Worried about travelling with your kids?
I get it. Feeling nervous about travelling with children is something all us mamas feel.
Before my first travelling adventure with my children I kept imagining them throwing tantrums in the airport, and crying continuously on the aeroplane.
I love travelling, it's an exciting adventure where you can create wonderful memories. However travelling with children can put the fear of God in anyone.
My friend recently booked her first trip abroad with her partner and baby. Once the initial excitement wore off she rang me asking for some advice on travelling with her baby.
I completely get it. Travelling with children can be scary, especially if it’s your first time. That’s why I’m sharing with you my planning method for travelling with children, for free!
These are the key items you’ll need when going away.
Valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity
House and car keys
Driving licence with paper counterpart
Here are some questions to consider when organising what to take with you. The answers to these questions greatly depend on your destination and plans.
How are you getting to the airport and back home again?
Do you need to book airport parking?
Do you have a transfer to your hotel at the destination airport?
Are you hiring a car?
Do you need to bring the car and booster seats?
Will you need a travel pram?
I take an umbrella pram and baby carrier away with us. This way you have your hands free in the airport. Just take it to the gate when you board the aeroplane.
If you’re safety conscious, then taking your child’s car seat with you is something to consider, particularly if you haven’t arranged transfers to your destination.
If you want to take your car seat and/ or pram, the majority of airlines allow them to be checked in in for free. However, some airlines may charge for the service, so check with your airline provider.
Taxi drivers can be booked with car seats in many countries but they may be the wrong age/stage or may have been in a car accident. If you think you’ll be taking taxis, or renting a vehicle, then taking your car seat could be a great option for you.
Going on holiday with children will require some hand luggage at the very least. Here are some questions you’ll need to answer to help you with your planning and the packing process.
Will you be travelling with hand-luggage?
Do you need to pay for additional luggage?
How many items of luggage will you be taking in total?
What are the airlines weight limits for hand and check-in luggage?
How will you use each item of luggage (individual or shared luggage)?
When we go abroad, we share a suitcase with each of the children. For shorter breaks we pack a large gym bag with all of our clothes, plus we each bring hand-luggage.
Each family is different. You may have one child or six children, so it’s important to do what works for you and your family to ensure you feel happy and confident when travelling.
I always carry a backpack filled with the usual baby items:
My Boo ensures we have the essential items listed above in his backpack, plus he packs spare jumpers in case we get cold on the journey, which I always do! Then we plan and pack according the destination and duration of the holiday.
It can really save you time and effort having a game plan. You can ensure the clothes you want to wear are washed, ironed and ready to be packed.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine what type of clothing and how many items you and your family will need to pack.
Where are you going?
How long are you going for?
What is the weather forecast?
How many items of clothing will you need?
Will you need to pack formal wear?
What type of shoes will you all need and how many?
Is there a dress code at your hotel (if you are staying in one)?
Pack a jumper or jacket just in case the weather is colder than expected.
There will of course be the basics, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and body wash (which you can buy when you reach your destination), etc.
Don’t forget to pack nipple pads (if you’re breastfeeding), sanitary towels (just in case!), a thermometer, sunblock, and any medicine you may need (inhaler/antihistamine).
Don't forget to take them with you!
If your baby still drinks formula milk, you may want to think about ordering it from Boots at the airport. They offer an order and collect service, which can save you hassle at the security checks.
Nappies are also something to consider. I tend to pack my little ones nappies in the zip compartment of suitcase.
If you’re tight on space, why not buy the nappies at the airport or when you reach your holiday destination? It could save you space in your suitcase for extra shoes!
If your little one has allergies and requires a prescribed milk formula, ensure each container of milk has a prescription attached to it, or it may be confiscated at customs.
Use a comfortable and reliable bag, with zip fastens if possible, to keep your items safe.
In addition to the essential items you need, try and think about what your child may need and pack for a worst case scenario. Thinking ahead can really reduce stress knowing you have packed for every eventuality.
For instance, you could pack extra nappies and clothing in case you’re delayed, or baby has a nappy explosion (it always happens at the most awkward times).
Having a food and drinks on you (which you can make in advance or buy before boarding a flight), can lower the chances of a hungry tantrum when your child decides they don’t like the food provided (this was a life saver for us on a flight to Miami).
I have a clear plastic wallet folder and a large pencil case that holds a variety of activities that I grab whenever we go away. It consists of:
A book puzzle (so they can do several)
Dry wipe activity book (to keep the brain working)
Dry wipe pens (always ensure you have a few in one runs out of ink)
A clear piece of paper in the back of the wallet (so the children can free draw on the wallet with the dry wipe pen)
A story book
Some small world toys (my son likes Paw Patrol or Toy Story characters)
Cards (to play snap)
A tub of Play-Doh
This makes it easy to just slide it into your back pack and have all the games together in one place.
When my son was younger I wore a teething necklace (with large rubber beads that he couldn’t choke on), which at the time was a life saver.
Plus don’t forget the classic games like, I spy (we spied colours when my son was younger, then progressed to “sounds like”, and are slowing progressing to the letters).
You can also watch the movies available and go for a walk about to stretch your legs and kill time.
For little ones in nappies, there are baby changing facilities in airports and on the aeroplane.
For small children in particular, going to the toilet before you leave the house and when you arrive at the airport can help reduce the risk of an accident.
You can also request your child has a toilet break before boarding and after landing. Children may not go every time you ask, but if they need to, you've given them the opportunity to go.
Fellow passengers can make any mum feel anxious. I’ve travelled considerably with my children, and can thankfully say I have generally had great experiences with staff and fellow passengers.
When I board an aeroplane I say hello to the passengers seated nearby, and make a joke/comment to break the ice, such as, “We (nodding at baby in my arms) promise to be on our best behaviour and be quiet!”
Generally I believe people appreciate that you will do your best to ensure you and they have a calm and enjoyable flight.
Plus in my experience, it has made fellow passengers comfortable to say hi to baby and play “peekaboo” etc. when baby decides to stretch their legs and peep over the chair.
Some fellow passengers may not be as supportive. That is fine. Ultimately their response to your baby is their problem, not yours.
On a return flight from Miami, a lady, who despite being at the other end of the row,
began to huff and puff, staring at me and baby, and generally making me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
My daughter wasn't being noisy, but the lady continued to look over. Of course baby felt my anxiety levels rise and began fusing slightly, and my cheeks turned the colour of beetroot.
Thankfully I checked myself, took a deep breath and refused to be intimidated.
I calmed down and enjoyed spending time with my family, laughing, joking and reminiscing about our incredible holiday.
My Plus, the staff and nearby passengers commented on how well behaved my children were.
Giving children a drink during take-off and landing, or a something to eat, can help with the air pressure (as some people experience ear pain).
If your child is a baby, breastfeeding or giving them their formula milk, can be really helpful and may encourage them to sleep.
Also, giving older children a heads up about the journey, the duration (in a way they can understand), and what you expect from them, can help them internalise what will happen and how we would like them to behave.
Have a safe journey and enjoy your travels!
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Do you have some useful tips for travelling with children? Let me know what you do in the comment section.