It’s summer time again, which means a lot of families will be flying home for the holidays. It’s an exciting time of year, but not without its challenges, the first being travelling with children. No matter if it’s your first trip with your first child or your sixth with your sixth, we can all do with a few tips on how to keep the travel experience as streamlined as possible. Here are our 10 top tips for travelling with children.
Top tips for travelling with children: Before you travel
1) Book ahead
Before children you might have loved the spontaneity of unplanned travel and booking accommodation and flights at the last minute, but with children in tow it pays to book ahead. Simple things like rocking up at a hotel and finding that travel cots are not provided, or hopping on a train only to find there aren’t enough seats for you to sit together as a family can really put a downer on the travel experience.
2) Talk about the trip
The idea of travelling can be very overwhelming for children, especially if they are at an age where they understand that they will be flying in a plane. Try to discuss the trip with them in advance so that they know what to expect. Whatever you do they are going to be tired, grumpy and over stimulated, but giving them a little warning about what is in store can keep them from tipping into tantrum zone.
3) Take your time
When it comes to getting to the airport, don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Hotfooting it through the airport and arriving at the check in counter moments before it closes will not only send your stress levels into overdrive, it will leave you children feeling anxious as well. Instead, give yourself an extra hour at the airport so that you can arrive cool, calm and collected (with happy kids in tow).
4) Wear them out
Most international airports have children’s play areas where you can take your little munchkins for a run about before the flight. Dubai International Airport has a play area located in Terminal 3. There’s also the Zen Gardens, near gates B7 and B27, which is a tranquil place to rock babies off to sleep or bring an over-excited toddler back down to earth before boarding.
Travelling this summer? You might need…
Top tips for travelling with children: On the plane
5) Don’t over pack
It’s very tempting to fill your travel bag with toys, treats and changes of clothes and while all three are essential, don’t go over board. Our rule is over pack snacks, under pack toys, because children can get very irritable when they don’t have familiar food to eat. Toys are of course important too, but remember that younger children will play with anything from paper napkins to cup holders, so if you don’t have an abundance of toys it’s not the end of the world.
6) Double up on essentials
It might sound like a contradiction when we’ve just told you not to over pack, but doubling up on essentials such as pacifiers, sippy cups and muslins can be very handy, especially if one goes walkies while you’re at the airport. It happens.
7) Reward your child
Wrap up some small toys and present them to your child every half hour or so as a reward for good behaviour. Anything from a pack of raisins to a matchbox car will suffice so don’t think you have to break the bank.
Top tips for travelling with children: When you get there
8) Prepare in-transit activities
After your flight you’re likely to have a lengthy wait for baggage, followed by a lengthier car journey to your final destination. It’s a good idea to have some new in-transit activities to fill the time. Try to introduce something that they haven’t looked at on the plane, such as a new story book, a game on the iPad or some crayons and a colouring book.
9) Be prepared for the climate
It sounds obvious, but children dressed comfortably will be happier in a new environment. Whether you’re jetting to a beach destination or an alpine retreat make sure you have suitable attire for your tots to pop on at the other end.
10) Get them excited
The last leg of the journey is likely to be the most fraught as your children will be exhausted and cranky. If they’re struggling to keep it together try to distract them by talking about all the fun things you are going to get up to during the holiday. Whether it’s climbing mountains or speeding down water slides, a few little promises of fun activities will help to keep their spirits up.