Travelling with young children does not have to be a stressful event. With the help of our friends at Skyscanner, we have put together these 15 tips for travelling with toddlers and children to assuage all of your concerns.
1. Research the regulations for your airline
These days, there are so many variations in charges and regulations for each airline that it’s hard to keep track. When planning your trip, look at your airline’s regulations specifically so that there are no surprise charges at the airport and you can plan to pack necessary equipment.
2. Plan to need extra time
If your trip requires multiple flights to reach your final destination, consider breaking up the journey with a stopover. Allow for extra time so that all travellers in your group - especially the ones with the littlest legs - don’t have to run to make the connection and miss an opportunity for necessary bathroom breaks.
3. Stick to the routine
Parents of toddlers know that routines matter. Try to stick to your toddler’s existing schedule by planning an on-the-ground itinerary that accommodates naptime and meals.
4. Prepare your child for the airport
For first-time flyers, and even for us well-travelled adults, airports can be overwhelming. Prepare your toddler for the airport by setting your expectations that they stick close to you, use an ‘inside voice,' and cooperate at security.
5. Play pilots & passengers
Take your preparations one step further by role-playing! Take turns being a pilot or flight attendant and passenger so that your child knows what to expect to happen on a plane. This will help them feel calm and become comfortable travellers.
6. Pack individual carry-on bags
Bickering over who wants to play what at high altitudes is not a fun game. If you’re travelling with multiple children, pack each one a special plane bag. One Mummy Blogger recommends that parents fill the bags with cheap and cheerful surprises - pocket money toys, new colouring books, and even sweets - so that they get a new treat to be excited about on the plane.
7. Keep a stash of wet wipes and Pull Ups
Even when your child is potty-trained, accidents happen. By being prepared for anything and everything, you will feel relaxed and in turn your child will pick up on that energy and also feel relaxed.
8. Arm yourself with a backup stuffed animal
Every so often, a favourite fuzzy friend gets left or lost. In the case that this tragedy strikes, have a back-up cuddly toy in your reserves to pacify your upset child.
9. Have a toy strategy
With limited space, it’s important to pack toys strategically. Opt for items that can occupy your child for hours without needing a charge or replacement battery, ones that don’t make a mess, and ones that don’t make a lot of noise. If you’re packing an audiobook or tablet, be sure to have an extra set of headphones.
10. Stack your snacks
The wrath of a hangry child can be relentless. Not only is it a good recommendation to avoid this - for everyone involved - but it’s also part of helping your child stick to a routine. Having snacks available on hand will keep mealtime routinised and regulate your child’s energy levels.
11. Take advantage of pre-boarding
Pre-boarding for families is a gift from airports - use it! Stick close to your gate to make sure you hear boarding announcements and accept any and all help from the flight attendants to get settled in your seats early.
12. Write notes for neighbouring passengers
Some parents have gotten into the habit of writing notes to their neighbouring passengers. While a note does not rule out the possibility of a child’s tantrum, it does remind other passengers that they are young and learning to be respectful travellers.
13. Sleep on the plane… or at least try
The final part of sticking to a routine is choosing night flights so that everyone has the chance to sleep - or at least tries to do so. During night flights, the lights dim and the natural rocking of the plane complements the sleep-time ambience.
14. Prepare for upset tummies and ear pain
From sick bags to extra water for swallowing, create a small, portable medicine cabinet. It’s common for toddlers to experience an upset stomach and ear pain whilst flying. To help avoid this pain, remember the handy acronym CRY AID (Chew - Research - Yawn - Awake - Ibuprofen - Drink).
15. Indulge in the wonder of flying
While it’s common for adults to focus on the destination, it’s important to remember the magic of flying. Airplanes are massive and powerful, as is the act of flying through the air. Adopt childlike wonder for yourself and enjoy the journey with your child.