I recently took a flight with Greta on my own - it was from Florence to London so not exactly long haul, it all went relatively well up to the point when Greta turned around and dumped her dummy into my neighbors drink and then my I Pad with Peppa Pig ran out of battery (horror!), and this experience got me thinking: how do you survive a long haul flight? I've asked five stylish friends, colleagues that work in the fashion industry with babies, toddlers and even twins what are their tips on flying, packing and dressing to travel with kids. I'm so excited to let them do the talking for this WIT mama Friday travel special...
Expert packer: Deborah Brett, Fashion editor and founder of Mini's Fashion File www.minisfashionfile.blogspot.co.uk
Follow on: @deborahbrett on twitter and Instagram
Entertainment tip for long haul flights: If your child is under the age of being able to concentrate on tv then it will mean constant amusement. Take a small selection of thin paper books (they weigh less and you can pack more) that you can repeat read on rotation. A small selection of favoured toys and figures that can be chewed on and anything that has a hook on it that can be hung on the back of the seat in front so your little one can grab and pull to their hearts content. Memorise a playlist of all their favourite nursery rhymes that you can sing on repeat and little ziplock bags filled with different treats from rice cakes to grapes but my top tip is to buy a few little gifts and wrap them up in coloured paper. Whenever they get fractious and bored, they can open a new surprise and the paper makes for a great toy too.
Perfect inflight dress code for your little one: I'm afraid I'm a fashionista at all times and that includes flying with my kids. Just because we are going on an airplane doesn't mean the style stakes take a dip. In fact that's often when my kids look their chicest and get colour coordinated in triplicate (easy to spot in a tourist mass). I make sure they wear something comfortable (I love Caramel's cotton drawstring pants for boys and a simple shell top and skirt or shift dress for my girls - you will never catch them in a track suit) I make sure they are wearing something weather appropriate for where we are flying to but I always pack their winter jackets in the top of a case and whip out at baggage reclaim. With three children in tow, hats, scarves and coats can get lost in the fray. I always make sure to pack them a cardigan or sweater in my hand luggage as well as a pair of leggings if it gets chilly on the flight. the only thing I forgo are hair accessories. It's too tough to keep tabs on a bow when dealing with airport security.
Perfect in-flight dress code for your you: I often travel alone with my three children which can make taking off shoes and jewellery quite a task. So I make sure my footwear is chic but simple. In winter a chunky pair of biker boots with no buckles and in summer my Celine espadrilles. I often wear one of my favourite jumpsuits from Isabel Marant. Not maybe the best when going to the toilet but they are comfortable, chic and easy. I always take a cashmere shawl with, either to wrap around my neck or swaddle the children in. And a pair of sunglasses is always on stand by should there have been no sleep on that ten hour flight.
Best baby bag/carry on/ gadget to travel in style: I don't tend to travel with a buggy. I often find you can't take them directly on a flight and I need my hands free so I invested in an expensive but highly practical papoose by Ergo. I've tried out so many and this one works, no backache and a happy baby. It means my youngest is strapped to me, leaving my hands free to pull another child on the Trunki (Gruffalo is our character of choice) and my Anya Hindmarch personalised Walton bag. Its beyond chic (no naff nappy bags for me) it's huge and can fit water bottles, magazines, nappies and iPads galore. I make my six year old carry his own rucksack as the need to learn to be responsible for their own belongings needs to start sometime. Pottery Barn in the US do great ones. I also carry a few cotton bags (my old Anya hindmarch dust covers do the trick) so that I don't have to be carting round horrid plastic bags if I buy too many magazines.
You live and learn… It's obvious but well worth remembering - a change of clothes for them (I forgot them on a transatlantic flight and ended up fashioning my son a pair of pants from a wrap cardigan I was wearing after a nappy explosion) as well as a few bits for myself - walking through an airport covered in drool or sick is no fun either.
My godson became ill on a transatlantic flight after secretly snacking on nuts whilst his mother was sleeping, after this I always travel with a small pouch of medicine. Not all medicine comes in small enough bottles to get through security so I bought small ones from Muji and filled them with nurofen, calpol, piriton, and keep them all in a small ziplock plastic case with savlon, plasters and a syringe to administer it. I try to cut down on at least some of the baby paraphernalia I have to travel with, so when renting a car, I travel with a pretty liberty print fabric car seat cover for my baby which makes renting a car seat more appealing.
Expert packer: Georgie Abay, Editor of The Grace Tales www.thegracetales.com
Follow on: @thegracetales
Entertainment tip for long haul flights: Lots of new games and books which they haven’t seen before. Also be prepared to play peek-a-boo on repeat and also to apologise constantly to the person in the seat in front of you. They’re in for a bumpy flight.
Perfect inflight dress code for your little one: My 18-month-old daughter Arabella lives in Petit Bateau onsies and Seed cotton track pants or Jacardi jeans. Also remember it gets cold on planes so pack a few jumpers and a blanket. Oh, and bibs are essential!
Perfect inflight dress code for you: Australian fashion brand bassike do these amazing stretch tapered pants (http://www.bassike.com/shop/women/pants/stretch_tapered_pant/19478/BLK). I live in them when I’m on mummy duty or if I’m travelling. I’ll add a J.Crew cashmere jumper (https://www.net-a-porter.com/product/430939/JCrew/collection-cashmere-sweater) and my Charlotte Olympia kitty flats (https://www.net-a-porter.com/product/430308/Charlotte_Olympia/kitty-embroidered-velvet-slippers) . It’s all about comfort. Also, I can’t be too precious about what I’m wearing as it will inevitably end up covered in food by the time we reach our destination. Last time I travelled, I arrived in Fiji covered in strawberry yoghurt. I really should stop wearing cashmere, but it’s my indulgence. I’ve just mastered the art of hand washing cashmere!
Best baby bag/carry on/ gadget to travel in style: I still use my Rochas two-tone leather tote. I bought it as a baby bag and just add individual pouches to it filled with nappies, wipes, hand sanitizer etc. Another Australian brand called printebebe does gorgeous floral print nappy pouches, which are great for travelling (http://www.printebebe.com/collections/nappy-pouches-and-clothes/products/nappy-bag)
You live and learn: I think when your children are young, you really need to question how far you’re willing to travel. The stress just isn’t worth it. For now, my husband and I are not really venturing further than a four hour flight (which doesn’t get us very far given we live in Australia!). We’re happy to explore more of Australia while our girls are young. Also, organisation is key. Even if you think you’re organized, go over everything again (and again). Remember to pack a change of clothes, lots of nappies, food and new games and books (and a lot of patience).
Expert packer: Natasha Poliszczuk, Assistant Editor at GLAMOUR and co-founder and co-editor of Wear&Where www.wearandwhere.co.uk
Follow on: @WearandWhereUK
Entertainment tip for long haul flights: As soon as Claudia was big enough, I bought her her very own in-flight bag (which I allowed her to choose - hence her now wheeling a ladybird through the airport: http://www.amazon.co.uk/LittleLife-Animal-Wheeled-Suitcase-Ladybird/dp/B00CX4H0C2
I fill this with all the in-flight essentials (wipes, a change of clothes etc) plus healthy snacks which take a long time to eat (anything small and fiddly is great: raisins, a satsuma etc), and a selection of mini goodies which I then dole out at intervals when boredom threatens e.g. mini pencils/crayons and a notebook/colouring book, mini sticker sheet (Paperchase is a good source), a new book or two, a tiny toy. Nothing is expensive (Tiger is a brilliant place to hunt down art supplies) but it keeps her occupied. Don't forget to keep some little tiny treats back for the flight home!
Perfect inflight dress code for your little one: Layers. Flights can be too hot (before take off) and chilly (in the air). So probably jeans (Gap Kids do these super-soft skinnies which are comfy for flights) with a pretty Liberty-esque print top (prints are also less likely show mess!) from Alice a Paris, Gap or Du Pareil Au Meme, layered over a basic top (Boden, H&M) and a cardigan. If we're flying somewhere hot, I always carry a sundress in my hand luggage which I can throw on when we arrive - so she doesn't get too hot whilst waiting in the airport/for the hire car etc.
Perfect inflight dress code for you. Well, I'm currently 7 months pregnant so when we flew to France the other weekend, I wore my Boden leggings (thank you Laura for the recommendation - they are madly comfortable!), a longer-length Breton stripe top from Uniqlo, a throw-over-anything grey marl jacket, Becksondergaard scarf and ballet flats. This is a typical in-flight uniform for me - although I'd swap the leggings for skinny jeans (love Topshop's Jamie jeans). I never fly without an over-sized scarf: perfect for keeping warm, covering up, an impromptu blanket if you (or more likely your little one) fancies a snooze...
Best baby bag/carry on/ gadget to travel in style: I've never had a truly remarkable baby bag (perhaps my fairy godmother will send me the Anya Hindmarch Oakley for this baby?!), so for holidays I use an oversized tote (currently a striped canvas one from Zara) which can then double as a beach bag when I arrive at my destination. I throw in a travel changing mat (Zara Home Kids do the best Liberty print ones - or a super cute grey star print which is nicely neutral) and baby paraphernalia zipped into plastic pockets to avoid leakages/spillages. Easy and chic. Now I'm travelling with a three year old (and her ladybird!), I like my old Mulberry Bayswater or I have a fab large tote from J Crew with three compartments - so can fit in everything, including my laptop and a book.
You live and learn.. First holiday with a new baby: we booked a villa in what was quite honestly the middle of nowhere in the hills of Umbria. It was also over three hours' drive from the airport. This was too much for a baby already frazzled by an early morning flight (and her parents!) So we learnt to keep it simple to minimise stress (e.g. last year we stayed at the most fabulous house in Corsica - which was under half an hour's drive from the airport (and within easy reach of shops/the beach etc). So much more relaxing.
Expert packer: Erica Davies, fashion editor and founder of Modern Mum Must Have www.modernmummusthave.com
Follow on: twitter: @_mmm_blog Instagram @erica_davies
Entertainment tip for long haul flights: Choose a little bag (one they pick themselves) and turn it into their special 'busy bag.' Fill it with activities like new colouring books and crayons, a new sticker book, a new story book, even craft supplies so things like tin foil, washi tape and cardboard they can 'create' things with. You could even take those small tubs of Play Doh and use them on the plane table. Hours of fun, sorted!
Perfect inflight dress code for your little one: I use the same principles in dressing my two as I do with myself, so layers, layers, layers. For my son Charlie, 4, it's usually (smart!) tracksuit bottoms teamed with a short-sleeved tee over a longer sleeved and a sweatshirt or hoody in case it gets really cold. I love Boden jogging bottoms for him and H&M do brilliant, bright sweatshirts for around £5.99. For my daughter Lila, who's 2, it's generally leggings or harem trousers (obsessed with the range at Zara!) worn with a tee shirt and sweatshirt or cardigan. Always take extras though. Always.
Perfect inflight dress code for your you.: A big scarf I can use as a wrap, duvet-substitute, neck warmer etc is an absolute necessity - my favourite at the moment is one I paid peanuts for, but it's huge and looks great even worn with something basic. I generally wear a J Crew white or grey tee shirt with my yellow Boden cashmere crew neck and jersey harem trousers from Cos. I always take cashmere socks in my hand luggage to wear on the plane and wear sandals to the airport. My favourite ones at the moment are from - wait for it - Clarks!
Best baby bag/carry on/ gadget to travel in style: I love my grey 'Newlyn' bag from new heritage brand Village England which has enough pockets to keep everything safe - plus all those bits the kids 'needed' on the way to the plane.
You live and learn.. Picking the wrong times to travel, not having enough snacks, running out of water, forgetting their 'noo noo' blankets (MASSIVE error!), not having enough wipes or a spare vest when there has been an, erm, explosion - you all know what I mean! Where do I start? I now make sure I pack absolutely everything - although must admit it's getting a bit easier as they get older. Snacks, wipes, nappies and drinks - they're all key!
Entertainment tip for long haul flights: A few of their favourite story books (kids are happy to hear the same story over and over...), a good supply of snacks (mostly healthy, some not so much - whatever it takes!!), and a new sticker book each (which I will save and give to them on the flight when they start getting bored).
Perfect inflight dress code for your little one: For the twins who are four, I will dress them in something comfortable that's made up of layers. I'm always either freezing or boiling on flights, so I will dress them accordingly, in a similar way to me. Lightweight tops/tees, a sweatshirt/cardigan, comfy trousers... (not jeans). I also always bring a cosy cashmere blanket each for when they want to sleep. When I travel on a night flight I also always bring their pyjamas, and change them into them for sleep time to make things as normal as possible for them. It's so important for them to be comfortable and cosy.
Perfect inflight dress code for you: As a seasoned traveller for work, I have a bit of a uniform now. At the moment it's a pair of leggings that are leather at the front and stretch cotton at the back. They have an elasticated waist - I don't have that bit on show of course!!) so are super comfy. I also wear a soft, slouchy tee, a cashmere sweater, slip-on skate shoes and a lightweight coat/jacket. I also always take my favourite pashmina (in a gorgeous mink colour) scarf which I wrap around me like a blanket if I'm cold on the flight (which I usually am!) - I don't go near the airline blanket!
Best baby bag/carry on/ gadget to travel in style: I have a fantastic leopard print slouchy bag from Antik Batik that I have been using as my 'plane bag' for the last six years or so now. It's not too big and not too small, and always looks chic. If I am with the twins I will probably also take one of my trusty L L Bean 'boat & tote' bags. I buy the large or extra-large and have them monogrammed. They make fantastic baby/kids bags, and are great as beach bags too. I chuck all the kids' stuff in!