and it was amazing to see the history built all along its banks! This grand canal, with its mouth being the English Channel, its¬†basin countries Belgium and France, is arched with over 120 bridges, linking districts to one another and giving Paris a mosaic of flavours and CULTURE! Take away a few hundred thousand tourists and I would think even Parisians would love their city – more than they already do, of course!

I dutifully listened to the guides, as much as humanly possible after working a long and full flight.¬†I mentally took notes of what to research a little more in-depth at a later time… and then I just quit. Be there and take it in, I told myself. It was a beautiful day, the breeze atop the double decker was¬†very much welcomed and the sights breathtaking. There was so much to absorb! (By the way I am usually¬†“near- against” double decker bus tours in any city and this is the first one I utilized. No, you don’t have to be in your fifties! Besides, bring along some Chablis and you’ve got a booze cruise.)

Paris is Huge, Busy and Exciting:

And always beautiful, no matter what time of year and the tranvestites are something to behold, even in their pink glory at four o’clock in the afternoon.

Which takes me to the Quatier Latin. The Latin Quarter of Paris is in the 5th and parts of the 6th arrondissement (district), situated on the left bank of the River Siene. It is known for its lively atmosphere, bistros, higher education establishments¬†and therefore, the best public houses. They are not called Pubs – this is not England or Ireland and don’t EVER confuse the two or compare. Big snobby riots will break out ūüėČ There is nothing “Latino” about the district and the area was named for its international language of learning during the middle ages.

The Theatres and Opera houses are¬†structures I now remember to be something of a stage. But not literally, here, I just mean that they seemed “staged” or a facade. I am meaning that I cannot comprehend what I was seeing. I discussed this once, recently,¬†with a dear male friend¬†I travelled with to Spain and Italy. We agreed that there was so much beauty and we were filled with amazement with every new architecture we witnessed that we took the “little guys” (smaller structures) for granted. The sights became overwhelmingly too much, quite simply.

Opera de Paris Bastille, Madeleine (Magnificent theatre), Comedie Francais, Palais Royal…¬† All beautiful with their gardens and more than grand entrances! I vow to see a production, show, ballet, or concert of any kind in ANY of these facilities at some point in my young or old life!

Of course, the museums!

The stunning Pantheon (means ‘Every God’), which is actually a secular mausoleum and up until 1922 housed¬†‘The Thinker’, ¬†Rodin Musee (‘The Thinker’, and my favourite, ‘The Kiss’), Musee du Louvre.

Let me pause at its greatness; Musee du Louvre. Built in the 12th century, like¬†much of the trandescent landscapes of Paris, 35,000 objects reside, from prehistory to the 19th century. None of that surprises or impresses¬†a layman like me. What does impress is the history; the controversy, the seizures, court cases and war. There it stands today with works that have endured all of that! Imagine!¬†And the bloodshed! I could write an entire essay here, but my brightside won’t allow for that at this moment.

Interestingly, I just read that the Musee Louvre announced opening a Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. Construction will be completed next year. This is a 30 year agreement, signed by the French Culture Minister, Renaud Donnediue de Vabres and Sheik Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan – costing 1.3 billion…. etc, blah blah…. It was designed by a french architect and the roof will resemble a flying saucer. Like the French, I have opinions about that. If you have money, they will build it? The UAE is younger than me! Only 33 years old. Perhaps “The Great Louvre” could find a more nostalgic home? Forgive me and my ignorant view, but… Anyway, 200 – 300 works will be rotated over a period of 15 years. Shukran – (Arabic for thanks) – I can see some works in my own “backyard sandpit”.

Tour Eiffel, etc.

tidbits: During the German Occupation, Adolf Hitler was embarrassed when the swastika flag blew off into the city and when he attempted to erect a new one he found the cables to the lifts cut. He immediately ordered the tower be destroyed and General Dietricht Von Choltitz disobeyed. I like ole cold titz ūüôā

Also, it takes 70 tonnes of paint every 7 years to coat the “Iron Lady” to prevent the old lady from rusting. What a job! In my funny – to –¬†me- mind, I picture hundreds of beret’d men in striped shirts painting away with little brushes. Artistes. . Kim, stop…..

Oh, and ‘The Thinker’ – it is Rodin’s sculpture depicting Dante pondering poetry over the Gates of Hell and represents intellect – duh! ‘The Kiss’ is a sculpture capturing an Italian woman kissing her husband’s brother and committing adultery! Very sinful. I love Rodin’s story. He married his life-long partner, Rose Beuret, in the LAST year of both of their lives. If you don’t get married for ever and ever – but you do right before you die – wow – Finally gave in – but the point is he gave in to his beloved companion and it was meant to be. If I wasn’t romantic – I am now!

Flight Attendant Mom

Travel Stories : Bouncing East to West

Flight Attendant Layovers: Days go by and by and by. Since Seoul I have travelled to Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. I have also just returned from New York City. The six day Auzzie trip, including three energy – testing layovers, is long and always fueled with excitement; plans are made and us flight attendants are off experiencing all we can in the limited hours we have. Endurance is stretched and I¬†am quite in awe, at times, as to how we perform so professionally, elegantly¬†and with such patience on the flights.¬†Like speed – dating, we are speed travelling, and then we put on our uniforms and act the part with sincerity and care for complete strangers. Once I return to my apartment in Dubai, I used to be torn between catching up with my friends, should they be in the city, and retreating to my pajamas or to the beach. One involves eventful escapades and the other a blissful near- coma experience. One entails make-up and fuss and the other, acceptable neglect!¬†My friends usually win the “fight” and I thank them for their always exuberant energy and impossible- to- decline¬†invitations! Have I mentioned how these friends are my family?

Picture Dubai the Palm

Tonight, however,¬†I decline. I am a Mom! Exhausted from a Saudi Arabia, five hour “turn- around” that turned into a¬†fourteen hour day¬†as we experienced delays on ground, and in the air, the latter due to trials and practices in Dubai airspace by aviators around the world preparing for “The Most Expensive Show in the World”: The Dubai Airshow. Today’s operational flight drafted me to find¬†allowances in myself¬†that I did not know existed. The Islamic peoples are currently conducting their pilgrimage to the Mecca, and full, demanding flights kept crew on their toes. Adhering to their culture and protecting their zam zam water onboard that they collected from the fountain located in the Mecca, careful not to touch men in passing after they have vowed to Miqat and are in their Ihram dressing after a long procedure of washing in the lavatories¬†– picture men of all ages and shapes in nearly nothing, draped in white cloth and as one looks down the aircraft cabins there is a sea of white clothed passengers. I have spoken Arabic I didn’t even know I knew! Dutifully, I informed passengers of the direction of the Qibla and gave space for prayer on the aircraft.

Home Sweet Home! I miss my husband and son!
Presently,¬†I am¬†at a restless –¬†rest now, rewarded with work well done, but beaten. Fatigued, but¬†gladly in a comfortable and familiar room. My bedroom. Not another hotel room with strange sounds and smells, where I worry to wake up in alarming wonder, initially, as to where I am. My family is near me sleeping and I cannot wait to wake to them!