Travelling with a baby, toddler or young child is always a challenge. But in winter especially, the idea probably fills you with dread. Weather conditions mean delays, and the festive season means everywhere is busier than usual. As well as keeping an eye on the kids you also have to battle through the public which could mean you might find yourself on the brink of a mummy meltdown far too often! Are you going away this winter, or travelling to see family and friends this Christmas? Maybe you’re just planning ahead to your summer holiday next year. Either way, here’s your ultimate guide to travelling with children.
Speak To Children
Depending on their age, it could be worth having a chat with kids before setting off. Let them know what’s going to be happening, tell them they will need to sit in their seat and let them know what you expect of their behaviour throughout. You could even promise them something fun or exciting to do especially for them when you reach your destination if they behave well. This isn’t an option for toddlers and babies, but once your child is old enough to understand this could be a good way to go. If you explain in simple terms what the plane will be like and what to expect, it might stop them from getting over excited or overwhelmed.
Bring Lots To Do
Long journeys and sitting in one place for long stretches can lead to restless children. Keeping them busy and occupied is key, so lots of fun activities are needed to stop them from becoming bored. Colouring, books to read and games of all descriptions. Depending on their age it could be pen and paper games, you could buy mini travel versions of classic games like Connect Four or go down the technology route. Handheld games machines, phones, and tablets are all ideal for a long journey. They can keep busy on age-appropriate games apps, watch tv programmes or movies. Download plenty to watch and do before setting off.
Load Up on Snacks
Plane food isn’t the nicest for adults to deal with, let alone children. If you know you have picky eaters or that getting hungry between meals causes grouchiness, it’s worth packing some snacks for your trip. Most things in solid form can be taken onto planes without an issue, just make sure there’s nothing liquidy containing more than 100ml. Dried fruit, cereal bars, portions of fresh fruit and veggies such as grapes or carrot sticks. Divide things up into ziplock bags which will make your life much easier.
Allow Extra Time
When travelling with children, it’s always better to allow extra time. Rushing around feeling anxious with little ones in tow is always going to leave you in more of a stress. You might need to change their clothes after an accident or food spill. You might have to stop to deal with a toddler tantrum. Whatever it is, leaving time to spare will make everything run much more smoothly.
Book a Night Flight
Planes can be exciting and overwhelming for young children. You can keep this to a minimum, as well as encourage them to sleep for a large part of the journey by booking a night flight. The plane will be quiet and dimmed, hopefully allowing them to relax and drift off to sleep. The longer they sleep, the less time you have to worry about keeping them occupied! If you can’t book a night flight, you could arrange an activity before you get to the airport to get them as tired out as possible. Take them to a park or a play centre and let them wear themselves out. That way they’re likely to be calmer and better behaved on the plane with a higher chance of dozing off.
Think About Safety
Airports, train stations and bus stations are all very busy places. If your child breaks free of your grip and gets lost in a crowd or worse- it could end in every parent’s worst nightmare. Consider reins for rambunctious toddlers who refuse to sit in a pushchair. For young children, you can buy ‘child locators.’ One part is strapped to you, and another small unit is strapped to them. If you get lost, you can set off the alarm and find them by following the sound. If your child is happy to wear a backpack, you could put in an old iPhone in there and set up the ‘find friends’ app. This allows you to locate them on a map. Hopefully, it would never come to that, but it’s useful to know just in case. Other things to think about in regards to safety is yours and your family’s health. Children should have all their regular vaccinations done, and you all might need additional vaccinations depending on the country you’re visiting too. You can buy malaria tablets online for the adults travelling, along with things like sprays and bands which are safe for everyone to protect against mosquitos. This is so important in certain countries where malaria is a risk.
Consider a Layover
If you’re travelling a particularly long way, it could be worth booking a layover flight. That way you can stay the night at a hotel, get cleaned up, go for a walk and relax before doing the final stretch of the journey. Many people see having to get a layover as a disadvantage, but you can definitely make the most of it. By doing this, you might even be able to snag a cheaper flight too. A long layover might even give you the opportunity to see a different part of the world which you’d have never ordinarily thought about visiting!
Be Prepared For The Weather
Children will be affected by the heat and cold much more than adults. So even if you’re travelling to a sunny country, don’t forget a couple of warmer items too just in case the weather takes a turn for the worst. Remember any extras like gloves and hats, and be prepared for changing weather. Packing well when you’re travelling with kids is so important.
Keep Your Patience
Accept that travelling with a toddler, particularly if the journey is long, is going to be difficult at times. It’s naive to think you’ll get away with it scot free- they may shed some tears and throw a couple of tantrums along the way. Keep your cool, don’t get embarrassed (every parent understands this drama!) and remain patient.
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