Travelling for the first time as a family is not only exciting and wonderful; it can be downright stressful too. Kids crying on a long flight, delays, waiting for baggage and dealing with your own jet lag can all lead to a demanding end to your well-deserved break before it’s even started. However, read on to find some handy tips which will make the whole process a lot smoother – so you can spend less time stressing and more time sunning!
Before you leave the house:
1: Check your flight time. This may sound overly simple, but thousands of people every year miss their flights by getting the time or even the date wrong. Once you’ve booked your holiday, write down the times and dates on every diary, calendar and planner you own – set alarms and reminders also. Your kids won’t be the only ones crying if you miss your flight.
2: See if you can have day before check in options or priority boarding – this means you can skip the long queues and relax for longer, possibly even in a luxurious VIP lounge. This is always worth checking when you’re booking.
3: Pre plan your packing. Remember that for your hand luggage, you cannot have any liquids above 100ml. Also, containers must be carried in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm. you are also only allowed one lighter per person, so if you’re a family of smokers, it might be best to buy one on the other side. With regards to food you are allowed to take baby food, baby milk and sterilised water in your hand baggage. This includes:
– Soya milk for babies
– Sterilised water for the baby (must be in a baby bottle)
– Formula, breast milk or cows milk specifically for babies
– Baby food of various consistencies
Prams need to be mentioned at the check-in desk so that they can be labelled as luggage by the steward. Larger items such as travel cots and car seats will need to be checked-in as oversized baggage and charges depend on the airline. You can use your pram right up until you board your flight – at which point the air stewards will take if them from you or you can leave them at the door of the aircraft to be placed in the hold. After your flight, prams are usually loaded on to the carousel with luggage or placed nearby the carousel for collection.
At the airport:
Children find airports a great source of entertainment. Try to use the airport to amuse them where you can. There are trolleys, shops, slippery floors, moving escalators and of course the planes to spot. Let your children do some supervised exploring and some plane watching as this may exhaust them before the flight.
If your children can read try to get them to identify your departure gate and check-in gate and where possible engage them in the process by explaining to them all about check-in, immigration, security and boarding. Also, if you’re worried about travel sickness, this is the time to give them some tablets etc.
On the flight:
It’s a fact that children can get bored on even the shortest of flights. A good way to avoid tantrums (and glares from fellow passengers) is to surprise the child with a toy or colouring book that they have never seen before (you could even download our free Travel Fun Activity Pack here). It’s also a good idea to try and settle them for a nap, so they’ll be wide awake for when you land. If your child is a little bit older, try stocking up on books, magazines or games for their consoles – make sure they’ve also fully charged their MP3 player to avoid disappointment. Window seats are also a good idea as this stops them from being able to run away, as well as having the opportunity to watch the luggage get loaded and the tank filled up.
If you’re worried that your child won’t enjoy aeroplane food, pack a lunch box with some sandwiches, fruit, drinks and treats inside – this way you’re prepared for all eventualities.
When you land:
Keep the children involved by asking them to help you look out for the luggage and counting the bags on the luggage carousel. Make sure where possible any Visas are all arranged and paid for in advance and taxis are booked if necessary.
Lastly, enjoy yourself and make sure you take plenty of photos!