Holidays are exciting but the actual travel and packing part can be really stressful for people. As a seasoned traveller for many years as a model I used to hop on a plane but kids are a game changer and the trick here is to plan, plan, plan. Here are my top ten tips for travelling with your family.
It’s so important to allow them to pack their own bags as it helps to make them feel important especially as they get older. If they have one bag to check in and a back pack that’s perfect. I find a backpack easier as their hands are free. You want to bring a variety of lightweight games and books and an IPad or similar can be a lifesaver.
We bring books, colouring, story cubes (great for the imagination) and we start with free games like I Spy, word association so like sky = cloud or the quiet game if your head needs a rest! I always keep the IPad till the bitter end.
3. CHECK IN EARLY
Check in early with kids because lets face it travelling with kids can be like a jack in the box adventure. You just never know when something is going to pop up. I always check in online at home and I use my phone for all the boarding cards. Check and double check your seats especially with a large family to make sure you are together.
If you have a baby and are travelling long haul make sure you ask for the bulkhead seats but not with older kids as the armrests don’t come up on these seats meaning you can’t lift them and stretch out which happened to me on the way to South Africa. You should be able to board first with kids and I always wait to get off last and check for all the bits and pieces. Its less stressful and you don’t have people pushing you. One of pet hates when travelling is when people stand up and rush before the door is open on the plane.
Check and double check for Passports before leaving the house. I always make a copy of our passports, flights and my driving license and put them in a separate place so I have them in case of an emergency.
5. ID BRACELETS
I always have an ID bracelet on James with all my details on it which I bought online at idme.ie
They are reusable, waterproof, you can update them and also put important medical information on them. For wobblers I would use reins or buggy as airports are busy and it only takes a second for your little one to run off.
Jetlag is a tough one if travelling long distances with kids. I would try if possible to book your flights so that the long ones are through the night. Sometimes it can be easier to break up your flights with kids on long haul and have more breaks. Many airports have play areas so use them to get rid of that excess energy before a flight. Make sure they are full before a night flight so when you board you can help them to sleep with a bottle if they are younger as you take off. My American friend who travels a lot says her golden rule is to get up early when you arrive at your destination the next day and don’t sleep in.
7. BE PREPARED
As you can encounter everything from delays to lost baggage and diversions its important to pull out your Girl Guide skills and ‘be prepared’. I would bring 2 extra sets of clothes (long-haul or babies) for each child, wipes and plenty of food in case of vomiting incidents or toilet accidents. I had both once when James was small! Staying well hydrated is important for the whole family too as travelling can dehydrate you, which can be the cause of irritability, lethargy, dry skin and scratchy eyes. Not all drinks are created equally though so stay away from sugary drinks and stick to water. To keep bugs at bay I take Dr Bronners lavender organic hand sanitizer that has none of the nasty chemicals you would find in conventional ones. \
Diapers are bulky and widely available in most countries so bring what you need and enough for the first day or two and then buy some when you get to your destination.
8. CAR SEATS
Car seats are really important and in my opinion you simply must bring your own especially for babies. The driving, rules of the road and car safety rules can be very different abroad. You can check them in and most airlines allow these on free of charge.
9. EAR TROUBLE
For take off bring a bottle, drink or gummies if the kids are older for their ears to encourage swallowing. If you are breastfeeding feed your baby for take off and landing. This worked a treat when James was really small.
Travel insurance is a must! If you are travelling in Europe make sure you have an up to date EHIC card- European Health Insurance Card but James had a bad fall last year and it cost me so I will never travel without extra insurance again especially long distance. Along with this make sure you have all the medication your family needs and don’t rely on finding it abroad locally. I always take antihistamines with me just in case. Our suitcases got robbed from our hire car on the way to Malaga airport when we pulled in for something to eat. My advice here would be don’t to pull in for food on the way from or to the airport and never leave luggage in the car!!!
Finally enjoy yourself and try and lighten up when travelling. I used to get so stressed about everything but now If I find myself getting really stressed I remind myself that most of what happens when I’m travelling is completely out of my control so just relax, breathe and be.