As the summer season approaches, we’ve started planning our holidays. We love to travel and explore new places. Our trips have not always been without incident though. I thought I’d share what we have learned (often the hard way) about travelling with children, so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes as us.
Travelling with children at the airport
- Pack more spare clothes, nappies, wipes, etc in your hand luggage than you think you will need. Seriously. It just isn’t worth having to take your child off a plane dressed only in their pants, or worse.
- If you’ve got a long connection between flights, check out the airport’s website beforehand for facilities. For a long stopover in Frankfurt, we researched beforehand and found there was a large play area. This kept the boys entertained for a good long while.
- Take snacks with you, bagged up in batches – some for the airport, some for the flight, some for trains, buses, taxis etc after you arrive.
- If you’re travelling with very little ones and need to take milk or formula with you, check the security rules for the airport(s). These can differ. Some airports they will want you to test the milk/formula. In these cases it’s a good idea to take a spare container so that you can pour the liquid over to that to taste it and avoid contaminating the bottle you’ll be giving to your little one.
- Explain to your children beforehand that you might need to queue a lot at the airport. Although sometimes a wailing toddler can get you and your family moved to the front of the queue pronto – thanks E!
Travelling with children on a flight
- Sometimes I buy a couple of small new toys or games for flights. The novelty of something new can pay off. If you rotate toys, then you can always bring along toys that have been away for a while. Again, the novelty works.
- I always keep a spare packet of crayons in my bag. If you don’t have paper with you, the inflight magazine or the sick bag (!!) can make good places to get creative.
- If your children look at an iPad or tablet, why not load a couple of new free apps on beforehand. Again, novelty is everything.
- On longer flights, we change the boys into PJs early on, so they can get comfy. It makes the flight seem like a sleepover adventure and is much easier than having to wrangle them into sleeping outfits once they’re tired and irritable. This also works if you’ll be arriving at your destination late or during the time they’d normally be sleeping.
- If you have a little one and you’re making up formula on the flight, ask for both hot and cold water. The water from the galley only comes in two temperatures: cold and scalding. There is nothing worse than having to wait for milk to cool down when you have a hungry, tired (screaming) baby.
Travelling with children in a car/on a bus, train or boat
- One thing we’ve definitely learned the hard way is to be equipped for car sickness. E is particularly susceptible and has to be facing forwards in the car. We’re also particularly aware of the temperature inside the car and you’ll often find us on the sunniest days wearing jumpers with the air con on high. Anything to stop him vomiting in a hire car. These days we equip ourselves with plenty of water bottles, wet wipes, an extra towel and spare clothes to hand. We also take the precaution of putting down plastic bags across the footwell that can simply be thrown out if the worse comes to the worst.
- We also use travel sickness wristbands to try and combat the problem. You need to put them on around 15 minutes beforehand though – something we have been known to forget. Peppermints to suck on can also help.
- The potential for travel sickness means that books and many toys are not an option for us in cars and on buses, so we rely on games like a variation on I Spy, who can spot a certain item first, or certain colours of cars. Or we put music on – they boys love to sing. When we are outside the car, the boys have packs of travel cards with different games to play and pictures to draw. Magnetic travel games are a good option to keep older children entertained.
- We make frequent stops for food and snacks, the toilet, leg stretching and so on. I tend to pre-plan all routes and research places at which we can stop and visit along the way. Sometimes, having control issues can be a bonus.
The most important thing we’ve found to take on our travels though? A sense of humour. That incident in the car with the exploding packet of crisps might not seem so funny at the time, but having a laugh about it afterwards is the key.