Summer holidays are upon us. For some it’s relaxing and quiet, for the rest of us... it’s travelling with children.
In order to make the experience as easy and relaxing as possible (well, slightly more relaxing than before you read this list), we’ve got together the best tips from parents who have been there and done that (and managed to enjoy the holiday along the way).
For All Ages
Arrive At The Airport Well Ahead Of Schedule
Although official airport guidelines generally suggest passengers arrive two hours ahead of their departure time for international flights, if you have small people in tow it might be best to give yourself another 30-40 minutes on top.
This allows for the slow pace of moving a group of people, along with all their suitcases (and the correct documentation). The more time you have, the less stressed you will be, and the better that is for everyone.
And if you’re getting up at 3am in the morning to get to the airport, you’ll hardly notice 20 minutes less in bed anyway...
Check In Online
Get as much of the preparation done beforehand, so that when you arrive at the airport you just need to ditch your bags and get to the gate.
Anne-Marie O’Leary, Netmums Editor in Chief, told The Huffington Post UK that with the additional time you’ve given yourself, there won’t need to be a last minute dash through security (FYI this looks much more fun in films than in reality).
Almost all airlines will allow you to check in online, or via an app, which makes the whole process so much smoother and gives you peace of mind.
Choose Night Flights
Often it can be tempting to go for the first flight of the day, as they are cheapest and you get a whole day in your destination when you arrive.
But in terms of maintaining good relations with your children (and spouse) it is much better to opt for evening flights, Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO told The Huffington Post UK.
Not only does this mean you get a whole day to pack and get to the airport, but young children are less likely to be full of energy in the evening.
When the cabin gets dark and the lights are switched off, you’re far more likely to get them asleep than early in the morning.
Take A Rucksack
Although this might seem like a small detail, especially when you have so many other bags to think about packing, it can make a world of difference when you’re trying to get through a busy airport.
Justine Roberts told HuffPost: “While it [a rucksack] isn’t the most stylish option, you can cram a lot it while keeping your hands free to juggle boarding passes, passports and carry out emergency nappy changes.”
Bring A Drink For Take-Off
We’ve already discussed how important it is to bring snacks for your children, but you will also want to bring extra liquids for your baby.
During take-off, Roberts says sucking on a bottle can help to equalise the pressure in their ears so they are less likely to be distressed. Also the recycled air in the cabin is very dehydrating and will leave your baby more thirsty than normal so take that into consideration.
Request A Bassinet Seat
We wish they did an adult version of a bassinet seat- the holy grail when it comes to flights, the cot which attaches to the plane allows your baby to stretch out and sleep without having the discomfort of arm rests and lying upright.
It helps to get to the airport earlier to make sure you can secure one at check in before they all go.
Deploy The Drinks And Snacks At The Right Moment
It’s all well and good bringing along snacks, but if you don’t deploy them at the right moment they can be as good as useless.
Anne-Marie O'Leary suggests holding off until take-off, as this is when your toddler could potentially become tetchy (especially if they have trouble with their ears) so have a handful of sweets for them to console themselves with at that moment.
Talk To Your Child About The Trip Beforehand
One of the most irritating bug bears for other passengers about flying with children is loud noise and kicking the back of their seat.
Luckily most toddlers won’t have long enough legs to reach the person in front, but before the trip it is worth explaining what is going to happen - even using soft toys to demonstrate.
Tell them that they won’t be able to run around and will have to remain as quiet as possible - that way they aren’t going to get a shock when they have to sit still for four hours.
A Buggy Is Worth It
Although it sometimes seems it would be easier to ditch the buggy at check in and travel light, little legs have a tendency to get tired at the most inconvenient moment.
“Even the most confident walker can get irritable traipsing around airports and walking at toddler place can be somewhat taxing after a while, especially if you need to run to the gate,” says Justine Roberts.
Take a collapsible buggy that you can hand over as you step on the plane.
Suck Up To Fellow Passengers
If all else fails take along a little party bag with ear plugs and sweets so your neighbours can join in the fun too...
Alternatively just keep things in perspective and remember: you’ll only be with them for a couple of hours before you never have to see them again!
*Cue maniacal laugh*.