Family holidays are times of wonder; exploring the world and enjoying quality time as a family is something to treasure.
Holidays should be about having fun as a family!
Unfortunately, travelling with children can also be a logistical nightmare, full of pitfalls, arguments and tantrums… Some of these traps can easily be avoided with a little planning and foresight; so we set out to help get you through your journey unscathed, with some helpful and handy tips for travel with little ones.
We’ve gone straight to the source for this one; who better to ask for tips on travelling with children we thought, than actual parents who regularly travel themselves? We have loads of parents at our head office, so we set about hounding them for advice in order to bring you APH’s top tips for travelling with children!
Enjoy snack-happy travels!
Flying is an exciting prospect for a wide-eyed child; but getting kids to eat the food served on planes, especially with all the distractions on board; can be a real effort. You watch as they turn their nose up at the meagre offerings on-board and before you know it you’ve got a hungry, screaming child on your hands and the tutting of fellow passengers ringing in your ears…
Keeping a handful of snacks and favourite treats handy is a great way to keep tantrums at bay. So here are APH’s top tips for snack-happy travel with children!
Eating at an airport restaurant like this one at Heathrow is a fun way to start your holiday
Your first option is to feed the family before you fly, choosing one of the many restaurants in the departure lounge; this can prove costly thanks to inflated airport prices, but if you’re happy to splash the cash it could be worth your while as you will have one full up and happy child as you board the plane. An alternative is to book an airport lounge where your family can enjoy endless snacks and a place to relax.
Who can blame kids for finding airplane food unappealing
If you fly with an airline like British Airways or Virgin, you can pre-order a children’s meal; but some airline’s ideas of what constitutes a child’s meal can be questionable. In the likely event that your beloved child turns their nose up at the plane food offerings, the chances are they will at least eat the bread rolls and crackers that come on the side. If they are wildy distracted when the food comes; stash the packets of snacks in a bag for later.
Packed lunches make for smiley children!
Try making sandwiches with favourite fillings, and take them on-board with you; that way you should be able to get something at least a little substantial in them.
Cereal bars are also a good thing to have on you; they are a great alternative to sweets and chocolate. Look out for the healthier organic brands like Organix Goodies.
The perfect time to feed your baby is during take-off and landing, as sucking on a bottle of milk or formula helps the ears of little ones. Don’t forget cabin pressure though; loosen the lid when you are not feeding them, to stop it leaking out everywhere!
An ingenious way to make healthy snacking fun!
Fill small bags with healthy and tasty treats, like fresh fruits (as long as it is eaten before landing, as some countries like USA and Australia won’t allow fruit through customs), raisins, nuts, crackers, cereals and rice cakes. Bringing out a different treat each time helps keeps things interesting and curbs the repeated requests for the expensive and calorific snacks on the tantalising in-flight menu!
Gingerbread men are a favourite amongst APH second generationers!
Favourite snacks: if you’re trying to calm a hungry child and not drive everyone else on the plane crazy, giving them their favourite food is bound to resolve the situation quickly and quietly. Chocolate is best avoided though as it can end up in a sticky mess…
Keep them busy…
Distraction is the biggest weapon that you have against mid-flight tantrums; keeping their eager young minds at bay will guarantee you all a more relaxing and enjoyable flight. Come to the airport armed to the teeth with toys, games and other distractions and make your journey as comfortable as possible!
If you are lucky enough to have access to an iPad then this is your new best friend! The perfect distraction tool; not only can you fill it with games to occupy them, you can also load it with their favourite films to keep them busy.
Invest in lots of new, but little toys. Head to a pound shop and buy a few new treats, making sure they aren’t too noisy or full of tiny parts that can be lost or ingested; and present these to your children gradually throughout the flight. For added bribery points wrap them up to create even more excitement.
Travel activity cards like Usborne’s 50 Things to do on a plane are brilliant; these wipe-clean cards are packed full of games, puzzles and activities to keep little minds busy and come with a handy pen. Sticker books are also a great way to pass the time and always popular.
Wear the kids out pre-flight at a play room like this one at Heathrow
Tire your kids out a little before you get on the plane; let them run around at the airport rather than screaming the house down once you’re confined to the plane. Most airports have play centres that will entertain your children during the pre-flight hours; head to your airport of choice’s website for details of what is on offer and where to find it.
Planning is everything
Be prepared for anything; or at least plan for emergencies and think ahead about what essentials to bring and pre-book what you can; at APH we recommend the following…
Try to book flights at child-friendly times, even if they are a little pricier; this will make activities like feeding and sleeping easier while on-board
Emergency supplies like Calpol, plasters and sickness tablets could prove to be lifesavers if a little one starts feeling poorly or hurts themselves.
Don’t go anywhere without baby wipes; if your darling child does happen to get its hands on something sticky you will be so grateful. They are also essential travel companions, getting you out of many scrapes; wiping floors when things get dropped, cleaning toilet seats in suspect loos, freshening up after flights and removing holiday sand from little feet.
If you have the arms to spare; bringing a favourite pillow or blanket for your little one could help them to feel more comfortable and secure while travelling, helping them to relax and hopefully fall asleep.
Some children don’t adapt well to change so keeping things with them that they are used to can help. Bringing their own spoons, forks, bibs and even their bowl or plate can make eating in the airport and on the holiday easier and more familiar. Also there’s nothing worse than having to try and feed a child with a massive fork!
Book an in-flight cot; these need to be reserved in advance so make it one of the first things on your list.
Give your arms a break and pre-book a car seat when hiring a car abroad; this will save you lugging yours over and free up luggage space.
You can take buggies right up to the door of the plane which is very helpful when you are weighed down by a lot of extra hand luggage and little ones.
Pack spare clothing for yourself as well as the little ones in your hand luggage!