Travelling with a young family takes military precision. Rounding up the troops, kitting them out in holiday attire (new trainers are a holiday must, right?) and getting through the airport without tears can be a challenge, but getting the whole family together for a well-deserved family holiday makes the pain worthwhile. Even the shortest of flights can fill the hardiest of traveller with fear when travelling with a baby, but that needn’t be the case.
Here are our top tips for travelling and flying with children in tow…
Choose your flight wisely
Opting for a night flight wherever possible will make it far easier to continue your usual routine, as even the most excited toddler will drop off eventually after spending the day awake.
Early morning flights can work well if your children are usually early risers anyway but are a nightmare with kids who have a tendency to be a little cranky in a morning. If you’re travelling with very young children, save yourself time and upset by dressing them in the clothes they are to travel in (providing they are comfortable and not restrictive). This will save you dressing them at a very early hour, especially if your flight is in the early hours.
Ignore the announcements and board last
You will probably here the announcements called for families to board after First and Business Class passengers. Ignore them. Toddlers in particular don’t understand why they have to be trussed up for hours on end, so the longer they spend roaming the airport and burning off some excess energy the better.
Accept defeat when it comes to treats
We are all for healthy meals and snacks but if there is a time when you don’t need food-based tantrums, it is on an airplane. Whilst you don’t want to fill already excited kiddies with sugary sweets, turning a blind eye to the odd treat can be the difference between an uneventful flight and a tumultuous one. Let them pick their favourite treat in duty free before you board and make it clear that they will only be allowed it if they’re on their best behaviour. A little light chocolate-based bribery never hurt anyone.
Don’t ditch the dummy
Whilst we adults know to suck a sweet to avoid the painful ear popping that comes with flying, young children cannot. The change in pressure can be uncomfortable for sensitive young ears and if your child sometimes uses a dummy, now is not the time to take it away. Encourage them to suck the dummy at takeoff and around 30 minutes before landing.
Inquisitiveness is a toddler’s most charming trait but when you’re stuck in a confined space for a long period of time the constant questioning can get tiring. Fill your hand luggage with everything you can possibly think of to keep little ones entertained. iPads loaded with their favourite movies or cartoons are a favourite, as are colour books, crayons and sticker books.
Add a little novelty to proceedings but letting them pack their own hand luggage with their favourite things, perhaps even budgeting an extra few pounds for some new treats next time you are shopping. They’ll love choosing their own things just for the plane and the novelty of packing their own ‘suitcase’ for holiday will up the excitement once on board.
Ignore the haters
For many parents, the worst part of travelling with children is the look of disapproval from fellow travellers when a tantrum does occur. Bear in mind that those with children will have been through the exact same thing at some point, even though it may have slipped their minds now. Get plenty of rest yourself before you fly and make sure you’re well prepared to avoid last minute panic. If you’re tired, a screaming tantrum will seem even worse.
Not convinced? Consider an alternative
If you still can’t face the thought of flying with young children, there are plenty of other ways to getaway. Staycations here in the UK are increasingly popular and car journeys can be broken into more manageable chunks than flights. Schedule plenty of stops at services or even parks along the way, or consider breaking up the journey with an overnight stay somewhere on route.
If you are all set on a summer holiday, cruising from the UK can take you almost anywhere flying can. Cruise lines including P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have endless entertainment for kids on board, making the journey as fun as the destination.