Travelling with Little Ones.

Published on 25 April 2024 at 13:31

Traveling with children can be stressful. However, just because you have children this does not mean you cannot travel and have a family holiday – we just need to be properly prepared - It is all in the preparation and planning!  

The potential for a nightmare journey when travelling with kids is endless. From long queues for security checks to flight delays and waiting around...not to mention cramped plane seats and the ear popping during take-off and landing. Overall, travelling with youngsters can be an unpleasant experience. 

Sometimes it feels like packing to travel with kids takes longer than the trip itself. Here are my hints and tips for making travelling with kids as stress free as possible. 


Pack your bags!

Your hand luggage should be like Mary Poppins carpet bag. Make sure you are equipped with a solution to every problem than might arise...and have a spare of everything. You don't really want to go crawling under your fellow passenger seat when they are snoring next to you. With flights increasingly unreliable, it is prudent to pack for any eventuality.  

Call Security!

Even as grown adults nobody likes security checks but, they are an unavoidable hazard at an airport. Rules on want you are allowed to pack are forever changing to so...don't get caught out. Check current guidelines and adhere to them! When packing, make sure items that need to be removed during security checks can be accessed easily and placed in the box ready for the conveyor. No one want to be ‘that person’ who is pulled to one side to have their bag or clothing searched...especially with a toddler in toe.  

Feeding Time.

Coincide feeding time with take-off and landing. Feeding babies their bottle can provide much needed relief on their tiny little ears during take-off and landing. With toddles its more about a distraction technique. Pre-prepared snack bags and treats can be a welcomed distraction for young travellers for whom the experience might be stressful. 

It's all about the wheels

If you are anything like me, where you first child was born you invested in an all singing all dancing pram. They look great but can often fail the practicality tests everyday scenarios throw at us. We soon learned that a collapsible travel or 'umbrella stroller’ was our new best friend. Just make sure that its dimensions meet the requirement of any airline you might be travelling with. If you check the stroller at the gate the crew will have it waiting for you when you get off. I'm sure you have seen the pile of strollers waiting to be collected by their owners as you step off the plane. I also advise you carry out some tests before you buy. Make sure that;  

  • It is easy to put up and down 
  • If it has a strap that aids it being carried, then this is a bonus 
  • It is light enough to be easily handled 
  • It is robust enough for your needs 
  • The flatter and smaller the pushchair  - the more versatile and travel friendly it is!
  • Has nets and pockets to help carry all the essentials required for your little ones. 

Snooze Time

For long-haul flights, many airlines allow you to book a bassinet in advance. Remember, that bassinets are never confirmed or guaranteed, just requested. Having said that we have never been refused. I think destinations also have a bearing on availibility. If you are travelling to Disneyworld for instance, on a plane full of children, then there might be a supply and demand issue. I would also check age and weight restrictions as each airline differs slightly. My advice would be to call and double check your request is on your booking – then call again just before travel! 

Pack Portable

Everything seems to have a travel or portable version these days. Here are just a few examples of things you might consider for making life easier during your travels; 

  • Foldable highchair – a foldable highchair can fit in your carry-on meaning during the flight toddlers can sit up and have their own tray whilst still be secure in their seat. 
  • Bath – weather it be collapsable or blow us they can be used during your travels or when visiting grandparents back home. 
  • Travel Bassinet – You may already have one of these from when your baby was a newborn.  
  • Blackout binds - Portable blinds are ideal for travelling and when out and about.  Suction cups and removable self-adhesive fastener strips make it quick and easy to install an effective blackout blind anywhere. 
  • Travel monitor – you may already have a system you use at home that you can take with you but there are also small travel versions. 
  • Inflatable booster seat – yes, they are a thing and are available in many shops in the UK. 

Pick up at destination

Many countries offer rental services for bulkier baby and toddler items. This takes the stress out bringing everything you need for your little one. Your hotel might even provide some equipment to save you from packing the kitchen sink. When I have visited family in Canada, I have ordered items online and had them delivered to my in-law's address and then sold them online agaibn in Canada prior to returning home.

Manage Expectations

Chatting with your toddler before you travel can help manage expectations.  This way when you get to the airport there are no surprises (hopefully). This is particularly important if it is their first time flying. The large baggage halls and security checks can be daunting for little ones. This YouTube video ‘My First Time Flying on an Airplane’ is great to help children know what to expect from the journey. 

Be Nice!

It cost nothing to be nice and you will be appreciated for it. Many of the attendants on your flight will have young families themselves and will understand how stressful travelling with kids can be. I have found that showing gratitude for the little things they do for my family means in return, we get any assistance we might needA lovely flight attendant gave my boys a ‘airline’ toys as a reward for being well behaved during a long-haul flight from London to Vancouver. 

Family Friendly

These days airport and airlines offer family friendly facilities. There is nothing a family-friendly airline wants more than happy, occupied kiddos. Before you fly check with the airport and airline regarding what facilities and perks they can offer you. Many airlines offer priority boarding for families this will give you a head start. You can be seated and settling your kids in whilst the other passengers find their place. Airline kids' packs might include sticker books, toys and child meals that make the experience better for both you and your child. Other great perks to look for are family lounges at the airports with child play areas to allow the little ones to burn off some steam. SKYTRAX World Airport Awards has put together a list of the most family friendly airport.  

Pick a seat

As a family you will generally be seated together although I have been tempted to seat myself away from the chaos at times. Pick your seat wisely. I would suggest seating your chid away from the isles where they can be distracted by well-meaning fellow passenger. This way if they fall asleep (and we hope they do) then they will not be disturbed by the flight attend with the hostess trolly and you will be able to get out of your own seat without upsetting the peace and quiet.  

LASTLY...Stay calm

Sometimes, all the planning and preparation in the world cannot stop a child having a meltdown. In these scenarios we just need to stay calm and try our absolute best to diffuse the situation. Hopefully, you have packed something in your bag which will quickly be the magic solution to the meltdown. As long as you are seen to be trying your best to resolve the issue then your fellow passenger will be on your side. You never know, they might even be able to offer help and advice you may not have considered.  

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