We recently got back from an amazing holiday in South Africa - which I'm sure most of you are aware of given how many photo updates I indulged in while we were there!
There was just one downside to the trip - the 12 hour night flights that bookended it...
We knew it wouldn't be great, and to be honest we were lucky it wasn't much worse! It definitely wasn't bad enough to put me off travelling long haul again. But I can safely say we came away with a few battle scars and lessons learnt.
Now, I'm definitely no expert on the subject but here are the few things we did learn from our experience:
1.You can never pack enough snacks. This is definitely the golden rule of travelling with small people (and in this case big people - I definitely also indulged in a few crackers and rice cakes along the way). We found a good variety helped, and choosing stuff that isn't too messy like dry cereal and fruit was also a mini win. The only difficulty was figuring out how frequently it was okay to shove something else Skye's way to help keep her quiet!
2. It's totally fine to use other passengers to entertain your child. Most people get involved whether you want them to or not. They don't talk to you, except to ask your child questions through you - What's your name? How old are you then?
Also, it's actually quite impressive how long a toddler can get a total stranger to play peekaboo through the gap in the chairs for.
3. There will normally be another parent far worse off than you. You've finally settled in to watch a film on the entertainment system while your sweet little person sleeps peacefully across your lap, but spare a thought for the family a few rows back whose baby has been howling non-stop for the past 40 minutes. Old you would have been eye-rolling with the best of them. Mum you flashes a sympathetic smile while you think, 'thank god it's not mine' as your fellow parent paces the aisles trying to calm their little one down.
Just know that for this will come back around and at some point, you will be on the receiving end of those smiles. They came our way at around 3am on our outbound flight during a particularly bad and prolonged bout of turbulence. Not exactly reassuring for any nervous flyers nearby to hear the bloodcurdling screams of an over tired toddler as you try to keep hold of your drink.
4. Don't make the mistake of trying to brush your toddler's teeth during the flight. Teeth brushing is a battleground on the best of days so why would you inflict it upon yourselves while you're 35,000 feet in the air in a confined space with lots of total strangers trying not to judge your every move. Not only is it likely to result in a loud and public meltdown - theirs and yours - it's also probably not ok to reveal to anyone outside your immediate family that the way you brush your child's teeth is to sort of pin them down and just shove that brush right in despite their protests.
5. It will eventually end even if it does seem interminable at points.