Tuesday 30 March 2010

What to pack for long haul flights...with kids

I feel as though I am reliving those final days before I headed off across the Atlantic. The last minute mania of trying to finish off work, hand it over, pack, write lists and organise everything down to the last detail.

Only this time I'm not heading off on a grand, scary adventure on my own, leaving my children behind for 6 weeks. No, this time .... they're coming too.

And this time, it's only 3 weeks and doesn't involve a boat. This time we replace lengthy boat trip with lengthy flight. All 26 hours and 10 minutes of it. Yes, that's 26 hours and 10 minutes with two small boys trapped in a confined space. I don't know whether to just get hideously drunk or whether I should concentrate on getting everyone around us blotto.

You see, we're flying to New Zealand to at long last visit my sister and mother. I am sure that I will love New Zealand. It looks like a very lovely place from the brochures. And it will be fantastic to see my family. But did I mention that it is on the exact opposite side of the globe, only lower down, from where we live?

I've reached the point where I've handed over all my work, but now have THE PACKING to do. First I have THE IRONING to do. Most people say, sod the ironing, it'll all be creased when you get there anyway. Probably. But there's a difference between ironed creased and unironed creased. And faced with crinkly jeans with jetlag, I'd rather just do it now. So that is tonight's little task. It's only 7.20pm and I'm already on my second glass of wine. This is a fleeting insight into my current frame of mine.

Tomorrow shall be the grand packing day. Packing what to take is fairly easy. Shorts and t-shirts that haven't had a look in around here for many months. Plus the odd jumper. And my new bikini. Yes - that's a bikini. Why? Because it's New Zealand. Very, very far from where I live so no problem right?

No, it's the on-board plane bag that takes artful packing.

Let's see what must go in it:
  • snacks. check. jelly worms and mini cheddars. I was angling for healthier options as they really don't need sugar in a confined space, but these will at least shut them up albeit briefly, whereas raisins would be declared rabbit poos and flung around onto neighbouring passengers.
  • entertainment: I've bought Mr Men Top Trumps (five in one brucy bonus card set thingy), Peppa Pig carry along colouring set and activity book with plenty of puzzles, word searches etc. These were meant to be a surprise. Me unveiling them at their peak of painfulness with a Ta Da! Except they've seen them and have been nagging all week to play with them.
  • entertainment cont.: I am relying on the largesse of Air New Zealand in the provision of many in-flight DVDs and kid friendly games to play. This is cutting down on my packing.
  • cleaning aids: liquid alcohol gel stuff to get rid of germs which we're going to suck straight into our nostrils via the on-board air conditioning, but you know, at least I'm making an attempt to avoid illness; wet wipes - because no wise mother travels without them; change of clothes for children because at least one of our 17 meals on board will land on their laps
  • comfort: pjs for all three of us. I know. The shame of wearning my Tesco tracky bottoms in public, but needs must when it comes to long haul comfort. Same goes for baggy top in which no-one will notice that I've taken my sodding uncomfortable bra off. (please tell me I'm not the only person who finds bras a modern form of chinese torture?)
  • comfort continued (because it's important): the lovely new Yondis from the makers of Trunki. I wrote to the good people of Trunki and told them that I was going to have to fly for 26 hours and 10 minutes with two children and they kindly sent me two Yondis, which I am hoping (wishing, praying) helps them to sleep. I shall report back on this.
  • Book: for me. Because I'm an optimist in thinking I might actually get to read it.
  • Medicines: Ideally I'd like to take a litre of calpol, the same of medised and liquid piriton for the kids, plus a jumbo box of airsick tabs and several dozen paracetamol for me. But given the liquid limits on board and the fact that they might think I'm running a drug smuggling operation (I am according to Waitrose who refused to sell me calpol, paracetamol and aspirin in one sitting lest I try to top myself), I'll probably opt for paracetamol for me and airsick tabs for the kids.
  • Beauty: eye drops and face cream (obviously 100 mls or less) so that I don't frighten small children and elderly pensioners when I get off the plane on the other side looking like a vampire. Possibly a comb too. You know. Papparazzi and all that.
  • Other important stuff: like tickets and passports and insurance and other mission critical bits that I will forget, voiding the entire mission.

I'm sure there's more. About another 50kgs worth, but now the iron is singing my swan song and I must away. Wish me luck.

PS - whoever the lovely person was who nominated me in the MAD blog awards, thank you very much. I looked at the categories and thought: oh well, there's no category for mad woman who wibbles on about something and nothing so that's my shot gone, and now look. Someone has gone and nominated me. Very kind. So thank you.


Nadia.Is.Cute said...

OMG how I enjoyed reading this! Hope you'll get the best of NZ when you get FINALLY get there hun :)

Expat mum said...

If you've booked kids meals, reconfirm them about 24 hours before your flight. Sometimes they change the "equipment" ie. the scheduled plane, and don't transfer all the meal requests. I have had so many instances of this that I now travel with food, (like bagels) just in case.
I wrote a long article about long-haul travel with kids over on the Expat Women web site, which is still there.

March 17th said...

Thanks so much for this - I will print it off and pin it on the wall - you are the packing & preparation guru. Congrats also on the bikini . I'm not going to ask how long the flight is ...... A very dear friend of mine is from NZ - it sounds fab. Good luck & have a great trip ! xx

Anonymous said...

i will be travelling with three kids 5 and under! 7mths, 2 1/2 year old and a 5 year old! on a 20+ hour flight across the continents! I am so nervous, I'll be taking your advise as my starting point! thank you!