I thought it would be a good idea to write about how to have a (hopefully) successful journey to your holiday destination. We are now in August, notoriously the biggest month of the year for summer holiday travelling, when airports are packed full of families looking for some rest and recuperation (rest with young children?!).
For those of you who have travelled with young children before, you probably know what to do to prepare beforehand but I do have many of my Shannon ChildCare mums and dads asking if I can suggest any useful tips to make the journey easier and more enjoyable. Too many parents arrive at their destination frazzled or they feel they are the family from hell on the aeroplane – in the main don’t worry, you are in good company, you won’t be the first noisy family nor will you be the last. Let’s try and make it slightly easier though.
Preparation is key; so that means making sure you have packed your hand-luggage well. We are very restricted on what we can take on board now so take advantage of the number of seats you have purchased and use a bag for each. Your toddler can have a bag himself or herself for their favourite toys. I don’t love the Trunkees as more often than not you end up wheeling them yourself when your toddler point blank refuses. If you are travelling with a young baby the chances are you won’t have a separate seat for them so check with your airline the maximum capacity hand luggage and between you and your partner (or if you are travelling alone with a child) use what you are allowed, airlines are unforgiving. Backpacks are perfect as they free up your hands so if you have a toddler, you can hold their hand or push a buggy round the airport.
On the subject of buggies – did you know that you can hire buggies at the airport and normally most holiday destinations also provide buggies? Particularly British tour operators. This makes it much easier to get round the airport and you don’t have to worry about folding it and leaving it in the hold. Do bear in mind that on return to many London airports if not UK airports, you will have a long walk to passport control WITHOUT your buggy. You can also buy very lightweight compact buggies that you can take on the plane with you. I have no idea if they will last that long though!
If you have a large buggy or a Buggaboo or similar and you are using a travel bag do practice using it first and packing away your buggy before you leave the house. I have seen countless travellers battling with fitting buggies into bags, removing wheels and handles in a panic trying to board a flight. Better still just buy a cheap and cheerful fold up lightweight buggy that you won’t care about if it gets damaged.
Food and drink – no matter what age your baby is, 1 month, 2 months, 6 months or 6 years you are NOT allowed to take liquid over 100ml on board or food unless it has been bought past security. Don’t be fooled. However the very good news is you can buy almost every brand of formula milk from Boots in the Duty Free hall. If you are worried just call them beforehand and ask them to put aside a few cartons. They always have something there so don’t panic; just bring your sterilised bottles. The same applies to baby food – there are dozens and dozens of options so you should easily find something your baby likes. I do know that some babies are on special formula, in which case bring the powder and when you go through security fill your bottles with boiled water from one of the restaurants to take on board so it cools down before you need it. ALWAYS buy more cartons or take more powder & sterilised bottles than you need – you never know if there will be a delay.
- Here’s a tip for you. Before you leave your house, pack 7 nappy sacks with 7 nappies inside each together with a disposable nappy changing mat and one pack of wipes, this means each time baby or toddler needs changing you can whip out a ready-made pack, take them to the loo and bin the lot (except your pack of wipes). I would give a separate pack to your other half too. (Number of nappies depends on length of flight, this is for approx. 3 to 4 hours taking into account airport time and delays).
Take two changes of clothes (for you too) – kids will get dirty on the plane, if you don’t mind this that’s fine of course and bring the disinfecting hand gel as children will put their hands everywhere!
In terms of entertainment, if you have an iPad there are numerous cartoons; Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly, Sooty and Mickey Mouse aps and shows to download before flying, or buy a cheap DVD player. I don’t advocate lots of TV at all but it’s great to keep children quiet for a little on the plane. Download some children’s games too. Bring sticker books – children love stickers and take their favourite books. Additionally, a note pad and some crayons will keep them nicely occupied (hopefully for more than 15 minutes).
As far as sleep goes, some children will nap when they always do so you could be lucky and get a 3 hour break on the plane but some just don’t. Do not stress about it – there is nothing you can do you will just have to ride the storm. I wouldn’t advise filling them up with sugary snacks but do keep some treats available and reward them for good behaviour. Take them for a walk up and down the plane a few times, this may tire them out.
If you do have a difficult journey, try and think positively –remember in 24 hours time you will hopefully be enjoying the beautiful sunshine while the children take advantage of building some great sandcastles! On the subject of sandcastle, we have given all of our children special Shannon ChildCare buckets to take on holiday so please send us your pictures of your best sandcastles or of any other innovative ways your child is using their bucket – winner gets a prize!
For more information about Shannon ChildCare please call 020 8958 6630 we are an Ofsted Outstanding nursery based in Edgware, North West London.