Help! First family trip abroad. What happenned when our toddler tried to run away from us…


If I’m honest, I’d been putting off travelling abroad with my wife and son as I wasn’t convinced being trapped in a metal tin 35,000 feet above ground travelling at 500 mph with a screaming baby was my idea of fun. I’d learned a lot from the early days of travelling with him in a car. For a tiny person he really can scream.

On some of our first car journeys, I was convinced that we were sending him the wrong message. I believed we were positively reinforcing his screaming.  He would scream endlessly while we were stopped at traffic lights or stopped in traffic, and then he would stop screaming in an instant once we started moving again. I think he thinks he made us move the car again because I know he’s a bit ‘pyscho’ at times.

So my brother moved abroad to Switzerland. It had been about two years and I still hadn’t visited him. He’s now engaged and hasn’t asked me to be his best man yet, so assuming that he’ll need to ask me in person, I plucked up the courage to book us tickets to fly over and visit.

On the morning of our flight we stopped at Costa Coffee for a quick bite to eat and drink before we left our village. After we had finished our cheese and tomato toasties it was back to the car to hit the motorway to the airport. We had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us.

The problem was that the munchkin decided he would prefer to stay at Costa. I grabbed his hand asking him to come along to the car with us. He just looked down and said; ‘No!’ So we thought my wife should give it a try. Only this time she gave a little more encouragement for him to follow whilst still holding his hand. Then for the first time in public he pulled in the other direction. When he realised he wasn’t strong enough he just sat down in protest. Then he laid down and thought he would increase the volume a little. Maybe he thought someone would save him from his nasty parents who wanted to leave Costa. So I did what only option I had left. I picked him up, with him squirming around, screaming as we left.

When I looked at my wife we both tried to imagine what might be in store for us at the airport or worse on the plane.

Earlier on, I mentioned that when the munchkin was just a little baby, he struggled with car journeys. Those difficulties from the early days were a distant memory. After all the little one had now grown into a toddler sized munchkin, he’d learned so much about the world, he knew what car journeys were all about…until today. I think he was still pissed at us for making him leave Costa, so he decided to punish us with 45 minutes of straight screaming. Eventually he fell asleep.

We deliberately left plenty of time for us to grab food at the airport before boarding. Only when we arrived the departures information sign claimed that we were too early for ‘bag drop’ for our flight.

Even though we were only travelling for a weekend, as you’d expect we packed ‘light’ for ourselves and ‘big’ for the little one. We had a travel cot to check, a big suitcase for my wife and son and a smaller suitcase for myself. I also learned in my preparation that you can take your buggy to the gate and have it checked for free.

This is when I learned that having small children can be a blessing at Heathrow airport. A member of staff found us and advised that if you are travelling with small children you can check your bags in at any time at a specially designated zone named Zone A. So we head over to Zone A, to find that this is where all the other families were. We checked our bags and made our way through security.

On the other side of security the munchkin discovered a new game to play. This was called ‘bolt free and run as fast as you can in any direction possible.’ I had to run after him about 10 times. We also discovered that there is a kids’ zone at Heathrow Terminal 5. This is quite a decent soft play area which is attended by staff. By the time we discovered it we had to leave straight away for our gate.

Once at the gate we were invited to board before all other boarding groups including all of the frequent flyers. This wasn’t because we were special, but is another example of how airports and airlines try to make flying a more comfortable experience if you have a small child.

Before we knew it we were ready to board. At his age (just under two) he was sitting on our lap and didn’t have his own seat. The flight attendants gave us a seat extender which was quite straightforward to use and an infant sized life jacket which fortunately we didn’t have to use. Most of the flight was actually fine.  He did want to spend a lot of the time interacting with the ladies sat behind us. I think he’s a bit of a flirt, anything for a bit of attention. I have no idea where he gets it from!

Towards the end of the flight on each journey he did have one meltdown. But if I’m honest it wasn’t the worst we’d ever experienced.

Overall we had a really enjoyable trip; the plane journey wasn’t too bad and if anything I wish I hadn’t left it so long.

(FYI – My brother still hasn’t asked me to be best man yet)