Before we had children, many of us had sat on a plane and groaned inwardly as we realised we were sharing a row with an unhappy baby, or perhaps we tutted loudly at the child running madly through the museum. Then, when our own little darlings arrived we rapidly realised that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t always prevent public meltdowns. This is even more apparent on holiday, when routines are thrown out, along with rules on sweet treats and an adherence to bedtime.
Children on holiday often become over excited and over tired, leading many of their parents to question why they thought leaving the house for more than a few hours would be a good idea. Whether you are off to Bogner Regis or Bora Bora, travelling with young children doesn’t have to be difficult, and these tried and tested tips can help you to have a successful break away.
1. Clear Your Cookies
If you have been browsing holiday sites for a while trying to find your ideal holiday, make sure that you clear your cookies on your web browser before you book. Some travel sites will increase the price they offer to you if they can see from your browser cookies that you have previously looked at that particular resort or flight. Clearing your cookies may lead to a better deal.
2. Check Reviews Carefully Before You Book
Don’t rely on the flash brochure or elaborate write-up on the resort’s website. Check review sites such as TripAdvisor carefully before you book, paying particularly attention to what is available for children. That hotel or holiday cottage may look stunning, but is it child friendly? Are there activities for children, high chairs, children’s menus, etc.?
3. Rent A Pushchair & Car Seat Where Possible
Whilst most airlines will allow you to take a car seat and pushchair on the plane for no extra charge, it can be problematic lugging everything around the airport. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that your pushchair or car seat won’t get damaged on the flight, or worse, lost, leaving you with nothing to use when you arrive. Renting can make your trip a lot easier.
4. Book A Bassinet Seat On The Flight For Your Baby
If you are flying long haul with a baby under 1 year old, many airlines can provide you with a bassinet seats on their planes. The bassinets are normally attached to the bulkhead, and even if you don’t use the bassinet itself, you will be grateful for the extra leg room that comes with these seats. It’s worth noting that the bassinets usually have a weight limit, and cannot be used during times of turbulence.
5. Pack Individual Baby / Toddler Outfits In Ziplock Bags
Packing each individual outfit for your baby or toddler in a ziplock bag means that it’s easy to grab a set of clothes in the event of a bodily fluid related emergency. This is handy both on the plane, and at your destination, enabling you to pack a day bag easily.
6. Pack A Small Amount Of Detergent Powder For Handwashing
You might be looking forward to an entire week away from the laundry mountain that inhabits your home – but, let’s be realistic – young children are prone to mess from food, dirt, and poop explosions. You won’t want to leave an item of contaminated clothing for several days (trust us, the smell will knock you unconscious), so having a small amount of detergent will enable you to do a quick rinse in an emergency.
7. Roll Up Clothes When Packing
Remember those days before you had children and you had room in your suitcase for multiple changes of clothes? Those days are gone, but rolling up your clothes will help create more space. It can also prevent too many creases appearing.
8. Mix Your Belongings With Your Children’s In Your Suitcases
Don’t be tempted to declare the new fancy suitcase that you bought specifically for this holiday because you knew you would need extra space as “mine all mine.” Mix everyone’s clothing between cases. That way, if you lose one case, you all have clothing in the cases that remain.
9. Allow Yourself Extra Time
A car journey that previously took three hours will probably take four or five hours now that you have kids. Firstly, you won’t get out of the house on time because at least one child will need a last minute visit to the toilet or nappy change. Secondly, you will probably need to stop multiple times on the way for toileting, snacks, and, unfortunately, travel sickness. Consider booking a morning flight and staying at the airport at a hotel the night before.
Many airport hotels offer parking deals that are good value for money. Try to get to the airport as soon as your check-in opens (usually three hours before the flight). The airport might state that it takes an average of two hours to get through security and check-in, but that doesn’t account for the amount of time you will need to calm your toddler after you tell him he can’t have a ride on the luggage trolley.
10. Use An Old, Waterproof Sheet To Protect Your Car Seat
On a long journey your child might get a bit travel sick. Protect your car’s upholstery by laying an old sheet underneath your child’s car seat. It will help make the clean up a little bit easier.
11. Order Formula & Baby Food Online For Airport Delivery
Whilst the restrictions on taking liquids through airport security don’t apply to those travelling with babies in that you are allowed to take formula and baby food through, it can result in extra stress during the process. Airports seem to vary on what they do with regards to checking baby food. Some Mums report having to open each pre-mixed bottle of formula to try it in front of security personnel, whilst others get waved through.
Avoid this stress by ordering online at Boots. Most major UK airports have a Boots branch after the security check point, and when ordering online you can specify which store you would like your order delivered to. Make sure you order at least one week in advance of your flight to guarantee that your order is there when you arrive.
12. Place An iPad In A Ziplock Bag For An Inflight Entertainment System.
Some airlines have a fantastic inflight entertainment system with plenty to keep your child entertained. Others, not so much. However, if you have an iPad or other tablet computer, place it in a large ziplock bag, and hang the bag over the tray latch on the seat in front of you. Use a small hole to thread headphones into and voila; one in-flight entertainment system. Just make sure you have pre-downloaded shows in advance. The BBC iplayer allows you to download programmes and keep them for 30 days on your device. Netflix have also recently introduced a download option for some of its catalogue.
13. Take An In-Flight Entertainment Sack
iPads and in-flight movies might work for primary aged and older children, but pre-school children and toddlers have much shorter attention spans and need more entertainment. In your carry on luggage, you can pack a number of small toys and books.
If you buy new toys and books, your child might be more interested as it will be something they haven’t seen before, and gift wrapping each one will add to the entertainment value for your child. We love a magnetic fishing set that can be played on your airplane seat tray and a sticker book that encourages your child to use their imagination.
14. Take Infant Paracetamol Sachets
Children seem to have a super-human ability to get ill at the most inconvenient times possible. So, it’s highly likely that you will encounter an illness at some point during your trip. Thankfully, you can buy infant paracetamol in handy 5ml sachets that can be taken on the plane and packed in your day bag for when you are out and about.
15. Pack Lollipops For Ear Pain…And Bribery
Pressure changes during take-off and landing can result in ear pain, but sucking on a lollipop can help to relieve that ear pain. Pack a few in your suitcase to throw into your day bag during your holiday. They are useful for those times when you are faced with an inconsolable toddler who is over-tired, over-excited, and having a very loud meltdown in public. It’s fine when you are on holiday to resort to sugar bribery – just don’t tell the dentist.
16. Take An Empty Leak Proof Sippy Cup / Water Bottle In Your Carry On Luggage
You can’t take bottles of water through airport security, but do remember to take your child’s sippy cup or water bottle with you to fill up once you get through the other side. Children can get dehydrated easily and cabin crew will happily fill your child’s cup with water for you.
17. Take A Baby Sling / Carrier On The Plane
Once you get to the gate, you may be asked to pack up your pushchair, so having a sling that you can put your baby in will be useful for when you are waiting to board. Once you are on the plane, you can walk up and down the aisle with your baby in the sling, and this may help your little one to get to sleep. After landing, it may be a while before you see your pushchair, and not every airport or airline will have a complimentary one that you can use. During your holiday, you may visit places that are not pushchair friendly, so having the sling gives you more options.
18. Talcum Powder Can Remove Sand
You might like to simply lie on a beach lounger enjoying the sun, but your child is more likely to be digging deep into the sand and getting coated in it. It can be a nightmare to remove, but some talcum powder can help. By removing moisture from your skin, talcum powder enables sand to fall off easily. Just rub a little powder all over your child and then brush the sand off.
19. Use UV Suits To Avoid Sun Cream Battles
If you are one of the fortunate parents whose child doesn’t mind being coated in sun cream then consider yourself lucky. For many other parents it’s a battle, and usually results in a bad start to the day. Invest in a UV swimsuit and hat set to avoid this battle. They usually have an SPF rating of 40-50 and are great for protecting your child’s skin, whether you are going swimming or just playing on the beach. You will still need to apply cream to your child’s face, hands, feet, and neck, but that is a lot more manageable.
20. Take A Pack Of Balloons
They take up very little room and are great for keeping small children entertained. If you have always fancied yourself as the next Mr Tumble then take it one step further with a balloon modelling kit.
21. Take A Beach Shelter
Protect your child from the harshest of the sun’s rays with a beach shelter with UV protection. Young children in particular will love playing in one as they can pretend it’s a house, etc. Find one that packs up small, taking up very little space in your luggage.
22. Take A Power Strip For Charging Devices
These days almost everyone in the family will have some sort of device that needs charging, whether it be a phone, tablet, laptop, or handheld gaming console. Since hotels are often limited on power sockets it can be a bit problematic deciding who gets to charge their device first. Save the arguments by taking a power strip with you for charging multiple devices. Alternatively, if all of your devices require USB charging, then a USB multi-port charger will enable you to charge all of your devices from one socket
23. Use Label Stickers For Emergency Contacts
Going to a theme park or large museum? Many offer a service where you can write your contact details on a sticker or wristband for your child to wear in case he or she gets lost. However, in places where this service is not available, consider taking some blank label stickers to create your own. Put the sticker on your child’s back or hood so they won’t be tempted to remove them.
24. Pack A Night Light
Your accommodation might not have a dimmed light or lamp, so for children who are afraid of the dark we recommend packing a night light of your own. There are plenty of battery operated and USB rechargeable lights available that are lightweight so will travel easily.
25. Let Your Child Create Their Own Memories With A Digital Camera
You can pick up a child friendly digital camera for a fairly low amount and giving your child free rein to take some pictures may yield some interesting results. It is also another tool for keeping your child entertained when out and about. Perhaps you could set your child a challenge, for example, to take a picture of five different buildings, etc.