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!!

Channeling China : Beijing’s Bricks

After a day and a half off, and surviving Bangkok, Thailand, my stewardess roster brought me to Beijing, China.

Beijing, or Peking, the capital city of The Peoples Republic of China, is incredibly populated and is the second largest metropolis in all of China according to its density, and is three times the size of Hong Kong.  Beijing is home to 19.6 million people!

Wanting to get out of this density with its smog and thick pollution, car horns blaring and chaotic traffic, I decided to venture to the Great Wall. With a thirty three hour layover, time was on my side to see some sights, get some exercise and gain some culture. I booked an early shuttle from my hotel to first, the Ming Tombs and then the Great Wall; or a section of it at least. 53533040-the-great-wall-in-the-mist-china

Built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusion by various nomadic groups, it wasn’t formally stated, but this refers to the Mongolian people, the Great Wall was expanded and reconstructed time and time again with each new Emperor that came into power. In its entirety, it has been concluded that the structure with all its branches delineating  Inner Mongolia, stretches 5,500 miles.

Built at a great cost to human life, The Great Wall consumed hundreds of thousands of workers, perhaps even up to one million. As my new friends and I were passing through a tunnel, I could swear to you that one of these workers- past,  gave me a ghostly tap on the shoulder. It could have been the breeze, or perhaps it was the very putrid fragrance from the stink weeds nearby that were getting to my head.

The Chinese Emperors kept concubines with them in the Forbidden City. By the Qing dynasty there were around 20,000. They served a dual purpose ‚Äď to ensure the Emperor a very good chance of producing an heir and, of course, limitless opportunities to indulge his more licentious instincts. There was also a very convenient Daoist theory that helped the Emperor justify requiring the favour of 20,000 different women. According to the theory, the Emperor represented the extreme of Yang, and so therefore it was essential for the harmony of the cosmos that he have sex with as many women (women are yin) as possible.

Sacrifices: Men and Women Alike

It was not just men who were dying in masses. Women sacrificed themselves by the thousands in honor of their Emperor. Ancient Emperors would take thousands of mistresses; some as young as twelve years old. These young concubines would participate ‚Äúwillingly‚ÄĚ in a suicide offering themselves to their Emperor. They would ceremoniously tie a noose around their neck and take their own life. I¬†am confused as¬†they were ordered to do this, but it was themselves who took their own life; it would be a sin otherwise. Murder disguised. Religion and its cultures can be quite manipulative and continues to be.

I traversed a large section of this beholding and immensely breathtaking fortification, called, Juyongguan Pass.  Also known as Badaling. Most of what we see today was reconstructed, extended and repaired during the Ming Era forward. Interestingly, as recent as 2009, 180 miles of undetected portions of the wall were discovered. The sections had been submerged, over time, by sandstorms.

The terrain was treacherous and not what I expected as there were parts where you had to pull yourself up using the side of the wall; it was incredibly steep.  I looked around  in awe of how well the elderly Chinese people near me were faring so well in the heat.  I sat down to catch my breath. An elderly woman sat down beside me.

Wine and Women

In an attempt to be friendly and inviting, since she practically sat right on top of me, forgetting not everyone in the world speaks English, I said to her something referencing my knowledge on the Ming Dynasty and that the stones and brick we were currently sitting on was built in the Ming Era ‚Äď Seven centuries ago! Regardless whether she understood me or not, I felt the need to express my appreciation out loud. She caught me off guard by stating there were many Emperors who had their ‚Äúdays with the wall‚ÄĚ.¬†¬†She told me some were bad Emperors and they just wanted wine and women. They did nothing for China, she said, Ming was good. She smiled, exposing blackened teeth, and then she waddled away.

I was swarmed a few times. Tourists; Chinese¬†men and women¬†stopping me to have their picture taken with myself. Sometimes not asking, just snapping away.¬†¬†The Chinese call my hair ‚Äúpale hair‚ÄĚ and as it was charming , I complied, holding up the peace sign and grinning with random, shy and pleasant fellow- wall walkers. I really should have touched up my darkening roots ūüėČ

Finding My Way Back

After only a few miles on foot, it was time to meet up with my hired shuttle back to my hotel and catch three hours sleep before the long flight home to Dubai, and dammit, we were running very late. Rush ‚Äďhour traffic. The shuttle had three more stops before my hotel and I asked to be let off, right there on the chaotic street. I had to find a taxi very fast as the three hours rest I had planned¬†¬†was now ‚Äúout the window‚ÄĚ;¬†¬†wake up call for my flight was in less than an hour. I had no idea where I was and thank the heavens or perhaps just sheer luck, my room key had the hotel address, in full, inscribed on it. It was a mistake to leave my hotel without having business cards, address and phone numbers in case of an emergency.

After trying desperately to flag down a cab for half an hour, I began to worry. Out into traffic I went, tapping on occupied cabs, asking if I could please jump in. It was a difficult task without an ounce of the native language. Beautifully, moments later, a man came running towards me, through a sea of people in the crowd, from up the block! In very broken English he spoke something and motioned me to come join his commute. Down the block was his waiting taxi. I thanked him non-stop for his rescue! My new young friend, Lewis (English name, of course!) was very chatty en route to my lodgings and although I was stressed and exhausted, I was entertained and felt at ease now that I was certain I wouldn’t be fired. I learned that Lewis is a DJ and seemed very excited we are now friends as he would like me to teach him English. He said I would make a very beautiful teacher. Slightly blushing and amused, I am laughing right now as he was very sweet. I am not sure what I just entered, here, but I did give him my email address as I was so thankful for his rescue. He has emailed me seven times. Oh boy…

Motherhood, Plus Benefits

Home now, I must book my flight to Munich, Germany. If I can find accommodation I will spending three wonderful days off experiencing Oktoberfest. Cheers!

 

Face the Guilt of Parenting

Plans Ahead, Our Son Turns Two

My son turns two years old in the near future and as a flight attendant, I am not sure if I will be there for this very important day! This is one negative truth when it comes to being a working mother who travels for work. I have a roster reported to me monthly and this is one basis that I regret to have as a planning, organised mother.

If indeed I am sent to a destination and am operating a flight during my son’s birthday, I do have options to weigh. Prior to the time of the event I will bid for days off. Secondly, once I view my roster and if there is conflict, I could send out swap requests and make arrangements that suit me. As a last resort, I could call in sick and spend the day with my beautiful family and make my son’s day very special.

Face The Guilt

At times, in life, we all know that timing doesn’t always work out in our favour and responsibilities get in the way! I have to face the guilty part of me and ask, should I really call in sick if all else fails? I think I can find other options and not let my guilty feelings lead to snap decisions that may not be a great option in the long run and really doesn’t benefit anyone anyway.

Realistic Solutions

This being just an example of many juggling skills we must have, time is a tricky one. We just have to do our best. Remember, there are options and you can make your son or daughter’s birthday or special event a great experience. It is the effort that counts. Maybe there are circumstances where we really cannot make the arrangements we want to, but this is life and disappointments are a very important part of life.

I may have to utilise some of the options I have come up with regarding my son’s upcoming second birthday. This is a milestone birthday, and I have decided to celebrate his “big day” on the closest day to his actual date as possible. I will also have to coordinate with my husband’s schedule. He is also a travelling, working Father!¬†My goodness, our son will not know the difference and at this point, we are exposing him to a celebration he does not yet understand. It’s a day where he will feel very loved and fussed over and he will most likely love it – a fun day with Dad and me!

Okay, this was a more easy issue to solve, but the same rules can apply for various situations. Try not to let guilt cloud your decisions and make the best of every situation. If honest attempts are made and we do all we can to make things happen for our family, rest easier; or as easy as you can when it comes to family matters! Oof, it’s not easy!