Hooray for the holiday season, I think it’s safe to say that we begin counting down the days to our summer vacations just after Christmas? Am I right?
However, as much as we are excited when there is a child (or two) in tow, there is always a little hint of trepidation nestled in there too.
But take a deep breath, a sip of gin and prepare to write your ‘to pack’ list because it CAN be done.
Travel in fashion
Layers, layers, layers – dress in layers!!
It’s just logical right? You are leaving a cold, (lukewarm at best) country and probably jetting to one boasting much higher temperatures. So dressing the little loves in clothes that can be added or removed as many times as they care to change their minds if nothing short of common sense.
If your toddler is potty trained, or even if they aren’t – the on board toilet will become a really fun game! Sometimes on flights I think foregoing a child’s underwear is acceptable because I have found that it’s much easier for the countless toilet trips, and they often find them uncomfortable when sitting for long periods of time.
Hoody’s are a good choice and double up well as a pillow!
When it comes to security gates and shoes are required to be removed, the last thing you want to be caught up in is an intricate pulley system of laces or fiddly buckles. Its slip on all the way, or at least Velcro at a push.
Food as distraction
As parents, we are urged not to use food as a distraction or reward? I strongly advise these experts to get a grip and embrace travelling with a child. I’m an adult, and I still need to be distracted with food!
Travelling requires you to be in a confined space, without a chance of escaping for a few hours minimum. Then there are the queues to contend with at every conceivable turn; have you met a toddler? If the answer is ‘yes’ (as I guess it may be) then you know that toddlers do not understand or possess an ounce of patience.
Toddlers amazing, inquisitive, ever-active minds need a constant supply of stimulation and excitement – enter food and watch in awe as the toddler is fully engaged.
Obviously you need to avoid sugar at all costs, as you will see the toddler enter its natural evolution to ‘hyper’, but packing a few treats along with some nutritious snacks will go a long way. Cheese sticks, rice cakes, veggie sticks, snack bags of fruit (Asda do a great range!) along with some biscuits and the odd chocolate button and peace will reign – hooray, get the mini bottle of on flight prosecco chilling!
Variety for my drinks yes, variety for children no! For 2 reasons; fruit juice and squash is PACKED with unnecessary sugar and sweeteners which just doesn’t sit well with me. Also, any hint of something with flavour means that the entire bottle is gone in seconds and the next few hours spent in the air will be spent getting out of the seat to go to the tiny toilet, queuing for the tiny toilet or figuring out how to manoeuvre 2 people inside the tiny toilet. No thanks, boring yet hydrating plain water it is.
Where possible, planning flights that somewhat fall into ‘nap zone’ works wonders for the stress levels. Super early flights often mean a quiet flight as children want to catch up on the sleep that was rudely interrupted by the awful parents taking them away on holiday!
Overnight flights are the best option for long haul as it enables you to stick to something that resembles a bedtime routine. Baths can be replaced with a warm (tiny toilet) wash, pjs on and teeth cleaned before settling down for a bedtime story with a favourite blanket or teddy; if your child would keep it on, you can try an eye mask to block out light but the sounds of the engine are very similar to white noise and aid sleep.
Taking an overnight flight means it’s much easier to get straight into a good daytime routine in a new time zone too.
A really good tip that I was given for flying with children is to buy them a small gift that could be unwrapped each hour. Nothing extravagant, little bits from a pound shop, Tiger or Wilkinson’s is enough.
Packing and using a Trunki provides fun for little ones too.
Other essentials include colouring and sticker books, colouring pencils, reading books, and *drum roll please* a tablet or iPad. I really think that Apple should have the tagline, “Giving sanity back to mothers worldwide” – Kudos to you guys, you technological guardian angels.
As any mother to a toddler knows, tablets are an essential part of entertainment; in everyday life they are often restricted, but on a flight? Fill your boots little one, its cartoons on a tiny screen all the way (with their own headphones of course!) Even though long haul flights have on board entertainment, what if they don’t have the favourite shows? A flight without Peppa Pig, My Little Pony or Paw Patrol is passing through one destination – HELL.
Remember WiFi whilst travelling is scarce at airports and doesn’t exist in flights so download programs onto your device before you leave, or maybe opt for one that excepts SD cards or USB sticks to take even more child friendly cartoons with you! Whatever you do, ensure all devices are fully charged and take extra battery packs for peace of mind.
You will probably come across a lot of people that have opinions about why you shouldn’t travel with young children, don’t let them deter you! Parents need a break and children benefit from visiting new environments and cultures, traveling is an incredibly enriching experience! So, you may have to deal with an inflight tantrum, a minor setback in the journey to wonderful memories, bon voyage!