Advice from long-haul cabin crew for stress-free travel with kids
With restrictions finally lifting, many of us are looking once more to holidays abroad. For those of us who have added to our families during lockdown, there may be a few nerves about travelling with babies or small children – especially on long flights.
To help, Baby Elegance talked to former Miss Universe Ireland and experienced cabin crew member at Emirates, Cailín Tobin, to see if it really is possible to fly stress-free with young babies and children.
“When possible, try and time your flights to coincide with your child’s daily routine so, for example, plan to travel during mealtimes or naps, which can reduce the likelihood of unrest or a tantrum,” says Cailín.
“Don’t assume your children will sleep through a late night or overnight flight. The excitement and onboard entertainment may keep them awake, and you could end up dealing with exhausted toddlers halfway through the journey, so keep their routine going, in so far as is possible.”
It’s also important to choose your seat with the needs of your family in mind.
“Consider the advantages of sitting closer to the toilets for added convenience, or choose bulkhead seats with no seats in front but some extra space for children to play. You may want to consider booking in the back third of the plane as these areas tend to be less populated when a flight isn’t full.”
Your key word when travelling with babies and children is to prepare, prepare, prepare!
“For children, pack suitable sweets. These can be great for take-off and landing because they help reduce the pressure on a child’s ears. A couple of easy toys (no small parts) are also a good idea – also, never underestimate the power of a new toy! It can be a great distraction when presented at the right moment – Emirates provides Fly with Me Lonely Planet Kids activity bags to keep youngsters entertained.
“Whether you’re travelling with a baby or a toddler, plan a comfortable outfit for them to wear and pack a change of clothes for you both in case of accidents or unexpected spills. Think about your buggy. If you want to take a pram through the airport, consider investing in a folding one that can be taken on the plane.
“Try to board the plane first or last. Emirates offers families priority boarding, but some parents prefer to board last as it minimises the time little ones are on the plane. However, if you’re travelling with more than one child and have lots of carry-on, boarding first gives you more time to settle into your seats.
The cabin crew
“During the flight, make the most of the in-flight entertainment and enlist the help of the cabin crew. They can help with warming bottles, keeping baby food refrigerated, offering kids activities, and even holding meals until a convenient time.
“When you land, try to disembark last. Unless you have a connecting flight or are in a hurry, take your time. It means you won’t be rushed when packing everything up – and there’s less chance of forgetting a beloved toy. Look for airports’ family lanes; most have these for parents travelling with children, which could save you a long wait.
“If you are dealing with time changes, combat jet lag by exposing your children to as much daylight as possible, avoiding naptime too late in the day, and ensuring their mealtimes are regular.”
Cailín Tobin is part of Emirates’ experienced cabin crew. Emirates connects passengers between Dublin and Dubai and onwards to more than 120 destinations on board a state-of-the-art Boeing 777, the entire fleet of which is high-speed Wi-Fi enabled. You can find out more on Emirates.com.
Cailín was chatting with Penny Gray, a freelance editor and writer specialising in beauty, property, parenting, health and lifestyle. She has worked for TVNow, Salon Ireland, Irish Beauty, and was Editor of Maternity & Infant magazine. Most importantly, she is a proud mum of two!