The thought of flying with a little one is scary so here are our tips on making it a little easier.
We’ve asked families with kids of varying ages for their tips and tricks:
* Georgia took her first flight at 3 weeks old and has been to South Africa, Turks & Caicos, Spain and France a couple of times.
* Martha’s parents have definitely not let having a baby stop her travelling, they travelled long haul numerous times in her first year. Bali, West Coast of USA and Malaysia just to name a few.
* Freddie is now 9 and a seasoned flyer having been to both East and West Coast of USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and all over Europe.
For mums (and some dads), the holiday starts long before even getting to the airport. Packing…. What to take, and how to get it all in a suitcase. A few tips on packing. Make sure you are aware of your luggage allowance, some airlines include 20kgs while others 23kgs. Some airlines like Emirates offer a very generous 30kgs. If you know how much you have its easier to be ruthless and only pack what is needed. Do research and find out what you can buy in destination. Do they sell the same brand of nappies / formula etc where you’re going as those are the things that take up a lot of space / weight and if they can be purchased abroad, its one less thing you need to worry about. Dont forget to pack a few for the arrival day (or if you’re delayed) to make things less stressful on arrival.
This may sound silly but start making a list as soon as you think of something and add to it whenever you think of something else. This way when you finally start packing you wont forget anything. Have your kids carry some of their own things. Freddie loved his Skiphop wheelie with his toys in. There are also other great options like Trunki, Bed Box etc, depending on your little ones age.
For your hand luggage, make sure you have a bag for the overhead storage with toys, change of clothes etc but keep a small carry bag under the seat in front of you with essentials so that you don’t have to keep getting your bag down. We recently reviewed the StorkSak cabin carry-on. It’s large, on wheels and has a removable organiser that can be hung up and used without unpacking ! Genius.
Ok, so you’re packed… now its time to get to the airport. The thought of being at the airport with loads of time to spare is daunting as you are just adding time onto your journey. It is recommended to get to the airpot 3 hours prior to departure and in my experience when travelling with a baby, get there 3 hours before. Airport meet and greet parking is definitely helpful as you just drive up, hand your keys over and they park and keep your car for your return. Dont forget to take your car seat out if you’ll be using it on the other end.
You’re now at the airport and have checked in your bags, car seat, buggy etc. Dont forget a luggage protector for your car seat/buggy if you’re checking it in. Whilst we’re on the topic of buggy’s – have you seen the new collapsable strollers that can be taken on board? We reviewed the Babyzen Yoyo and the Mountain Buggy Nano a while back and they are excellent. There are a few different options in the market now ranging between £130 and £350.
Another great option is a baby carrier / sling. If you want to check your buggy / stroller in, this option is perfect. One of the main benefits of a carrier is you have your hands free. You will still have to remove your baby and sling before going through security.
Getting through security is the bit that will hold you up. You are allowed to take any amount of baby food/milk needed for the journey which can often be above the 100ml liquid allowance. This means it all needs to be searched and scanned separately. For older kids this can be quite a fun time as they enjoy seeing their bag on the x-ray machine and having to walk through the scanner. Some airports will allow you to fast track if you are travelling with a little one, so its always worth asking.
Once you’re through security, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You’re almost there.
Now to find something to keep your little one busy until boarding. Some airports have dedicated Family Facilities which are worth looking into before you travel. Heathrow airport have stay and play areas which are great for tiring your little ones out before boarding. Airport lounges are also a good idea to get out of the busy terminal and relax with a complimentary drink and snack. Giving your little one a good meal before the flight is a great idea, just incase they dont like what they’re serving on board.
children’s play structure in Terminal 2 departure lounge on the first day of operation of the new Queens’s Terminal, Heathrow Airport, Hillingdon, London, England, United Kingdom
Its finally time to board ! Yay, for toddlers and older kids, this is exciting – the time has finally come. If you’re travelling with babies / toddlers you are able to board the plane first to give you time to get settled.
If you are travelling with a baby, you can reserve the bulk head seats which are at the front of the cabin and have a bassinet if your baby is still small and light enough. Each airline has different weight limits so check before booking. This is great as you dont have to keep your little one on your lap for the entire flight. I would recommend reserving these seats at the time of booking as they are subject to availability.
Please remember that during turbulence (or any time the seatbelt sign is illuminated), you have to put your little ones back on your lap and secure the infant seatbelt. This normally happens just as they’ve finally fallen asleep too! If they aren’t using the bassinet you also have extra legroom which is definitely needed.
For older children that have their own seat, there are some great products out there that extend the seat and make flying a bit more comfortable for them. If you’re on a day flight, try and reserve them a window seat so that they have something to distract them, even if its only for 5 minutes. Dont forget to pre order your children a special kids meal. This can be done upto 48 hours prior to departure directly with your airline / travel agent or online.
There is a debate between the mums i’ve asked regaring what they feel is better, a day flight or a night flight. I think it depends on your children, their ages and sleeping patterns. I personally would recomment night flights all the way as Georgia sleeps well on the plane, even when lying on me. A friend who has a 5 and 7 year old swears by day flights. You know your child and what is going to work best for them.
Toys, Activities, Games and Books – the more the merrier! Kids get bored quickly so having a few new toys / activities that you can introduce when they start getting bored is great. Sticker books are a great idea too. We tried out the Keep ’em Quiet travel pack which is excellent. If they are old enough to use headphones a fully loaded tablet with their favourite films on is a winner ! Most airlines have a childrens section but if not, you can buy a case for your tablet with a valcro strap that fits perfectly over the tray table. It also works around the headrest in the car ! I got mine from Amazon.
Take off and landing can be a stressful for parents because we’re worried about our little ones ears. Breast feeding or drinking out of a bottle / sucking on a dummy can help babies whilst sucking on or chewing a sweet can help with older ones. If your little one uses a dummy – definitely get a dummy clip, and pack a spare incase it goes missing. Its amazing how things can just disappear down the side of the seats on a plane.
The best advice I can give you, is to make flying an adventure – the older your children get the more they will love flying and having a baby shouldn’t mean you need to stop travelling. We live in a day and age where there are SO many gadgets out there that make flying and travelling with a little one easy, enjoy it and your little one will too.
Now sit back, relax and remember, once the flight is over, you have this to look forward to….