Travel with kids without losing your mind
Travelling with kids especially babies and toddlers can be stressful. My children are twelve, ten and six now so I get it, but don’t let it stop you from going on that far and away destination you’ve always dreamt of. Maybe I was a bit crazy going to Mauritius when my youngest was two but I’m so glad I did. After almost thirteen years of being a mother who loves to travel, I’ve had a lot of highs and lows. And now that my youngest is six it’s like all the drama and tears never happened. But they did, and you know what, we managed alhamdolilah. And we kept going on holiday again and again like the year before never happened. Below I’ve got my top tricks, hacks and advice on how to travel with kids without losing your mind.
If you’re travelling on a budget airline then know that you’re going to need to be more prepared. No free drinks or snacks or kids meals on the plane. These will need to brought from home or the airport. Also the entertainment system will be crap or non-existent. My favourite airlines for child-friendly travel are Emirates and Virgin, with British Airways, Qatar Airways following closely behind. Emirates have the BEST entertainment system and give goodie bags to the kids as well as take a photo of your child for you to keep. Obviously these airlines aren’t always ideal or affordable but they really do make the journey more fun than tiresome.
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Pain in the backside but we all have to go through it. The bottom line is your baby/toddler has to be taken out of the buggy whilst going through security. Like anyone would strap a bomb on a baby!? There is no way of getting out of this, if you have a pram/stroller/pushchair you have to fold it up and put it on the conveyor belt. I’ve had to take a sleeping toddler out of the buggy once and was very, very cheesed off about it, so was the baby. Make sure the baby is not sleeping because trust me they’ll wake up and cause chaos because they’re tired as they’ve been woken up! Also don’t get in the queue when there’s a family with a buggy in front — they take ages folding and unfolding the damn thing which then means you have longer to wait.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
This doesn’t really need explaining but keep their favourite snacks with you for bribes and unexpected delays which let’s face it, happens pretty much most of the time. Also don’t forget to book them kids meals if the airline offers this. Although you can order ‘Muslim’ meals so that the food served is halal, the ‘kids meal’ may not be halal. It depends on the airline but I do know that all British Airways flights out of Heathrow serve halal meat by default. (please double-check yourself as this is subject to change).
Might seem obvious, but I kid you not I did not pack spare clothes for my daughter who was six on a nine-hour flight to Saint Lucia. Why? Because I had a two-year-old daughter in tow so my focus was all on her. Whilst landing, my 6-year-old threw up everywhere. We were travelling with Virgin who were super nice about it and gave her an adult size pyjama set which looked ridiculous on her but at least she wasn’t covered in vomit. The reason she vomited was because she over ate and didn’t move for nine hours. Which brings me to my next tip. (Now I tell all three to pack a spare outfit in their hand luggage themselves).
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Move around on the flight
Let them take a walk every two hours or so to stretch their legs and digest food because of what happened to me as detailed above. After all the over snacking, they’ve probably eaten more than they should have.
Protect the ears
Take off and landing can cause kids, especially babies immense pain and they cry and cry. The best solution is to give them their dummy or milk bottle and if they don’t take them then a lollypop. For older kids, boiled sweets work too. I’ve always done this on my mother-in-law’s advice and have never had a crying baby during take-off and landing. You could also give them Calpol when you’re boarding the plane but I do not advocate giving drugs for this reason. Really I don’t!
Pack everything you could possibly need, because when you go abroad it’s a pain to look for look for basic meds that we take for granted. Once we forgot to pack the Calpol and needed it when were in Dubai. In the pharmacy they sold their own branded paracetamol which does not taste as good. Fact. All these meds in the photo were used within the first three days of our holiday to Bali. From high fever, to infected bites to heatstroke..my poor kids suffered it all!
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Don’t forget your screens & chargers — Believe it or not my kids don’t have tablets and we rely on the airlines entertainment to keep them entertained. As mentioned above when flying budget airlines, there is no entertainment system so you need to bring your own. Tablets, phones, gadgets and their chargers. My kids always used to love those kiddie magazines you get from the newsagent. Like those Cbeebies one or a Peppa Pig one? Buy these before you get to the airport as the selection at the airport is limited and overpriced. There’s usually a plastic toy attached to the front which should keep them occupied for about five mins. Also bring a pack of cards for delays or worst still dreaded cancellations!
It does get easier. Once they get to five or six they really enjoy travelling, especially having their own little backpack. When it comes to travelling with kids always remember it’s the destination that matters, not the journey!
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you when travelling with kids?