Does the prospect of a long haul flight with a screaming baby or wayward toddler fill you with dread? Best to think like a Scout and ‘Be Prepared’. When it comes to hand luggage, never overload yourself – particularly if you are travelling as a solo parent with the kids. However, you do want to make sure you’ve got the basics covered. Here are my top 10 indispensable items for hand luggage:
1) Baby carrier
Even if you intend to keep your stroller with you right up until the gate, a baby carrier can be indispensable onboard. When my baby refused to sleep in a bassinet, I found it much easier to strap her into my Ergo and wander up and down the aisle jiggling her to sleep. It will also come in handy if you have a long walk to pick up your stroller or need your hands free to chase after other children!
2) Black pashmina
Any kind of dark scarf can be a versatile way to keep you/your kid warm, make an airline seat more snuggly and most importantly, drape to create blackout over a bassinet or car seat (especially on the HKG-London flight where they keep the lights on till about 2am!)
3) Eye mask
I’ve noticed lately that unless you are flying business or premium, airlines are scrimping on items for economy passengers. My rule of thumb is that as soon as the kids go to sleep, you go to sleep and an eye mask can really help get you in the zone.
4) Medicines and syringes/spoons
I always take small bottles or sachets of Panadol, Ibuprofen and Gravol on every flight, in case of emergency. Sometimes I’ll even give my little ones a bit of Panadol before we fly in the hope that it will make them drowsy… note this doesn’t always work!
Food is the number one way to keep babies and children of all ages occupied! For younger kids, teething biscuits, apple rings and rice crackers are great. For older kids, you can create a healthy snack mix to bring with you on the plane or my kids favourite – homemade popcorn.
Don’t forget to come armed with a stash of activities such as colouring books, stickers, magnet games, stacking cups, a pack of cards, etc. Go to your local market and buy cheap toys that you can bring out as ‘surprises’ every hour or so on the plane. My 4-year-old’s game of choice is ‘sick bag hand puppets’.
7) Spare plastic bags
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. They’re great for storing puked-on clothes and leaky milk bottles, or clearing up messes in general!
Most seats will have a built-in plug for your charger. There’s no need to fret about your iPad running out of juice if you’ve got your charger with you!
A pen sounds insignificant but you are likely to need one at some point on your journey, from filling in immigration cards to giving a kid something to doodle with.
10) Hand sterilizer
Travel is a grubby business and having a mini hand sterilizer in your bag will give you added peace of mind after your kids have been crawling all over the floor and are now ready for snack time!
It goes without saying that your hand luggage will contain much more from nappies to baby bottles. Consult a packing list and check everything off as you go. Happy flying!