I'll start the series of the next few blog posts with the overall 'travelling with kids' idea.
This was our first big family trip, as a family with 2 kids. We travelled from Vancouver to Singapore (with a short layover in Hong Kong). The flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was 13 hours, and the flight from Hong Kong getting us into Singapore was 3.5 hours. My mother-in-law came for the trip, which was a god-send, because travelling with a toddler who likes to do what he wants, and an infant who isn't even sitting up on his own yet, let alone walking, wasn't the most convenient for a mom and dad who are trying to get through security.
I really don't have any solid tips, but I'll give you the heads up as to what you can maybe expect on the flight and in the airport. As some quick background, our kids are 2 years old (25 months) and 5 months old. We opted to not take the car seats on the flight because it was just too much stuff for us to carry, as we had diaper bags, a bag with entertainment (such as books, an iPad, and snacks), as well as a cooler bag with breastmilk for the little one, and another bag to carry my pump so I could continue pumping while on the flight. We flew business class (off a seat sale thank goodness), and our two year old had to pay for a seat. We were told however, that although he had a seat, he would have to wear a seatbelt attached to one of the parents during takeoff, landing and turbulence. So, if you don't have a little one who is still breast/bottle fed, and don't have the added stuff to bring, you could probably bring your car seat along and attach it to the seat. We didn't though, and it worked out for us, because we were able to let our toddler sleep in his own seat after we took off.
We found that he was really only upset when he had to be strapped down (or have his seatbelt on, and sitting on one of our laps), so really it was only during take off and landing where he was fussy. As long as you have some entertainment for them (for us, showing our toddler pictures on our phone, as well as some snacks like Goldfish crackers worked), its such a short time that you can get through it. The other thing that worked out well for us, is that both our flights were red-eye flights, so although we had to wake them up to get them to the airport, they were so tired after the adrenaline of going through an airport and security and everything, that they slept for most of the flight.
In the days before we left for our trip, my husband showed our toddler a pair of headphones that we had bought for him for the trip. He made sure to tell him what they were, and how to use them, and that no one wants to listen to his shows on the iPad, so if he wanted to use the iPad, he would have to use headphones. We don't normally give our kids screen time, but thought that because we would be stuck on an aircraft for so long, it would probably be good in keeping us (the parents), sane. Talking to your child before hand, so they know what to expect is huge. That way, when things happen, you can talk to them about it, and say things like, "see, this is what daddy (or mommy) talked about". We did this with the security part as well, walking our toddler through the steps of what we would have to do when going through security. You can even practice with them at home before you leave for your trip, and that way when it comes time to do things for real, they've already done it a few times. Plus, when they actually do something they're supposed to, they get praised from everyone, and that boosts their confidence and puts them in a good mood.
For all you pumping moms out there, I was thankful to have found a website that warned me of the dangers (or harms) of the water in the toilets on the aircrafts. I was thinking that I'd be able to pump under a nursing cover at my seat, and when I was done, I'd be able to go to the washroom and wash all the pump parts - until I found out that the water on the flights aren't safe to use. Basically the water isn't pure and often times has traces of food-borne diseases such as e-coli, and while it may be ok for an adult, it definitely is not for an infant, and the last thing you want is a baby with an upset stomach, or puking on the flight. It was a little bit of an inconvenience, but I was able to rinse everything with bottled water until we arrived in Hong Kong and I could wash everything out properly then.
In the airport, I really don't know how we could have survived without our Mountain Buggy Bagrider. Its a carry-on luggage that has a seat attachment, so an (older baby) or young child can sit on it. It basically doubles up as a stroller. It was the best thing we could have bought for the trip, as we didn't have to worry about carrying a 2 year old through the airport if we were in a rush to make connecting flights. Also, anyone with a toddler knows that they don't exactly keep up to the pace of most normal adults, let alone those in an airport.
Overall, the travelling part wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, and if I had to offer up one piece of advice, don't worry about it too much. If your child is going to throw a tantrum and be in a bad mood, there's really not a whole lot you can do about it. So, being calm is probably the best thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your child, because lets face it, they're kind of like dogs, and they do feed off your energy. A stressed parent will lead to a stressed toddler/baby. Also, if they do have a tantrum, and you've taken a red eye flight, most people are sleeping with headphones on anyways, so they won't even hear it. So, try to relax if you can. All you can do it be there for your child, and don't worry about anyone else on the flight. Then, start to look forward to the vacation you have planned ahead!