Go into the flight with the mentality of a competitive athlete - the best defense is a good offense.
Here are the top 3 strategies I found to best accomplish the trek with little ones:
1. Be organized.
Have all passports and travel itineraries updated, organized, and readily available (Ziploc bags in your purse or carryon). You are not going anywhere without your travel documents sorted so click here to get started.
Next, check online or contact your airline carrier for policies pertaining to traveling with a stroller, car seat, and if necessary, dietary policies regarding pre-pumped breast milk. Before you purchase your tickets, check with the airline to see if any bassinet seats are available. Bassinet seats are for infants under 11 kg (24lbs) and extremely helpful when it is sleep time.
Also, your travel itinerary should include more than just flight information. It would be very beneficial for it to contain the phone number of your ride from the airport, address of your temporary accommodation, and contact information for the relocation coordinator.
2. If possible, be flexible with flights and take your time.
Even for those who are not traveling with children, America to Australia is a long and exhausting flight. My son was 17 months old when we left Texas in May of 2012. Because he had previously been on domestic and international flights, we were naively confident he was an above average toddler traveler. And, there were two of us and one of him! We were in control!
Our plan of attack came down to simply breaking the trip into two sections. We came up with the idea to spend 36 hrs on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. This afforded us the opportunity to ease our son's little body to the time difference, gave us a chance to recharge, and of course, to see some of Hawaii. Most importantly, we were able to eat, shower, sleep, and say good-bye to the U.S. of A.
3) Be prepared.
Balancing the sensitivity of other travelers to the sensitivity of your child's comforts can be hard. It may be tough, but so are you. These are a few ideas I used to make the flight more enjoyable:
- Easy to pack toys, such as Hot Wheels cars and small dolls, are great for imaginative play in small spaces.
- Small spiral notebooks are great for coloring, Tic Tac Toe games, and writing practice.
- Non-refrigerated healthy snacks can be a life saver! Pack accordingly as you can restock during layovers(if time allows).
- Nurse or give your newborn a bottle during take-off and landing to alleviate auditory pain due to pressure change. For older children, a drink of water or a piece of gum may help.
- A favorite blanket can double for warmth and a game of Peek-a-Boo. And, a favorite sleep toy can provide snugly love at rest time.