Long haul with a 1 year old
London Gatwick -> Cancun Mexico
10 hours In the air.
My sister and I had decided enough was enough with the family politics around Christmas and we would instead run away somewhere hot with the little-uns etc. Ottilie had her cousins who are 2 and 4 on holiday with us and it was the perfect mix of ages to keep each other entertained.
I was an even mix of apprehensive and excited to take Ottilie on her first long haul flight. We live about 1.5 hrs from Gatwick airport where we were flying from so we decided to stay at the airport hotel the night before. It was still a horrible 4am wake up in order to get ourselves and the little ones ready.
We checked our bags in quickly and decided to get some much needed coffee!
Ottilie was 1 year and a couple of weeks but I decided to keep her on her formula instead of transitioning to cows milk to keep things simple while we were away – this did however mean 1 of our checked in bags was 6kgs overweight. I think a good tip for traveling with potentially over weight bags is to check in early so there is still a lot of capacity left on the plane. Checking in late usually means they are stricter on the weight of the bags as they know what allowance remains.
We bought Ottilie and her cousins a trunki for an early Christmas present which was perfect to store all their bits in. The older ones had toys and snacks in while Ottilies was rammed full of nappies, formula, changes of clothes and half of Aldis snack aisle! They were worth every single penny!! I have always seen kids whizzing through the airports on them and viewed them as a fun albeit slightly hazardous airport toy – but since using them for storage more than the ride on aspect due to Ottilie being much too small to successfully sit on in motion I realise how useful it is to have a hard shell for toddlers bits. Everything was kept perfectly intact and organised.
Although Gatwick is a nightmare for us in distance – it does have its perks such as a Wagamama which serves breakfast! I love their food and the breakfast did not disappoint. Ottilie and I both went for pancakes and of course a bowl of cappuccino for me who was struggling a lot more than the little ones with the whole being up in the middle of the night thing. Gatwick does have a soft play area which is usually great for keeping the little ones occupied while you wait to board however unfortunately it was shut on the day we travelled so instead we caused mayhem in a small section by the shops with erratic trunki pushing and pulling with the odd tantrum in-between.
Although this was Ottilies second trip to the airport and abroad I felt like she was much more interested and aware. She was fascinated by the aeroplanes and all the happenings in the airport – especially people watching which always makes other people incredibly uncomfortable when she decides to stare at them with no shame at all.
We boarded the plane and were lucky enough to be seated at the far back. This was great as Ottilie could only annoy the passengers in front which were her aunty and uncle! We took off around 9:30 AM which is close to Ottilies morning nap time so once the initial excitement had died down and we were in the air we made a comfy bed for her across our laps and lay her down with her bottle – she went to sleep relatively quickly and we had numb everything in no time.
She managed to wake just in time for some lunch which she thoroughly enjoyed. It was her cousins leftover pasta as under 2’s who don’t pay for a seat also don’t get food. Not ideal as she eats bigger portions than most adults but we managed to scrape enough together to keep her satisfied – Plus my well traveled with small kids sister had packed enough cheese sandwiches to feed the whole plane!
I travelled her in a GAP all in one which was perfect to keep her warm in the airport and in the air as well as being super comfortable for her to move around and sleep in. We managed to get it in the sale for £11.99!
Half way in we had slept had lunch and annoyed cousins/aunty and uncle so it was time for another snuggle and a snooze. Ottilie fell asleep for her “afternoon” nap and we watched some more films and sat with numb bums! So far so good and I was actually quite enjoying the flight.
Ottilie was fast asleep on our laps when the captain told us about some amazing views below – I was so frustrated I couldn’t see what everyone was ‘Ooing and aaahing’ at so I got my sister to take a photo. As you can see Greenland was covered in beautiful snow! Well worth making her get up and snap me a shot.
Ottilie woke from nap number 2 and it was almost time to land. I did a quick wash of our used bottles and a manic hunt for the millions of items dropped and fallen out of bags and attempted to pack it all back in again! I changed Ottilie into the questionable outfit above so she was ready for the Mexican heat! In hindsight I’m not sure why I insisted on keeping her socks on.. something to do with the cold airport or something but I think I was sleep deprived and therefore lost all sense of style for the poor girl. Socks and sandals is something she will probably never forgive me for!
We landed at 5PM *Mexican time (10PM English time) with 3 very tired kids and 4 even more tired adults. We got the usual hit of warm sticky air which wasn’t met with enthusiasm due to us adults all being dressed in tracksuits more suitable for a damp England. We got our bags and headed for the transfer bus.
Quick tip – Don’t let anyone touch your bags from carousel to coach – they will expect a tip for a job your more than capable of doing. We learnt the hard way! $$$$
top 10 things for long distance with 1 year olds. (Approx 20 hours of travel in total)
- Lightweight buggy. We have the graco evo mini – its perfect for holidays as it is super lightweight, easy to use and the child can lie flat as well as having a big hood to protect from the sun/rain.
- Change bag or Trunki to store all their bits and pieces in. We found the Trunki to be the perfect size and great to keep things protected having a hard shell.
- Enough bottles and formula. I use the formula dividers to make sure its all already measured out and just needs to be tipped in. We pre filled all the bottles with water but the cabin crew are always more than willing to heat them up or fill with water if needed. We took 8 bottles in total and had 1 or 2 spare for when we arrived at the hotel.
- Nappies and wipes – I packed 12 nappies across her trunki and my and my partners hand luggage plus a small pack of wipes in each to ensure we were all covered. She used about half of this but fortunately we had spares as another mother on the plane had forgotten to pack some!!
- Snack, Snacks, Snacks!! We packed plenty of different snacks for the journey – most of which were eaten before we even took off. We had raisins, fruit bags from WHsmiths, organix oat bars, organix banana popcorn, cheese sandwiches, corn puffs, fruit pouches and a beaker of water. Snacks are great for not only filling them up but killing some time to faff with.
- Toys – We took a variety of random toys that Ottilie hand picked, including a book, toy car, random wooden peg and a little zippy pouch to put them in. Ottilie had the most fun taking them out and putting them back in the pouch.
- Any snugglies they love. Ottilie can’t sleep without her Jojo Maman Bebe elephant (so we took 3 just incase) and her blankie and ‘Cushie’. The blanket and small cushion were perfect to make sure her naps were just like home and familiar.
- Changes of clothes. I took 3 changes of clothes. 3 vests (1 long for cold plane and 2 short for once we landed) 1 pair of leggings and top and 2 jumpsuits (in photos) I always over pack ‘Just in case’ but she did spill a ton of tomato pasta down her front plus other snacks and drinks so the extra change was perfect.
- Ipad/kindle/tablet with kids shows/games. We loaded our ipad and kindle up with peppa pig and games to keep her entertained however she didn’t use either once. She isn’t really into it (yet) so it was wasted time on our behalf however Im sure plenty of kids would have enjoyed it and made use of it.
- Emergency bag of stuff. Ours included calpol sachets, teething granuals, moisturiser, hand sanitiser, enough earplugs for 5 rows around us, eye masks, blow up pillows and mini bottles of gin.