I've flown a lot in my life. I love everything about it- the thrills, the ups and even the downs, and it's only natural I'd be the type of parent that would always travel with my child. It's led to some amazing experiences, and she even made AA Platinum Status at the age of 2! So, I get asked quite often what the "secret" is when people are planning to travel with their children. I get all kinds of questions, some of them I still can't quite even believe. But, the truth is, there's no right or wrong way, just perhaps some advice I can offer from my personal experience of logging tens of thousands of miles with my own little one. Hope it helps!
0-6 months: Take full advantage of that darn bassinette. There's a reason they make bulkhead seats and nail those ugly things to the wall- to save parents from going nuts and having every single limb fall asleep while holding a baby or a toddler. And, it's about the only time in your life where every single person on the cabin crew is going to bend over backwards for you- especially if you're traveling solo with a kid. Take advantage of every loving look, every gesture to get you sorted and situated and to make you and the child more comfortable. You'll be paying it forward someday if you haven't already so even if you're like me and have resistance to accepting help, JUST DO IT. Trust me.
6 Months- 2 Years: Heaven help you. But after that it's going to be OK. Breathe.
2 Years - 4 Years: Now you're good, you just need to sort a routine. I don't overpack at all, and in this stage I find they LOVE hauling their own bags or backpacks so make it a responsibility thing. The iPad has been a savior and most long haul flights will have an in-seat entertainment system so either way it's golden. I'm not one to sit a kid in front of a screen for hours EXCEPT for in flight, so if it works, just do it. I usually bring 3 books including a massive activity book with lots of problems to solve, a pack of markers, a foldable map of where we're going, a deck of cards and some paper. That's it- easy to pack in my handbag or her bag and honestly, most of the time it's not even used. Take walks too- get up, have them move around, go up and down the length of the plane, stretch, go to the bathroom, have them go pick out a snack in the galley. Activity helps. So many people call me and ask if they should book a 2 hour flight around their child's nap time. No comment. Kids adapt- get out early so you can land early, relax and enjoy the day wherever you're going- trust me, they'll love the adventure. If it's mega early, let them fly in their PJs, whatever it takes to get out the door, in the air and where you need to be. Sleep will happen on the plane, or later.
4 Years & beyond: You've got this.