Travelling; a word which used to make you feel happy and excited. Exploring a new country, seeing new things, learn about new cultures, taste amazing food, be away from work, relax, have time to yourself and the list goes on! Those are a few things you might hope to experience when you are travelling. This was so you when you were younger and travelling was such a great experience but now it’s different. You became a parent and the thought of travelling with your child (or more than one) sounds like a big headache. The following are a few tips which might help you whilst considering whether to go on holiday and to rekindle your love for travelling after having kids.
- Take it slow – You might be used to rushing off the plane as soon as you land to avoid queues at passport control. However, now you are not on your own so it might be better to just slow things down. If children feel calm they are less likely to whine. In order to avoid long queues for check-in you may also want to check-in online. This will minimise time spent waiting at the airport and therefore you will all be less rushed.
- Keep them occupied – If your child is feeling bored, hungry or tired they will probably be cranky. Thus, make sure you pack enough food and toys to keep them busy before boarding the plane and during the flight. Pack some colouring books and crayons so that they can colour without disturbing anyone and some story books. In-flight entertainment is not always provided so you might want to put some videos or movies on the tablet. Just don’t forget the headphones.
- Easing ear pain – Babies and young children do not have the ability to equalise their eardrums naturally. Thus, their ears might hurt during landing. Give your child a bottle, breastfeed them or give them a pacifier. The sucking movement helps them with the equalising process. For older children they can chew gum or suck on hard candy to produce a similar effect.
- Planning ahead – Planning your holiday will give you a sense of control and will enable you to explain to your child what will be happening. Plan activities which will keep your child entertained and feel excited to explore new things. However, be careful not to overdo it! Children will get tired if they wake up early and spend all day running from one activity to the other. Give them some time to rest and be flexible to changing your plans.
- Tag them – You might be worried about your child getting lost. Write your name and phone number on a bracelet and attach it to their wrist or bag. Explain to them its function so that they can show it to an adult if they get lost and you can be contacted easily.
Flying with children can definitely be more stressful than flying without them. However, sharing such moments with them can be very special and you can create memories to cherish forever. So try to keep calm and remember that you will be ok. Do not forget to enjoy yourself!
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties.