Flying with a little one made easy… or should I say, easier!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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….

KeepEmQuiet – The ultimate Travel Entertainment pack for kids !

I have seen a few posts about these bags and as I’m always looking for things to make travelling with kids easier, I got in touch with KeepEmQuiet and they sent me a bag to review on our recent trip to France.

I requested a girls pack, and this is what I received:

This pack retails for £16.99 (Long trip pack) and had snacks, toys, sticker books, a puzzle, magic painting book, a colouring book with crayons and a story book. 9 entertainment items and 4 snack items. Very good value I thought. I love how you are able to almost personalise your pack by choosing from not only Boys and Girls, but 3 age groups (1-3, 3-5 and 5-10 years) as well as the length of the journey (short, medium and long). Prices range from £10.99 up to £16.99.

Georgia loved the tiger and as she’s very into stickers at the moment, these were a god send. Our flight was 1h40 and this kept her busy for the majority of the flight which meant I could read my book and dad could catch up on some Netflix – winning !

When you check out you’re asked if you want a second pack for the return journey, which is clever. As our flight was only 1h40, our pack had enough for both the journey there and back. I kept some of the books/toys separate and gave them to her on the way back so it was all new for her too.

I normally spend a fair amount of money getting things to keep Georgia occupied during flights, so for £16.99 I felt like this travel pack was really good value for money.

These packs aren’t only great for flying, they’re perfect for car journeys too. Any journey where you’re racking your brains for things to keep your little ones busy – get yours here.

Joie – Pact Lite !

‘Loaded with lots of extras, without lots of weight, this buggy makes one less piece of luggage to fuss over – wherever your travels take you.’

joie4.jpgWe tested out the Joie Pact Lite on our recent trip to the airport, here’s how we got on:

The biggest pro about this stroller is its size/weight when folded up! At only 5.5kg I could carry it on one shoulder at the same time as carrying Georgia. It also takes up hardly any space in the boot.

The Travel bag is really handy and keeps the stroller clean. It’s also a great place to keep the rain cover together with the stroller in the event of rain.

The fold mechanism is simple and can easily be done one handed. There is a button on the handle bar that you press to get it all started. Other strollers like this we’ve reviewed require two hands to collapse, so this is a big win!

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It was very easy to push even with Georgia it it. She seemed comfortable and loved having the bumper bar to hang toys off. I felt she was secure because of the 5 point harness.

The Pact Lite comes in a choice of 4 colours and are not only perfect for travelling, they’re great on days out too. I used this instead of my every day buggy the other day. It was a lot quicker and easier to get in and out of the car. It was great in the supermarket as it has a large basket too. The canopy isnt huge so could be a slight issue on a sunny day. I wouldn’t recommend this stroller for ‘off-roading’ and it wasn’t great on cobbled streets.

I will be taking the Pact Lite on our next trip into London, these strollers are perfect when travelling on public transport where space is not in abundance.

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The only slight negative I found was that the  back rest, even at its highest level, is very reclined. Georgia is very inquisitive and kept pulling herself up on the bumper bar to see out in front of her.

joie21We have also tested the Pact Lite on a friend’s baby who is younger (16 weeks). This stroller is suitable from birth due to the lie flat reclining seat so perhaps it’s better for smaller babies as she seemed very comfortable in it.

Available to buy from John Lewis at £140.00 this is a mid-range buggy. As standard, you receive the carry bag and rain cover too.

Babyzen Yoyo+ pushchair review – Baby’s very own stylish travel system is just a delight for travel and city fun.

The BabyZen Yoyo+ is a multi-award winning pushchair that ‘converts in a flash into hand luggage dimensions’. Ideal from birth it comes in a variety of colours and weighs between 6.2 and 6.6kg, depending on the version.


For babies from birth Babyzen Yoyo+ comes with a flat carry cot with a 3-point harness and lies parent facing. Moving to 6 months using the same frame the fabrics are swapped and baby then faces the world. The backrest can be reclined to 145 degrees and has a 5-point harness.

The Babyzen Yoyo+ also has car seat adapters, a shopping basket and storage pouch and boasts an ultra-padded seat, 4-wheel suspension, canopies for solar protection and rain covers.

Could this be the best travel all-round pushchair on the market?

At the end of 2016 we were fortunate to be given a Babyzen Yoyo+ to review. We sent it off with the Hufford family to South Africa and here is how it faired…

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Reviewer: Bronwyn Hufford WITH baby Georgia #HolidayTotsandGeorgia

The Babyzen Yoyo+ is in my opinion, a really good quality product. After three weeks of travelling, three flights, different terrains – it is still like new and even withstood a red wine spill, with the wine just running off due to the coating.

We found it extremely easy to use. It does what it says on the box and after travelling with my normal pram/travel system – this was a godsend. It folds up small enough to fit in the overhead locker which was amazing as you knew the baggage handlers weren’t going to damage it and we could put our baby in it whilst still on board, making it a quick and easy exit.

The 5-point harness is easy to use even while Georgia slept. If you need to recline the seat, you just loosen the strap at the back, and you tighten it to bring the seat back up. It comes with most well-known brand car seat adapters which is great (we did not have an opportunity to use these). It is also machine washable which is great of anything associated with a baby!

As a compact pushchair, the Babyzen Yoyo+ is amazing. It is small, compact and easy to use. We loved it whilst out and about too, on and off planes and our family were extremely impressed with it.

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The fact that we could take it on board for us was amazing, as not only could we put Georgia in it before leaving the aircraft, but we also knew no one was going to damage it. It is so easy to push and is extremely light even with baby in it. Pushing her around the airport was simple and whilst away in South Africa she even joined us on a 4-hour shopping spree a few days before Christmas. The shops were chaotic but having the Yoyo meant she was easy to manoeuvre and she was more than happy to look out at the world for hours on end – which means it must be comfy too! We did use the parasol when out and about in the sun but it was a little fiddly and tricky as you had to keep moving/bending it whilst out walking.

I love how compact this pushchair is. It is easy to push and small! Just what you need when travelling. The canopy is large which is great in the sun and when baby is sleeping. The peephole is uncovered which was a bit of a pain in the sunshine, but not a major issue as ! just put a muslin over it.

Pros:

  • Compact (First stroller that is fully compliant with IATA guidelines for cabin baggage dimensions)
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Machine Washable
  • Stylish

Cons:

  • Hard to find anything bad to say really! Not really built for rougher terrain but that’s not really what is for! If you are looking for an all-terrain pushchair they also have the Zen
  • Uncovered peephole on canopy often left sun shine onto my baby’s face and head.

Rating:

Functionality / usability – 10/10 

Aesthetics and design –10/10

Value for money –  8/10 – At approx GBP370 this is a more expensive pushchair but I feel worth the money.

Quality – 10/10

Innovativeness – 10/10

The Babyzen Yoyo+ was developed in France by five forward thinking French men who thought that families needed a more stylish travel Pishchair on the market to choose from. They also have the all-terrain Zen and a good selection of accessories for both pushchairs: footmuff in a variety of colours to go with the style of stroller you choose, car seat adapters, Parasol, Magic Stroller Bag, Babyzen cup holder, Babyzen mosquito nets and Yoyo+ travel bag.

For more details and where to buy, visit their website http://www.babyzen.com/en/

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Airline regulations when flying with young children 2016

Tots logo new2Flying with young children is a bit of a minefield, here is an overview of what to expect at three of the main UK airlines as of January 2016. Please double check with the airline websites directly for up to date information.

 

British Airways

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British Airways fly to most major airports in France, Spain and the Balearics. On British Airways flights, tickets include a snack and drink, plus an item of luggage.

  • Free seating when travelling with an infant: if you are travelling with an infant under 2 they can sit on your lap for free.
  • Sitting together: you need to book in advance to guarantee sitting together. If you are unable to book in advance British Airways say that they will try and seat you all together. If this is not possible they say they will make sure each child is seated with an adult from your group.
  • Child seats and carrycots: you can reserve a seat in advance for carrycot/child seat (long haul only) and the cots and seats are provided free of charge. For short haul flights, you can use an approved car seat with an AMsafe Child Restraint System for infants over six months old if they have a separate seat booked.
  • Hand baggage: children with their own seats have the same allowance as adults. If travelling with an infant under 2 on your lap then you can bring one bag for the items you might require during the flight.
  • Checked baggage: children have the same free checked baggage allowance. You are also able to bring a fully collapsible pushchair and one car seat, plus a bag to check in for the infant

For more detailed information visit the British Airways website family travel section

http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/family-travel/getting-ready-to-fly#freeseatwithinfant

Easyjet

easy jetWith a good coverage of Europe’s airports, Easyjet is one of the best low-cost airlines around. When travelling with young children, you are always guaranteed to be amongst the first to board the plane.

  • Boarding: Easyjet say that if you are travelling with children under 5 they will always board you early.
  • Seats for babies and infants under 2: will not be charged a full fair but will be charged a flat rate of £22 to sit on an adults lap. Booking infants their own seat can be done by contacting their customer service team and you must have an airline approved car seat.
  • How early can a child fly: babies can fly from 14 days.
  • Flying when pregnant: if you are pregnant, your return journey must be completed no later than week 35 for single pregnancies and 32 weeks for multiple.
  • Sitting together: to guarantee being seated together it is advisable to check in online as early as you can. Easyjet say on their website that if you check in late and you cannot find allocated seats together they will try and move passengers when you board the plane.
  • Baggage allowance on board: children over the age of 2 have the same allowance as adults- one piece of luggage max size 56 x 45 x 25 cm inc wheels. Flying with an infant under 2 – you can take an additional small baby changing bag no larger than 45x36x20cm which must be placed under the seat in front of you.
  • Equipment: you can take two pieces of equipment such as pushchair and car seat. Pushchairs can be taken to the boarding gate (and car seats that are suitable for aircraft) or you can check this in with main luggage. Pushchairs will be collected at the arrival airport with your main luggage so if you have a baby sling it might help for long walks.

For more detailed information visit Easy Jet Flying with children http://www.easyjet.com/en/help/preparing-to-fly/flying-with-children

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Ryanair often offers the cheapest fares available, especially during their sales. For families, they provide a “Family Extra” service with discounts on checked bags and allocated seating.

  • Separate seats for under 2s: you can book these but you must use an Amsafe CARES child restrain or a car seat with 5 point harness appropriate for use on an airplane. If you choose this options for 12-23 months they are entitled to a free 10kg cabin bag allowance plus a small second bag.
  • Car seats for older children: car seats can be used as long as it has been approved for aircraft use and has a 5 point harness. It must fit between the armrests (42.5cm) and be forward facing.
  • Pushchairs: children’s pushchairs can be taken to aircraft steps and as long as the destination airport has provisions will be available at the aircraft steps after landing. If not the pushchair can be collected at the baggage hall of the arrival airport.
  • Family Extra: Ryanair offer a family value package of 50% discounts off checked bags, allocated seating and Priority Boarding for families with children aged 2-15 when accompanied by an adult in the same booking.
  • Infant equipment: Babes in arms do not get a baggage allowance however an accompanying adult can carry a second bag up to 5kg. You can also take two items of equipment such as pushchair and car seat or booster seat etc.
  • What happens if you don’t buy allocated seating: Ryanair’s website say ‘We do our best to seat families together, however this will not always be possible. If you want to be guaranteed seats together we recommend that you purchase seats in advance’ They have a contact number or online chat if you find that your seats have not been allocated together and they will try to help.

For more detailed information visit the Ryan Air Website

https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/useful-info/help-centre/faq-overview#9-8