The end of “The Hellidays” is well and truly in sight. And if you’ve survived the summer thus far, then give yourself a pat on the back – you are doing exceptionally well. Whether you’ve been on holiday, are going on holiday or are even considering simply stepping foot inside an airport ever again, then the following 10 Tips on How to Survive The Airport with Toddlers is a must-read. For aside from death, divorce and moving house, tackling The Airport with or without kids (and spouse) in tow, has to be up there among the major stressors in today’s world. It requires strategy and tactics, sustenance, stamina and a lot of compromise. It also requires careful planning, deception, bribery and addiction. If you are not comfortable with any of the above, please stop reading now.
My Top 10 Tips on How to Survive the Airport with Toddlers (and spouse):
- Compromise. If you and your partner are anything close to “normal”, then there will be one Anal Annie among you, for whom punctuality is an absolute priority and there will be one Laid-back Len, who quite frankly doesn’t give two hoots about what time it is, but who always seems to make it just in the nick of time. Equally, there will be one whose highlight of the year is a trip to Duty Free and in contrast, there will be the other, who would rather spend the extra few hours in bed. Whichever category you fall under, it’s probably a good idea to reach a mutually agreeable compromise over what time to leave for the airport, preferably before you order the taxi, in order to avoid any premature divorce proceedings.
- Stamina. Anyone who has previously travelled through security with a pushchair will know that passengers + pushchairs = Priority Lane. Whoopee, sounds great! In fact, it may even be worth taking the 10 year old stroller for a stroll, just for the privilege! But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by deceptive terminology. It also happens to be the longest and most tedious queue in the entire airport. As if watching people desperately scramble around for stray liquids at the last minute isn’t painful enough, in the so-called “Priority Lane,” you have the added bonus of watching a line of stressed-out Mums and Dads battling with belligerent buggies whilst trying to restrain boisterous little buggers. And as if that’s not enough, your own tearaway toddlers are now playing havoc with the elasticated barriers. Life in the Fast Lane requires stamina Darling, so it is worth setting up camp with sugary snacks, a classic Disney and a few pop-up chairs. Besides, anything is better than losing a stray Terror Tot to UK Border Force. Or is it?
- Addiction. As you can see, it wasn’t long before there was mention of an electronic device. But whatever eco-warrior, earth-mother opinions you may have surrounding the controversial matter of electronic devices coupled with children, now is not the time to enforce them. Equally now is also not the time to limit your little addicts’ screen-time. For the eagerly-awaited “Day Out at The Airport” would simply not be bearable without The Drug and equally, your life would not be worth living if you are battling withdrawal symptoms on top of everything else. What’s more, make sure to pack one device PER CHILD (and that includes your spouse). Trust me, it is naive to expect that your children will “share” a solitary device quietly and sensibly between themselves for the duration of the journey, without the onset of WW3. Oh and don’t forget the power banks. If Daddy Pig gets rudely cut off before polishing off the rest of the birthday cake, then not only you, but the entire A380 will be dreadfully, dreadfully sorry.
- Sustenance. We all need food to survive. And surviving the airport is in no way different. Even though you may not be travelling to Antarctica, where breadsticks, blueberries and Blue Ribands are a rarity, it is still advisable to pack every kind of snack you can physically shove into your already-full backpack. In fact, you may as well pack anything that’s threatening to go off in the fridge, as well as a few frozen dinners whilst you’re clearing out. Although you may argue that the leaking punnet of squashed raspberries was possibly not the best idea, inflated airport prices, microwaved cardboard cheese-toasties and unexpected 12 hour delays with starving toddlers, does not bear thinking about.
- Deception. Sometimes it’s cruel to be kind. And as parents, don’t we know it. Top Tip number 5 is to deceive your kids with the “treat” of a late-night on the night before your departure, leaving them with as little sleep as possible. In an ideal world, sleep deprivation combined with the slow sluggish movements and the gentle hum of an aircraft about to take-off, can indeed work to your advantage. In this case, your Perfect Peter will lie in your arms and drift into a deep and comfortable sleep for the duration of the flight, waking only to meet with the sunshine, sea breeze and sandy terrain characteristic of your holiday destination. It can also go horribly wrong, turning your little angel into a Moody Margaret, miserable, overtired and damn right revolting. Whatever the outcome, I’d risk it – sleep is overrated anyway.
- Bribery. As parents we are well-versed in the art of bribery, and if you are one of those who claims never to engage in any sort of bribery to curtail your kids, then you are quite possibly not even human. But trust me, if you do not wish to become the in-flight entertainment, then I strongly advise that you resort to bribery, in any shape or form, to control and contain your reckless rabble. Thomas Cook teddies and a 6-pack of Kinder Surprises don’t come cheap mid-air, but they are worth every penny in times of need.
- Strategy. Once again, if your precious brood are anything approaching “normal”, then they will no doubt take great pleasure in attempting to kill each other in all manner of slow and torturous ways. In this case, it is advisable to sodding well SPLIT THEM UP. So once you’ve captured your picture-perfect 2.4 family on camera, tear them apart, strategically plant yourself and your other half firmly in between them and prepare to be the Middle Man for the next few hours.
- Tactics. Engage in whatever tactics it takes to befriend the miserable sod fortunate enough to be sitting next to you. If you make love not war with your neighbour, then you won’t need to worry about disapproving tuts and dirty looks from anyone within your line of view. Sod everyone else and their judgemental stares. “I can’t see you!” (said with a snigger). Guaranteed that by the end of the 2-hour tortuous trip, they will probably feel extremely sorry for you and offer you a boiled sweet by way of pity. That’s your ears sorted at least.
- Planning. Whatever you do, do not (and I repeat, DO NOT) treat yourselves to a take-away curry the night before. Aeroplanes do not have the luxury of fresh air yet and your fellow 150 passengers will not care to be engulfed in Korma induced flatulent fumes. And whilst on the subject of toileting, make sure to change your baby’s nappy before you hop on board. Trying to squeeze mother, baby and a bulging nappy bag into the cubicle, without losing any of the above to the scary suction toilet directly below the changing table, does not bear thinking about. Did I say changing table? I meant shelf. Anyone whose baby is bigger than a small person’s forearm has no sodding chance. You may as well back up, do a surreptitious “seat change” and pray it’s not a number 2.
- Cop out. If, having read all of the above, you truly feel that a trip to the airport with toddlers in tow may well send you under, then I don’t bloody blame you. My advice is JUST DON’T DO IT. More and more families with young children do not go abroad for this very reason. And I’m beginning to understand why. It’s not actually a cop out, it’s probably a sensible and rational judgment call and a vital means of self-preservation.
Apologies if I have entirely put you off travelling by plane ever again. At least I’ve saved you a grand or two for the next five years. However, if you have any further inspirational techniques for surviving the airport en famille, please feel free to leave a message in the comments section below. And if you have enjoyed this read, please like and share this post, subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you for reading!