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Australia with a 3 year old and a baby - am I mad?

34 replies

IlanaK · 25/07/2004 19:49

I am thinking of going to see inlaws who have moved to Australia. They have not seen ds2 yet and would love us to visit. We would go for 3 weeks to make it worth the trip. Ds1 is 3 and ds2 is a newborn but would be 4 months ish when we go. I have travelled longhaul with ds1 before (florida) which was hard work, but bearable, but never to Australia. I have never even been there myself and am not sure how well I would cope with the trip let alone them! Ds2 is fully breastfed which will make things easier. Has anyone else done this trip? What airline is best? Which route did you take? We have the option of direct to Australia and then change to Brisbane. Or through Singapore and then change to Brisbane. Any thoughts??

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kalex · 25/07/2004 19:59

Not been as far as Australia, but have travelled to South Africa with DS aged 4 mths and dd 3.5 on my own. Not a problem, my main advice would be to get a babyback pack for the airports as you cannot guarnatee getting your buggy back during transfers.

Breastfeeding helped with taleoff and landing, and the fact he wo;t be waned yet would be a bonus, no worying about the food

HTH

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stripey · 25/07/2004 20:16

We went to Australia about 2 years ago with ds1. We flew BA and they were absolutely terrible and not childfriendly at all. The food was almost non-existent, the staff never once offered to help with ds (then 19 mths) and I was 5 mths pregnant too. I have heard that Singapore Airlines are fantastic with kids. We stopped briefly at Singapore Airport which was really clean with good facilities - I wouldn't recommend stopping at Bangkok as it is a filthy and horrible Airport.
Australia is a great country to visit with kids. Brisbane can get unbearably hot in summer (our winter) but I am sure your family can give you weather advice.

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Piffleoffagus · 25/07/2004 20:17

I did NZ to UK on my own with one 3 yr old and no baby
I had to have the stop, we needed to stretch, shower and play in some space.
Make sure you ask for a bulk head seat with a bassinette when you book, this gives you lot more footroom and is ideal for toddlers to play on the floor.
Singapore Airlines were SUPERB as were Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Air NS are also fab...
I recommend stopping at Singapore if you get a choice, the airport environs is amazing and Changi... take some singapore dollars and treat yourself, upstairs there was a shower/sauna room with nannies, they electronically tagged your children and played with them while you showered with luxury soft towels and products, all for $5SGD
!!!!

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oneofeach · 25/07/2004 20:35

Yes, I agree that Singapore airport is fab for families. We took DS to Oz when he was 1, he wasn't mobile which helped but we had the bulk head seats and he was little so fitted nicely in the bassinet. All in all, the journey was fine. I found BA to be pretty unhelpful, however when we re-fuelled at Singapore the staff changed and they were simply wonderful, playing with DS while we ate, taking him for trips up and down the plane etc. My only advice is to consider the effect of jet lag - my DS who has always been a fab sleeper was waking up at 11pm every night for about a week for 2 hours - not fun! Stupidly, I hadn't even considered that this might happen, I was too busy worrying about the flight!

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Piffleoffagus · 25/07/2004 20:50

I have heard the jet lag is worse gaining time like if you go to Aus/NZ from here, when coming back it seems not so bad
FWIW my 3yo ds flaked out for 7 hours at 2pm the day we arrived in UK, ate his socks off, went to bed at 11pm, next day all was normal again...
for him at least, I felt like I had hit a timewarp, rooms and streets spun around me...

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oneofeach · 25/07/2004 20:59

Piffle, yes my DS went straight back into his normal routine when we came back (unlike me and his dad)!.

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sibble · 25/07/2004 21:01

I am considering doing it the other way round - NZ back home to London with 4 year old and 3 month old in November so am interested in what people have to say. Am only looking at 'eastern airlines' e.g. singapore, cathay, malaysian etc IMO they are great and BA, qantas and air NZ are not child friendly. It is also marginally quicker that route (LA airport is also horrible). I have been told that we can book in as a priority passenger and get one of those carts with flashing lights take us all from check in onto the plane and will definately get a basinette when they are so small etc. you may want to ask as well, I need to confirm when I book. I am also planning on stopping for max. 12 hours in a transit hotel in both directions to shower, hopefully catch a few hours sleep (children pending) and feed Ds who has a nut allergy and cannot eat plane food. I have only done it on my own last year when DS was 3 and it was fine, am hoping that as brestfeeding and used to sleep deprivation will be Ok thsi time too.
Good luck, let us know what you decide...and any more tips would be good.

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suzywong · 25/07/2004 21:23

IlanaK

I am doing that trip with a three year old and a fully BF 10 months old baby and a DH.

I echo the advice to go Singapore or Malaysian, the cabin crew are politeness personified and very tolerant.

Get your 3 yr old in to computer games, there will be tetris etc on the . (that's what I'm hoping).
Do you know the Richard Scarry Books? They often have stories and detailed pictures about aeroplanes and airports to get a kids' interest going.

Oh and do make sure your baby has had all his jabs.

BF on take off and landing and any damn time that baby wants it because it's easier that way.

And finally (we have also done this trip when DS1 was 5 months and 16 months) prepare for the worst:- in terms of discomfort and screaming kids and delays because that way things can only get better.

Good luck

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Joanne69 · 26/07/2004 14:55

If your mad then I am too. DH and I are flying to Oz in October, with a 26 month old and a 8 month old, the 26 month old is due to be a bridesmaid at my cousins wedding. We have been to Oz before lots of times but not with kids in tow. I too was thinking of booking flights with Singapore or Emirates, have heard that they are good too. I'm dreading the flight, but hey, its only day. Fortunatly we will have lots of help in Oz, my Mum is flying out some time before us, so hoping she would be over the jet lag for when we arrive and can help out.
Interested to read what Piffleoffagus said about showers/nannies at singapore. Do you have to book beforehand or can you just turn up, anybody have more details on this?

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stripey · 26/07/2004 21:12

Another tip I was given which may or may not be necessary was to take some medicine I think phenegan (not sure of the spelling) which can make a child sleepy. Boots wouldn't sell it for a child under 2 but should be OK for a 3 year old, it can help them to sleep and if severely jet lagged you could give one dose to help with sleeping for the first night. Don't know if your ds is potty trained - if not definitely take pullups for the plane as trying to change a nappy if very difficult in the tiny toilets.

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suzywong · 26/07/2004 21:15

test phenagan out first - in a small number of cases it can make them go hyper and you don't want that at 35,000 feet

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Gem13 · 26/07/2004 21:23

Lots of good advice here.

Just wanted to add that you should definitely break your journey in Singapore. We went to Australia pre-children a couple of years ago and broke our journey in Bangkok. We were so fed up with being on the plane by the time we got to Thailand we would not have wanted to get back on after a couple of hours stopover. Plus it was more exciting to get on the plane in Bangkok and go on to Oz, whereas the people who hadn't got off looked miserable as hell.

I would think your DS would find getting on the plane again exciting and would be more easily entertained by the 'new' experience than if he has to be on the one flight for the day.

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sibble · 27/07/2004 20:51

ditto suzywong re testing phenergan first and I would suggest 2-3 times to be sure the first result was accurate. My step-son reacted to it and was hyper for the whole UK-Oz flight, in transit everywhere. It was the most unpleasant experience for everybody - the whole plane I think.....

The other thing I do is wrap little pressies up for DS (4) so he has something new when he starts to get bored, although trying to come up with cheap little toys that don't require boys vocals, throwing, racing along the floor etc is quite a challenge!!!!colourings and pencils, dots to dots and the compulsory TV in the seat in front not the old style big screen works as treat - double check the airline has this - was about to book with Thai yesterday and was told they don't have those type of TV's yet....so have a hold on flights with cathay

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hazlinh · 29/07/2004 02:32

Malaysia Airlines!!! go through hi-tech kuala Lumpur International Airport, they have showers and a gym, tho dunno if they have that nanny service like in changi. yeah, go for singapore if you must! . Can't beat Malaysia or Singapore airlines for fantastic service (malaysia airlines has been voted as having best cabin crew for three years running or possibly even four years , cant remember, by skytrax!!) GREAT FOOD and each seat has a tv with lots of movies and computer games!

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bulimbabean · 29/07/2004 07:56

I have recently returned to Brisbane after living in UK, have flown, BA, Qantas, Royal Bruni, Singapore, Japan Airlines and Cathay. My best recommendation is Cathay reason.. flight leaves at 9.00pm so baby/child are tired and ready to sleep, there is a layover in hongkong great airport child minding facilities/showers/beds DISNEY SHOPetc. the plane then leaves night time from hongkong and after a run around with some phenergan my son was tired and went to sleep, it arrives mid morning in Brisbane which is much better than other airlines that arrive 6.00am this makes the first day so long and jet lag is much worse coming from UK to oz. The child meals are great and they provide all your baby needs nappies/formula/food etc.your 3year would have a seat and baby would be in bassinet. I would advise for your three year old, let her choose her own pull along and pack it with toys, colours, and snacks this can sit at her feet and she can dip into it as needed. I hope that helps

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eidsvold · 30/07/2004 10:21

Two trips with dd - one she was 8 months and then recently when she was 22 months old. singapore Airlines all the way - they were brilliant. First time we went all the way with a short stop over in Singapore. Both were night flights - evening out of Heathrow and night out of Singapore. Dd did not want to drink on take off or landing and so was very upset when we finally arrived in Brisbane and back in UK. This time having the break made a difference. We also took along her carseat this time which was brilliant to put her in.... she just nodded off and I put the seat into recline. She had a window seat which she enjoyed.

This time we had a 5 day stop over in Singapore. If you go via Singapore - brilliant - although it is long trip to Singapore - around 12 - 13 hrs.... it makes the last leg to Brissy( about 7 hours) seem like a doodle and the night flight out is brilliant - it is about 9.30 pm and dd slept all the way both times.

Singapore airport is brilliant - soft play area, shower rooms, pool, gym - depending on your stop over time.

Make sure you book a skycot for ds2 - you will get a bulkhead seat and have the room for your toddler to play. Singapore give them little packs of toys and bits and pieces. Cabin crew could not do enough to help the parents....

have done the direct to Aus ( pre dd) and it really does take it out of you let alone what it would do to little ones.

There are a no of threads on this if you do a search on mumsnet for other handy hints....

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IlanaK · 05/08/2004 12:09

Thanks everyone! We booked the tickets today, but I have another question. We are flying Singapore Air from london to Singapore then on to Brisbane. We chose flights that would leave us with a 6 hour layover so that we could have a break, shower etc. The travel agent told me the name of the transit hotel where you can book rooms for a few hours at the airport (Le Meridian), but I can't find a website for it. I googled and found an info site for the airport which mentions these type of hotels, but not a link to them. Has anyone got any info on them??

We also took your advice on the flight times. We are leaving at 6:15 pm so hopefully, as suggested, ds1 will get over his excitement and go to sleep after dinner. He is actually a very good sleeper generally, but I am not sure how well he will sleep if not laying down. I will also need to get ds2 used to sleeping flat as he currently sleeps in a baby hammock (which we are taking with us for there), but will need to sleep in a bassinet on the plane. Oh, and I am well impressed with Singapore Air already - as ds2 will be under 6 months (just!), they have already confirmed our bulkhead seats and bassinet!
Anyway, thanks again for all the tips and keep them coming!!

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SueW · 05/08/2004 16:59

It's here

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IlanaK · 05/08/2004 20:47

Thanks Sue! Just what we need.

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xoz · 05/08/2004 21:05

Best of luck Ilana. I hope you have great flights. I came back from Oz in March by myself with our 2 dds (3.5 and 18month olds then) I can vouch for the Phenergan suggestion. It worked great when they both woke up ready to play with about 6 hours left of the flight to London and the cabin lights were out and everyone else was asleep. They both went back to sleep for another 4 hours and woke up for the final meal. DD1 enjoyed watching the movies on the individual screens and they usually give out great little packs of games and colouring in and stuff like that. I took our dds about 4 nights to get over the jetlag so be prepared to get up with them for a couple of hours in the night for the first few nights going both ways(!!!) although we did make use of the Phenergan to deal with this to an extent as well

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Donk · 23/08/2004 22:56

We are hoping fly to Australia in November with our large and by then 23 month old ds. I take it he will be too big for a basinette - how do you cope if you don't book a seat for them? (We can't afford the extra expense)

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Pam70 · 24/08/2004 11:26

Hi Donk

I would book the extra seat - at 23 months, he will definitely be too big for a basinette and really heavy in either of your arms for that length of time.

He will qualify for the child fare which is about 70% of the adult fare.

IlanaK - I would ask SIA for a child's meal for your 3 year old as it is a more child friendly meal (nuggets, raisins etc) and comes with a little toy or goodie bag.

Also SIA tends to have individual TV screens and there's always a channel with children's programmes on to keep him occupied or amused. And of course there's always the channel which has a map and an aeroplane which shows you your departure arrival points eg. we are here now and Grandma is over here and you can plot how far the plane has travelled.

Good luck and remember that no matter how horrible it all gets, that travel broadens the mind and kids remember the most irrelevant details about the trip months later!

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bloss · 25/08/2004 09:23

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bloss · 25/08/2004 09:24

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Lonelymum · 26/08/2004 13:13

My in-laws live in Brisbane and we visited two years ago for my BIL's wedding. Our children were 5, 4, and 2. In fact dd had second birthday during flight! It is not as bad as you might think actually. We went BA and each seat has its own TV and the older children were fairly engrossed in that the whole trip. The airline food wasn't great for kids. BA lost our booking for child's meals so we had to make do with what they had. Would recommend you take some food and drink of your own for the children. Ours were too old for a sky cot but we were lucky going out as there were some spare seats so some of ours could lie flat to sleep. They don't seem to find the seats as hard to sleep in as we do anyway. I wouldn't particularly recommend BA because they lost our food order and also because my eldest had an unfortunate accident (wet himself) and the stewardesses didn't exactly put me at ease when I asked for a clean cushion. Our flight stopped at Singapore whcih was fine. Jet lag wasn't too bad. We arrived early in the morning and the kids had an afternoon nap and then went to bed normally and were fine after that. I stayed up all day, went to bed as usual but woke up really early but after that was fine.
I am so jealous to think of anyone going to Oz again. It is a lovely place, extremely child friendly, and you will be fine, especially if you are able to stay with your in laws and really chill out at times - I wouldn't like so much to be in a hotel with children.

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