All About Travelling With Children
Updated: Mar 6, 2022
Travelling With Children
All about travelling with children
Just thinking about taking your small person on holiday can be a daunting task, particularly if you are thinking of doing it solo. But in my experience, it actually tends to be a really enjoyable activity. Kids absolutely love having all of your attention, and without our mobile phones to distract us, they will often thrive in the company of grown-ups who are not being distracted by social media, work, housework or other people.
Often it is the journey to and from the destination which worries us the most, but for me personally, it has become part of the overall holiday joy. The excitement I see radiating from my son from the minute we leave home and head to the airport is an amazing thing to see.
The first time we took my son on an aeroplane, he was not even two years old. We were visiting family in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia so had a direct 14 hour flight on the way there, and then a four day stop in Dubai on the way home. Since then, we have flown countless times and although I am not particularly a huge fan of flying, I still manage to get a lot of enjoyment by watching the excitement in his eyes.
Tips for travelling with kids
Time management - Leave home with plenty of time to spare, there is nothing worse than being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport and feeling stressed, then hearing the dreaded words ‘I need a wee’. Sometimes you have to be prepared to get inventive, my kid has mastered using an empty drinks bottle when stuck in traffic - boys are so much easier.
Car seats - Do you need one whilst on holiday? Can you hire one from hotel or airport transfer company? Is it possible to borrow or rent a pushchair with built in car seat? They are bulky items and a real pain to try and carry along with a small child and luggage.
Travelling With Children
Baby-wearing - Can’t recommend this enough, an absolute life-saver with my mobility delayed child who hated pushchairs etc. Available to hire from sling libraries all over the country (check out Facebook pages). These super simple, tiny, space-saving options are great. Chuck your kid on your back using a material ergonomic carrier and you actually almost forget they’re there. Ideal for navigating around airports etc. Kids also love being up at your height and seeing what you see. Your faces will be closer together too, so easier to keep up the engaging chatter.
Talk to them - Engage with your child all the time. Chat about where you are going, ask them what they are excited about, talk to them about what the hotel room might be like. Talk about being on an aeroplane and what it will be like to take-off and land.
Entertainment - If they get bored with your conversation, have a back-up plan. Some colouring books that you can do together on a flight, play eye-spy games in the car, have some snacks available - lets face it, eating makes us happy.
Kids Bags - If they’re old enough to walk, why not let them have their own little bag to pull along, or even drag them behind you on a ride on kids suitcase (you know the ones I mean). Or give them their own little rucksack - perhaps one with reigns on. Consider packing colouring books, small light rain-mac, wet wipes, nappies, vomit bag (I hope you don’t need that). Don’t forget child-safe hand disinfectant, children have a horrid tendency to put their hands on everything and then in their mouths and lets not start the holiday with the picking up a virus or diarrhoea and vomiting.
Responsibility - Why not let them carry their own aeroplane ticket, they will feel so proud getting it out ready through security and when boarding the plane (don’t worry, just print two in case they loose it and keep the second with you safe)
For bottle fed kids - Customs will normally let you bring through babies formula/sterile water without any problem, but your kid needs to be present at the time.
Travel sickness - If your child is prone to travel sickness, be prepared. What you can give your kid depends very much on their age. Speak to your GP or local pharmacist before you travel. Some medications have the added bonus of causing drowsiness which may be great thing, particularly if you have an overnight flight scheduled. Be honest with your GP, you will be surprised at how they appreciate honesty and they may agree with you that a sleeping child on a 14hr flight is better for everyone’s mental health. If both drowsy and non-drowsy medications are licensed for use in children, as your kid is not actually flying the plane, they will probably not have a problem prescribing the drowsy version if appropriate and they feel you will use it sensibly. They are parents too!
Houdini children - For those rapid escape artists, keep a close eye on them, particularly when transiting through airports, train stations etc. My son and I loved his teddy back-pack that had inbuilt reins, but it is another thing in your already full hands. (Another reason why I recommend baby-wearing through busy areas) There are various items available to purchase to help people identify and return your child to you if they should get lost and generally to keep them safe on holiday. Why not try a GPS tag which links to your phone so you can easily track your child’s exact location. Wrist bands containing your name and phone number. Sew your child’s name and your telephone number into their clothes. I have heard of one parent who attaches a small key-ring panic alarm onto their child’s bag so if they become separated and afraid they push the button and get heard.
Ear popping on flights - Children struggle to equalise their ears much more than adults do. If you have a little baby, I recommend trying to feed during take-off and landing, the sucking motion will help with the pressure changes. For slightly older children, why not give them their favourite snack to munch on. Worst case, yawns are contagious to children too, let them see you dramatically yawn next to them - this is great for their ears, although they may think they’re boring you. Thumb sucking, dummy sucking all works too - so does crying.. joy!! If you can bear giving your child a Chupa-chups type lolly then that will help too - sugar free versions are available.
Clothing for kids - Dress kids appropriately, I think aeroplanes can often be a bit chilly with the air conditioning so consider dressing them in easy to remove layers. Don’t forget proper footwear also, don’t be tempted to let your child walk around Heathrow in their brand-new holiday sandals.
Sleeping on flights - This is when the younger the child the easier it is. They will probably comfortably curl on your lap, or alternatively some longer-haul flights offer inbuilt cots which are fantastic but not available in every seat space - pre-book these. Bring something from home that they associate with bedtime, a particularly teddy for example or their favourite small blanket.
Headphones - For slightly older kids so comfortable headphones are a godsend for both you and other passengers around you. There is nothing more irritating that a nearby child watching Baby-Shark at full volume. Also great to use with any in-flight entertainment that might be available.
What not to take - also important. This is a great opportunity to leave the irritating toys behind. This is valuable time away, and something you don’t get to do together very often. Why not leave a little bit of spare suitcase space to buy some new beach toys and other fun items that have not yet had chance to drive you insane!
What do kids find funny?! .. Aeroplane Noises!... When do they do them?
If you have found this article helpful, I would love to hear about it. Drop a comment below and feel free to share the wisdom!