I used to be quite the jet-setter, taking off to see the world whenever it pleased me. I went to many destinations within the US and many other countries. Once we had our daughter in 2014 things changed. People would always tell me that it would, and that my traveling days were over. But I refused to believe that they were over. The first two years of her life we did hit the pause button, mainly because we working the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt but also because I had so much anxiety about traveling with a baby and all the stuff we would have to bring along I didn’t feel like tackling that. We did take a short trip to visit relatives in Ohio with her when she was 1 but the flight time was only about 4 hours total.
After two years of not traveling my wanderlust was getting the best of me. Foxx (our daughter) was two and a half years old and I was really wanting to get out of the country and go on a real vacation again. I looked at my husband one evening and said “I really want to go to Bali but it’s so far to take Foxx, don’t you think?” We live smack dab in the middle of the United States in Oklahoma but he just looked at me and said “let’s do it”, it was that easy for him to say let’s go, as if it was just a quick trip down the street! Meanwhile I was thinking oh my gosh that is a loooooong flight with a child! Will she be okay?? What if she cries the whole time? What do we do with a 2-year-old for over 24 hours on an airplane?! It almost seemed impossible to me to even consider taking her with us. But I knew I couldn’t bear to be away from her that long if we decided to go and leave her at Grandmas’s. So I bit the bullet and said you know what, let’s do it then, if we are going to do it let’s go big.
We were going on a family vacation of a lifetime! I wanted to see the world and I wanted my daughter to see it too, being in my family she was going to have to love to travel so no better time to start then now! I immediately booked us 3 round trip tickets to Bali, Indonesia leaving in just a couple of months. I was super excited but a little anxious too.
The night I booked our flight I didn’t sleep a wink. All these scenarios were playing out in my head and I was like what have I done? Is this a good idea? Should I call and get a refund? Will she be okay? What if she starts freaking out while we are over the middle of the ocean? I was seriously like oh. my. goodness. I googled “what to do with a 2-year-old on an international flight” looking for suggestions and ideas. I read some good things and I read some horror stories. I then had to step back and give myself a reality check and a pep talk. I told myself that I had nothing to worry about, everything was going to be fine and to quit stressing out about it, no more worrying! So I got up the next day with a fresh mindset and I had no more worries. Being such a positive person who believes in manifestation it was easy for me to switch the bad thoughts off and visualize nothing but positivity and good experiences. All I was thinking now were good vibes and excitement for our upcoming trip to Bali!
The days crept closer to our departure and I did my preparations. I hit up the dollar store and grabbed a bunch of $1 toys to keep Foxx occupied. I had read that a good way to keep kids busy on the plane was to introduce one new toy an hour. And considering we had a total of 24 hours air travel time one way I got a huge bag full of goodies including things like stickers, colors, clay, beads to string, and activity books.
My husband downloaded a bunch of her favorite movies and cartoons and put them on her Sprouts Cubby tablet. Typically we don’t allow her to play with a tablet or electronic devices very much but we knew this would be an exception. The Sprouts Cubby comes with a bunch of apps that are age appropriate like puzzles, games, and reading activities.
We also decided to purchase one of those small umbrella strollers-I got a super cute one that looked like a shark on amazon for about $20 bucks. This turned out to be a lifesaver when we were trying to maneuver through the airports, plus you can take them right up to where you board the plane and they check it and have it ready for you once you get off the plane. Serious must have!
We got Foxx her own miniature kid size backpack (seriously the cutest thing ever) and a child size fox neck pillow (seriously another cutest thing ever). She got used to wearing it around the house quickly and looked forward to putting it on and saying “backpack!” We packed some of her favorite toys in it, colors and coloring books. I also packed an arsenal of vegan snacks and foods. We were ready to go!
Travel day came and we were pumped! Since there were two of us, mom and dad, we split up the task of keeping her busy while at the airport. We had no problems getting through security they are actually pretty accommodating when traveling with little ones. When it was time to board dad went ahead on board and got everything situated while I ran around the airport chasing Foxx. This gave her a good chance to let loose and release some energy before having to sit for hours on end. Foxx and myself waited until last call to board so that she could continue exerting some energy.
Once we got on board we gave her some crayons which kept her busy for the first hour peeling off the labels (it’s one of her favorite things to do and she doesn’t stop until they are all unwrapped). We were well into the flight and it was honestly going better than either of us imagined, she kept busy playing with her Sprouts Cubby and watching videos for hours. Since it was an international flight each seat comes equipped with it’s own in flight entertainment TV’s so there was a plethora of kids movies to keep her entertained. The only thing she did not like were the headphones, so we kept her cubby volume down low enough that she could hear but it wouldn’t bother others around her. Other kids on board seemed to do the same thing so it wasn’t an issue.
When it came time to eat we had requested vegan meals and even though it was airplane food none of us complained, I was just ecstatic that they were able to accommodate our dietary requests! Being a toddler she picked at her food slowly but enjoyed it nonetheless. Me and the hubs also enjoyed the complimentary adult beverages every chance we could (did you know you get alcoholic beverages for free on international flights?!). It was a good idea to bring some of her favorite snack foods as well.
Our first flight was from Dallas to Hong Kong which was about 16 1/2 hours long and both me and my husband were impressed at how well she did! She was a rock star! She kept busy the whole time, and took two short naps. The flight crew couldn’t believe she was awake and happy for so long. Our second flight was about 4 hours from Hong Kong to Malaysia and she was definitely starting to show signs of boredom and tiredness. Dad caught a few z’s on the plane but mom however did not, way too uncomfortable so by the time we made it to Malaysia we were dead tired. The bad thing was that we had a 10 hour layover in Malaysia but the good thing was we had a hotel booked at the airport. Walking up to that hotel was like walking into OZ, the twinkling lights welcoming us and we finally got to stretch out and get a good nights sleep.
The next morning we caught our last plane to Bali which was a 3 hour flight. By this time Foxx was so accustomed to the airplane but she was tired of sitting so she wanted to crawl out of her seat the whole time and her previous excitement with her toys was running out. Her restlessness was apparent so we took turns trying to entertain her on our laps. We finally made it though! We even had people compliment us on how well-behaved Foxx was on the flight. Whew! Foxx is officially an international traveler!
Changing diapers on the plane was something I had not been looking forward too but again, wasn’t much of an issue. The changing stations are these pull down tables in the lavatories but they are very small. We came stocked with overnight pull-ups since they hold more and having to change her while standing up this was the easiest option. If you do have a baby small enough to lay down on the changing table definitely bring a changing pad to lay down underneath them.
Glow sticks we had gotten from the dollar store were also a hit since most of the flight it was dark with all the shades down and they brought a fun party atmosphere to our aisle of seats. We were definitely the party animals on this flight!
My advice to other parents having to travel internationally or just on a long flight period is just to relax, know that it’s only temporary and millions of people do it everyday. There is nothing to stress out about, make it an adventure and talk to them about how fun it is to fly before going on your trip so that when they see the airplane they can associate it with fun and be excited.
Happy travels and good luck! Now go see the world with your babies!