The night before we flew out on our first ever family holiday I looked up ‘travelling with a toddler’ in one of those baby books I’ve still not read. The first thing it said is that if you’re planning on going on holiday with your toddler “either you have temporarily lost your mind or you don’t have a choice.” It was easy enough not to take the author’s opinion on board because this particular author has other opinions I don’t shake hands with … like kids not being ready to be aware of their toilet needs until they’re between 1 and 3 years. (If you’ve done elimination communication with your baby you’ll know just how quickly babies become aware of and can communicate about and control their little body’s toilet needs). However, shortly into our 6 hour flight to Bali I found myself seriously wondering whether she had a point after all. It was a rough flight for us. It really was. I guess you live and learn … and this is what I learnt about flying with a 1-year-old:
Lesson One: If You’re Breastfeeding, Take Food – Lots Of It!
I ate breakfast before we left home and packed 2 avocados, a handful of crackers, plain yogurt, a bag of pecan nuts, 8 small apples, four bananas and a handful of dried prunes and figs. Sounds like a lot, right? The thing is, a breastfeeding mamma needs to consume a ridiculously large amount of calories and when you’re really hungry heaps of snacks just don’t cut the grade.
Bottom line: don’t expect your airline to supply your never-not-hungry body with sufficient calories. If there is a ‘next time’ on Garuda Airlines (and I’m doubting there will be) I’ll definitely take a home cooked meal in my hand luggage.
Lesson Two: If Possible, Time Your Flight To Coincide with Your Toddler’s Night Sleep
In retrospect we’d have been a whole lot better off booking a flight which coincided with Joshi’s night sleep. Instead we were on an early morning flight. It was a nightmare. If you’ve ever had to take care of an energetic toddler you’ll know how hard and tiring it is trying to contain them. No toddler, least of all one who’s just learnt to walk, wants to sit still for even a second, let alone six hours. Any attempt to keep him on our laps was really hard. And it’s hardly surprising … after all, they’ve got an exciting new skill to practice and a whole new world to explore.
Right from take-off Joshi was wriggling and jiggling all over the show, making those loud sounds that a toddler makes when they’re really frustrated and are exerting their will. Sure he got some exercise walking up and down the aisle, charming all the passengers en route, and although I wasn’t too keen on spending the whole flight chasing after him we didn’t have many choices. The only alternative to letting him run free or holding him captive on our laps would have been to put him in the bassinet they offered us, but it could only hold babies up to 9kg’s, which ruled Joshi out. (It was round about this time that I glanced across at the other parents alongside us, their tiny baby fast asleep in the bassinet and thought, “gee, they’ve got it made.”).
Lesson Three: If You’re Flying Garuda Avoid Choose The Seats In The Centre Of The Cabin
We had window seats. So not great. Above all the window seats were these ultra bright lights which stayed on the whole flight. Any parent knows that one of the first things you do to settle a restless baby or toddler is to turn the lights down or off. Man, those lights were like fluoro lights. They were uber bright. And it’s not like you can pop an eye mask on a wide awake toddler and expect them to keep it on for more than a split second. I’m convinced that that lighting contributed to the growing irritation and restlessness that kept building in Joshi.
Lesson Four: There’s No Getting Round It – Pay More And Fly With A Good Airline
As with anything, you get what you pay for. We got really cheap return flights with Garuda. The only thing I didn’t know at the time of booking is that we were paying to fly on a really rattly old plane which felt as though it was falling apart. I didn’t mind the rattling but the fumes got us.
Because we had a baby we were given bulkhead seats. While it was great to at least have no seats in front of us, it meant that we were right on the wing and next to the engine. It’s never been a problem before, but in this particular position on Garuda we got more than just a whiff of engine fumes as our plane was landing. It was the perfect recipe for nausea deluxe -hunger and fumes. I was eyeing out those vomit bags with Mr Wiggly Jiggly still bouncing around on my lap thinking, “I think I’m gonna need one of those.”
Lesson Five: Break Up Your Trip If You Can
From the time we landed it felt as if things could only get better. They got worse. It retrospect it probably would have been a good idea to go straight to a hotel close to the airport, rest over night and then head to Ubud the next day. During our fumey 2 hour taxi ride to Ubud the pollution, heat and nausea all got too much and about half an hour before we reached Ubud Joshi puked all down my front. Not one of those little baby pukes – one of those huge projectile vomity type pukes. I was covered in it – wet, slimy regurgitated sludge. It was miraculous that not a drop of that it hit the taxi seat – at least for that I was grateful.
Having said all that, our return flight was just fabulous. It was a 10pm flight and our seats were in the centre of the cabin. Joshi passed out at the beginning and slept the whole way. We didn’t care about food or fumes or anything for that matter – we were fast asleep. Now if that was my only experience of flying with a 1-year-old I’d say “what’s all the fuss about? It’s easy as!”
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