Tips for Travelling with Children
While some see travelling with children as an event to be avoided at all costs, others take on the challenge and enjoy seeing the wider world through a child’s eyes. A trip to a different state or a foreign country is a wonderful opportunity to arouse their interest, educate and entertain. A child’s education should not begin and end at school. A little thought and preparation can turn the journey from hell into a memorable adventure, whether you are accompanying youngsters or teens, children or grandchildren.
Use the time leading up to the flight to explain what to expect at the airport and on the airplane. Children will need to remove coats and shoes and go through the scanner. Prepare them for the fact that seatbelts must be worn at all times on the journey in case of turbulence. They also double up as handy restraints too!
Choose your Destination
If possible choose a vacation which involves a short flight. If this is not an option, then opt for a night flight when younger children are likely to sleep. Prepare them for the trip by encouraging them to research the destination, especially if it is to another culture. Strange food, a different climate and a foreign language are all exciting things to be encountered on the first visit to a new place. Talk about different religions, strange clothing and odd-looking churches. The trip is bound to spark a thousand questions!
Choose Your Seats
The rear of the plane is recommended by airlines for those with children. Put a child between two adults if possible, or near the window to provide an added interest to the journey. The aisle seat is a bad idea as wriggling children can get knocked by the meal trolley or may decide to go for a walk while you are napping.
Use your child’s carry-on allowance to carry a blanket or favorite toy, books and quiet hand-held games. Carry a few small soft drinks, not carbonated soda, as children dehydrate more quickly than adults. These should be purchased inside the security zone of the airport to avoid them being confiscated.
Layered clothing is good as planes can sometimes be hot and stuffy. You should also make allowance for travelling between places which have a totally different climate. Wearing thick socks is a great idea so that shoes can be removed for comfort, especially as small feet may swell. Socks will keep feet clean and allow the child to feel relaxed and comfortable.
Things to do
Inevitably a bored child will be a noisy, naughty child. Spending some time playing with your children is a great idea. Take a pack of cards or a travel game and turn the flight into quality time. A portable DVD player is well worth the investment, and can be used during the flight and in the car during the holiday. Pack a surprise bag for when the child has reached the end of other amusements. Put in some new crayons, a colouring or puzzle book, a few sweets or a new DVD for the aforementioned DVD player.
Pack a few snacks in your own luggage which can be eked out during the journey and avoid paying the extortionate air prices. Plain biscuits, prepared bags of apple slices, mini-size bags of cookies and chips are a great way to keep children occupied and quiet.
Encourage a Nap
The biggest problem with children occurs when they become overtired. The flight home may be more difficult than the outward flight in this respect. Make sure that the child has had sufficient sleep the previous night, or encourage a nap before boarding the plane if you have been out late the night before.
With a little patience holiday travel with children can be an exciting adventure for all parties. Have plenty of distractions to hand and the flight should quickly pass and the vacation proper can begin. Bon voyage!