I’ve been traveling with kids for 6 years now and for 5 years have been making a three flight journey from Botswana to Ireland twice yearly, with smaller trips in between. Initially with one, then two, now three children in tow. The pit of my stomach is generally sick before each travel date, but I definitely have learnt lots of tricks and tips to make it easier and although our brood is ever expanding it won’t put a stop to our love for travel.
Here are my top tips for traveling with little ones in tow:
Carry a backpack with essentials, it’s much easier to have your hands free. Invest in a good one, that is comfortable and spacious.
From birth to 18months (or longer If you have a light baby) take a baby wearer again this will leave your hands free to deal with other children (even if traveling alone with baby helps you put down/up buggy etc)
Right up to 4 years old I would say bring a buggy, ideally a light collapsible buggy. You may have some long walks between flights and lots of hanging around with little seating so it can be a lifesaver. I always take a buggy bag which I put it in for going in the hold. Baggage handlers can be so rough with them (you should see the state of my buggy bag)
Change of clothes or even top for everyone think light pjs/light t-shirt shorts. I usually pack leggings and t-shirt for myself. Nine times out of ten at least one of us has to change clothes.
Entertainment, I would limit this as especially long hauls have in flight entertainment and usually colours/colouring books for the children. I do however bring iPad/Nintendo/ some form of console more so for the hanging around the airport and the smaller flights with no entertainment. Just make sure to download tv shows/ movies/games and bring a back up battery charger.
For the smaller children I’ve filled a water bottle with clothes pegs, honestly you have no idea how much my baby enjoyed this taking the pegs in and out of the bottle, clipping the pegs on the seat/me and making little shapes with the pegs. Also it’s not an expensive toy so doesn’t matter if you loose or forget it along the way.
If you must bring a favourite toy/comforter make sure to attach it to one of you with a clip as last thing you’ll want is to loose it on route!
Try to keep to nap time to when flying. If possible, especially with smaller ones, I find they generally sleep longer on flights if it coincides with their nap.
Try to arrange feeding time bottle/boob for take off and landing, again this helps lots with the air pressure and soothing baby who may be startled by the initial noise and motion of take off and landing. It also helps to get them asleep.
It’s difficult when traveling with children but really try limit your take on luggage, one back pack for you and a bag each for the older children. If using wheeled/hard case I find putting a soft bag inside with everything in it easier, then you can take out the soft bag on the plane and leave the wheeled case stored above.
Always have snacks! Rice cakes, raisins, fruit sticks, crackers, and a lollipop or sucky sweets if your child might suffer with ears on plane.
Have that GnT! Flying is stressful at the best of times but is definitely heightening with children, make sure to take 5 minutes for yourself and have that GnT or glass of vino it will at least give you 5 minute of calm… (even if there is a crying baby hanging from the other arm).
Nothing beats the feeling when you all land safely at your destination (just try not to think of the journey back just yet ????)