Travelling with a toddler

Here’s a top tip for you re travelling with a toddler – whatever you do before taking your child on a flight, don’t watch the first two Home Alone movies. As you settle into your seat, a creeping realisation will come over you that you have forgotten…something. A moment later it comes – “KEVIN!” Whether or not “Kevin” is happily sitting next to you, wittering about “air-o-PLANE”s is irrelevant. It’s the paranoia and panic that really stops you enjoying the complimentary sweets and comics*

*Available only in the Topsy and Tim book. Definitely not available on EasyJet.

So, travelling with a toddler on a budget airline….how does that go exactly? Well, I’ll tell you. Happy Christmas by the way! To start with, you will be flying tear-jerkingly early in the morning, from somewhere which not even the loose boundaries of this blog could class as “London”. This will involve snatching your child from his bed at 3AM while he’s busy dreaming about dinosaurs and taking him out in the rain in his PJs (“cold! wet!”). You’ll tuck him back into is duvet once he’s strapped into his carseat, imagining that this will facilitate him going back to sleep. Oh no! By now, he has realised you are on An Adventure so will be wide-eyed and a little bushy-tailed.  He will request an apple at some point, only to clutch onto it and at no point attempt to eat it. He will chatter all the way to Luton. A slightly hungover daddy at this point will only help matters.

This liveliness will come at a cost – the cost being a meltdown when you get to airport parking and have to transfer him out of carseat into bus shelter and then onto bus. If you attempt to dress him in trousers, puddlesuit, jumper and coat at this point you may think it’ll make the meltdown better. No! Foolish parent! It will make the meltdown worse. Go back and re-study Parenting for Dummies. None of the snacks you have brought with you will be suitable bribing materials and you will all be very cold. This is all a natural consequence of catching a bus at 4AM in December. At NO POINT attempt to separate the boy from his slippers. Unbeknown to you, he has formed a deep attachment to his slippers and needs them on hand (sometimes literally)at all points, luckily for you, they were attached to him when you removed him from bed and attached to the carseat when you board the bus. You never intended to take them to Germany with you but here they are, stuffed into the back of the carseat as you’re hurtling through the quiet roads of Central Bedfordshire. So you’re taking them. And that will prove to be fortunate for you….

Once at the airport, the boy will continue to whinge through check-in and security. You’re only queuing for check-in as the EasyJet website told you you had to check in the buggy. Or so you thought! You don’t, but you should have got the buggy tagged. Pity the EasyJet lady didn’t know that. You proceed to Security, with 3x hand luggage, toddler, buggy and carseat only to be told that the carseat should a)be tagged and b) have been checked in. Listen to this man! He knows! You don’t listen to the man, get the thing tagged and continue to drag it through security.

Think security at an airport is fun normally? Try it with a tired 2-and-a-half-year-old who has suddenly decided he has had a Second Wind and wants to run off. How exactly do you fold a buggy down, hold onto the toddler, take all your coats and some of your shoes off AND remove your liquids and ensure they are placed in a clear plastic bag? You tell me. How do you refrain from saying “Balls!’ when one of the plastic bags splits, scattering your cosmetics over the airport floor? Again, you tell me. It could have been much stronger, so I consider myself the model of restraint. Of course, we could just move on once we’d gathered our things up, nein? Nein! As part of the heightened security protocol, high risk liquids have to be tested with what I’d assume is some kind of pH tester-stick-thing (that’s the technical term) and clearly, Johnson’s baby shampoo falls into this category. So again, I clutched onto the toddler and the hand luggage while watching the man slowly test the shampoo (not a bomb! who knew?!) and then piled on all our winter layers again. In an airport roughly the temperature of Central Africa. A slightly hungover daddy at this point will only help matters.

So, we were through security! Time for a sit-down? Nein! Luton airport at 6AM is clearly THE place to hang out and every square metre of space, including seats, was rammed with people. So, we found a space by the games arcade, piled up our stuff and took it in turns to wait with it while I got juice, apple and crisps for the boy (hey, anything goes when you’re travelling) and we both went to the loo. Roo meanwhile was happily clambering over the cars and motorbikes in the arcade and playing with the air hockey table. Win! Pity we had to rapidly move on to the gate, which involved queuing down a flight of concrete steps. You try doing this with a buggy. So, buggy had to be folded, Roo had to walk, Nathan had to skitter up and down the steps when there was a gap in the queue, carrying the carseat and buggy down. You may recall, I’m not actually supposed to be carrying anything at the moment.

Ah, the carseat. Remember what the man at security said? That we couldn’t take the carseat on the plane? Well, here was verse two and it was a case of Once More With Feeling. There was no way that carseat was going on the plane with us – should have been checked in. Never heard of such a thing etc etc. Well, Miss EasyJet, allow me to quote from your own website, which I did at the time but didn’t have the luxury of copy+paste at hand. “Car seats can be taken onboard for any child aged 6 months to 3 years for whom you have paid a full fare seat..” Check it – it’s here. If you read it several times before departure, as I did, you will be left with the lasting impression that not only could you take a carseat aboard, you also should take one otherwise your little cherub will not be allowed to fly. In other words, if I could have checked it in right at the beginning, why would I have dragged the bloody thing all the way through the airport? This is the second time in this post I have used a mild swear word and I apologise. Something culminated in me at this point – the early start, the being pregnant, the dragging the toddler and large amounts of stuff around for the last few hours – and I did shout at the EasyJet lady. I’m sorry, EasyJet lady. But I was right.

Anyhoo, things progressed smoothly from thereon in. We were allowed to leave the carseat with the buggy at the aircraft steps, we were given priority boarding so we all got to sit together, Roo didn’t cry during takeoff and the people on either side didn’t kill us when they heard “Topsy and Tim go on an aeroplane” for the third time. I mean, he tried to climb out of his seat a few times when we were taxiing and always wanted the table down when it had to be up but these are minor concerns. So, that was flying with a toddler. The transferring across Dortmund and the train to Gütersloh can wait for another time. But that was the experience of a toddler in Luton airport. Read and learn from our mistakes…

Refitting is the reverse of removal. Only in German.


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One Response to Travelling with a toddler

  1. Suzanne says:

    Oh yes, we have experience of EasyJet flights with toddlers – still trying to erase them from my memory, 6 years later!

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