feeding the 'hips' in the air...

We all know that airline food can be a bit hit and miss. And when you are travelling long haul with the 'hips' you need to make sure they are fed and watered appropriately, however it can be a bit tricky. The key is, just like they say in the brownies, (or was it the cub scouts?) prepared.

Recently, I've experienced some brilliant airline food, however having chosen to fly with mainly Asian airlines such as Singapore and Malaysian airlines, perhaps that is why. Lots of yummy asian dishes and lots of choice. I do have to draw the line at noodle soup for breakfast though. Normally I would love this dish, but having it for brekkie just doesn't do it for me (especially when its actually probably about midnight in real time.)

My best airline meal was definitely Austrian Airlines Business class, where everything was beautifully cooked to order. and my worst, and most forgettable was Aerolineas Argentinas where they ran out of food by the time they got to us, so we didn't get anything!

Anyway, back to travelling with the 'hips' we mentioned before, preparation is key, and one thing I strongly advise is to make sure that you have contacted your travel agent / airline to book the appropriate special meals required. If not, at the very latest, contact the airline a week before travel and book an infant meal or a child meal. The great thing about booking a 'special meal' is that usually the flight attendants serve these meals first, which is great for kids. Best to keep them happy. Best not keep them waiting. This also means the parent can assist with the meal before their own meal comes. A great tip is to actually ask the flight attendant to save a specific meal for you (so they don't run out like my experience on Aerolineas Argentinas), and then you can really help the kids / infant with their meal. Then just press the buzzer and they will come and serve you, and take the empty kids trays away. Again, these meals can be hit and miss, but generally kids meals are not too unhealthy, and quite plentiful.

Be warned, infant meals again will be provided (if previously booked), however may not be age appropriate. My 12 month old was given 4-6 month old pureed food as the only option. So be prepared. The best alternative is to take along a few packs of Rafferty's Garden. The 'hips' just love to suck / squeeze the yummy food from the very handy tubes, and even older babies won't mind these as they are just so delicious.

Most airlines on long haul flights will also provide snacks. They are either offered between meals, or else, just head up to the kitchen area, and they usually have a basket of sandwiches, rolls, crisps, fruit etc for you to consume whenever you want. This is a perfect option for the 'hips' who may not have eaten their meal and need a snack. Of course, you must bring your own healthy alternative aswell; sultanas are great,  as are a few favourite treats.

Make sure your 'hips' are well hydrated. Water really is the only drink they need onboard, however you can get milk from the flight attendants. Again, be prepared. Sometimes, if they are busy, they may not be able to warm up milk in a hurry. Try and get young 'hips' to get used to cold milk before travelling.

A few more tips;
Bring a bib. Pelican bibs are the best as they are plastic, so easily wipeable, and fold up, and also catch all the food before it goes all over the floor.
Bring wet wipes, and lots of them.
Zip lock bags are really handy for putting snacks in, or using to put bibs in etc.
Bring something to suck on for take off and landing.
And finally, a change of clothes for all.

Oh and enjoy, especially if its an Asian business class flight (as if...)

Image: Paul / (biscuits)

travelling alone with the hips...please help?

Last month, a mum, travelling alone with her 2 young hips, had the fright of her life, when her 3 year old 'hip' fell onto the tarmac whilst climbing the stairs onto the plane. Mum, was behind carrying all the luggage, and the 18 month old hip. Miss 3 Yr old hip had climbed up the stairs by herself, and when she got to the top, turned around to look at her mum, lost her balance, and then proceeded to fall through the small gap between the stairs and the plane. She was airlifted to hospital but was later released unhurt! What a would you feel?

It all happened on budget airline RyanAir, however they were very quick to advise soon after that they had toughened up their safety procedures. Surely though, its not entirely the fault of the airline, but also, the operators of the airport equipment. And perhaps us as 'responsible' parents?

But the real question is, if an airline sees a passenger struggling with a couple of 'hips' and the large amount of hand luggage that you inevitably need to carry when travelling with kids, should they not make it a policy to actually assist? Yes, parents should do all possible to control their kids, but really...sometimes its just not that easy, and we don't always have the luxury of travelling with an even ratio of adults to kids.

Any thoughts?

should parents with toddlers should have their passports confiscated?

Wow, there was a brilliant article in today's Sydney Morning Herald titled 'screaming kids on planes - are parents really to blame? Okay so the article itself was quite normal, discussing, as predicted, whether or not we, as parents, should actually 'allow' our children to fidget, scream, and be as uncomfortable as possible in a very small space for a rather long time. I mean, what toddler would really choose to be cooped up, belted in, and told to be as quiet as a mouse, as a top activity?

Yes, airports could be more family friendly, and perhaps like Singapore airport, provide a few fabulous kid friendly areas where the 'hips' can rush around and burn off some energy before boarding the plane. This certainly is a saving grace for parents before boarding a long flight. But as we know, its all about being prepared with good toys, healthy snacks and a few surprise treats, then we can normally nip any major tantrums in the bud (most of the time!)

But what is really good about this article is the barrage that follows...the many many comments, in particular aimed at one reader who has expressed herself as follows; "airlines need to do the right thing by all passengers and charge parents 5 times the adult fare for a toddler. It is ridiculous to be imposed to out of control children in a cramped and uncomfortable environment.....what makes anybody think think that a toddler will in anyway benefit or enjoy an international holiday. They would have forgotten the experience before lunch. Parents with toddlers should have their passports confiscated..."

Personally I am absolutely thrilled to bits at the wonderful response from the other contributors to said comment. It just goes to show that there are many parents out there who either out of necessity, or absolute joy, take their 'hips' off to explore the world, and chastise all those who may mock. Kids are like sponges, and they absorb their surroundings with ease, and revel in the attention they create.

We just hope that next time we are on a long haul flight we are positioned right next door to said contributor, as we'd love to show her exactly how our little hips can 'behave' on a 24 hour flight!

Check out the article and the fabulous comments here.

Image: Maggie Smith /

jump in the saddle for a squashy ride...

Getting onto a plane for many flyers is now as everyday as getting on a bus. As we are up in the air so much more, budget airlines are popping up all over the place to meet the high demand. In my previous life, before having my wonderful little 'hips', I spent a lot of time flying both domestically and internationally for work. Cattle class for me was the norm, and quick hops from state to state was a regular occurrence, together with all the other bleary eyed business passengers (also conveniently crammed into cattle class!)

However, flying cattle class will soon be taking on a new meaning, as one Italian aviation company, Aviointeriors, have designed the world's smallest aircraft seats. The seats, currently named 'skyrider', are styled on saddles used by cowboys, and the curve of the saddle forces the passengers to sit at a slight angle. They are designed to be comfortable for shorter flights only, around 3 hours max. The idea behind this is to enable more seats onto the flight. More seats = More passengers. More passengers = More money for the airlines! However, one great benefit of these smaller seats are that they are much lighter. Being less heavy, the plane uses less fuel, which in theory should bring down the airline costs, and the best thing, have a lesser impact on the environment.

All very well, and big points to the designers for great imagination, but what I am wondering is, where do the little hips sit? We can't expect them to sit on 'saddle' seats that are designed to make you lean forward, as their short little legs would not be able to support them. Does this mean a higher price for regular airline seats? Not only are some airlines now considering charging us money to use the toilets on board (yes, fabulous if you are toilet training), but now we may have to pay even more to take our little 'hips' onboard, when they actually only take up a third of the size of an adult! Perhaps these designers can create a play area down the back of the plane with all the extra space!

Should unaccompanied little 'hips' sit next to strangers?

I grew up travelling between Switzerland and the UK. As my Mum is from Switzerland, and Dad from the UK, we had lots of family to visit, and I was quite often sent as an 'unaccompanied' flyer by myself. I used to think this was terrific, and would chat away to the person next to me (poor person), and have a brilliant time. I can certainly say this is where my love of travelling stemmed from.

However, in these dark days of 'stranger danger', is it acceptable for an unaccompanied minor to be seated next to an adult stranger, or should all these little ones sit in a special "i'm travelling all alone and perhaps I'm a little scared" area?

What happens if the cabin crew are ridiculously busy, and poor little 'hip' starts to feel a bit scared, sad, or god forbid, sick? Should there be a nanny service on board (like Gulf Air).

Air France already state that "unaccompanied children should not be seated next to adults", however surely this could put their safely at risk in the event of an accident?

A British business man was asked to move away from a 12 year old boy. This business man then decided to take British Airways to court accusing them of treating male passengers as "potential male molesters"

Are we all going slightly over the top here, or is this a sign of the times?


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