Many people often see having children as the start of a new chapter in their lives; swapping late night parties for Disney films and romantic restaurants for more family-friendly establishments. Despite all this, there is one thing that shouldn’t have to change when you welcome a new family member into the world, that is your desire to travel. All too often we hear stories of people that ‘should have done it before the kids’ or ‘we’ll have to wait until the kids leave home’ and we think this definitely should not be the case. Granted, some compromises may have to be made, but having children should not mean that you have to put off seeing the world. In this article, we look at some of our favourite tried and tested tips for travelling to foreign destinations with children.
Check Airline Charges and Regulations
We’re all aware of just how sneaky airlines can be when it comes to hidden charges and extra costs, and this doesn’t stop just because you’re travelling with family. Airlines have varying rules when it comes to travelling with young children. Although many will offer a discounted or free fares for under 2s, some try to catch you out with other small charges. Make sure you’ve shopped around and thoroughly checked which airlines charge which fare. Also, it’s worth considering whether they offer bonus perks such as priority boarding and additional luggage.
Take Your Time
A very general tip that could be applied to anything to do with children. Be prepared to spend extra minutes (or hours) in a destination to allow for any extra time required for your children. Whether this is accounting to a tantrum or a few extra toilet stops, you can never safely rely on doing things last minute. Make sure you factor in extra time, either when travelling from A to B to when in a destination the time can quite easily get away from you.
Be Very, Very Prepared
Never underestimate just how much planning is required to execute a successful family holiday. Take it as read that there will be thrills, spills and lots of mess along the way, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Equally, expect to be caught off guard at some point as children are mightily unpredictable.
Prepare for a Change in Climate
Travelling to foreign countries will often mean a change in climate; therefore, make sure you pack accordingly for your children. If you’re heading somewhere cold, pack some snowsuits and boots, along with hats and gloves. Equally, if you’re heading somewhere warm, remember to pack clothes that will cover skin but still keep them cool. You’ll also need a sun hat to cover their head and neck, and water shoes for playing on the beach and in the sea
Pull-Ups and Wet Wipes
Tools of the trade for any prepared parents, pull-ups and wet wipes should always be close to hand in case nature calls for your little one. For older children, the pull-ups will not be necessary; however, you shouldn’t underestimate their ability to make a mess!
Tablets and Smart Phones
Although many parents start off with the best intentions of limiting screen time, it can often go out the window on a long flight. If you prepare properly, you can use the devices to your advantage, maybe even sneak in some educational apps or TV shows. If you’re planning on doing this, make sure you pack some headphones as not to disrupt other passenger’s travel.
Equip Them With a Child Locator
Young children have the potential to be the perfect travel companions! They are inquisitive and want to explore, meaning you can make the most of this intrigue by sharing experiences with them in foreign places. However, there are occasions when this desire to discover can take them out of sight, such as at a busy airport. Child locators can be strapped to a child’s shoe or clothing and send a signal to your phone, showing you exactly where they are; perfect for when they wander off during check-in!
Don’t Let Them Pack Their Own Clothes
This applies more for older children (as we assume you’ll be packing your two year old’s clothes yourself). For children, a holiday can mean many different things, and in terms of priority, suitable clothing is often far down the list. Make sure you, at the very least, help them with their packing so that they know what to take, how much to take of each item and what sort of clothing they’ll need for the trip. Children often aren’t fans of being told what to do or how to do it, so explaining to them why you’re making them take certain items, rather than just enforcing it, may make the experience easier for both of you!
Naturally, if you or your child is taking a course of medication, make sure you pack more than enough for the duration of the trip. We’d also suggest splitting the supply across separate bags so that if one is delayed or lost, then you’ll have a backup. Additionally, we’d suggest packing some paracetamol and other basic medicinal products, as children can be more susceptible to picking up bugs and illnesses in foreign countries than adults.
Avoid Dishing Out the Sweets
Although this may not always be possible, we’d suggest steering clear of sweets for as long as possible. For children that are new to flying, a tummy full of sticky and sugary treats may be the catalyst for being unwell during flight. Stick to dry, savoury snacks or fresh and dried fruit. The sugar from sweets can also disrupt a younger child’s sleep pattern meaning you arrive in your new destination with a tired and grouchy little one!
These are some of our tried and tested tips for flying with children, but we’d love to hear some of yours! Let us know if you’ve travelled with children before and what you did to ensure a pleasant experience. Our seven night experiences visiting Montenegro, Transylvania and Slovenia can all be suited to families with children who want an adventure. Equally, if you’d rather leave the kids with their grandparents and head of on a couple’s holiday, why not check out our full range of experience holidays here?