We’ll be travelling away on holidays soon for the first time with both kids. We’ve travelled by air quite a few times with C, our eldest, so we have a good idea of what to expect. We have definitely learnt a lot from traveling with him at different ages over the last few years. So I thought I’d share what we’ve learnt! Here are my top tips for smoother travel with kids…
1. Book Flights Around Nap Time
If you can manage it, booking travel with nap times in mind can make everything smoother. We’ve picked morning flights over and back for this reason. Even if K, our youngest (10 months), doesn’t get a great nap en route, we’ll arrive early enough that she can have her afternoon nap in bed (assuming no crazy delays!). Likewise, travelling earlier is better for our eldest because if he naps these days he’ll be up till midnight! The energizer bunny has nothing on the kid!! At least this way if he falls asleep it’s early enough that we can run him around the rest of the day so he goes asleep at a halfway decent time.
2. Check In Online If Possible
Checking in online means you already have everyone’s boarding pass, so all you have to do is drop off your checked bags. This one is a no-brainer – standing in crazy long queues to check in with kids is zero fun. It also means you can pick your seats so you can ensure you’re all together and don’t end up at the back of the plane, which can be very noisy with more people moving around.
3. Consider Your Luggage
Do you really need to bring a buggy and a car seat? They are extra things to lug around with you, and they don’t always get handled with the greatest of care by airlines. We’ve rented car seats with the car the last couple of years, but always brought a buggy. However, the last two years in a row we’ve had to wait almost an hour for our buggy when we arrived back home. It was horrendous! The end of a long day of travel and all you want to do is get into the car and get home, and you have to hang around an extra hour for the buggy! So this year, we’re renting a buggy over there. I know it’s an additional expense, but the hassle and stress it saves is 100% worth it to us. We always babywear when traveling so we don’t need it in the airport. Definitely something to consider.
4. Arrive Early (But Not Too Early) At The Airport
You want to arrive with a nice cushion of time to get through bag drop off and security. The last thing you want is to be stressed and rushing when you have kids in tow. I love getting rid of the bags! Once we’ve checked them through I instantly relax. All we have is ourselves and carry on, so it’s much easier to manoeuvre through the crowds. This year the hubby will have a large rucksack as a carry on, C is 3.5 so he’ll walk himself, I’ll wear K on my front and maybe have a small bag on my back if we need it. This set up always works well for us and is much easier for getting around.
5. Pack Snacks, Snacks & More Snacks
Airlines don’t typically have very healthy or particularly nice food onboard, especially not for kids, so pack LOADS of snacks. Pack what you think they’ll eat and then pack another 50% extra! Kids snack a lot when travelling, especially when they’re stuck in a seat and can’t move around. Some snacks we’ll be bringing this year are frozen grapes, hoops cereal, raisins, homemade oat bars, bananas, oranges, blueberries, cheese and crackers. We might bring some sandwiches or wraps too. We’ve done baby led weaning with K and at almost 10 months she’ll be able to eat almost everything C does, except the raisins, so we don’t need to pack anything special for her. Also pack a flask or sippy cup that you can fill up with water for them so they don’t get dehydrated.
6. Pack Entertainment
Pack lots and lots of entertainment! Our flight is only about 3 hours but young kids do not like being confined to seats for that long, so a variety of entertainment is key! If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen the busy bags I’ve put together for C for this trip – I’ll do a blog post on them soon. But in a nut shell I bought these zippered pouches from Amazon and then filled them with different things he hasn’t seen before. I’ve made 3 for the way over and 3 for the way back. They contain a homemade threading game, new colouring book and twistable crayons, mini play doh pots and a play doh game, a lollipop shape making game, magnetic bricks, a ‘Room on the Broom’ memory card game, a water colouring book, a mini etch-a-sketch (similar) and a wooden ‘farm in a tin’. Some of these I bought new, but several were gifts he was given that we held back with the holidays in mind. We will try to limit the amount of screen time if we can but we do have an iPad loaded up with Disney films and some episodes of Puffin Rock (love that show!) and Thomas the Tank Engine. We also picked up a pair of toddler headphones. Lastly we’ve got him two new books by Axel Scheffer and Julia Donaldson (this one and this one).
7. Spare Clothes & Nappies
Definitely pack a change of clothes for everyone as well. The baby could have a nappy blow out or your older child could spill water on himself. A change of clothes for yourself would be a good idea too, in case someone spills something on you! Also pack more nappies than you think you’ll need so that you don’t run out at 30,000ft!
8. The Extras
And lastly, don’t forget to pack antibacterial wipes so you can wipe down the arm rests and tray tables on the plane. Those things are crawling with germs and arriving to your holiday destination with sick kids is no ones idea of fun. Some painkillers, antiseptic cream, plasters and hand wipes are always good to have on hand too. The airline has a first aid kid but it can be reassuring to have your own things in your bag.
So those are my top tips for a smoother travelling experience with kids! Let me know in the comments if there’s anything you’d add.
ps you might like 5 tricks to make life with kids calmer and 12 lists to keep you organised
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