No matter if it’s your first trip with your first child, or your fifth with your fifth, traveling with children will always be a task. From what to pack to how to get there, there is much to plan.
However, there are some tips that can help you prepare, and save you from going insane. Below, we’ve listed our top tips for traveling with kids. Some are for babies, some are for older children, and some are for you.
1. Just do it!
While the idea of traveling with children might be overwhelming, the most important thing to remember is that you will get there. You will make it through and have a magical vacation.
2. Take it Slow
You might be used to rushing off the airplane and through the airport, making use of all those secret shortcuts, but those days are over. Sit back, let everyone rush around you, and just go with the flow.
3. Brand ‘em and track ‘em!
If you’re worried about your child getting lost, you can brand them by writing your name and phone number on their arm. That way, if they are found, you can be contacted easily. You could also invest in a GPS tracking device. Attach it to your child’s wrist or bag, and follow along via the app.
4. Pool vs. sea
Even if you plan to stay by the beach, you might want to consider making sure there’s a pool as well. Lots of children love being in the sea, but others can’t stand it. A pool is perfect for little ones to splash around in, cool down in – and get exhausted in.
5. Car seat or not?
Some people swear by them, others think it’s madness to bring such a large item for the short time they’ll be used. They require an extra seat on the flight, and are quite bulky, but then you’re guaranteed to have it for any kind of car ride. If you do plan to take one, it might be worth investing in a car seat/pushchair combo so you don’t have to lug even more weight around.
6. Packing baby food
Many airports will allow baby milk and baby food to be carried through security in containers over 100 ml. They usually open containers to screen contents at the security point, but this only takes moments and doesn’t contaminate the food in any way. It’s worth checking with the airports you’ll be traveling through, just to make sure.
7. Plan your flights
Try to plan your flights around bedtime. Evening flights can be more expensive, but if ease is what you’re after, a sleeping child is a blessing for everyone. If you have to make a connecting flight, be sure to leave a good amount of time – the last thing you need is a mad dash through an unfamiliar airport.
Try, as much as you can, to make the journey part of the vacation. Give yourself a couple of hours, stretch legs, visit bathrooms, eat, talk, play, and get ready for the next flight.
8. Airport time – check-in online
Try to minimize time spent waiting in line once at the airport. One of the easiest things to do is check-in online, then all you have to do is hit the bag drop and get through security. More often than not, there is a family area at the security check, so you know that everyone around you is in the same boat; or should I say plane?
9. Leave plenty of time
While you want to minimize time waiting in line, you certainly don’t want to have to rush. Leave home with hours to spare – if you get to the airport quickly, make use of the play area and get those children exhausted: the more energy they spend on the ground, the less they’ll have in the air.
10. Explain the journey
If your child is new to flying and traveling in general, talk them through it. Let them know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen, like when they have to fasten their seat belts and why. Most children think flying is fun, so the best thing you can do is encourage it. It is an adventure after all!
11. Keep calm
If your child chooses the worst possible time to turn into a screaming beast from another dimension, take a deep breath and try to keep calm.
12. Enjoy it
Leave lots of time, pack well, and make the travel part of the journey. Just remember that you’ll be OK, and you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself!