After enduring a 15 hour flight from Melbourne to Santiago with two young kids (a 3 and a 1 year old) no one at the end of the flight planted a “we survived the flight” sticker on me…. They give those stickers away for almost anything these days! Passengers clap the pilot when they land the plane, yet where’s the clap for the families and the “Yeah you made it!” in return?!
Preparing for a trip overseas with kids can be a bit like planning for labour and birth.. You spend a lot of time worrying about the flight (labour) and less time on what will happen once you get there (baby arrives). The if’s and what’s of the flight seem to preoccupy the mind. Questions such as, how will it go (I’ve never done this before!), and what to do if it all goes pear shaped run through the mind. Its unpredictable, uncertain and most likely painful…. Like birth, there can be things you can take to make it easier, or you can go au natural…. However, no matter what happens, you can’t go back or stop mid flight…. you just have to see it through!
After about 12 hours or sometimes two days, it’s all over …. Your ecstatic…. Suddenly your faced with the realisation that what you’ve been planning for months has actually happened and here you are in a new country about to embark on a life changing adventure….. You even consider doing it again, once the jetlag and flight become a distant memory.
We chose the most direct flight route. Melbourne (Australia) to Santiago, Chile with a stopover in Sydney. We could have saved $1000 per ticket if we had gone via the Middle East but it would’ve meant 39 hours on a plane.
We flew during the day, not that we had much choice. It worked out well as the kids began the journey fresh and well rested after a night’s sleep. An early stopover meant that the changeover of planes happened early in the flight rather than interupt a potential sleep moment…
The flight to my surprise, went quite smoothly. I even got to watch a whole movie and this never happens at home…! There were some testy moments but this can happen at home without having the added stress of being in an overcrowded space for a prolonged period.
My 3 year old happily watched ABC for kids epsiodes, we read stories and books together (always worth taking some of your own entertainment and snacks!) He managed a little nap but no more…. By the time we reached 9pm our time, we were trying to help him wind down for some more sleep, but then the cabin lights went on and it was breakfast time…..
Our 1 year old, was the only one who really managed to rest, napping easily on me. Despite, thinking it would be a struggle to hold him the entire time, it was enjoyable and comfortable ( I sat there and watched a movie!). He required a bit more effort in the entertaining department when awake but we let him have regular crawls and look out the window. Our fears regarding the flight was worse than the reality!!
After such a long flight, it was a relief to arrive in Santiago at 9am (midnight our time) and to be processed quickly and efficiently. We were ushered to the “preferential” aisle bypassing the horrendous immigration queue. This is common in Santiago – there is often a special aisle for pregnant women, families, elderly, people with a disability. It was fantastic. By this time, my eldest son was exhausted as were we….
See next blog – Tips for flights with kids