Should I take my toddler to Moscow?
We live in the US. My brother-in-law is getting married in Moscow this summer and we would like to attend. Our 8-year-old is a good traveler, but our younger child will be 18 months old at the time of the wedding. She is a typical healthy toddler, active and curious, and it would definitely be hard for her to be confined to a plane for 10 hours, especially after a 5-hour drive to the airport first.
Also, on a practical note, has anyone ever seen a changing table worth anything in an airplane? We would probably be on Delta.
Thanks in advance.
Hey! We fly Delta every summer from Amsterdam to Portland, OR and back again (9-10 hours direct) with 2 children, started when the first was 6 months. I remember doing it with an 18-month old, it is long but fine. Flight attendants were tolerant of us walking her around in circles as needed, and the changing tables in the washrooms are pretty big and always worked fine -- we just brought a roll-up travel changing pad to put on top. Hardest part was the jetlag after.
Things I remember that helped: (1) we got bulkhead seats, which gave us a bit of extra room in front of the seats for the children to play, as well as a fold-down table (holds a bassinet for babies) that we used to hold stuff. (2) If you have the extra funds, buy the infant a seat, so they can stand in front and use it as a play surface. Or you can just let them use yours -- it's a good chance to stand and stretch your legs. (3) Pack a whole bunch of compact new/favored playthings to whip out as needed, including stickers/post-its in fun shapes, small packs of playdoh, and a new talking/push-button toy (we got a pretend camera that sang to her, the noise was completely cancelled out by the plane).
Hope you are able to go, and have a fabulous trip...
I've flown with kid (now kids!) to Finland from Bay Area which is a similar duration, I think. I agree that the flights themselves while never very pleasant, can be tolerable. Our favorite is an afternoon flight east that puts the "night" also into the flight. I would suggest getting an iPod touch with lots of fun toddler games for the flight. Although you CANNOT use them at takeoff and landing, they still provide a lot of good entertainment that's easy to manage and takes up little room. No airplane toilets are nice or roomy, but the changing tables are usually ok, if small. We also always have a pad of our own to put under the baby. Honestly, if it's just a wet diaper, I have also changed it discreetly in the seat...
I second both recommendations on bulkhead seats and getting the toddler a seat. If you plan to have the kid in your lap the entire flight, it's going to be a bit trying - you'll never get a break, you'll have the kid spill things in your lap when she eats or you eat... IF you get to eat! the extra seat will be a good idea if you can afford it. When I flew with KLM, they even brought blankets so my kids could lie flat and rest at my feet in the bulkhead area (there was no turbulence, so they tought it was fine). That standing /playing / resting room for kid and you are pretty priceless.
Finally, I've also packed a lot of little snacks for kids. Airplane food always seems to be arriving too late or be the wrong kind. I bought little bowls with lids (from Target I think, little shallow ones), and filled the bowls with pieces of apple, strawberry, goldfish crackers, grapes, cheese and other finger friendly foods. I had enough to share with a little co-traveler, too (with permission from their parent). Berries and fruits are a good way to keep kids hydrated and happy. Pack also plenty of wipes and napkins! If your kid uses pacifiers, bring spares (you DON'T want to use one that flew on the floor) and a spill proof sippy cup.
Also: pack a spare top for yourself for the trip. It's almost guaranteed something will spill on it, and if it's something really yucky, you'll be glad to have a change. :)
Traveling with kids and toddlers is totally doable, but it's good to be prepared. Smile and be friendly to the staff, dress your kids super cute, pack little bribes/treats for your kids (heck, also yourself!), maybe bring disposable earplugs for neighbors just in case... and relax. It's only a flight, and even if it is a long one, it'll be over eventually.
In fact ... I would also think about the stay in Moscow - can you pack some familiar foods or snacks for your toddler for the trip? even if it's just some of their favorite crackers, having a familiar food can be helpful if you're in an environment where a lot of the foods are a bit different. All this depends where you are staying - a hotel or a family member's home.