MITW’s Top Tips For Travelling With Children
The holidays are approaching! Are you taking advantage and escaping for some sun, sand or even to ski? Travelling, especially by plane, is not as carefree and last minute as it used to be pre-kids, so we’ve put together our top ten tips for travelling with our little cherubs.
First things first. Book your train or plane seats and if flying, order the right meals at least a few days in advance. Airline food isn’t great, but the kids meals have small treats and yoghurts that will count for something at least. If you can, take turns to eat, so that one of you is looking after the kids while the other eats. If you’re flying solo, try to get the crew to help you (this counts for loo breaks too).
If you’ve got a long flight, try to get bulkhead seats (and a bassinet if appropriate), so that you can put baby / toddler down for a nap. These can sometimes be booked as soon as you have booked your tickets if you call your airline. Consider taking your baby’s sleep bag or blanket – it gets cold on planes and in any case their own / usual items will help settle them.
Make sure you have enough time at the airport to check in, go through security, change nappies, feed the baby and collapse your buggy at the door of the plane. Even for short haul flights, one hour will not be enough anymore. (Yes, we’re speaking from experience.) Try to keep liquids / electronics that you’ll have to take out at security ready in such a way that you don’t have to rummage around your bag.
If using bottles or formula, make sure you’ve checked the airline policy on reheating milk, providing boiled water and so on. Pre-prepared formula can be a good option. Major airports will usually (but not always) let you travel with more liquids in your hand luggage than usual if you taste the water / milk. It might just take a quick extra security measure. If you’re not willing to take the risk, you can preorder milk for collection at Boots. Just make sure you have enough time to collect.
For the littlest ones, make sure you have enough changes of clothes and bags to put them in, as well as more nappies and wipes than you’d usually use. Kids often remind you of their need for the loo at the last moment, which is often just after you’ve passed the services. When travelling flying, the changes in air pressure can have unwelcome effects on nappies. And, yes, this means packing spare clothes for you too. That brings us to our next point…
If your child suffers from travel sickness, make sure you carry sick bags and spare clothes. Anti-sickness bands are gaining in popularity and whether it’s real or subconscious, we know plenty of people that swear by them. You can buy these at Boots. Don’t forget to pack medicines – going through airports, crowded stations and just the change of temperature and routine can cause children to become unwell. Bring along your personal mini first aid kit including antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment and a thermometer.
For slightly older children that need more entertaining, you might like to take a number of small toys, stickers and snacks. Wrapping up the toys adds a layer of fun and surprise for them. Water painting books are great for kids travel as they can be used over and over again. Sticker books are always popular, as well as the usual colouring books and pencils and our personal favourite, Play-doh!
If your kids are using tablets, make sure you download the apps that you want (there are plenty of educational ones) and movies / shows. It’s not for everyone, but sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get through that trip. Make sure they’re fully charged at the start of the journey, you’ve packed headphones with volume limiters and, if you think it necessary, spare battery packs. On the topic of gadgets, a headphone splitter might be useful if you have one tablet between two kids, as well as headphone jack adapters (one jack to two) depending on your airline.
For older kids, encourage them to keep a travel journal. Get them to draw what they see, write about all the new things they are experiencing and their favourite things, such as new foods they try, people they meet and so on. Encourage them to collect postcards or souvenirs from places you are visiting. If they have their own camera, be sure to pack it and task them with capturing special moments of the family getaway.
Even though most places have food available, it’s helpful to have snacks and nibbles that you know won’t be passed up. You never know what long train / car rides, jet lag and naps will do to your kids’ sleeping and eating schedules, compared to when food is served / available. Bear in mind that on evening / night flights dinner will be served and cleared before the lights are dimmed.
Yes, this is a bonus tip, because it’s so important. If you’re going to be in a crowded or unfamiliar place, write your mobile number on your child’s arm and snap a quick photo on your phone of their outfit that day. It’s better to take precautions and have a plan in place should you get separated; for example with older children get them to go to the last place they were with you, so you can retrace your steps. You can decide on a secret word / phrase that only you would know, which will be useful even at home. But most of all, teach them not to panic, and to approach a grown up with kids or someone in uniform.
Just remember that travel time is finite. Oddly enough, we think you need to plan for the worst. If you bank on there being explosive nappies, vomit on your clothes, you getting no sleep and no time to watch any movies or read a magazine, if you do get some rest and the nappies hold, it’s a very pleasant surprise!
Enjoy your holiday!
Photos by Matthew Henry, Hal Gatewood, Shopify, Anna Dziubinska, Stas Ovsky, Alexas Fotos, Lisa Johnson, Hanson Lu, Paul & Vignesh Moorthy.