1.) Be Prepared - OK, I admit it, this one sounds like a total no-brainier and yes, whilst most mums (and dads) are pretty well organised, when it comes to kid travel.. it's a totally different league. Im talking OCD levels. Folders for the important travel documents containing separate, clearly marked plastic wallets for the boarding passes (inbound and outbound) so there was no panicking or faffing when you have to get these out like 20 times!! A ziplock bag for the passports and currency in case of any spillage (more on this later..) Spare clothes to include socks and underwear. One bag for the important stuff. One for the baby gear. It sounds so simple but just not having to search bags constantly or ask... "who's got the bloody passports?!?!" or "I swear I packed Leni a spare pair of socks.. have you got her socks??" made life so much easier. It was all organised and much less stressful especially whilst trying not to lose 3 wannabe decathletes.
2.) Jet Packs - I remember as a child, when we used to fly long haul to Singapore, the airlines used to give us these awesome activity packs. Or at least they seemed awesome at the time. I'm sure it was just a colouring book, some pencils and a crappy plastic toy, but those packs would keep us entertained for at least the take off and a good hour after that. By the time we'd had enough, mum and dad would of had a glass of wine and relaxed a bit. So I thought about it and made up a "jet-pack" for each child using.. yep, you guessed it.. good old ziplock bags. As ours are still quite young I hot-footed it to our local Home Bargains store and stocked up on sticker books, pencils, doodle-pads, a small toy and the obligatory treats. I kept the latter relatively healthy (raisins, yo-yo bear products and a couple of chocolate coins) as I didn't want them sky high (ahem) on e-numbers so that's something to consider if you do this. I have to say, I wished I had made a pack for the return journey home as they were a great way to distract them when they started to get fractious.
3.)Portable DVD player - Bare with me here.. I know I sound like I'm in the dark ages but having charged up the iPads, I remembered the only things my kids want to watch is.. Peppa Pig. On repeat, on Youtube. Sure you can play games offline et cetera but mine are still too young to engage in them for any length of time and the films that are downloaded ended up not working on the flight so I was so chuffed I decided to bring the portable DVD player as a back up, especially when the fasten seat belt signs came on just as they were getting restless. They cuddled up and settled down to watch their favourite pigs jumping in ridiculously deep muddy puddles as I sipped on my delicious Bombay and Fever Tree. Winner!
4.) Ziplock Bags - Yes. I know I sound like I have some crazy obsession with these things (I actually do) but OMG.. they saved our bacon on more than one occasion. Ive never been the sort of parent to bag up a spare change of clothes. Im the kind of mum that, when I do remember to be that organised, I throw the item of clothing into the bag and give myself a little pat on the back. However.. on this occasion when we were travelling with important documents, beakers of milk, spare clothes all many miles from home and 35,0000 ft in the sky.. being overly cautious seemed like a good idea. And I wasn't wrong. Whilst stopping for a bit to eat and a well deserved beer pre-flight.. not one but two glasses of water were knocked over and spilled right into the bags, which of course were left wide open. On this occasion, as pretty much everything was sealed up in a ziplock, we did the smug "oh never mind.. accidents happen.. at least it wasn't the beer *LOL*" reaction; instead of the usual "FFS!!!! NOW LOOK WHATS HAPPENED!! EVERYTHING IS BLOODY SOAKING"!! So people... if you take one piece of advice. ZIPLOCK 🙂
5.) Finally... work as a team - This may sound really cheesy however, travelling with young children (or just children in general) especially if you have more than one, is likely to be a pretty stressful occasion. Its easy to get annoyed with another and snap, be it spouse, partner or accompanying grandparent. However turning on your fellow adult person just causes more stress for everyone and I'm 99% sure children can smell your weakness and move in like a pack of wolves. Even if you have to dig to your very core.. find that happy place (a glass of wine tends to help here) and channel that as if your life depends on it. Well, it kind of does..
What are your top tips for travelling with children? Anything we need to note down for our next trip? Let me know if you find any of these useful!