Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Preparing for Fiji: Inflight Activity Bags, Seating Plans & Bum Bags

One of the big things about our flying over to Fiji on the big plane was that we needed to make sure we were sitting in a way that would work for our family.
Dannii (my beautiful SIL) was coming with us too so we needed to have it so that Brett was sitting with two kids and Dannii was sitting with two kids too.

{Arriving at Sydney Airport with what feels like a gazillion suitcases!}

Since Dannii is one of Zip's 'SPECIAL INTERESTS' it made sense to put her and Stass with Dan and seat Liji and Ethi with Brett. I had to be prepared to be moved so that I could sit with Zeeki at the bulk head since we had requested the use of the bassinet. Knowing with certainty where we would be sitting would also dictate how I packed the carry-on luggage for the trip.
I checked in at the travel centre a couple of weeks before we departed only to have the airline themselves tell us that they could not guarantee the seating arrangement.
This was VERY unsettling since the seating plan we were given had Zippi sitting in a row next to strangers completely by herself...and she's 3 years old!
We couldn't have that and the travel centre did their best to help us out.
However, when we arrived at Sydney airport, we had a man who was, I imagine, having a very bad day :( He would not move us at all and was adamant that the seats COULD NOT be changed.
 Although I felt upset at this point, I went to the counter once we had all our boarding passes.
I stood in the queue and silently prayed.
'Please Yah, give me someone compassionate who understands the need for Dannii and Brett to be sitting with the kids'.
A lovely Fijian woman called me to the desk and once I explained to her the situation, she happily issued me with new boarding passes, rearranged the seating and wished me a pleasant journey.
How lovely!
'Thank you Yah'!

This meant that not only would the kids be sitting with their adult 'buddy' but that the way I'd packed the carry-on luggage would also still be useful.

The kids had a little pull along suitcase to share; one for the boys and one for the girls. I packed a third bag for Zeeki and myself in case we were separated from everyone else due to the bassinet issue.

Why was I wanting to be prepared about the carry on luggage?

Well for one, I don't think it makes for pleasant flying when an adult is constantly pestered to, "pleeeeease daddy, can you get my OTHER colouring in book?" and then Dad has to reach up into the locker to get ANOTHER book for the umpteenth time! It's not nice for dad (or mum) or for the others sitting around them in the plane to have to get up and down all the time.

I really wanted to walk onto the aircraft, grab out ONE ziplock bag of activities for each of the kids to stow in the seat in front of them and then store our carry on luggage into the overhead storage.
This was the plan and I actually managed it!!!!

Here are the kids little zip lock travel bags all labelled and packed....

Inside each Inflight Activity Bag:

* New colouring in book bought especially for the trip and set aside (to keep that sense of excitement!)
* A pencil case with coloured pencils, an eraser, lead pencils
* A favourite reading book
* Their travel journals in case they wanted to sketch in them
* A wipe and erase whiteboard mini book (picked up from the cheap store for $2 each with 3 coloured whiteboard markers. These were great!)
* A packet of baby wipes in a hard case to share between the two girls & Dan and one for the boys and Brett

We wanted to keep the activity bags simple too so that we weren't having to pick up a gazillion pieces of toys/crayons/etc and it worked well.

Knowing that I'd be somewhere with Zeeki (possibly on my own near the bassinet sitting next to strangers) I knew I'd need to have everything at the ready for the two of us.

So in Zeeki's zip lock bag I had the following:

* nappies
* wipes
* bag to put dirty nappies in
* dummies
* teething gel
* wrap for sleeping
* changemat
* baby panadol
* pen & travel journal
* pouch of baby food & plastic spoon
* rice crackers for him to chew on
* rattles

And I pretty much used all of these things (except the panadol) during the flight!

{I wrapped Zeeki, stood in the aisle, rocked him to sleep and then popped him in the little bassinet where he slept for over an hour}

About a week before we left, an idea came into my mind one day (love it when God does that!) and I decided to buy each of the 4 big kids a 'bum bag' (for my international readers this is a little bag that gets fastened around the waist and I think may be called a 'fanny pack' elsewhere in the world?)

Here are the kids at Sydney Airport wearing their bum bags and looking at the aircrafts and a rainbow...

Inside each bum bag:

* A packet of chewing gum (chewing apparently helps on take off and landing to keep the eustachian tube in the ear open and unblocked. Chewing also helps to calm the nevous system for children with sensory processing issues).
* A fabric eye mask in case they wanted to sleep
* A pair of sunglasses in case the glare was too bright (again sensory processing issues to consider)
* Roll on suncream in case the window shade was up and they were feeling like they might be getting sunburnt
* I-pod shuffle & headphones
* 2 fidget toys each (that they chose)
* 2 lollipops for the journey (a real treat for our kids!)

As the kids had all their activities in the zip lock bag and all their personal needs in their bum bags, once the carry-on suitcases went up, they stayed up!

Some inflight photos!

{This was the seating on the way over: the girls with Dannii, the boys with Brett and Zeeki and I were in the row across from the girls. We did ask for the bassinet to be attached on the girls side rather than my side since I was sitting next to an elderly couple and it would have given them no room to move at all!}

{Zeeki and I having a cuddle on his first ever plane ride!}

{The girls' row}

{The boys' row}

 When we got out at Nadi airport, we grabbed down our little suitcases which also had the following just in case:

* a change of clothes for each child in case:
 a) their big suitcases were lost
b) they vomitted on themselves in the plane and needed a change of clothing.
Fortunately, neither of these things happened but it was good to have spare clothing just in case!

{The plane lands at Nadi after a smooth flight. It wasn't very hot at all.}

* I had bought TWO PORTABLE BLADELESS FANS that were packed in their carry-on suitcases so that when we got out at the airport the shock of the humidity wouldn't be too much for our kids (Liji and Zippi especially who struggle with extreme temperature changes).

While we didn't need these that night when we landed, they certainly DID get used on the farm in the village and I was VERY glad I had bought these (the two kids I predicted might get some use out of them were the ones who used these the most).

{This one is a little blurry but it's the only photo got of all of us as we touched down in Nadi} 

More to come but I really wanted to document all of that for my own sake for the future as preparing was an important part of our trip.

HEAPS more to come (when I get more time!) soon.
Lus x


Nat said...

Awesome hun! So glad the trip was so successful - how long was the flight there?

Karen L said...

Great to see your photos Lusi and read about your preparation to make the flight so smooth. I uploaded the kids photos of their trip to Fiji on my blog tonight too.

Amy said...

Lusi this is amazing that you went through such thinking about your plane trip!! So much to prepare. Thank you for sharing!!
I used to fly often as a kid - never got prepared. Don't remember anything in particular negative about the experience lol
You know your kids and their particular needs so very well!! Your amazing! Thanks for sharing xx

lusi said...

Nat the flight over was shorter than the return which was about 5 hours I think.

lusi said...

So glad the girls had a lovely time! Glad you enjoyed the post Karen :-)

lusi said...

I flew a fair few times as a kid too and mum never really did anything like that for us either but I guess we didn't have the same issues my kids do. It definitely helped us that's for sure!
Sending love to you x

Anonymous said...

Great job being so well organised. I am sure not many mums would think to do all that for a plane flight. I am impressed and so glad your travel all went smoothly.

Loving all these new photos on your blog. Thanks for sharing with us. I am now inspired to go travelling somewhere :)

From Susan McGuire.


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