Travelling with Tots
Planes, Trains & Automobiles!
Many people have the summer holidays booked, but travelling with younger children always require planning and a whole lot of distraction! As the aim is to get to our holiday destination sane and happy and ready to enjoy the break as a family, it’s important that the journey and adventure is well-planned so it can go as smoothly as possible, making a huge difference for everyone.
Based on feedback and questions from our parents, we asked our parent coach, Aoife Lee, to share her pointers on how best to plan ahead when travelling with tots.
Travelling by plane – some helpful tips
Aisle Seats – Although most airlines allow families to board first, it’s a good idea to pre-book aisle seats, mostly for easy access to allow small children move around during the flight and take trips to the toilet. Be prepared to do a certain amount of walking up and down the aisles!
Children’s Luggage – Some parents find that the wheelie school bags are great for children to wheel themselves. The bags are not too big for the younger ones to pull along in the airport but a good size to pack enough to entertain them and a change of clothes in case of accidents, spilt drinks or warm weather at the other end! The idea of having their own bag is excitement in itself for children who are old enough to pull them! We all know the discomfort of a fully packed nappy-changing bag over our shoulder, and the frustration of trying to keep it from slipping while pushing the buggy. Many parents find packing the toys, snacks, nappies & wipes into an adult rucksack a great help. It’s also easier to store this bag (instead of the usual roller carry-on suitcase) under the airplane seat in front of you so that you’ve got easy access to grab the essentials when you need them during the flight. Make sure to bring your child’s nap time essentials – comforter, soother and blanket, making it as easy and familiar as possible, to doze off comfortably.
A Bag of Tricks – Before travelling, take a trip to your local Euro shop to pick up ‘never seen before’ bits and pieces – you will find a great assortment of sticker books, crayons, toy cars, miniature dolls, pocket size books and fun flash cards. Spending a little bit on these treats before the journey will save you from buying overpriced items in the airport of stations, the more of a novelty the better, as children are always excited to have a new present to open and play with. They also come in handy as a distraction during long delays and waiting times. My top tip is to avoid the noisy toys – I once made the mistake of packing a very noisy set of kiddie’s car keys, they swiftly went back into the bag for the sanity of other passengers until our arrival!
Feeding during take-off and landing – Whether you bottle or breastfeed, allowing your child to feed on taking off and landing is a very comforting way to help their ears pop or adjust to the change in air pressure. For older children, you might like to have a supply of chewing sweets or a lollipop which will also help relieve any discomfort for their ears, and is of course an extra sweet bonus. For the toilet trained toddler, try to bring them to the toilet about 30 minutes before landing, as you don’t want to be caught in a long queue at passport control to “I need to do a wee”!
Slings and Buggy’s – A lightweight carry on buggy which can be taken on the plane free of charge is a must have item of luggage to bring with you, especially when there is a lot of walking to do at the airport. You will most likely need it as soon as you arrive at your destination as well. Some airports now provide complimentary buggies to help parents move their family throughout the terminals, so check online to see if you can avail of this service at your departure or destination airport.
Snacks & drinks – Again, preparation of food ahead of time is key to saving time and money, more so for the plane and train so you can supervise. Prepare some pots of fresh and dried fruit, crackers, batons of cheese and veg, pouches of fruit. Pre-cooked meals that can be enjoyed cold, like pasta, vegetables and sandwiches are always a winner while en-route. Sports cap bottles are one of the best travel companions as they not only quench the thirst but most are spill proof – so no mess!
Travelling by Car or Train
Plan around naptimes – If your baby or toddler has a routine nap time; try to take advantage by ideally scheduling your trip when they are likely to sleep. This can make the travel time easier and more comfortable for everyone. When you are travelling by car occasional stopping to stretch the legs, for trips to the toilet and some fresh air can help break up the journey for both parents & children.
Audio Books for the car – There are some really great classic stories that the children love to listen to on a journey, maybe even their own favourite bedtime story with sound effects & music, one of our family favourites is The Gruffalo and at this stage we all know this one off by heart! But have you thought of mixing up the stories and music with some of the parents’ requests? It’s amazing how much our children enjoy the grown up tracks too as well as learning to share the entertainment along the journey!
Toy storage – create a space like travel pouches that you can hang on the back of the front seats to store all the children’s travel friendly toys; these are handy not only for distraction but also for ease of access. Remember that the bag of tricks works well here too, anything new and different is a novelty that will most likely hold their interest!
Remember, whatever the journey, a little planning and preparation goes a long way and will ease those unexpected stresses!
Aoife Lee from Parent Support is parent Coach for Giraffe Childcare.
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