Traveling with children is challenging, but a bit of forethought can help reduce parental stress. If your child is old enough, involve them in planning for the trip so they can get excited about it. Remember that young children have short attention spans and get tired very quickly.
No matter if it’s your first trip with your first child, or your fifth with your fifth, travelling with children will always be daunting. From what to pack to how to get there, it’s rife with potential worries. However, there are some tips that can help you prepare, and save you from going insane.
Remember that almost everything can be bought abroad. It might not be the same brand, but you’ll manage. Nappies are often a concern as 100% eco and organic brands are sometimes hard to find. If you’re used to using an eco-brand, do a test run with a non-eco brand before you leave to see if you little one has any kind of reaction.
Hotel or holiday rental?
Hotels have perks (room service, meals, baby-sitting services, etc.), but holiday rentals mean you can make it your home – and prepare your own meals, which might be useful if your child has a special diet. It’s a personal choice, but one worth thinking about.
Pool vs. sea
Even if you plan to stay by the beach, you might want to consider making sure there’s a pool as well. Lots of children love being in the sea, but others can’t stand it. A pool is perfect for little ones to splash about in, cool down in – and get exhausted in.
Pram vs. stroller vs. sling
This is a common dilemma when travelling with kids and there’s no easy answer. A lot of it depends on where you’re going. Will the streets be even and paved or will there be potholes and off-roading involved? Will it be extremely humid or fairly cool? What is your child used to?
A good all-rounder is a light pushchair. They’re easy to travel with and can be taken right up to the gate; they can be used as a temporary bed for afternoon naps; they’re light and breathable but can also be insulated with blankets and a rain cover; and they’re good on almost all terrain.
Packing baby food
Many airports will allow baby milk and baby food to be carried through security in containers over 100ml. They usually open containers to screen contents at the security point, but this takes moments and doesn’t contaminate the food in anyway. It’s worth checking with the airports you’ll be travelling through, just to make sure.
Is low-cost worth it?
While it might be tempting to make use of low-cost carriers now that you’re a family, bear in mind they often fly into remote airports, which could mean more travel. It might be worth ditching the low-cost airlines and paying a bit more for ease and peace of mind (not to mention the fact that the price difference, once you factor in the extra transport from the remote airport to the city centre, is often minimal).
Leave plenty of time
While you want to minimise time in queues, you certainly don’t want to have to rush. Leave home with hours to spare – if you get to the airport quickly, make use of the play area and get those children exhausted: the more energy they spend on the ground, the less they’ll have in the air.
Keeping your child amused
Suggestions to keep children amused while the family gets from point A to B include, pack plenty of toys. Offer the toys one at a time, replacing each toy with a fresh one once the child shows signs of boredom. To cut down on fights over sharing, make sure each child has their own stash of toys.
Children with travellers’ diarrhoea are susceptible to dehydration. Suggestions to reduce the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea include; avoid risky foods such as seafood, undercooked meats, peeled and raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurised dairy products. If you are unsure of the water supply, only drink bottled water, carbonated soft drinks or bottled fruit juices. Use bottled water when brushing teeth.
The symptoms of motion sickness include blanching (becoming pale), headache, dizziness, complaints of feeling sick and, ultimately, vomiting. Suggestions to reduce the risk of motion sickness include; when travelling by car, take frequent rest stops. Make sure your child looks out the window, rather than at a stationary object inside the vehicle (such as a book). Make sure your child eats something before travelling, but avoid heavy or greasy foods.
Our other personal thing to remember when flying with little people is to always accept help. From a friendly person who might be sharing your seat row to the air-hostess’ who will more than happily take your little one while you stretch, prepare food or just need a two-minute reprieve, don’t ever decline a helping hand! When flying, it definitely takes a village!