If like me, you just dread travelling with small children, then read some of the tips I’ve learned along the way and make your life easier!
I have family in Greece so I had no choice; I wanted my children to see their family so we had to travel. Flights from our local airport were just too expensive, so we had to travel from London – a 4 hour drive away, plus a couple of hours at the airport and a 4 hour flight = ALL DAY TRAVELLING! Hard enough without a very busy 4 year old and a very curious 2 year old!
When travelling with children the first thing to remember is – distraction is KEY.
You don’t want to carry a million toys, there’s enough to carry when travelling with children anyway! For us it’s the mini DVD player. You can get these as cheap as £40.00 on eBay and they’re worth every penny! This brilliant little piece of technology has taken the stress out of a day travelling more than anything else! When everything gets too much, stick it on for the kids and take 10 minutes to chill out and pull it back together!
Another tip for travelling with kids would be SNACKS. Little children who are full of life and constantly on the go, always seem to be hungry and when you’re travelling this can get expensive! Pack lots and lots of yummy snacks and save yourself a fortune. Pack some for yourself too and save even more!
Plenty of fluids. Keep the kids well hydrated, especially on the plane. Once the plane fills up it can get quite hot so, it’s really important to have drinks on hand. However, don’t forget to drink any drinks you take from home before you go through security or you’ll have to throw them away since you can’t take them through!
Dump rubbish (in a bin)! Dump any rubbish you’ve got as often as you can, otherwise it builds up and builds up; you’re just carrying more than you need to!
Always try and get flight times that work around the children’s routine, if you can’t, stay in a budget hotel the night before – well rested children are happy children!
Don’t over pack. It’s so tempting to pack loads of things, but she might need this, but what if she needs that… we’ve all done it! Keep it all basic, there’s bound to be a washing machine somewhere in the hotel and it means that you can carry much less!
Don’t buy anything until the last day of the holiday, look around while on holiday and pick things you really want and then get them on the last day. This will mean you buy less, save money and not end up with too much to carry on your way home.
Remember to allow time for stopping if you’re driving a long way to the airport, personally I prefer just getting the drive over and done with and not stopping but children need to get out and blow off some steam. Try and stay out of service stations or you’ll come out with an empty purse!
Tie toys to the car seats! Toys that are tied can be played with again and again because they don’t fall on the floor (where they are usually out of your reach)!
Reward the children when they are well behaved. Last time I bought a couple of magazines and small packets of sweets before we left from our local supermarket. I hid them and when the children were being really good, I thanked them for being good and gave them a magazine. This does two great things for you, first, it buys you some peace and quiet while they enjoy the magazine and second, it reinforces the good behaviour!
Don’t worry about packing spare clothes in case of accidents for small children, get some pull ups! They come in a variety of colours and patterns and they’re so handy! The last thing you need when you’re rushing through the airport, about to miss your flight and your little one asks for the toilet. This always seems to happen at the wrong moment! With my daughter I put a pull up on her and when she asked for the loo at the wrong time or there wasn’t a loo around, I told her that she’d have to wait until I could get her to a toilet but if it was an emergency not to worry as she had a special pull up on. This worked great, it even helped her learn to hold it until she got to a toilet!
Do have regular toilet breaks, you want to try and avoid the scenario above if you can, so every 45 minutes to 1 hour go to the toilet, even if they say they don’t want to (because they usually go anyway and this buys you more time).
When you get where you’re going, unpack straight away! You can guarantee the children will ask for something at the bottom of the case!
Find a local supermarket (ask at reception where the locals shop is, it’s always cheaper there!) and stock up on bottled water, loads of it! It’s so very important to keep children hydrated so get a tray of bottles and put them in the hotel room fridge. Also, for parents with fussy eaters you can often find things in supermarkets that we get at home so, if the children aren’t eating the hotel food, you can stock up on things you know they’ll like so you know that they’ve got something inside them.
Nappies, wipes and formula are usually available in local supermarkets abroad but be warned, you’ll pay for them! In Greece, a tub of formula that costs about £6 here was €23!
If you pack light (clothes/toys wise) this leaves room for taking your own nappies, wipes and formula, just calculate how many you’ll need (if you do run out you can always buy a small pack) and on the way back most of them will be gone anyways so, more space in the suitcase! Remember to calculate it right, from the second they wake up through to the night and don’t forget the journey home.
Don’t forget Calpol and a small first aid kit, hopefully you won’t need it but it’s always better to have it just in case!
Last but not least, don’t stress, even if you follow all of these tips, things can go wrong. It’s not the end of the world! Remember, the more you stress, the more your children pick up on your stress! Just keep thinking about the end destination, putting the children to bed and relaxing!