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Old 06.11.2010, 13:44
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Travelling with two young kids on your own.

Hello,

Most of you know that I am expecting the second one. And I am trying to figure how much trouble I am getting into!

A friend of mine has a toddler and a young baby and she refuse to travel on her own to visit her family back home. She will go only if she has the help of an other adult.

I perfectly understand her because my duracell toddler is already a full hand on her own and I can't see how I could possibly managed to do it with an other one.

Is some of you here did and do travel with 2 young kids on your own? Please, could you share your experience and tips? My mother believe that we will go to visit less often with a second child and it will make me very sad if it is true... But 2 kids, alone in the plane for 8-10 hours?

Thanks!
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Old 06.11.2010, 14:09
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I always thought the worst would happen - two screaming kids, vomit and other fluids all over you, rude and angry passengers, etc - but it never did. It is never anywhere near that bad even when it's not a good flight. (And I have arrived with vomit over me, so I do travel with an extra top for me and clothes for the kids on longer flights.)

Eventually I stopped worrying and just relaxed. Everyone knows plane travel is an effort even without kids, so most are usually understanding and even helpful. And the trolley dolly's are also usually really nice and helpful. They know if happy Mum and happy kids means a good flight for all.

We lived in HK and I often travelled with two kids, 9 hours to and from Aus. I actually found day flights easier as the older one was so excited about going on a plane and watching TV or playing games non-stop. At night he was too excited to sleep on a night flight. Work out what is best for you. I also often took a couple of new toys to entertain them on the flight, and some snacks/food in case they didn't like the meals and plenty of wet wipes. While my younger one slept I would ask the hosties or a passenger to watch him while I took the older one "exploring". The floor of a plane is filthy, but it didn't bother him as we crawled, hopped, jumped, and wandered up and down the aisles.

Now our flights home are 24 hours at least (last trip back took 38 hours due to storms, delays and missed connections!). The kids are older (4 and 7) but even now I refuse to stress. I just imagine the worst and I know it's never that bad. And even if it was, it's only for a short time and then it's over.
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Old 06.11.2010, 14:15
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I was not able to travel with my 2 year old and my 4 month old alone. I'm sure there are women out there who do it (I take my hat off to you) so I would like to see how this thread goes and read about their experiences.

I travelled to England with my son who was 4 months at the time and was really sad that I could not take his older sister with.. it was just too much for me though. My daughter came with my husband to drop me off at the airport and she was in hysterics the whole time she was there.

To be honest, the sole reason why I could not handle it was because I was afraid of how others would react to me and/or her if she had tantrums with me alone. I was full of hormones and it was just too daunting for me to comprehend doing it alone. Now I feel more confident and the hormones have started leveling out so I think I'd give it a shot if I had to travel with the 2 of them alone now.
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Old 06.11.2010, 14:17
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

BTW, I think the time difference at the other end is harder to deal with. That's when I wanted the help (from family). Having 2 kids waking at various times is exhausting! Babies usually adjust pretty well, but your toddler and you may not. Make sure you can get a break and sleep during the day if you need to.
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Old 06.11.2010, 14:38
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I know that some airlines won't even allow you to travel if you're on you're own with 2 kids and the 2nd is too small.

I used to fly and travel quite a lot alone with one child and when the second one arrived I only travelled once alone not because I did n't want but because the opportunities did not arrise. For that time only, it was to fly from Shanghai to Zurich. Emilie was 5 and Zoe 10 months old. I have to say that I took a direct flight because even though I am an experienced traveller, facing a transfer alone with them two was not appealing to me. So my husband met us in Zurich and we all drove to Bern.
To go to the airport in Shanghai, someone came with me to help me check in. I phisically could not manage the 2 kids and all the luggage. Needless to say I was exhausted when we arrived as Zoe was in my arm the whole time ( no seat for her) and Emilie did not sleep at all as it was a day flight.

My only advice would be : try to fly night time and find lots of activities for your older one to do. I think i already posted a similar answer somewhere on this forum .
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Old 06.11.2010, 15:58
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

if the other one is small then it is not sooo difficult. during most f the flight my baby was sleeping ...the emirates staff were really helpful...it took a lt of small games and stuff with me....ask for airlines assistane before travellign when bookign flight...they can be very helpful..

once both are toddlers it becomes realllyyyy difficult
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Old 06.11.2010, 16:33
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

You see my duracell toddler is really moving non-stop (Thank God she doesn't eat sugar). The take off and landing is a nightmare because she can't watch any DVD and have to stay still. She hates it (and it isn't because of pain or something) and make sure we all know it.

During the flight she wants to go around and walk in the aisles up and down non-stop and of course I or daddy have to follow her. Not because she will disturbed other people, she really doesn't but in case.

The last winter trip to the US was not too bad but exausting for me because the day flight and night flight wasn't successful on the sleeping topic.

And I am telling ya, I had a lot of new toys! She didn't care for any of them!!
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Old 06.11.2010, 16:48
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I travelled alone a lot with both my children when they were small and had no real difficulties at all, although most flights were short-haul.

I always found toys and food helped enormously. I would pack a box of food goodies for the older one which he could start to munch into during take-off and then progressively bring out new toys. The most successful toy I ever found was a plastic parrot with a tape recorder inside. The parrot sat on the child's finger and everything he said to it was repeated back to him. This kept him amused almost the whole way to Miami.
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Old 06.11.2010, 19:18
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

My husband brought three kids back from Oz in summer - solo - 10, 8 and 2 years...

Plus side - lots of extra attention - the staff at Singapore airport even offered him a lift from one gate to the other do to the transit...

that's 23 hours, folks...

But then again, he's a primary school teacher - he's trained to handle up the 35 primary school aged kids solo...school camp anyone ?

May advice - totally do-able. Plan for the worst, be pleasantly surprised when it's not so bad, and ask for anything you need to make it more comfortable...no one wants a grumpy kid on a flight...nor a grumpy parent!
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Old 06.11.2010, 20:19
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

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I know that some airlines won't even allow you to travel if you're on you're own with 2 kids and the 2nd is too small.
THis is what I was going to suggest looking into. My friend was not allowed to travel alone with her twins. She always needed another adult with traveling with her until they were x old.

(solve for x )
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Old 06.11.2010, 20:29
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I think the travelling thing is for the 'free' baby allocation. You can only have one baby on lap... but if you book the child/baby their own seat, then no problem.

Oh, and forgot to mention, my husband on his return with three kids ended up with two rows of three seats for the four of them - the airline 'blocked out' the seat in between - very generous!

I can highly recommend singapore airlines, and I have friends that also recommend emirates. They usually have competitive pricing, and I love their customer service! and they specifically promote themselves for family-friendly travel...
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Old 06.11.2010, 20:44
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

Traveling as a single adult with multiple children is a challenge - but as others have said, having assistance at each end will ease the trip immensely (check-in is especially hard with more children than available hands!). If you have a blonde toddler and fly Singapore Airlines, you may find a queue of hostesses wanting to take them for a walk up and down the aisles - I know I did ... and as other EFers will attest, it's not due to my rugged good looks.
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Old 06.11.2010, 21:51
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

(note - have not read the whole thread so might be repeating things).

I don't know, I think people make a bigger deal than it's worth. Yeah its going to be hard and sacrifice, but that's also true for parenthood in general. We have travelled transatlantic with a ADHD child and another that is also quite active. Done so as a couple, also me alone, also my wife alone. No big deal - ehm, sorry, yes, it's a big deal but for us well worth it and doable - take a positive attitude! We do a long haul, to South America, with connections at either end. Now that we have 3 we have only done short haul flights, long haul now we will do together, alone impossible until older is quite older

Don't have much time now for a full answer (putting children to bed) but - keep them entertained, new toys, things they like, bring an ipad / portable dvd if they like that, and also - might be hard to swallow to some to do this - drug them (slightly, carefully of course) to help them sleep. This is important, if not it will be hell / very difficult for them to sleep. By drug them I do not mean sleeping pills, but something you would give them normally that causes some drowsiness.

If you can afford as well UPS most of your luggage so you don't need to handle more than a suitcase on your own + the kids in your transfers through customs. There are companies dedicated to this and prices are not as steep as a real UPS shipping. People will help as well, if you approach an airline person and ask, they will carry your child or your luggage (I've done many times). Try to keep your packing to something you can move at once yourself - kid on a backpack or dual stroller, large bag for toiletries, another for toys, stroller for other kid, but not much more....

Calculate A LOT of time for everything - security, transfers, etc. More than double what you need. DONT WORRY ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE behind you being impatient, don't hurry more than needed, don't loose control of the situation. Security is tough for us but I literally ask any lady at the security point to hold my baby and they will (or they outright offer to do so). Try to take as direct as possible flights, but if you have to connect, never do on less than 2 hours (doable but normally avoidable and can be risky). A long connection is normally better than a short one - most major airports now have playgrounds and the time to run and relax helps them very much (I usually plan around my transcontinental about 5 hours stop on each location).

Consider upgrade to business class if you have miles (but this not often the case for most - and to be honest, I've done it only once and it is not that much of a difference... will not do it again - you are not going to enjoy the wine and nice dinner!). If not, you MUST get the bulkhead seats ahead of time (most airlines even reserve this until boarding for families) and ask for a the small bed - I think it's called basinet - (up to about 1.5 year old will fit well) they can put in the bulkhead. But ask for this ahead of time, insist at check in they check it is on board, ask upon boarding, etc - it makes one hell of a difference to be able to put them to sleep besides yourself. Also check for airlines with in-seat enternainment that you can choose your own channels or play games. They will have kids programs so this will keep them busy a few hours and is a blessing.

Also many airlines given your situation will 'help', take extra considerations, for example, if the flight is not full ASK, smile, also beg, that they reserve the seat next to you so you have a full row or some extra space (they can reserve the space in their system so its blocked until absolutely necessary, do it all the time for us frequent travelers).

Sure, it will be tiring and long, but doable. They will keep you busy (as in the house!) for sure, but again, it's doable, just a sacrifice. Plan well, really keep new toys for 'surprise' every couple of hours.

As all good things takes effort. A hard part we didnt expect was the time zone change - this was harder for us. When we got to America they where in European time, so sleeping in the day (when we where busy with family and friends), and at night, eyes wide open wanting to play around. This took a few days more of work.

Very often people on the plane are very sympathetic and will help you far more than you expect. Stewardesses as well. Now I just look for people that look in the right attitude/age bracket and ask them to spend some time with them to go for the bathroom. You can go to the open spaces in the front, exits, rear and set up a small play area. Ask the steward (they will do this) to keep your meal for after you are done with the children, to bring it later.

Anyway, good luck, go do it!!, but plan well, read, reasearch, but do it.

You must check flyertalk.com, search there, you'll find EXCELLENT threads there on tricks and tips, do that, it helped us as well. Food is also important to plan ahead well - lots of tips on this on that forum. Planes have microwaves and always bottled water, but other essentials (as diapers) you must take extra care to take far above what you normally need (think, stomach problems!).

Anyway, good luck - now my wife is angry I did not help put the kids to bed heading up to tuck them in. Bye!

Juan Miguel Venturello
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Old 06.11.2010, 21:54
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

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if the other one is small then it is not sooo difficult. during most f the flight my baby was sleeping ...the emirates staff were really helpful...it took a lt of small games and stuff with me....ask for airlines assistane before travellign when bookign flight...they can be very helpful..

once both are toddlers it becomes realllyyyy difficult
Agree on that - below toddler, less than 6 months, etc, it's a joy. It's between toddler and maybe 2, 3 years when it's the hardest!
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Old 11.12.2010, 22:45
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I recently flew Swiss air (direct from Chicago) with my husband and son and the staff was incredible. I would totally consider flying with 2 children by myself on that airline (I'm due in March and may need to travel by myself this summer), but I would think long and hard about it on other airlines. Besides the staff, Swiss air let us check 2 bags per person so we had limited carry on items.

If you take a night flight with the hopes that your child will sleep, you might want to bring light weight blankets or large scarves to drape over the seat and block out ambient light.
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Old 11.12.2010, 22:53
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

i have considered doing this, but to be honest the main thing stopping me was the thought of lugging a suitcase with a stroller. After check in i'm not as concerned...
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Old 12.12.2010, 00:31
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

I've done this with 2 similarly aged children on a 1.5 hour flight, that is just about bearable (even with a 2 hour drive the other side).

One trip did involve a 2 hour delay, then boarding, then de-boarding, then waiting 2 hours for a replacement plane, but never an 8 hour block without a major leg stretch.

And to be honest, if I had to extrapolate that to a 8 hour flight, I would seriously reconsider flying alone.

One thing I've noticed however, is if you get to Zurich Airport early, there's a really good Nursery / Childrens Room to relax and tire them out in before the flight.
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Old 13.12.2010, 15:07
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Re: Travelling with two young kids on your own.

Yes, it is do-able and not too difficult with careful planning.

A few tips:
--get one of these to help in travel, a very useful investment www.lillygold.com

--a lot will depend on the age&temperment of your children. We tried to avoid such long airtravel when child(ren) were between 1.5 and 3 years, the worst age to travel in our experence. Younger and older were better ages to fly.

--search and get direct routes when at all possible, even extending a terminal drive in car by a few hours to avoid another shorthaul flight. Connections are always problematic and high risk of missing connecting flight, avoid at all costs.

--search airport play areas or places to let off steam in advance. Plan to go there during stop-overs, delays, etc. and make them run around during that time, they will then sleep more during travel. Ditto for getting out to play before leaving for airport.

--preparation and plan ahead, ie. read books to young children about flying to get them used to the idea, pack activities and comfort objects, bring snacks and non-messy finger foods.
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