The feeling is familiar: you’re sitting in the departure lounge waiting to board that long-haul flight, watching your fellow travellers milling about, hoping, praying, that the two small children screaming and climbing over the seats will be travelling at the other end of the plane. Then you realise – those children are with you. So it rather begs the question, unless there’s a new job or Antipodean relatives to visit, why would you even consider a trip to the other end of the earth with children?
Well, the fact is, if you waved goodbye to your wanderlust the moment you had children, you’d be depriving the whole family of some of the most extraordinary holiday experiences on offer.
Of course, a long-haul flight will test the most patient of parents, but if you follow the night, plan late departures and travel east, you’ll make it a lot easier on yourself. Once on board, preparation is key: toys and surprises, comics and stickers, snacks and baby milk, nappies and games all need to be packed for easy access.
While the days of queuing at the cockpit door to look at all the dials and levers may be long gone, it isn’t unknown for the cabin crew to arrange for one or two well-behaved children to visit the cockpit once the plane has landed, so request this early on in the flight and you’ll have a great card in hand for keeping your child to heel. Another tip a friend gave me was to tell your child that the pilot is watching them through the air-conditioning vents to ensure they’re well-behaved. It works... at least up to the age of six.
The wisest parents will break the 24-hour slog with a stopover – which means you get to enjoy two holidays for the price of one flight.
Take your pick from Dubai (a mere seven hours before you take a breather; then another 14 on to Sydney); Singapore (13, then another seven to Sydney) or even Japan, Bangkok or Hong Kong.