Thursday, 4 September 2014

Travelling with children

Following on from my last travel post, which was an interview with my friend Ali about travelling with her husband and daughter, which you can read here, where she shares some fab tips; I thought I'd do a post with some extra tips and advice I've picked up whilst researching for this series about travelling with children. 

Firstly I wanted to share this youtube video from Louise from SprinkleofGlitter. On it she shares her tips for travelling with children, along with some ideas on keeping them entertained on the plane. I thought this might come in handy for any of you that have children and be a great addition to my travel series. It's certainly worth a watch.
Some other tips and tricks I've come across are;
Remember too that children get the same baggage allowance as adults so make the most of it. When it comes to packing for your children forget the less is more rule and go with the ' I need to keep them entertained and behaving' rule.

If you are travelling with a baby or toddler then bottles, or beakers of milk, water or juice are allowed to be carried in your hand luggage. Just be sure to tell the security officer as you are putting your hand luggage into the trays for screening. They may also be checked with a litmus paper test.

When it comes to snacks and meals. Firstly take a look at your airlines website to see what is included with your flight or available to purchase. If you are travelling short haul or wish to save yourselves the extortionate onboard prices then eating at the airport or purchasing food to eat on the plane atthe departure lounge is a good idea. You can take a look at what restaurants and shops are available on the airports website. The gateguru app also has this information for some airports. You can even bring food from home, just check that it is allowed. I know some airlines might be getting tougher on nuts due to the contained atmosphere and nut allergy risks. 

I would also recommend packing some straws for older children if they have a drink on the plane that doesn't have a sports bottle top so there is no spillages.
Planes aren't really the cleanest of places so packing antibacterial wipes and hand gel can come in handy. Also pack extra dummies should one get dropped. You can also buy portable disinfectant pots for dummies. And plenty of baby wipes to keep your own childs hands and faces clean.

If you are travelling with a baby take a look on the airlines website to see if they have cots available. Airlines that do will usually have this facility by an extra leg room space, like at the front of each class section. I would also check whether you are only entitled to one space in that row of seats, which is often the case. So you may want to prebook another seat(s) on that row to all be together. As well as the benefit of having extra leg room, there is also the advantage of being able to put down a blanket and creating a small play area for baby. Thank you Pinterest for that nugget of information.

The problem here is other passengers, but being polite and asking first will win you brownie points I'm sure. Remember the point I made above that it is likely you will only automatically be allocated one seat with the cot facility. The others can be selected by any other passengers. And they're popular, because of course there is the extra leg room. If you want to be guaranteed those extra seats in that row pre-book them. FAST. And be nice to the people sharing that space with you.

Just another note on seating your child. Children under 2 are permitted to sit on an adults lap, therefore saving you the cost of a seat. However I have read a few posts stating that often it is best to get them their own seat, that way both you and your child are much comfier. For take off and landing they will have to be seated on your lap however. If you do decide to get them their own seat, you can then fit a car seat in if needed. That way you are not stuck with a wriggly baby on your lap for the duration of the flight. And they will sleep better. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding taking car seats on to the plane. Obviously there are different regulations for each airline but I have read that there seems to be confusion between check in staff, ground staff and cabin staff having different opinions. I recommend reading the following blog explaining the issue a bit more. I can't say I have ever seen anyone take one. So I would say to double check with your airline and print off any information from their website so that you can show them that that is what their company states.

Another advantage for using a car seat is of course if you are planning to hire a car abroad. That way you know it's safe and you don't have to pay to hire one.

As for buggies/push chairs you can keep these with you until you go onto the plane. Make sure that they get labelled at check in. Then when you get to the plane hand over your buggy to ground staff who will put them into the hold. When you arrive at your destination buggies will come out of the hold first and will be waiting for you to collect by the plane. That is if you checked them with ground staff and not with the rest of your luggage at check in, in which case they will be put on the carousel.

In this day and age of technology make use of tablets, ipads, phones etc to help keep older children entertained. Load it with games, films or tv shows before you go and remember to turn any electronic devises to airplane mode before you get on the plane. This is particularly useful for shorter haul flights.

 If you only have one devise but more than one of you want to listen to something then get yourselves a headphone splitter, which allows you to plug more head/earphones into the device. Before you travel maybe download your child/children's favourite film or tv programmes or perhaps a new film that they haven't seen. This might be a good idea if you are travelling with more than one child. Or before you travel ask your children to agree on a film/ tv programmes they will all enjoy. If however you are not all seated together maybe work out a timescale for each child to have the device/s for. This could also work if you have different devices. Either way set the boundaries before travelling and involve them as much as possible (obviously depending on age etc.)

On longer haul flights entertainment is provided in the form of tv screens on the back of the seat in front of you. And includes a range of films, tv shows and games. You can usually check on the airlines website what films etc are showing. If there's nothing on there that will interest your child then take back ups. Also remember to pack head/earphones to be able to listen to them.

The following link is some tips on how to  negotiate whilst at your destination for parents/guardians of teens.

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