Travelling with a toddler can be a nightmare, an adventure or somewhere in between. Planning helps make it the best experience possible for us and our families. Here are some tips to help make it fun and smooth-going for everyone involved.
Early morning and late night flights are not ideal when travelling with small children. Book a flight which allows you and your family to arrive at the airport refreshed after a good night sleep. Do not be that family that runs all the way to the gate. Security checks can be stressful especially with young kids to carry. Prepare any baby food or liquids in a 100ml Ziploc bag. Leave on top of your travelling bag where you have easy access to it. Remember that you cannot have more than 100ml of water before you go through security so you might want to buy some before boarding.
Hydrate and make sure your child has plenty of snacks
Water and snacks are important to keep your toddler happy during travelling. Pack healthy options like granola bars, fruit slices, crackers and cheese and some chocolate. Kids love the element of surprise and preparing well beforehand is paramount. Make sure you have a bag containing everything you might need including wet wipes, nappies and tissues.
Board first, exit last
Almost every airline gives some level of boarding priority to families traveling with small children. Take advantage of it. You will have first choice of overhead luggage space and hopefully time to settle down. Make it a learning experience and explain what is happening to your child every step of the way. If you have a window seat make some time to show your little one the wonders that can be seen through your little window. At the end of the flight just accept that you have more stuff to gather than people travelling without kids so getting off last might be your best bet .
Plan entertainment and play during the flight
Arm yourself with a tablet and headphones and let your toddler see ‘Peppa Pig’ or ‘Paw Patrol’ episodes to their heart’s content. I am not a mum who usually advocates long periods of screen time, but the truth is that on a flight, with no space to run around, kids can be thrilled to see some episodes of their favourite cartoons. Also, take along a book, some crayons and paper and a small game just in case your toddler gets fed up of screen time and wants to play with you.
Don’t stress unnecessarily
Stressed parents create stressed children. Keep your calm. Don’t board a plane expecting the worse. Keep your child entertained, well-fed, hydrated and dry, and hopefully all the rest will fall into place. A small trick I have learnt while travelling with my girls, is that drinking from a bottle or chewing some food during take-off and landing can help prevent ear ache in small children. On the other hand they might cry because they are in pain or tired. Other passengers need to understand that parents travel with toddlers more than ever now-a-days and its part of the game. Maybe you can arm yourself and other passengers with earplugs if it gets too much.
Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.