Travelling with Kids – 10 Top Tips

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With the turn of Spring and the prospects of warmer weather, its time to get the planners out and choose a holiday destination. The first time I travelled abroad with a toddler entailed a one hour flight to Sweden for which my daughter spent the entire duration screaming. I’m sure you can imagine how delighted our fellow passengers were to be in our company.

Our so called ‘holiday’ was an eyeopener to how little prepared I was for all the struggles that a couple could encounter with a child both at the airport and onboard an aeroplane. Of course this getaway was forever etched in my mind and thankfully I made a mental note to never repeat those mistakes again. Since that time, we have traveled almost every year and for the most part none of our travels have ended in disaster or regret. I’ve compiled my top 10 tips for anybody travelling with toddlers or small children, and I wish you all a safe and serene journey.
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1. Book ahead – This may seem obvious to some, but seriously, with airlines pocketing from ‘peak season’ bookings to hotel availability, i’m sure you will find it a struggle to maintain a spontaneous approach to travelling as you had previously done without children. Booking ahead means that not only can you bag flights and hotel rooms for a competitive price, but you could also ensure that important essentials such as a cot and a mini fridge (not a minibar) are also booked to your room.
2. Invest in travel and medical insurance – Like many things in life, if your insured you won’t need it, if you aren’t you will. And lets face it, all it takes is a dodgy meal in a restaurant for the kids to go down like a line of dominos. It’s always nice to have the assurance that you will find medical assistance if and when you need it. More often than not, medical insurance comes with a 24/7 medical assistance line where you can speak to trained medical professionals to obtain any advice you need; whether its to find the local name for medication that you require or to enquire about symptoms your experiencing. Remember, comparison websites don’t list all insurance providers, so do visit a few sites belonging to the market leaders and get a quote.
3. Check the hand luggage allowances with your airline – Some airlines have very strange allowances. Also, a certain orange budgeting airline now requires that you pay for even 1 piece of hand luggage (carry on). And while your at it, for a small fee, you can choose and confirm seating (especially to get a window seat), kids love looking out of the aeroplane, so its totally with it.
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4. Pack the medicine – Please don’t wait until you get to the airport to stock up on Calpol or Piriton, get your own ahead of time. You will have a million things to do when you arrive at departures, so don’t give yourself more work to do.
5. Plan activities – Plan how many hours you will be spending at the airport and how many hours you will be spending on the aeroplane. Don’t let the kids get bored, chances are they will be feeling tired and the combination of the two makes for a great screamer. Divide any activities planned into 10-20 minute intervals. Pack a backpack full of NEW exciting things to do. My favourites are:
  • colouring book and crayons (pencils need sharpening, and felt tips are messy, so always crayons when on-the-go).
  • Peelable stickers – you can find these all over amazon, they’re slightly more expensive but great fun and super easy for you to clean up.
  • Play dough – kids love sensory play, try to create a mini areoplane model to get them excited about the flight.
  • A pack of snap cards – I used to shuffle ahead the cards and keep the doubles at the top so I could give them to my daughter. The euphoria from winning, clears up any travelling blues.

6. Chewable sugary foods – I’m not an advocate of sugar, but when travelling everyone needs a little pick-me-up. I tend to take along packets of raisins, dried fruit, chocolate covered strawberries and mini packets of Haribos. Cabin pressure will lead to blocked ears. The motion of sucking and chewing can relive the pressure build up in the ear canals. For bottle or breast fed babies, always ensure that you give a feed when taking off and landing.

7. Take a smart tablet – Charge it, and take a portable power bank. This will be your last resort when your mini angels are too tired to physically play but not tired enough to sleep. Enter the tablet, download a few new movies and child’s favourite tv series/ cartoons. Take headphones because Mr Smith across the aisle doesn’t want to listen to Peppa Pig for 30 mins!

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8. Lots of small presents – Bribery works better than threats (especially when the naughty corner is millions of miles back home), and once you dish out the first ‘good-behaviour’ present, you will notice that your tot is suddenly more tolerant of their surroundings and less likely to break down at the push of a button. Small things (pound shop will provide many options).

9. Reasonable supply of food – hand luggage restrictions don’t apply to baby food or baby milk (stored breast milk or formula), so take as much as you need. For older kids: pack sandwiches and snacks. Be prepared incase your flight is delayed or the inflight meal isn’t as tasty as you’d hoped it might be.

10. Reins and an ID bracelet – It takes just 1 second for you to turn your back and your child runs off. This is especially the case when your child is very young and not strapped into a buggy. Whether you’ve had to fold up the buggy and hand it to cargo, or your little one just wont cooperate and stay in one. Get a set of reins and an ID bracelet. That way you will be permanently attached to little one whilst she still experiences some freedom. And if she’s Hoodenie and manages to escape, it will be easy to locate her with the wristband. Some of these now carry trackers that you can activate an alarm on to locate your child if they get lost.

Bon Voyage Xx

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