Travel broadens the mind. You get to see new places, learn about new cultures, and meet new people, and your kids follow right along. It can be an amazing experience.
The journey though…not so much. Flying with a toddler can test the most patient of minds. And almost push them over the brink.
Here are 12 things that are guaranteed to happen when flying with a toddler.
“Are we nearly there yet?”
You’re barely out of the drive and you were hoping to at least get halfway to the airport before they ask the dreaded question. But 1 minute in then they pipe up and ask it anyway.
Be prepared for them to repeat it approximately 5093 more times before you reach your destination.
You start by saying in your sweetest Mary Poppins voice ‘It will be a long journey, Sweetie. Just relax and enjoy it’ and by the 5093rd time shriek in your deepest Darth Vadar voice
‘NO. WE. ARE. NOT. NEARLY. THERE. YET’.
You then spend the rest of the drive muttering under your breath.
Your child will need at least 5 toilet stops
You spend an age getting the car all packed up and the kids buckled in and you’re all ready to set off on the first leg of your big adventure. Then a small vice pipes up from the back seat: ‘Mummy, I need a poo’.
You head back inside the house and let your child go to the loo. Which takes a good ten minutes. Thirteen miles later, when you’ve just hit the bypass a little voice pipes up ‘Muuuummmy, I need a wee’.
You make them cross their legs and jiggle until you get to a quieter road where you can stop and persuade them to pee by the lay-by.
For the next few hours of your trip your little treasures play ‘toilet relay’, where they develop urgent bowel and bladder calls at the most inconvenient stretches of your journey.
One child will be sick
They will announce that they are going to be sick by leaning forward into you and then immediately vomiting all over you.
The sick will drip down your top and seep into your bra. It will be warm and smell noxious. There will be chunks of identifiable food you gave them for breakfast in your hair.
Although you packed changes of clothes for the kids, you didn’t think you would need any for yourself. And now you’re there, stuck in a plane. You will end up having to mop up the sick with baby wipes and just be aware that you honk for the rest of the journey.
They will fall asleep right before landing
You can plan all you like and go for the night flight, hoping your children sleep the whole way there. But they will stay awake no matter what and become grumpier and grumpier along the journey.
Then on the last part of the flight they pass right out and you have to wake them up 10 minutes later when you reach your destination. The result? A cross and grumpy toddler.
Add some jet lag to the mix and they can be a complete nightmare for at least the first two days of your holiday.
Your child will find some way to annoy the passenger in front
If you travel by plane, as you board you will notice the disgruntled looks from the poor fellow travellers who have to sit next to you.
Your child will bang the tray on the seat up and down repeatedly. They will kick their feet into the seat in front until the passenger in front loses their rag.
They will peer between the headrests of the seats and stare fixedly at the passenger behind them, just for fun.
They will press the button to turn the light on repeatedly as if it’s a disco light. They will press the button to call for assistance at least three times.
And they will almost certainly release their seat belt just when it’s supposed to be secured for take-off.
Basically they will fidget and wriggle and press everything in sight, until you feed them more snacks just to keep them quiet.
They will hate the travel food
Whether it’s an aeroplane meal, a train buffet snack or the sandwiches you packed for a long car journey your child will hate every morsel.
But if they don’t eat they get hangry and make the rest of the journey a living nightmare. You coax them to try a bite or two but they spit it out and refuse to eat another bite.
You give in and try to feed them any chocolate bars or bread rolls you can get your hands on.
It’s the travelling law that you will HAVE to play I Spy
Let’s face it. It’s hands down THE most boring/frustrating game in the entire world but when you travel with kids it’s the law that you have to play it for hours on end.
The reasons why this game is so bad is that toddlers are rubbish at the alphabet. You can spend hours guessing what they spy beginning with ‘C’ only for them to finally reveal that it was a ‘traCtor’.
Also the thing your child spies often whizzes by in a flash and you never spy it again, so you can spend ages trying to guess only to find out it was a ‘postbox’ that you passed 5 miles back.
10 miles into your journey you feel yourself coming up in hives.
You will be delayed on at least one stage of your journey…
…and it will be a nightmare.
Whether it’s a traffic jam, flight delay or a missed train connection you are almost always guaranteed to spend an unscheduled stretch of time waiting with tired and bored kids. Which is an experience to remember.
By this time you’ve drained every ounce of fun out of ‘I Spy’ and watched every preloaded episode of Paw Paw Patrol on the iPad.
You’re on the wire. You’re all knackered. Nerves are a-jangling. Please let this bit of the journey hurry up and end already.
They will forget/lose their favourite toy
The ONE comfort toy that they need to fall asleep. You told them it would be safer to pack it in the suitcase. They promised they would look after it on the journey and never let it leave their sight.
Cue a heightened panic and a lot of tears and your breaking down into shuddering sobs because they can’t live without their beloved cuddly companion. You tap frantically on your phone to start a social media campaign to #FindScruffy, which you hope will go viral.
The on-board entertainment will jangle your nerves
Crayons, sticker books, crosswords. Yeah they’re all good, BUT every parent knows that the easiest way to keep the kids entertained is to plug them into videos or audio.
But you are then consigned to having to watch or listen to endless hours of Peppa Pig or held hostage to listen to Baby Shark on loop to the extent where you feel like you’re losing your mind.
Your child will not quite get used to their holiday home
Wherever you stay it’s just not home to your child. They will not sleep as well. They will not eat as well. They will act up and be fractious.
Their pillow is too lumpy, the dark at night is too black, the food is weird and has got ‘bits in it’.
You’ll feel like you need a holiday to get over your holiday
You’ll have had amazing times and made memories but after a holiday with small kids you’ll arrive home feeling like you need a break to get over your break.
But then you’ll look back on it all with rose coloured spectacles, print out the happy holiday photos and want to do it all over again.