How to fly long-haul with babies and toddlers (and keep your sanity!)

Not only is Sydney-based Lorraine Murphy an award-winning entrepreneur and bestselling author, she also recently survived and thrived on a 20-hour journey home from Ireland with an 18-month-old. Solo! And it wasn’t even her bub’s first big trip. So she’s pretty much our new hero and we couldn’t think of anyone better to share their top tips for flying with a baby or toddler…

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We’re doing this ✌🏼

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1. Check in early so you get maximum chance of getting seats you want.

My preferences are the bulkhead seats for extra leg room and easy access to bathrooms, or anywhere that you can nab an extra couple of free seats so Baby can lie down. I’ve found that check-in staff at the airport can work miracles – especially if the flight won’t be full.

2. Have one carry-on bag and a small suitcase.

The small suitcase is stored above your seat and has everything you need to replenish the supplies in your carry-on bag. The carry-on bag lives at your feet and has the change grab bag, some food, toys and whatever bits you need to hand.

3. Bring your baby carrier.

A baby carrier is life when flying with an infant or toddler. They enable you to be hands-free with the baby so you can wrangle with other kids, suitcases, overhead storage on the plane, airport security and passport control. Our Ergo is also our go-to to get Lexi to sleep on a plane.

4. Bring changes of clothes for everyone travelling.

Bring at least one change of clothes for each adult travelling, and allow for one change of clothes for every four hours for little ones. The full kit: vests, socks, onesies, jumpers, etc. Also have a plastic bag to throw laundry into – you may need it.

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Lexi's first flight ✔️ And a 14 hour one at that! Feel like she's shouting up to the pilots to tell them to get moving in this shot. Didn't realise we were actually flying with a six week old till we got to the airport. She was a rockstar – tears going up but cool as a cucumber coming down. Slept for most of it and we required just one total outfit change after a projectile spew situation. Thanks so much for all of your tips after my Insta stories last night. We packed a change of clothes for ourselves quick smart and the ziplock mini change bag was a winner. Next stop Dublin where this lil VIB is meeting her grandad, auntie and a massive extended family for the first time. ☘😝

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5. Have a grab bag for changing.

Have most of your supplies in a carry-on suitcase overhead, then keep a smaller “grab bag” to cover three or four changes under your seat. Oh, and have a small tub/tube of nappy cream. For some reason, Lexi’s bum is always sore on planes.

6. Bring the amount of nappies you think you’ll need, then add another 50% on top of that.

My rule of thumb is to pack one nappy per hour of travelling. This is generous, however I find Lexi needs to be changed a lot more regularly when she’s flying. Also, bring double the number of wipes you think you’ll need – they are invaluable for mopping up messes.

7. Feed/give liquids in a bottle going up and down on the plane.

I hate the ear-popping stage of take-off and landing myself, and I can only imagine how scary it would be to a small person. When I was still feeding Lexi myself, I would try to time her feeds for when we were taking off, as the sucking action relieved the pressure on her ears. Ditto for landing. I was worried about how she’d cope once we’d weaned, however I’ve found that giving her coconut water in a bottle as we start to go up or come down works just as well.

8. Lean on the cabin crew.

They’re not just there to serve meals and drinks, they can give you a dig-out with the kids as well – particularly if you’re travelling solo. Obviously I’m not suggesting that they get full babysitting duties, however they are usually very happy to hold/watch kids while you run to the bathroom, or bring you extra water/snacks if you need them because you’re trapped under a sleeping baby.

9. Pack sh*tloads of snacks.

Food that Lexi loves and that travels well are: nut butter sandwiches, cubes of cheese, berries, whole apples, bananas and rice cakes. I’ve found that airport security will pretty much let you bring anything onboard if it’s for a child under two years old.

10. Bring little toys they haven’t seen before in bags within bags within bags.

I don’t know what it is about bags for toddlers, however Lexi will happily play for 30 minutes taking things out of a bag, putting them back in, then taking them out again. We packed a mixture of bags: ziplock bags, drawstring bags and zip-up wallets, and put random things in them. Hint: the party favours aisle of the discount store is perfect for this!

About Lorraine:

Lorraine is a thought-leader in entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation, organisation, marketing and social media. She started her first business The Remarkables Group in her spare bedroom. The business went on to secure over $1m in revenue in its first 12 months. One of Lorraine’s life highlights was spending time on Necker Island in 2016, and learning firsthand from Sir Richard Branson. Lorraine has been married to fellow entrepreneur Wade for five years and is the embarrassingly proud mother of baby Alexis. Follow her on Instagram here.

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