Are we there yet!? Are we there yet!?” For many, family holidays are one of the most memorable parts of growing up. Getting up at the crack of dawn to go fishing with Dad or exploring the beach looking for shells with Mum – these are the memories that you will cherish forever.
But you’ve got to get to your destination first. We all know that being in transit with little ones can sometimes be a real struggle. They can be tired and cranky or out of control racing around the terminals. It can all be so exhausting before you have even started out...
However, holidaying with little ones need not be so hard. From keeping the kids healthy and happy, to preparing your luggage beforehand, here are our top five best tips for a less stressful vacation.
We like to think it wouldn’t happen to us but medical emergencies can and do happen overseas. Visit the doctor ahead of your trip to get all the requisite jabs and medication specific to your destination. While you’re there, ask your doctor about any pre-existing medical conditions that you or your children may have. If you want to be covered for these when you are travelling, you’ll have the option to declare these when you purchase travel insurance.
If anyone has serious allergies, aside from carrying an EpiPen, it may also be useful to carry a card stating the allergy and seriousness in the language of your destination. Special needs children should wear an identity bracelet that has the details of the child’s condition and treatment. You can purchase allergy and medical bands from Mediband.
What to ask the airline
Check with your airline in advance about baggage restrictions. On international flights some airlines will allow a lap infant to check in baby items such as a car seat or stroller.
Don’t check in your stroller unless you plan to carry your child. Most airlines will allow you to push your stroller all the way to the gate. They’ll then check it at the gate and have it waiting for you outside the plane door when you deplane. Some airlines will even let you bring a small stroller on board if there is space.
Also, if you check in a car seat – whether toddler or baby – it’s advisable to have some sort of cover to protect it from the elements during loading/unloading, such as a bin liner to stop the cloth getting damaged by rain.
Toddlers and older children will enjoy helping you choose the contents of their own backpacks. Include some activities, a couple of toys and some non-sugary food treats. That way if excitement over inflight entertainment starts to wane or flights are delayed, they have something of their own to keep them occupied.
It’s a good idea to have a spare change of clothes stored in plastic bags in your carryon bag, in case of spillage, leakage or sickness mid-flight.
Don’t forget hand sanitiser! Children touch everything and you’ll want to minimise the germs.
When you’ve got a toddler on one hip and an older child tugging on your sleeve, keeping an eye on all your luggage is an extra stress you could do without. Why don’t you try sending your baby supplies ahead of time? Babies Travel Lite is a worldwide baby supply delivery service that will send nappies, bottles and even baby food to your destination. This means one less bag to take with you on your flight or, no dashing out to a shopping centre for supplies on arrival.
Let Steam off before the flight
Provided you have packed and planned for the things guaranteed to turn any angel into a travel nightmare – boredom, hunger and excess energy included – the flight will hopefully be smoother than you think.
That said, it’s always helpful to have a few extra tricks up your sleeve!
Pack extra rations for fussy feeders that turn their noses up at airline food. Crackers are ideal, as are low-sugar muesli bars – and a packet of raisins or dried apple can keep little fingers occupied for longer than you think.
Mini-packs of play-dough can come in handy and can be used even in really cramped conditions.
You’re probably familiar with that ‘blocked ear’ feeling that can happen on flights. It’s caused by unequal pressures that develop on either side of the eardrum and can be painful for little ones with smaller ear passages.
Give your child a bottle to drink from during take-off and landing. Drinking plenty of fluids during the flight encourages swallowing which alleviates the pressure in the ears.
Other options are chewing gum, or sucking on a lolly-pop (if your child is old enough), using a pacifier, massaging the child’s ears and staying awake during take-off and landing.
For more information, check out other blogs/websites on the net.
There is plenty of advice out there on travelling with kids. Here are some of our favourites:
- Keep the kids occupied with apps: http://bestappsforkids.com/
- 20 tips for travelling with children: http://www.roughguides.com/article/20-tips-for-travelling-with-children/
- What to ask your airline before travelling: http://traveling-kids.blogspot.co.nz/2011/01/what-to-ask-airline-before-traveling_1978.html