Travelling with children is akin to being in a car with a group of really drunk friends: one may vomit, one may fall asleep, one might start a fight – there’s no way of knowing how it’s going to play out. We’re all familiar with the farmyard scene: the smallest is unzipping a fellow passengers handbag convinced he’s seen a bottle of ‘mulk’ while the other two are fighting over the iPad. But, with a bit of know-how, travelling with children needn’t be stressful. The key to being intrepid with kids involves a certain amount of ‘letting go, but it also involves an equal amount of smart travel strategies.
1. Brand them: It’s easy to lose sight of your little ones on any given day but keeping tabs on them in a busy airport is no mean feat. You could invest in an electronic child locator – a small unit that straps to your child’s belt that allows you to locate them through an alarmed transmitter that you keep with you. Or, simply write your mobile number on their hand/arm in biro in case they get lost.
2. Flight times: Try to coincide flight times with nap times. Keeping the bedtime routine even on an airplane can help; change them into their PJs, read them a bedtime story and have that just-before-bed quarrel about how, no, it’s too late for a bowl of Weetabix.
3. Entertainment: iPad’s work best if you’ve starved them of any form of computer games for a few days. Same goes for toys. Have a number of ‘plane toys only’ – new apps, books, puzzles and colouring sets that will keep the boredom at bay.
4. Seating: It’s worth checking seat options (seatguru.com) before you go. Mapping out aisles, distance to bathrooms and where to place your family may be the difference between a smooth journey and having your toddler wee on your lap.
5. Packing essentials: Factor in delays and always pack more nappies, extra clothes, food and toys in your carry-on bag than you think you’ll need. There are discretionary limits for baby food and liquids but it’s advisable to bring powdered milk and ask for hot water on the plane. Packing each child a plane bag that includes their own snacks, treats, colouring sets, Lego etc might mean the difference between a plane ‘brawl’ and it means less luggage for mum and dad.
6. Bugs: Planes are a hotbed for nasty germs with an MRSA infection lasting on airplane surfaces for four to seven days. Washing your hands regularly and keeping a hand sanitiser in your bag is a basic but effective way to combat germs. A nasal spray or swabbing Vaseline into your nostrils increases the activity of tiny hairs in your nose that block germs. Check out The Little Green Shop for all eco-friendly travel supplies.
7. Hydrate: Since the air on planes can be 55 per cent drier than a typical indoor environment, it’s important to hydrate often. Keep an empty water bottle with you that you can refill.
8. Snacks: Travelling with children is stressful enough, throw in a sugar-rush melt down and you may well find yourself on the edge before you’ve even taken off. Resist the temptation to give them sweets and pack some savoury snacks such as hummus, fruit, healthy muffins or cookies – check out this fantastic Irish mum's cooking blog for more.
9. Supplements: Eating the right foods while travelling (those low in sugar and high in colour such as blueberries and greens) can certainly help reduce inflammation. However, taking supplements such as glutathione – otherwise known as the ‘Master Antioxidant’ – in the weeks pre-and-post travel boosts antioxidants that combat inflammation and helps reduce stress. You can buy all supplements in local health store or online.
10. Think comfort: An impractically-dressed child is likely to be an unhappy child. Keep it simple, comfy and layered. Soft clothes, made from natural fibres, that can be taken off and on as the plane’s air temperature fluctuates are the best option. If you can fit it in, a pillow or blanket is a handy accessory allowing them to snuggle up on an armrest or window and get some rest, allowing mummy and daddy some well-earned downtime. Our organic cotton baby range is a winner.
WHAT TO PACK – THE ESSENTIALS
- Medicine – an easy-to-swallow medicine such as Calpol that your children would be ‘familiar’ with plus plasters, thermometer, Vaseline and antiseptic cream
- A copy of any family prescriptions
- Antiseptic wipes
- Hand sanitiser
- Extra bags for dirty laundry, used nappies and snacks
- Pre-downloaded apps/games
- Drawing supplies
- Spare clothes
- Child’s favourite teddy/blanket for plane journey
- Baby wipes (Read more about eco-friendly wipes)
- An empty water bottle to refill
- Pocket-sized tissues
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