12 thoughts every parent has had flying with kids


If you’re anything like me, travel is a true passion – something you do as much of as you can. So when I had kids, I really wanted to pass that love of travel on to them – to take them to places I had visited (and loved) and discover new ones together. But you know what stomps on that dream? The flight! The getting-there part! And it’s the same for every parent I know. If flying with your kids has ever made you want to pull your hair out, just know that you’re not alone. Here are 12 thoughts that every parent has had while flying with their kids.

My kids, Scarlett and Kai, getting ready for a family adventure.

1. We are never going on holiday again.

This thought usually happens before you leave the house. That’s right, the fear sets in before you even make it to the plane. “Can I take a bag this large on the plane? Why do kids need so much stuff – they’re so small? Is it acceptable to pack a whole suitcase of nappies?” (Yes, yes, it is) “Can I take formula on the flight? My kid won’t eat freeze-dried butter chicken, what can I feed them? Can I put a car seat in an Uber?” The mental load is real!

As annoying as it sounds, my hot tip is to get ready early. Call and ask your airline any questions you have – guaranteed they’ve heard it before. And at the risk of sounding like the crazy A-type that I am, I like to do my washing and packing a week before (with the help of a list). It just seems to bring the stress levels down.

2. Are 145 activities enough to get us there drama-free?

Backpack Tetris anyone? With airlines getting stricter about carry-on weight limits, it’s becoming more difficult to take lots of toys and activities on a plane. In this case, screen time is your friend. Use a device to download e-books, games and movies, pack a couple of favourite toys, and you should be set.

Scarlett, enjoying some screen time.

3. I think everyone hates us.

The nervous looks in people’s eyes as you board the plane and walk down the aisle. The heavy sigh when you pause next to someone, the obvious eye-roll when they need to move out of their seat to let you in, and the vicious side-eye if your baby dares to let out a whimper.

Look, I won’t lie – there are some people out there who are like this. But for every grump, there is someone who is lovely. Plus, even if your kid does lose it, they probably won’t go on for the whole flight. At the very worst, it’s just one bad day for your fellow passengers. In a few hours, they will be enjoying their holiday and have forgotten all about you.

4. Why am I wet/sticky? What is that brown stuff on my pants?

Good travellers pack spare clothes for their kids; excellent travellers have an extra set for themselves too (and wipes – never forget the baby wipes). This is advice from a woman whose daughter once had a tummy bug hit as soon as the cabin doors closed. Enough said.

5. Everything is going so well.

You have just jinxed yourself and no-one can help you now. Good luck.

See? Flying with kids can be fun!

6. Look at those poor people over there with the screaming toddler. We are so lucky!

See above.

7. For the love of all things holy, STOP CRYING!

And now the jinx sets in. But, really, it’s not that bad. I promise you that your child’s cries are louder for you than anyone else. For starters, they are probably on you, likely pressed against your ear. Remember, they will calm down eventually. Just breathe. If a flight attendant offers to take your child for a walk, let them! They are magical creatures who can do magical things.

8. Are we there yet?

Possibly not at all related to flying with kids (although they will ask you as much as you will ask yourself). Australia is a big country to get around and, let’s face it, we’re pretty far away from other countries as well. But I reckon it is worth the journey.

All the hassle is worth it for holiday moments like these.

9. Stop touching me.

Kid bring so much joy and fun into your life, but one of the sacrifices of parenting is personal space. No matter how old your kids are when you fly with them, without a doubt you will be used as a human pillow, blanket, comforter and play gym. If your kids are older (hopefully they aren’t still using you as a play gym – ouch), think of it as a chance to sneak in the hugs they won’t let you steal at the school gate anymore. If they are small, take comfort in knowing this phase will pass and catch up on some Netflix.

10. Yippee – here comes the drinks trolley!

The drinks trolley is the Disneyland of flying. A snack for the whole family, a good old cuppa or glass of wine for you – a little joy for everyone.

11. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

Every now and then, you’ll strike gold and a stranger will play boo, smile at your kids, ask them where they’re off to – you know the drill. Those people are real-life angels. Resist the urge to hug them tight or kiss their feet, a heartfelt thanks should do the trick.

Kids win friends wherever they go. Here are mine, bringing QLD and NSW together.

12. We made it! That wasn’t so bad. We’ll definitely do this again.

While you might have had some (or all) of the above thoughts, it’s super unlikely to have been all in the one flight. Getting out of the day-to-day routine and going on a holiday with your family really is something special. Those pesky plane rides get you and the family to some excellent places. And who knows – you might be one of those lucky families who only ever have thoughts five and six. Just never say them out loud 😊

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