Travelling with kids does not need to be scary, just organized! Here are some of my tried and tested suggestions. During our last trip we traveled for 13 weeks, had 10 flights, 14 different accommodations, visited 6 countries, 3 different climates with a mother-in-law, a 4 year old and a 2 year old.
Sharing Clothes and Packing efficiently.
Instead of packing clothes in a “shared” suitcase, use an Ikea toy organizer to separate daily clothes. Whilst this is not “space-efficient” it does make it so much easier finding clothes. Simply hang it in the wardrobe of your hotel. This is especially great if you are moving hotels every few days as we were.
I packed different climate clothes in a recycled clear blanket bag
We took enough clothes for 5 days straight and I took soap powder to hand wash clothes. Keep in mind that hotel rooms don’t always have fresh air (open window) only air vents which makes the humidity in the rooms high and hard to dry. We had a hire car which was great for drying out a pair of Jeans or a Jumper. You can also take them out for the day and hang them on your stroller. (1 item at a time unless you want to look like a crazy person). Make sure your clothes are lightweight and easy to dry for summer holidays. You can use board shorts for kids which dry fast and take up little to no room in your bags. Silk and satin also work well for woman as they dry fast and roll nicely.
Night Flights are not always best.
Unless your night flight is the same length as your children’s regular sleeping pattern then don’t choose them. We learnt this travel lesson the hard way. Imagine an 8 hour night flight. Firstly unless they are totally exhausted they will not sleep for the first hour of the flight as they will be excited and the plane will be noisy as it serves evening refreshments. That’s first hour lost. Down to 7 hours now. Finally you get them to sleep (without medication) and they are snug as a bug sprawled out all over your head, face and lap and you realize you can not move for the remaining 7 hours. (Make sure you go the toilet first).
Don’t worry because you lose another hour and 1/2 as they generally start serving breakfast with a bang and a clanker and turn on those nasty bright lights to ensure you are jolted back into the correct time zone. Even if your amazingly sound sleeper stays asleep they will have you correct the seat position, sit them up and fasten the seat belt tightly for the descent which is sure to wake them. But wait it gets better! They have now only had around 5 1/2 hours of sleep, probably haven’t had their breakfast and still too groggy to walk. This is where hand luggage choices become important as you need to be hands-free.
If you are picking a night flight make sure it is 10+ Hours, if possible.
Cute Kids Luggage
Sure it looks adorable but will your child carry or pull it along for approximately 5.2 mins before handing it to you? This also goes for teddy bears and dolls. Unless you can use it as your own hand luggage (comfortably and hands free) then forget it. If your child is attached to a teddy consider buying something small (pocket size) a few months leading up to the trip and get them used to their “travel teddy” before you leave.
Activities for the plane
We used a hanging travel bathroom bag for our “Activity” bag.
In this bag we had the following items to keep our kids occupied: a small note pad each, some coloring sheets (torn from larger books and folded) and some themed stickers for drawings. The bag simply hangs onto the back of a chair, making it easy to open.
My younger child also included a small toy car (plastic and lightweight) and 1 plastic toy soldier. You will be amazed how little they need. You will also find you accumulate small trinket stuff along the way.
McDonalds toys for example are usually compact, do something interesting and are some what disposable when your child loses interest. Take advantage of free kids packs where ever you go, even if you have your own pens and colors the novelty of new will make the activity last longer. If you have a long layover – add a few balloons to this packet and use it in the airport for some catching and chasing games. We also had a small activity bag with pens and paper for inside the Hotel and added any trinkets they brought along the way for playing. The Airplane activity bag remained in the hand luggage
Hand Luggage. It consisted of a Medical bag, Clear Bag, Snack Bag, Clothes Bag. We also wore Scottevests. (Read more)
We carried 2 hand luggage pieces. These were pull along backpacks
I placed them into a large snap lock bags
I also carried an “in-flight medical bag”. This included pain relief for everyone (2-4 tablets each), toothbrushes and mini paste, moisturizer, plastic bag for vomiting or soiled clothes and mini hand soap
The “Snack Bag” contained: Disposable spoons and forks, Muesli bars, dry cereal, fridge free cheese and crackers and some trail mix bags for low GI and high protein. I also had some small mini packets of biscuits to keep the kids occupied if stuck in a queue or picky between meals. I also carried a UHT milk for my youngest, but this was kept in the “clear bag” for security.
I carried 1 tinned 12 mth + baby pasta food. This was if our kids missed a meal at anytime we could feed them straight away until we found fresh safe food. We also made sure we accumulated stuff along the way, peanuts off the plane, biscuits from hotel room etc. Mini UHT milks. These were added to the “Snack bag”. I had extras of everything in the main suitcase. The snack bag also contained small snaplock sandwich bags for adding left over sandwiches or muffins in from restaurants, this also came in handy when we had to rush for a flight and the kids were still eating their dinner. It got bagged up so they could eat it as we walked or ran.
Also in the hand luggage was: baby wipes, straws for drinking out of big cups, 4 disposable paper coffee cups with lids (great for kids drinks on the move and hot coffee when you have a child sleeping on you). Small packet of tissues, A boba Baby Carrier
The second hand luggage contained the passports, ipad, camera, laptop and other such stuff and this bag became the “Day Bag” when we left the hotel each day.
“The Day Bag”
The day bag contained spare clothes for the kids, cardigans, rain coats if applicable and a mini snack bag : containing muesli bars left over breakfast muffins etc. I also had a “Day medical” bag which was a mini snap lock bag with pain medications, empty bag and band aids, hand sanitizer and some pens and paper for drawing in a restaurant or queue.
Pajamas: leave your sexy nightie and tiger boxers at home. The best pajamas are the ones that don’t look like pajamas. This allows you to go down to the foyer with a unsettled child, to go and fetch milk or late night snacks from the corner store without looking like a travelling weirdo. You can also run for a plane in your pajamas. Same thing for the kids, pajamas should look acceptable as day clothes. We used leggings a lot which I bought off E-Bay. If I knew we were catching an early flight or train I would dress the kids in their actual clothes and socks ready for the next morning. Always pack the bags the night before.
Travelling with babies
When we traveled with our babies (few years ago now) we used bottled water and did not heat our bottles unless we were in the hotel. We also used self sterilizing bottles
These are our tips. What are your top tips when travelling with kids?
Make air travel with kids less stressful by booking with child-friendly airlines, checking in early at the airport, and ensuring flying safety.
While it’s true that flying with kids can be daunting, it is perfectly manageable if parents plan their flights well. The following are three important air travel tips for parents of young children.
Book with Child-Friendly Airlines
Book the flight in advance. There are so many ways to do it these days – through the travel agent, airline ticketing office, or the Internet. Check airlines’ websites for policies and information on flying with babies or small kids. How child-friendly an airline is will be reflected in the information given. Information to look out for includes the availability of:
Baby bassinets. If there is a baby on board, do pre-book a baby bassinet way ahead as there are very few seats with bassinets on most planes.
Baby or child meals. Ask about the meals for children during the flight. Babies get baby food in jars while older children child-size portion of solid food. Parents who prefer to give their babies their usual brand of baby food should bring their own supplies.
Diaper changing table. Check if the airline provides diaper changing tables in selected toilets on the plane or if there is a place that parents can use for that purpose.
Once parents are happy with the services of a particular airline, book the flight. Don’t wait until the last minute as seats with child-friendly conditions is limited. Be sure to confirm the flight a few days before the departure date.
Check-in Early at Airport
All air travelers should make an effort to check-in early at the airport, especially with kids in tow, and if there are connecting flights. Early check-ins allow passengers to choose their seats and ensure that the family is not split up and forced to sit in different corners of the plane. Look out also for fast lanes at customs and immigration checkpoints for families traveling with young kids.
At the airport, encourage the kids to behave well by letting them have a favorite stuff animal, buying them a new small toy, or feeding them properly first before arriving at the airport. Be nice and polite to the airport staff and other passengers. They are more likely to help families with young children or even let the little ones jump the queue when everyone is at his best behavior!
Ensure Flying Safety
Ideally, young children should be strapped in a flight harness approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES) is a flight harness that parents should invest in if they frequently fly with young children weighing 22 lbs to 44 lbs. However, do note that this kind of child restraint may not be allowed on non-US airlines, in which case parents should adhere to local regulations for securing the child through the use of a belly belt during take-offs, landing, or air turbulence.
Additionally, parents should pay attention to the safety demonstration done by flight attendants before the plane takes off and read the flight safety brochure provided. Parents may also want to print out a copy of the FAA’s Childproof your Flight brochure to learn more about flying safety.
In essence, early planning is crucial before and when flying with young kids. Some very useful air travel tips for parents include booking with a child-friendly airline, checking in early at the airport, and ensuring flying safety.