T here’s no doubt that holidays are supposed to be relaxing. Every year we crave our little spot in the sunshine, all set to kick back with a good book and if we’re lucky a cheeky Pina Colada ready to watch the sunset!! …. but hang on who am I kidding? That little image of a holiday hasn’t been our reality for a few years now. In our new reality of ‘parenthood’ all decent books have been replaced by Ipads showing never ending episodes of Peppa Pig and the promise of a Pina Colada at sunset is a very distant memory we may hope to rekindle after retirement!!
There’s no denying that holidays with children are different and yet increasingly we’re all opting to travel abroad with our kids because nothing beats relaxing with a cocktail quite like watching little Jimmy build his first sandcastle on the beach. In 2016 there were 70.8 million visits overseas by UK residents, the highest figure ever recorded by the International Passenger Survey (IPS), and over 10 million Aussies took their holiday in another country, according to data from DFAT.
With this growing trend for foreign holidays, air travel with children is becoming a lot more commonplace and so I thought I’d use our experience of taking Ettie to Stockholm and Hamburg and put together a list of how to make the whole experience a lot less stressful.
How to make flying with a toddler less stressful
1 Know your airline’s charges and regulations: Sometimes children under two years old can travel for free; sometimes they can’t. Check your airline’s policy online so you don’t have any nasty surprises when you arrive at the airport.
2 Check-in in advance: Not only will this save you time on the day of travel, but it also means you’ll be able to ensure that the whole family are seated together which can save a lot of hassle once you’ve boarded the plane. You may even consider reserving your seats when booking your flights in order to make doubly sure that seats are available.
3 Dress your child(ren) in comfy clothes: A toddler in discomfort is a recipe for disaster, so stay one step ahead and dress your little ones as comfortably as possible. We found natural, soft fabrics with no zips or buttons work well and layer up so temperatures can be adjusted if they are hot or cold. This is particularly useful if your destination has a drastically different temperature to your home country. Keep spare sets of clothes in your hand luggage in case of accidents.
4 Bring entertainment: A bored child is more likely to misbehave so arm yourself with books, games and a tablet so they can listen to music and watch videos during the flight. We haven’t tried them but I know people who have used these Keep em Quiet packs and found them really useful. An extra word of warning…. make sure you remember the headphones so as not to annoy your fellow passengers with endless choruses of ‘dum du du dum dum dudududu dum dum’ (if you know you know!)
5 Stock up on essentials: You might not need all of them, but knowing they’re packed will give you valuable peace of mind. Useful items include:
* Wet wipes
* Travel sweets for take off and landing
* Extra clothes and nappie
* slippers – you’re likely to spend a lot of time walking up and down so it might be useful to have a pair of shoes you can easily slip on and off
6 Pack drinks and snacks (for you and them): It’s amazing how food and drink can calm down the worst of moods. Bring empty bottles for everyone that you can fill up after security and prepare simple snacks like fruit pots, mini sandwiches and crackers that everyone can enjoy. Much healthier (and cheaper!) than plane food.
7 Board early Many airlines allow families with young children to board before other passengers, so take advantage of this if you can. It gives the chance to store your luggage and get settled before everyone else boards the plane and, as a bonus, you’ll spend less time waiting in queues.
8 Give each child their own bag for the plane: Fill it with colouring pencils, colouring books, mini Lego, and any other small, inexpensive games you think they might enjoy. Make a rule that they’re not allowed to open them until the plane is in the air and they’ll be super excited to see what’s inside (which means they’re more likely to behave).
9 Take regular trips to the toilet: Before you leave the house, at the airport, when you’re up in the air… better safe than sorry.
So there you have it, my top ten tips to prevent flying with a toddler spoiling the holiday before you’ve even left blighty! If you’d like more tips on how to make travelling less stressful, you might find this post by Rhian useful : Toiletries I always pack when going away.
What are your tips for flying with kids? Let me know in the comments.
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