Traveling with your family this holidays season? Keep reading for our best tips on traveling with kids.
“You can take them anywhere and keep them happy as long as you create a comfortable environment for them and keep them on their routine.” – NYTimes
Today’s kids are true global citizens. Not only is this generation inter-connected through social media and the Internet, but a huge amount also enjoy the real and tangible experience of travel. Whether it is by car, bus, boat, train or plane, traveling with kids is becoming the norm. It is not uncommon for a toddler to have completed twenty flights before he or she turns two years old. Nevertheless, traveling with kids will never be the same as traveling solo. A lot of parents dread the thought of their kids in a confined space for a long period. Just the thought of a toddler’s jet lag and relentless activity in a foreign land is enough to put most people off.
So how on earth can you ensure that traveling with kids is the smoothest experience for everyone involved!?
Flight Times: A good place to start is choosing the right time of day to travel. For flights try and book the earliest slots to avoid delays or travel complications. These flights are normally less crowded. Ideally short flight times that coincide with your kid’s naps are great, but of course don’t count on it.
Seating: For long haul, night flights are a good option, so you and your child will ideally sleep for the majority of the flight. Book early for preferential seats and bassinets for babies. Make sure your children are ‘locked in’ to the middle and window seat so they don’t get up and run into the food and beverage carts without getting past you! And, if it’s a long flight, it isn’t a terrible idea to have Mummy and Daddy a few rows apart so you can alternate shifts! If you are lucky enough to fly business or first class, then do it! The extra space and service is a godsend.
Packing: If you have small children, call ahead and check what can be provided at your destination (cribs, formula, high chairs, car seats, etc…). Another alternative is to go online and order supplies directly to the hotel in advance. If not, then stock up (remember your kids have baggage allowance too!) on items you might not be able to find abroad. Also consider investing in a lightweight travel cot – try Nunaor Doc a tot, and a lightweight stroller – tryBabyzenor Doona. If you are traveling with more than one small child, ideally there will be two adults so you can each carry one. If you are on your own then consider carrying your smallest child in a baby carrier so you are hands free to wrangle the other one.
Security: Choose shoes and jackets that are easy to slip on and off for security (for both you an your kids). Pack all of your kids supplies in a bag with liquids and any tablets on top, so they’re easy to take out. Be sure all of your own supplies and important documents, phone etc. are in a small cross body bag so you are hands free. Traditional handbags when carrying children can end up being a real annoyance.
Incase of Emergency: For in-flight supplies, never underestimate the risks of delays and lost luggage. They should not just see you through the flight, but to your final destination too. Perhaps there is a long car ride to your hotel? Bring enough food, water, change of clothes, wipes, diapers and a mini first aid kit to see you through for two days. Don’t forget the change of clothes for you too (and a plastic bag to put them in); an extra pair of trousers/leggings and a t-shirt just in case you get caught in the line of fire from your toddler!
Snacks: For breast milk check ahead with the airline for the amount you can bring. If your child is on formula, make sure you stock up on mineral water once you are through security. Non-spill sippy cups like Munchkinare great for travel, as are bottles with fully sealed lids (if you are bringing breast milk you’ll want to prevent any leaking due to air pressure). Easy access food like Ella’s Kitchen pouchesand Organix snacksare fantastic for healthy on-the-go snacks, as is a trusty banana. Try and avoid high sugar snacks unless you want your child to go nuts in flight. Make sure kids stay hydrated during and after the flight.
Soothe: If they have a pacifier, special blanket or toy, don’t forget to pack them. For babies, look into investing in ‘Skybaby’, a little roll mat that allows your baby to lie on your lap, safely strapped in, so you are hands free. Holding a baby even for a short haul can give you significant arm ache. Jetkid’scater for older kids, with their ride on ‘bedbox’ transforming their seat into a little bed – a lifesaver for long haul flights. Try and time your baby’s feeding with take off and landing; the sucking will help prevent any irregularity in their ears from air pressure or try using a pacifier.
Photographed Above: Ipad, $330.00 at Apple.com. Panama Marshall Travel Wallet, $495.00 at Smythson.com; Doc-a-tot, $195.00 at docatot.com; Jetset Travel Kit, $50.00 at Aesop.com; Sleep Drops, $ at Thenueco.com; Jetlag Recovery Mask, $48.00 at SummerFridays.com; Ella’s Kitchen Snacks at Ellaskitchen.com; Doona Stroller, $500.00 at Shopdoona.com
In flight Entertainment: Getting on a plane will keep most toddlers enthralled for all of five minutes, so don’t forget to pack something else to keep them entertained. If your kids are old enough to sit quietly and watch a tablet or smart phone, make sure they are fully charged with interactive apps, movies and shows (bring an extra charging pack just in case.) Another thing that is helpful are headphones and a splitter if your kids need to share. Stickers, crayons and wipe clean activity books are also great, as are new toys and books.
Jetlag: Wondering how to beat the jet lag? A shift in your kids bedtime by 15-20 minute increments 3 days prior to travel and stretching bedtime with no naps once you arrive is recommended. If it is a major time zone shift then consider a pit stop layover along the way so your family can adjust. You could also try Melatonin or Children’s Benadryl to help aid with sleep, but speak to your Pediatrician first. Lastly, if your kids are old enough, prep them on what to expect with jet lag, the symptoms and how different time zones work.