Wanderer Wednesday: It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Journey…Right?

by Jessica on July 20, 2011


Welcome to Wanderer Wednesday!   This week Megan from Mini Globetrotters shares her tips for traveling with a baby by plane.  This is no ordinary trip, though.  Megan and her family traveled for over 24 hours!  Very impressive.

Would you like to share your wanderings?  I would love to hear about your favorite trips, whether they be right in your own backyard or around the world.   Contact me at jessica <at> suitcasesandsippycups <dot> com.

Yes, the bulkhead is worth every penny!

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, right?  But what if that journey involves a 1 year old, two flights totalling almost 18 hours and a 7-hour layover?  Is it still about the journey? Um, maybe not, but unless you’re a masochist, you need to cherish the idea of a confined, grumpy toddler on your lap for 25 hours.  Last month my husband and I arrived at the airport, toddler in tow, to begin our 25-hour journey from Toronto to Vietnam.  Every person we spoke to about our trip said “you’re so brave!”  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it.

And you know what I learned?  That we often underestimate our children. My son cried for a total of 15 minutes in the 14th hour of our first flight.  And only then because he had finally fallen asleep to be awoken by turbulence.  And I would venture to say that, as long as you come prepared, the journey can be half the fun.

Top Tips for Enjoying the Journey

  1. Now, I’m a self-professed gear junkie, so maybe I go a bit overboard, but trust me when I tell you that, sometimes, that gear will make the difference between calm and chaos.  The two pieces of techie stuff we bought in anticipation of this trip were an iPad and the toddler headphones by Califone.  We got several compliments from flight attendants on these headphones and they helped keep JR engaged in the in-flight entertainment.
  2. If your journey involves a long flight, believe me when I say that those bulkhead seats are worth every. single. penny.  My husband is 6′ 3″, so we’ve been finagling those seats ever since we started travelling together.  Throw a toddler into the mix and those few extra inches quickly become essential.  The extra space meant we could spread out our belongings and set out a little play area for him.  He even slept on the floor at our feet when it was nap time.  Another bonus is the touch sreen TVs are either mounted on the wall or the arm of the seat — which means that those pudgy fingers won’t be pounding on the back of someone else’s seat, and that’s one less dirty look you have to endure.
  3. How you board the plane will set the tone for the rest of trip.  Families with small children are usually allowed to pre-board.  If you’re flying with another adult, the best solution we’ve found is to get one person to go ahead with as much of the luggage as they can handle and set up the seats, while the other person lets the child(ren) run off as much energy as possible before boarding the plane.  (And don’t forget a last-minute diaper change too!)
  4. Never underestimate the power of the treat.  Most airlines are good about bringing snacks, drinks, and small toys for the kids, but packing your carry-on with treats means you’re not relying on having an empathetic (and available) flight attendant.  Before a long flight, I visit the local dollar store and find a few toys that I think JR might enjoy.  I also pack his favourite lovey, a roll of painter’s tape, some stickers, juice boxes and a few never-fail snacks (rice crackers, puffs, etc.).  I wrap the toys and hand one over whenever he seems to be getting restless.  The painter’s tape was probably the smartest item in our bag of tricks.  JR loved ripping pieces off the roll of tape and sticking them all over us and the seats. It served a dual purpose as we soon discovered:  after JR had pressed the “Call Attendant” button a dozen times in five minutes, a piece of tape nicely covered the button, erasing that innate toddler need to press all visible buttons.
  5. Go with the flow.  A detailed plan for the journey will end up in the same place as your birth plan: lining the bird cage.  Be prepared, but don’t have expectations.  The best strategy is to be flexible, because you may find that your mile-a-minute pre-schooler wants to do nothing more than sit on your lap and watch cartoons, while your normally sedate 11-month old wants to run up and down the aisles.  Your fellow passengers aren’t the enemy and are usually happy to smile and coo to your children as long as they see that you are genuinely making an effort to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your family.

When you’re relaxed, your kids will read that and take their cues from you.  Remember – a journey of a thousand miles…begins with a little preparation.


Meagan lives in Toronto with her husband, son, and cat Monte, who sadly never gets to travel anywhere.  Her new site, www.miniglobetrotters.com, is a great resource for travelling families with indispensable gear reviews, travel tips and more!


Jenn July 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Great tips – I can’t imagine a long flight with my 19 month old! We’ve flown several times with him, but the longest being 2 hours. I love the idea of the bulkhead – I’ll have to see if we can get them on our next trip! Our best trip had our son in his car seat (convertible) at 2. He actually fell asleep… not his normal way!

Meagan July 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

Thanks, Jenn! The bulkhead is definitely the way to go if you can score them! We’re off again today with no bulkhead – but only 1.5 hours in the air, so fingers crossed he’s as well behaved! :) Happy travels…

Angela July 20, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for joining my hop!

Mama Spaghetti July 20, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Wow! You are brave! Good tips, though!

Barbara July 21, 2011 at 4:52 am

Such a great post! I had to travel overseas with a 12 month old alone and it was an adventure! It is also helpful to know that most airlines have bassinets that they put in the bulkhead seats for babies. It was a lifesaver when my tired guy wanted to sleep and was such a relief that I didn’t have to hold him!

Meagan July 31, 2011 at 9:01 am

Hi Barb! We discovered each airline has different regulations around the use of bassinets. On Air Canada and United he was too big for the bassinet, but on Singapore Airlines, he was still a few pounds under the limit. Most airlines though, say that if the baby can sit up on their own, they can’t go in the bassinet as they’re not very deep and could fall out. But I highly recommend trying to get one – it certainly makes things a little easier….

Lisa Goodmurphy July 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

Great tips! It took me several years to work up to long flights with my kids and now I don’t know what I had been so worried about. Good for you for starting so young!!

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