This is the first of a series of posts telling the story of Heidi’s first “proper” holiday, hopefully giving some hints and tips to those planning on taking a toddler away, as well as making you smile along the way.
The other parts of my mini-break review can be found here:
- Oceanarium & Bournemouth – Part 2 – (here)
- Paultons Park – Part 3 – (here)
- Longdown Activity Farm – Part 4 – (here)
So the idea was to go on a short haul flight as a test for a longer trip (think Florida!) in the near future and after hearing about Peppa Pig World down near Southampton, the destination was set. It sounded quite simple, but it never is!
Flying Manchester to Southampton at 8.30am on a Friday meant that we decided to stay close to the airport the night before and we chose Premier Inn South, which is a mile from the airport and relatively handy. You can never go too far wrong with a Premier Inn and the room was everything we really needed, however, the adjoining restaurant wasn’t….
I completely understand that some places are not meant to be child appropriate, and we made a wrong decision to go to that restaurant! The food took an age to come and when you’re finishing at 9pm, that isn’t the best start to a holiday! To be fair, the staff were great (our waitress had a slight scouse accent and a hairband /bandana and was brilliant!) and the food was good, but it was all a bit drawn out. This meant that we had quite a late night…
So an early start took us to Manchester Airport, Terminal 3 to check in and get through security with a tired toddler – great! It took us 40 minutes to get from going through to doors to get past all security so something to bear in mind.
The security staff were brilliantly understanding (given the job that they have to do) We were ushered to the priority security lane, probably because we looked a little stressed out and this definitely helped. At T3, there are lots of shops to pass the time with and there is also a small, basic childrens area, but is was a quiet part of the airport and allows children to be children for a bit!
Given that Manchester Airport is one of the biggest in the country, the changing facilities were good, as you can imagine, and they seemed to be cleaned at regular intervals, which is a must!!! If you have some time to kill, I would try and find a quiet part of the terminal so you don’t feel rushed and everyone can relax a bit.
As Heidi is a good walker and aged 2 3/4, we decided not to take a pushchair as it would have taken an extra pair of hands and made getting through security a bit more difficult. I imagine if you have a small child who is happy to be in a pushchair, it would help to have one going through security etc, but it would have been a nightmare for us!
So, now to the “exciting” bit – the flight! Having done my research (aircraft geek!) I knew the plane wouldn’t be the biggest and we would have to walk on the tarmac and with it being late February, we wore an extra layer of clothes! I also informed Flybe (our airline) that Heidi was a first time flyer, just so the flight crew were aware in case Heidi got freaked out!
This proved to be a masterstroke as the flight attendants were brilliant (Alex and Alice) as every time they walked past and the opportunity arose, they talked to Heidi, making sure that she was ok and keeping her entertained and engaged with the flight. This additional interaction really helped break up the flight (even though it was only 50 minutes!) and made sure we had trouble free flight.
Flybe do an excellent “Flying with Children” guide here and this helped, but I would give the following advice as well:
– talk about the journey beforehand with your child (if possible) so they understand what is going to happen
– plan your hand luggage very carefully. Know exactly where your wipes, nappies, changing pads, change of clothes etc are so in case of an emergency change, you know without thinking
– pack quiet entertainment. I packed thin paperback books to read to Heidi and that worked well, as did a teddy and other small toys
– plan for a delay. Carrying an extra pack of wipes or trousers isn’t going to cause any issues, but a 2 hour delay might
– don’t forget the liquids! Unfortunately, security procedures mean that you can’t take more than 100mls of liquid past security, so make sure your hand luggage is packed accordingly and buy a bottle of water for your child after security (and no chocolates, sweets or fizzy pop!)
I did try and take Heidi to the toilets on the plane, to see how she would react, and she didn’t like them to say the least! They are particularly small and I am not sure how you would go on changing a nappy – this is one to ask for the help of the flight attendants, as there might be some spare seats that you could use.
The flight was so smooth, that Heidi was asleep for the last 10 minutes of it, including the landing!
As a special treat, we were also granted access to the cockpit after taxiing to the terminal, although the conversation was very limited with a groggy toddler!!
And that was it. Heidi’s first flight and it went remarkably smoothly. Onto the car hire and then Bournemouth for a day at the seaside, which will be the next blog post!
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