What are some tips when travelling with a child?

As parents we all dread travelling with a child. It doesn’t matter how old they are or how well they sleep, it’s never easy to be out of our comfort zone and regular routine.

From a mother who has travelled multiple times with her child including many long haul flights, across many different time zones, here are my tips of how best to prepare.

Plan well in advance: Consider everything that you may need for the flight, including stop overs at airports, long taxi rides and potential delays. Also consider what you may need for the first day that you arrive if you don’t have immediate access to a kitchen, cooking utensils or a washing machine.

Writing a to- do list and ticking off each item one by one can help to reduce anxiety.

If you need to vaccinate your child do this a few weeks before travelling in case they react badly.

Request a bassinet seat if you are travelling with a baby (check weight restrictions as every airline is different). For older children request an exit row or an isle and window seat and block out the middle seat in hope that no one will sit there.

Take a baby carrier or pram with you in order to give your baby a chance to sleep at the airport before you board your flight.

Don’t leave your packing to the last minute. Give yourself 2-3 days to shop for extra toiletries, snacks or additional items for your trip. You will most likely have forgotten to write it down and then only notice that you need something when you start packing your bag.

When packing for your child, make sure to include clothes for different climates you may experience, as well a few changes of clothes for the plane journey. Even for shorter flights it’s better to always be over-prepared.

To encourage your child to sleep better on the flight, take her favourite lovey, blanket and bed sheets as this will remind her of her own bed.

For both babies and toddlers prepare different types of entertainment that will help to stimulate them for long periods of time. Some of my favourites: colouring in books, sticker albums, IPAD games/ favourite TV shows.

Prepare healthy snacks and baby food for the entire plane journey as well as car rides. It’s not always possible to rely on the airlines, so it’s best to be organised. It’s a good idea to buy snacks that take a long time to eat such as cereal, rusks, crackers, sultanas and dried fruit. With smaller babies ready made pouches are an excellent idea for travelling as they also keep well.

If you are bottle feeding your baby, take as many already sterilized bottles as you can. Airlines can provide hot water but they aren’t able to steralise your bottles so take spares.

You can also buy ready made formula that you don’t need to mix with hot water but they are much more expensive.

When you arrive with your child to your chosen destination try and get them acclimatised to the new time zone as quickly as possible by getting them in to their regular routine according to the new time.

Enjoy your holiday but don’t stretch your child beyond their limits and capacity when it comes to sleep.

Try and keep to their nap and bedtime routine as much as you can without it taking away from your enjoyment.

REMEMBER a happy child means happy parents and a more enjoyable vacation