With the holiday season upon us, here are our best tips to make travel with kids that little bit easier!
- Pack all essentials into a bag that is within easy reach under the seat in front of you – a backpack is a good idea as it leaves your hands free to wrangle kids. You don’t want to be fumbling in the dark or clambering for these essential items:
- a couple of nappies/ spare undies
- heaps of wipes
- scented nappy bags
- snacks. LOTS of snacks- at least one per hour
- loveys, dummies /soothers
- tablets, toys and games
- bag of medication incl panadol, antihistamine, hand sanitiser, Epi-pen if required, tissues and band-aids
- at least 1x change of clothes per kid packed in a ziplock bag. Once you have changed, repack the dirty clothes into the bag
- a pre soaked face washer or hand towel to freshen you or the kids up in case of spills, vomits or leaks- again, pack in a ziplock bag.
- additional changes of clothes, wipes and nappies etc can be put in the overhead locker.
- Baby bottles, medications and food are exempt from the 100mL liquid restrictions however airlines do state that you can only bring on board a “reasonable amount”, which means it’s up to security/the airline’s discretion. Best to give them a call ahead of time.
- Bring the child’s sleeping bag or blanket from home for comfort and familiarity.
- In-flight entertainment is gold for kids, however the provided headphones may be too big for their little heads. You can buy kid-sized ones in advance quite cheaply from Kmart, Big W, JB Hi-Fi and even some supermarkets.
- Choose flight times that coincide with children’s regular nap times and pray they don’t get overtired or overexcited!
- Speak to your doctor before flying about medication- and if you do use something, do a trial run beforehand so you know what you are in for.
- Inflatable and hammock style devices to provide footrests in flight such as Plane Pal and Fly Legs Up are banned or restricted on some airlines. It is highly recommended to call your airline in advance to check the requirements.
On the Day of Travel and at the Airport
- If you’re planning on bringing a lot of luggage, it’s a good idea to do a trial run of packing it all into your mode of transportation too. Tetris is much more stressful when played on a deadline!
- Allow ample time (and then some) to get to the airport. Inevitably the traffic will be worse than planned, a toilet stop will be needed or the check-in line will be huge.
- Dress babies and kids in top and bottom type clothes/PJs so if they have a vomit or wet through, you (hopefully) don’t have to change their whole outfit.
- Put dummy on a chain and clip to their sleeping bag in case it falls from their little mouths. Plane floors are FILTHY.
- Wear out the kids before getting to the airport and on a plane. Let them run around the airport as much as possible before the flight to wear out their energy.
- Make yourself known to customs staff, boarding staff etc. They will most likely fast-track you through the line.
- Bring $4 in cash if you’re going to be needing a trolley at the airport. Even though they say they take card, most are unreliable.
Once on Board
- Little ears can find it tough to adjust to the change in altitude. On take off and landing, it’s a good idea to breastfeed or give babies a bottle to drink. A lollipop works for older kids. Other ways to “pop” your ears include swallowing, moving your jaw from side to side or holding the nose whilst blowing through the nostrils. HOT TIP: don’t give the bottle/breastfeed as soon as you get on board. Sometimes you can be taxiing on the tarmac for some time. Wait until the plane is actually hurtling down the runway.
- Wrap new toys and activities individually to once again, draw out the amount of time it takes to enjoy them.
- Cut snacks into small pieces to draw out the length of time it will take to eat them, and if they drop a piece then there will be plenty more for back up!
- If the window side is a 3 person seat, give the window to the child, and sit with your partner in the middle and aisle seats so you don’t have to ask a third person to move when you need to get up to change the baby/ soothe them.
- If you are a family of 4, we found teaming up one kid per adult and sitting two in front and two behind was a good combination. It meant that the kids could be rotated when they were stroppy, they wouldn’t annoy each other, and our toddler could stand up on the seat and play peek-a-boo or kick the seat in front without annoying the passengers behind.
The most important thing to remember when travelling with kids is that kids will be kids. They don’t like to be cooped up for hours at a time and these days, most other passengers are accepting of this.
So when the inevitable tantrum or meltdown happens, grit your teeth, do your best to ride it out and try to relax. After all, a flight is a finite period and holidays await!
Happy and safe travels!