21 Dec

Top tips on travelling with kids

ABTA’s Vicki Wolf explains why masking tape is an essential when travelling with kids and no, it’s not what you’re thinking!

I have a nine year old and a two year old and they present two very different sets of challenges when travelling. After a lot of trial and error I think I’ve got it down to a fine art and here are the results of years of long haul experience taking the kids on holiday or back to meet my family in South Africa.

Children feed off your energy. If you are relaxed they are more likely to relax.

  • Make a packing list. Your trip will be a lot better if you haven’t forgotten Flopsy the bunny or spare nappies/wet wipes/teething gel!
  • Divide your hand luggage into sections. Put spare clothes, nappy gear, books/toys/snacks in separate bags within your hand luggage.
  • If you are travelling by air with little kids invest in a good backpack for hand luggage. This keeps your back safe and hands free for pushing buggies/carrying kids as you board.
  • Include a spare set of clothes for your kids but also for you. You never know when your child may smudge food or have a little accident on you!
  • Find out where the play area is in the airport (if they have one). Most major airports have an area where there are toys/soft play next to chairs where you can let your little one have a play (and hopefully exhaust themselves) while you wait to board.
  • Have surprises! I always have a little stash of surprises with a cheap new toy/book/crayons/pencils/drawing pad wrapped up as a fun treat at different points of the trip. Don’t give these out at the beginning. Have at least three things for a long trip and hand them out at intervals.
  • Have a bottle for baby and make sure you buy water/milk so they can pop their ears if needed. Practice yawning on the flight with older kids.
  • Use your technology. This is especially good for long car trips. I relax the screen time rules when I travel. Make sure the favourite apps are on your tablet/smartphone. Download movies and music too.
  • Get some child-sized headphones and let them get used to these before the trip.
  • Relax and breathe! Children feed off your energy. If you are relaxed they are more likely to relax.
  • Reward yourself at the end. Whether it’s a glass of wine or a nice soak in the bath. Book a babysitter/let the in-laws watch your darlings for a few hours. You deserve a treat.
  • And finally the masking tape. Take a roll of masking tape, it works a treat (especially with little ones) as you can “draw” things with tape on the back of the plane seat, or stick them on your face to make them laugh. Endless possibilities!