Thursday, September 2, 2010

Travelling with Toddlers and their Tummies

I think pretty much the only time I am asked for definitive parenting advice at work is when one of my colleagues is about to fly somewhere with their little one. Leo is a pretty well travelled toddler having flown twice to the UK (once with a side trip to Croatia) as well as a couple of little domestic flights in Oz. I’m certainly not claiming any expertise from these trips as ultimately each kid and flight is going to have its own hazards but I definitely have tactics.

Mostly our flights have gone smoothly but air travel is not a situation you can control. I will spare everyone the graphic details of Leo’s upset tummy on the first leg of our last flight to London. Let’s just say I will be eternally grateful for the laundry services at the Incheon Hyatt Regency in Korea for ensuring that Leo and I had fresh and dry clothes for the next 11-hour leg of the flight.

So back to the tactics, the main one that I’ve got was passed on by an older and wiser parent who said make sure you have one new toy for every hour of the flight. I think that’s a bit of a stretch on a 22 hour flight but it works if you subtract the hours that the toddler may be sleeping. I would certainly suggest that a trip to the $2 shop before your trip is time well spent.

Second, a friend of mine who reluctantly bought her three year old a DVD player convinced me that this was a sensible idea. I initially baulked at the thought (isn’t there some rule about watching tv and toddlers??) but now am a big fan of this purchase. When we were travelling the Wiggles Movie allowed us many a long and relaxed dinner out with friends and family. You may have to endure some scornful looks from other diners but it is worth it for the sake of actually getting to eat dessert!

Most importantly when going on big trips – bring lots and lots snacks!! I’m not sure if this is a common experience but Leo regressed to only eating food that was 100% familiar to him while we were overseas so my boxes of sultanas, bags of dried apple and muesli bars were essential eating…until they ran out. Unfortunately everything in Croatian shops seemed weird to him – the fruit tasted funny, the bread was weird, the cereal wasn’t the same. In good news, I learnt that toddlers can totally survive on bread, biscuits, sultanas, pasta, pesto and milk for a week.

Next time I’m asked about travelling with kids, I think my main tip will be to chill out because I couldn’t help but freak out when Leo turned fussy. Looking back, it was much more important that we enjoyed the good times than worry about whether Leo had eaten his greens for the week.

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