I was going to say “hacks” but then I’d have to shoot myself. But anyway here are my cleverest ideas for travelling with small children this summer.
1 If you are potty training or just need a few spare nappies and/or pants for kiddo, make up a few Nappy grab-bags. I’ve written about these before but it has occurred to me that it’s buried many years-worth of posts back and the casual reader may have missed it.
This is probably one of the best ideas I’ve ever had regarding any area of parenting. If you can’t be bothered to go back to read the post, the idea is that you make up a small Ziploc containing a few wipes, (sealed into a separate bag to maintain moisture), 1 nappy, 1 pair of latex gloves – these are lifesavers, truly – 1 pair clean child’s pants if you’re at that stage, and a nappy bag.
You press the air out of the plastic bag as you seal it making a kind of pleasing, slithery vacuum-packed emergency pack that can be slipped, weightless, into a handbag or carry-on. You can make up multiples of these and stash them in your large luggage, too, for when you are venturing out and about when at your destination.
2 I always head off to the airport with extra bags: the first is a cotton/folding bag to fill with snacks from Pret on our way to the boarding gate. The Pret bags are NEVER big enough and the handles are annoying. Bring a giant sack to shove it all in and you’ll be so happy.
3 The other extra bags are a small roll of those flimsy green compost-liner bags. I use them to fill with the crap that my kids generate during the flight, I can’t stand being surrounded my rubbish (even though the air stewards are really good about coming round collecting it) and like to square away packets and empties the second they are handed to me. Always nonchalantly handed to me, as if I were simply a walking bin.
4 I no longer need to travel with wipes but I do take with me two wet J-Cloths in a Ziploc bag for wiping scummy fingers, which can then be rinsed out and re-sealed when you reach CIVILISATION and can find a sink and a tap.
5 We are only a family of four but I have labelled all our passports with our names on the outside, written on a snippet of neon post-it note, then sealed over with clear tape so you can see whose is whose.
How about you? Come on, tick tock, time’s running out. What are your best and most brilliant innovations when it comes to travelling with small children?
Please leave a comment in the handy box below.
I flew long haul with my 7-month old and the best thing I did was fill several zip lock bags with 1 nappy, a few wipes and one of those rubbish bags. This meant I didn’t have to take the entire HUGE change bag with me when taking the little one to the tiny plane toilet.
Also, if travelling with kids, buy those crayons that are triangular do they don’t roll away on their tray table!
Elisabeth Basford says
Also ensure you take a spare set of clothing for each child in hand luggage, a million wipes and some container for sick. I remember the time we were just leaving for the airport and my son projectile vomited in a cafe. I had to bribe the hotel receptionist to let me back in to clean him up.
Names on the outside of passports is a game changer for sure. We fly a lot and it’s always hand baggage only so toiletries are a big issue. I got 3 Nike smallish nylon hold-all’s in different colours and these are the kids suitcases. The whole families toiletries get divided up and packed into 5 large clear food bags (don’t use the ones at the airport, do this in advance) and then each person is given one to put in the end pocket of their kit bag. Saves masses of time at security as they know to just grab it and put in the tray. Also it’s easy to forget you can take as much pre-packed food as you like through security, it’s just the liquids they are strict on so we do a raid on M&S the day before for sandwiches etc. Every child then has their own charger, iPad (sorry not sorry) headphones and snacks for the flight.
Billy Whizz idea for long haul flights: a new box of Carddies (truly genius colouring sets, all U.K. made and in brilliant handbag sized boxes).
Thank you for recommending these, they look fab. And on Amazon Prime, so will arrive before we go on Saturday.
Peabody bites says
Flying alone for 12 hours with a 4 yr old and a 9 month old on Monday. Including plane change. Have just bought several!
Naming the passports on the outside is a brilliant idea!
Our kids sleep in blacked out rooms so we take some black bin liners with us and cut them to size. The static sticks them to the window and they stay there the whole holiday. It looks a bit druggy, but we use the Ikea roller black out blinds at home so it’s just for holidays!
I have no tips, but so much love for the Spike for tackling this issue in plenty of time for my first toddler-on-plane experience in September. Watching with interest.
If children can’t holiday without teddy, put a tag round teddy’s neck/leg with your name and contact number for when teddy gets left on the plane/train/seat.
Always pack clean clothes for you as well as for children in hand luggage in case they puke all over you. Sick bags no longer provided unless asked for on many budget airlines so pack your own or ask when you get on if your child usually throws up on flights.
last year I spent 2 hours covered in sick after my daughter projectile vomited over me half an hour after take off. None on her or the floor. Just me. Fun times.
There’s a particular way my daughter says “mummy….” that is my only warning that shes about to throw up in my lap. Always *my* lap. And having a seatbelt on usually prevents me doing anything about it.
As someone who has been pathetic and wimpy about taking a baby/toddler on a plane I feel I shouldn’t really comment except to say the neon idea is a life saver. I think I saw you with a neon green phone case once and thought ‘yes. Why am I insisting on photo cases or flowery designs when I can NEVER find the thing at the bottom of my bag??!’ Neon is the way forward for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I have decided. Great tip x
PS. Will I ever get over the fear of him throwing a mega tantrum on a plane. Because that’s what’s stopping me….the thought of him refusing, screaming, hitting stewards etc. I can see it now..crying, sweating, hissing at my husband, wishing I was dead.
NEON EVERYTHING. Laura I wish I could say that this definitely won’t happen… but what I CAN say is that it happens to everyone at least once and it’s awful but then it’s over and you forget about it. for a bit.
My daughter DID once throw an epic tantrum on the plane. She was lying on the floor with her head under the seat in front of us SCREAMING so loudly that I bet they could hear it in the cockpit. This was before takeoff on a long haul flight. All because she didn’t want to wear her seatbelt.
It was AWFUL. Everybody hated us. I knew I just had to let her wear herself out because nothing else worked, but to the other passengers it just looked like I didn’t care.
ANYWAY, point is, we all survived. She ran out of steam in 10 (excruciating, endless) minutes and didn’t make a sound the rest of the flight. It was terrible but the holiday was worth it.
I flew for the first time with 3 kids on my own a few months ago (9, 2 and 1 😭). It was totally the wrong time of day (dinner/bed time) and it was, as expected, awful. I planned everything I possibly could to make life easier, but in the end it was just the thought of telling ANYONE who dared huff in my direction that however bad this flight was for them, it was a million time worse for ME, got me through! And, armed with this imaginary riposte, everyone around us was really nice and understanding!
This has come at the right time for me as we’re going on our first holiday with our baby (10 months) in ten days. Does anyone have any tips on milk/ nappies? Can I pre order his milk from boots and collect it after security and check in? If I take an empty bag will they still let me on the plane if we’re only supposed to have one hand luggage bag? Should I have just gone to the Isle of Wight with a car full of crap instead?
The only one bag thing is a nightmare. But the way round it is that you can take your carry on bag plus a duty free carrier bag so get one and then put any other bag inside it. Weird loop-hole but it works!
Yes, you can pre-order formula bottles/cartons from Boots beforehand, although leave as much time as possible if you want something they don’t normally have in stock (like Hipp), as I think it can take a week before you can collect. We did one rucksack full of baby stuff and one full of adult stuff for a 4-month old to Greece last summer and it worked out ok. Make sure you get enough cartons to see you through the journey on the way home!!!!
Most airlines let your baby have a bag too, which helps hugely so worth checking. We took bottles with the powdered formula in them and a box of formula in my carry on because I’m paranoid about my luggage getting lost. We then bought spring water (my baby was only 5 months when we went to LA) to make up bottles on the plane and asked the stewardesses for boiling water for the last one. We took enough for a few days, then bought nappies there. (My baby had special reflux formula so we had to take it with us.) And you’ll be fine, people are so nice when you have a baby.
Thank you all, going to give the airline a call!
Baby gets a changing bag too. Also, if you take a car seat in a bag, or a buggy bag, you can fill them with crap as well. That helps.
Twice this year we were told the buggy had to be taken out of its bag going through security so wouldn’t have been able to fill it with other stuff. Trouble is every airport and every airline just seems to make up their own rules, nothing is consistent.
You can take liquids over 100ml through security if they are for an infant – they will get taken away briefly for extra scrutiny and you may get asked to taste them, but I’ve never had any issues. Most airports now have a ‘family’ security lane which is quicker, has a buggy screening section and is full of other parents who won’t judge you for having screaming children. Many airports also have a drinking water fountain just after security so you can fill up an empty bottle, or Café Nero have always very kindly filled my kids bottles on the other side.
I fill each child’s backpack with little toys and activity books they have never seen before, they can’t look until they are on the plane. We always bring juices with straws for take off and landing to prevent ear problems. Last but not least my daughter brings us, Grandparents can come in very useful.
Sally Roberts says
In relation to rubbish…”Always nonchalantly handed to me, as if I were simply a walking bin”. This made me splutter my coffee over my keyboard because it is absolutely true. I don’t have children but this happens to me all the time when in the company of other people’s small people (friends/family etc). I guess it is better than throwing rubbish on the floor. However – once they reach a certain age I find myself glaring and pointing to nearest bin (I guess it’s different when they are your own…or is it?).
DON’T JUST GIVE IT TO ME. I shout. FIND A BIN!!! I usually help by pointing to one. Doesn’t stop them handing it to me initially.
We’ve done quite a bit of flying with the kids. (*sorry this started as one suggestion. It’s a little longer than I anticipated).
Book parking as close to the terminal as possible.
Allow TIME. All the checks/ security/ walking to the gate/ boarding takes TIME. This is not a 20-something city break where you can squeak in to the gate with 5 minutes to spare. Make a day of it. We go early, have lunch, I find a quiet corner where the kids can run around a bit on those temptingly slippery tile floors etc.
Get decent headphones. The kids ones are, quite rightly, volume limited. Unfortunately this means they can’t hear their iPad programmes over the background engine noise of a small plane, thus creating a new and more persistent problem. We have Sony children’s ones and they’re great. I just watch the volume slider like a hawk and periodically do a spot volume check.
I take our water bottles empty through security then fill up airside. Heathrow has a fill up station which we used in May, or Pret etc would probably help.
Wipes. Wipes. Wipes.
Take a load of story books for the under-5s. Especially those long Julia Donaldson ones I try to avoid at bedtime cos they take, like, 15 minutes to read. Really soothed a fractious 3 year old and it’s a low investment activity for you.
Food on board. They will not eat what’s available and then get strung out on hunger. I <3 Pret. Saved me & kids from hanger so often.
Sit separately – one child/ one adult. And take turns with the youngest/ most difficult one. Dads I'm pointing the finger at you – don't "forget" to offer to take the difficult toddler for a stint while you mind the fairly easy 7 yr old on the other side of the aisle. Your wife will already have been packing for 9 weeks in advance, chivvying everyone into the car and she needs a breather. Speaking for a friend. Obvs.
We also have a tradition of choosing a magazine or book (eldest is now 7) at the airport. The fact that it's a tradition makes it more fun.
Emily this made me laugh about the volume check. Sam has his so freaking loud I worry for his hearing. He shouts enough as it is.
The thing about taking turns with the youngest/most difficult is spot on. And the sit separately. Giles used to book us all in a row, which meant 1 adult was always in between 2 kids. This year we are strictly flying 1 grown up 1 kid.
This is very timely and we are potty training so will read that nappy grab-bags post and take notes! Does anyone have any tips for going on a ferry with an almost three-year-old, very active boy. I’m sure he’ll love it to start with, but having not been on a ferry for a long time I have no idea what to expect. It’s a four-hour crossing….
Kate, ferries are dead boring I’m afraid and they don’t have WiFi or in-flight entertainment often. But you can run around and there is no limit to what you can take to the deck with you. Massive picnic always a good idea and download stuff he likes to watch off the bbc iplayer etc onto an iPad so he can watch it without WiFi. Good luck!
Liz P says
This sounds really strange but tin foil is our travel essential (we have 2 boys, 2 and 4, and have just got back from a year in South East Asia where we flew with them loads). They love “wrapping” things up – toy dinosaurs, plane cutlery, random bits of tat – and then we use the foil as blackout material for their windows when we get to our destination. It sticks just with a little water (I use a damp sponge). None of those stick-on blackout things have ever worked for us, they wake up at 4.30 and you discover half of it’s come down in the night, the room is flooded with light and the toddlers are bouncing off the walls. Tin foil makes it look like you’re growing weed but honestly if it means sleeping in till 7 (ha!) I don’t care.
Also, get a baby bassinet if you possibly can and your child is small enough (they’re for babies really)
PREACH. Tin foil drug den windows actually saved our marriage when on holiday last month.
If you have older children and longer journeys (same goes for visiting busy places, Zoo, LEGOLAND etc) dress them the same (gender allowing, clearly). I travelled a lot on my own with two small boys and 1. If you lose one you can explain exactly what the lost one looks like 2. If one is smaller/much younger, people don’t worry because they are clearly together. So, so long as you can see them, you can be reading/having a drink, and helpful adults around you don’t worry, especially about the little one! It was the only time I ever dressed them the same…
Yes!! I used to do this with my two boys until they were about 8 and 10, at which point I had to explain to them why I always asked them to wear the same colours (although rarely matching) when we were travelling or on a day out in a busy place 😀 They couldn’t believe that if I lost one I wouldn’t remember exactly what he was wearing!
Yes, to this! I have bought my two (boy and girl) the same UV tops for the beach as in a crowded place it means you are only looking for one top. Makes life so much easier, particularly if you are on your own.
Peabody Bites says
Also, it makes your kids look “cuter” – and strangers are more inclined to help out, in my experience, if your kids look conventionally sweet. Unfair, but seemingly true.
I fly alone with my two year old and four month old. Only budget as we’re back and forth from Stansted to Glasgow so I can hand them over to my mother and lie down a lot, while my husband is away on long work trips.
Not sure if these are tips so much as things to know if you don’t fly budget often.
Ryanair no longer let you board early with kids if you have a standard ticket. This is fine as it means you do not need to fret about getting to the gate early and the kids don’t start having tantrums while you wait for the rest of the plane to board. Sit and wait until everyone else is on. I use this time to bribe my eldest with Smarties and Paw Patrol.
If you’re flying with an infant, Ryanair allow you to bring a separate nappy bag for them as well as your usual hand baggage allowance. So you can have two bags, not one crammed to the point of being too full to find anything.
At the gate is a nightmare if you fly on your own with the pram (and don’t drop it at oversize luggage before going through security). They usually won’t help you in any way with it and you have to dismantle it, walk down a flight of stairs with it and the kids and then leave it next to the plane yourself. If you hate hoping strangers will help, which I do even though they usually do, wear the baby in the sling the whole time. You can wear them going through the metal detector and you have both hands free for the other child to hold onto.
If you get through security and just need a sit down because it’s all made you very sweaty (or is that just me who is always disgusting by the time I get to departures?) the Starbucks in Stansted is usually eerily quiet and you can have a coffee with a clear view of the boarding screens.
Anewessexgirl – in that situation, would it be useful for a fellow passenger to do anything to help, or would it be just another thing to manage? As a traveller without kids, but a lot of experience being a frazzled woman carrying lots of bags, I’m really willing to help but not sure what to do (other than the obvious helping with wheels bags on stairs)
When my kid was teeny and I flew alone with her, a buggy and a car seat I planned boarding obsessively so I had baby in a sling on my front, rucksack on my back, car seat in one had and buggy in the other going down the stairs after the gate. People did offer to help but I was quite well balanced, so I politely declined. If my kid had been screaming I think I might have accepted and offloaded something though.
LFL – what a lovely thing to ask! I think if you are aware at the gate of a parent travelling alone with kids on your flight, offering what seems sensible (help with the buggy down the stairs, taking a case if they’re wrestling with two kids as everyone is boarding) is the best way to go. Even if I am completely sorted and don’t need a hand, knowing one is available is a huge relief. I might not need you to carry my bag onto the plane but I might spy you at the luggage carousel and know you’re going to be alright with me asking for your help getting my case on the trolley or whatever. As an aside, that sweaty, hot, low-level annoyed way you feel with too many bags is exactly how I feel with both my girls by the time I reach the plane.
– Tiger is your friend. They have a huge range of mini colouring pencils, helpfully intricate colouring options, drawing books, mini connect four, stickers and so on. Burn £30 there for a much easier time of it.
– Don’t take felt tips – you will end up with pen on your favourite cotton blouse/ cotton wrap/ palazzo pants
– Sweets to suck for take-off and landing (to cover ear soreness).
– I took some plastic tools for a long journey when my daughter was 2 1/2, and she mended the plane the whole way there.
– Playdough is also a good option for toddlers.
– Snacks which aren’t sticky.
– Eye masks.
– Get a back-up charger for your iPad/phone.
Also – I think there is something about managing expectations. When my daughter was a 11 months, I wanted to paint my living room. I tried and failed because, unsurprisingly, you can’t paint a room and look after an 11 month old, and felt very stressed and grumpy. I realised that the net result – an unpainted room – was the same, and I could just choose to let it go. Likewise, I eventually learned that flights will no longer be a chance to read, undisturbed, save ordering a Bloody Mary and some cashews. I can let that be a stress, or I can accept that I’ll be playing Connect Four and I-spy, and just enjoy it.
Managing expectations is so right. I once read a thing that went “You CANNOT take a call when you also have a toddler. Just take or make the call another time.” The end. Good advice.
Totally agree here. The flight is not ‘me’ time, it’s ‘their’ time. Just don’t even try to vaguely look at the Vogue (my airport treat) you’ll only be annoyed that at that split second the 3 yr old tips up her orange juice or similar.
Took me a while to work that out. Cannot tell you how many times I tried to brief a Minister by phone (on my “day off”, mind) while a toddler banged me on the head with a hairbrush/ smeared food on the wall/ needed its bottom wiped. *sigh*
Always took play dough on holiday as small and entertained them so well with a few little tools but last year it was spotted at security bag xrays and all the new mini pots of bought were confiscated 😔
Tin foil and fairy liquid (smeared on window first) creates a complete blackout on windows you can wipe off if you turn up somewhere with inadequate curtains. Which is everywhere, I liked my kids to literally be in a bear cave day for naps. Now they are a bit older they each have eye mittens (or whatever they are actually called – eye masks??) to keep out the light.
I love the phrase ‘eye mittens’! I’ll call them that from now on.
Make sure all the iPads are fully charged.
Top Trumps have kept my now 7&10year olds entertained on many a flight. We have acquired about 10 different sets now and an unrivalled knowledge of horse breeds/ superheroes/ baby animals.
And a few extra sandwich bag clips or ziplock bags for the half eaten packet of breadsticks so they don’t end up in smithereens at the bottom of your bag.
Ditch the Trunkis unless you want to have a nervous breakdown.
Chupa chup lilipops to help with their ears during take off and landing. Also good to bride them with to behave during boarding and taxiing.
Longchamp shoulder bag is deceptively large and you can throw so much into it without it taking up too much room in the overhead locker or under your seat.
During long haul flights have a pair of cashmere socks for yourself to put on so you can at least pretend you are travelling in comfort inbetween wiping sticky fingers and scrambling under the seats for dropped headphones etc.
Bring snacks as my children never seem to eat the airline food even if I order the kids’ meals.
For long flights a spare set of clothes for everyone in a plastic ziplock bag with the persons name on. Also having travelled longhaul with my children since were babies and had every worst nightmare in flight experience from puke to monster tantrums, I am pleased to report that it does get better once the youngest is over 5- I actually got to watch a whole movie without interruption on our last trip!!
If your child is a vomiter – don’t bother with a small bag – use the airline blanket – it can cover a massive area quickly – especially when it is likely to be projectile and can be just rolled up and disposed of – air stewards will thank you for not having vomit seeping into seat and carpet!
The first line of this article cracked me up! So sick of “hacks” and it’s evil twin “dupes”
The passport labeling is such a good idea! I now label everything with washi tape and sharpie marker. You can get neon washi!😊
DUPES?! god that’s a new one to me
Not only can you pre-order formula from Boots and pick it up once through security you can also order all your toiletries which solves the problem if only taking hand luggage or to save space in your checked luggage.
Talc for the beach! It gets sand off every body part like magic. Dust it on sandy feet and the sand slides off and leaves dry, soft skin.
Original Ginsta says
Felt tips on a loop. Stops you having to scrabble around on the floor as they inevitably lose the lids, or, horror upon horrors, PUT THE WRONG LIDS ON THE WRONG PENS!!! 😱
When you go out and about each day make up an emergency pouch to keep everything together and make sure that you don’t venture out without it. I always used a clear plastic pencil case so it was really easy to spot it amongst our other stuff and filled it with plasters in all sizes, antiseptic wipes, paracetamol, tissues and a thick freezer bag to use as an emergency sick bag. I’m sure that there were other essentials but those are the ones that come to mind, it was a while ago.
Another tip if you have a long car journey and small kids is ‘the Travel Fairy’. Ahead of the travel date I’d buy little puzzles, toys, books, cuddly toys and useful things like foam bladed fans etc etc, anything that didn’t have small parts that could fall out and get lost. I’d shove these into a carrier bag and stash it under my seat. Whenever we stopped at a service station one of us would stay behind for a second and whip out one of these little toys for each child and leave it on their car seats as a surprise from the Travel Fairy. They never sussed it out. It helped to have a caddy between the 2 kids seats that these little gifts got stored in so each could dip in the caddy to pick something out to amuse themselves with
I wish you were my mummy
Aww thank you!
I don’t post on forums so while I’m here I’ll pass on my absolute killer parenting tip, it’s totally off topic but I need to pass it on.
My son had glue ear when he was about 4 and needed grommets inserted as a day case. We didn’t want him to worry about this or have sleepless nights ahead of the operation. As soon as we knew when his operation date was we prepped him by taking him to buy new jammies, games, books etc and packed them in his Thomas the Tank rucksack.
We told him everything that we thought that he needed to know but the ONE thing we didn’t tell him was the operation date. We kept the date secret until the morning of the operation. We woke him up and told him that the hospital had just rung up and said that they had space for him right now, today, WHOO HOO!!! and he was at the hospital 20 minutes later.
So no dramas, no tears, no sleepless nights. We pulled this trick twice more and he only found out about it when we mentioned it a few years ago when he was about 30.
There are some great tips here! It’s a long time since I was dealing with a baby or toddler, but if you are, those meet and greet airport parking services are an absolute life saver. Drive straight to the terminal and they take your car and park it for you. On the way back they bring it to you – which is just brilliant when everyone’s knackered and the last thing you want to do is faff about with a bus to the car park. If you book far enough in advance or use one of those 15% off emails it really doesn’t cost that much more.
Yes! Or, if two adults are available, have one drop you and the kids off at the terminal and then go and park the car and get the bus back while you begin the long, slow process of check-in/security.
This is not a tip that’s suitable if you’re only taking hand luggage but if you’re travelling with a baby, buy a £15 travel cot mattress from Mothercare because all travel cots are essentially the same as sleeping on a piece of cardboard with some metal rods in. Because that’s what they are. Anything that helps reluctant babies to sleep. The mattress folds up and we got it into our suitcase that had 4 people’s clothes in so it’s not too bulky.
Also it is a complete pain at the airport until we’ve dropped them off but we take at least one car seat with us (if hiring a car) because a) no guarantee the hire car place will have the right sort b) it’s free on every airline we’ve tried even Ryanair and c) you can stuff the bag full of nappies, towels, coats etc and it doesn’t go towards your luggage allowance. We took a scooter and helmet in there last year. You can get bags from Amazon.
On ferries if we have a daytime crossing (not Dover Calais obviously) we book a cabin (it’s about £20) for baby naps, quiet time watching iPad etc. Brittany Ferries have soft play areas and the kids meals are good too.
I have an eight month old and have done enough travel to know that you can simulate a sling walk while sat in a cramped Ryanair plane seat (though it does require a helper), but not enough to hand out any amazing tips.
We’re planning a long haul trip in the spring, when she’ll be a toddler, so I’m very grateful for all the wisdom on here!
Lucy Scales says
I always take pipe cleaners and a few Pom poms, I think Sainsbury’s do a really small craft bucket with a lid and handle with pipe cleaners and Pom poms and it’s brilliant to keep them entertained…my 4,2 and 1 year old love them on flights and the stewards always say they’re great and so easy to tidy!
Esther, could I love you & your posts any more? Love all your tips & the Spikers comments here.
My tip? Get a rucksack, I know, I KNOW! I’ve had an aversion to them for years too but recently discovered Mia Tui travel bags which is run by a fellow twin Mummy (I have twin boys & a little girl) & was umming & ahhing about which hand luggage bag to take on our 2 week hols & the owner of the company sent me both bags to try out (exceptional customer service) – I decided on the Sydney in a stylish cornflower blue & life was transformed in the airport – bag had loads of pockets so could find everything easily & had my hands free! Highly recommend. And no, not a sponsored post or a freebie (I wish) just a happy customer.
Hilary! Yes rucksacks. Giles and I have one each for travel (though just Kiplings) and they are very handy x
I find a quiet area (not a “Quiet” area but one not near any people!) near the gate and do silly races to burn off some energy just before boarding. So a hopping race, backwards walking race, giant step race, slowest person wins race, etc etc.
A cheap see through sturdy plastic wash bag from primark is good for squashable snacks – give a little bit of protection from the bumps and knocks on the plane.
The best thing I have ever done is to invest in a really expensive (I think it was £300+) YoYo buggy after a particularly horrific flight. You can fold it up into a tiny bag and take it as hand luggage which minimises the time a toddler terrorist is unrestrained as you can use it up to and from the gate. I am small and feeble and could not even contemplate carrying a toddler in a sling. We bought the YoYo after a particularly horrific flight from Nice to Heathrow during which I was 8 months pregnant and my 18 month old son ran amok. My husband thought it was a good idea to use air his miles to upgrade to Club Class as he mistakenly thought angry French business travellers would “be more sympathetic” to our futile attempts to restrain our lunatic toddler. (Lara Stone, the Dutch supermodel, was also on the flight, with her immaculately behaved small child + nanny. Also beastly BA lost all of our check in luggage and so I did not get my pram for almost a week). Now that I have two boys and for a brief, painful while had two under two I sometimes drug them with Phenergan, a mild antihistamine. I do this under the advice of a family member who is a paediatrician in the US where it is commonly prescribed to anxious parents of travelling toddlers. She gave me a huge bottle that I was only going to use in emergencies, although I had administered it in the first 15 minutes of our 4 hour flight to Mykonos last Summer. It knocked them out cold for 2 hours +. In the UK you can get it over the counter for excema. Apparently a small percentage of kids go completely hyperactive on it. But mine don’t.
Ah, Phenergan …
I don’t have a tip but I have a question!
How do you get cartoons to play continuously on an ipad when you’re watching offline? On Amazon Prime you can download 20 poxy episodes to watch offline but you have to reset it between each one if you’re not on the wifi. Iplayer is even worse. There must be a way!
Tessa there MUST
Esther I don’t know if sharing a link here is super cheesy please delete me if it is! But! I have done an unfortunate amount of long haul travel with our four kids (8, 6, 4 &2) and a couple of international house moves that were not pretty.
Anyway I wrote a couple of posts on travel here:
But really my most important and v glamorous advice is don’t stop at outfit changes for kids – pack one of your husband’s tshirts in your carry on, in the event of a child vomiting in your lap (or your husband’s lap). Avoids having to sit in vomity clothes for the rest of the journey and if you tie up your oversized tshirt and throw a scarf over the top you can pretend it is totally intentional and not at all anything to do with vomiting. Xx
Sharing links is fine! Thanks x
Can’t lie, this post is exactly what I love about the community you’ve created. Acknowledgement that motherhood is constant juggling and bloody hard work, hundreds of inspired ideas from clever people and then total realism… they’re insane, drug the little bastards!
Much like a basket by the front door to throw sunglasses in, the neon name stickers will CHANGE MY LIFE!!!!!
Issie, this company makes amazing stick on name stickers in every colour under the sun and they stick to everything you can think of and go through the dishwasher/washing machine etc. I have three sets in different colours for my children and can’t recommend them enough. https://www.easy2name.com
My top tip for flying with small children is to wrap little toys/pencils/mags or whatever in wrapping paper before you leave then present them at intervals during the flight. The unwrapping is a distraction in itself and it helps you stagger things for max entertainment value.
My kids are much bigger now so we’re a long way past the baby and toddler days, but speaking from this perspective I think it’s worth trying to remember that loads of people on the plane with you will have had small children themselves at some point and will be completely sympathising with you when your child has a meltdown (or at least think “thank God that’s not happening to me”). When you feel stressed and embarrassed it’s easy to imagine that everyone is judging you but really anybody decent will be feeling for you, not judging you. And anyone horrible isn’t worth worrying about.
Travelling long haul with a baby: the worst bit is when you’re strapped in (takeoff/ landing/ turbulence) and something essential like a toy or dummy falls on the floor. Our solution was LANYARDS! Hung around our necks, not the baby’s (was afeared of choking) it meant that when he threw or dropped something we had it right there! When we got off in Sydney my husband had the baby in the bjorn, with a dummy and three toys hanging from his neck, it was a great look.
(Oh also? Don’t start weaning your kid just before a long flight. We gave ours his first Ella pouches on the flight and went through EVERY SPARE OUTFIT en route due to the shock to his digestive system…)
Oh and PS – he’s bigger now, Phenergan all the way.
When our three daughters were all junior school age’ish, we did a few long haul flights to USA, Australia, South Africa. We would get small denomination money of the destination currency before the trip, for making up airport/aeroplane bribes. If a flight/situation was getting a bit challenging, anxious or just boring, we’d bribe one/two/all of the girls with their own spending money for the holiday, pre-sealed in multiple little brown envelopes.
Yes. We ARE talking straight bribes. However..with some pre-trip discussion about the kinds of things or food that might be found at our destination, the collection of bribes worked really well! Our youngest (then 5 years old) was desperate to buy her own stuffed toy koala in Australia and the Cash For Good Behaviour (£4GB) built up her funds to do that. The koala is still her favourite teddy to this day (aged 19).
Having written this down, I’m now thinking that we were crummy parents and have created monsters for children. Blast! Think they’re ok though.
The brown envelopes went into their mini, brightly coloured backpacks together with their notepads for writing down the total of their stash, with conversion rates supplied towards the end of the flight
PS we did have books, colouring, puzzles, etc, in addition to the £4GB envelopes!
Hi – don’t forget your FabLittleBags ! They have a multitude of uses over and above making being a “Binner” feel Fab and saving the oceans from sanitary waste – we get told frequently by Mums (& Dad) how they keep them in the car as perfect for the apple cores, banana skins, chewing gum, snotty tissues! Given that travelling on hols involves a host of annoying things one wants to securely discard, maybe FabLittleBag would be a fab problem-solver for these issues?
Someone on here suggested dressing the kids identically in case they got lost. I just used to take a phone photo of them if we went anywhere particularly busy – then I would have an image of kids in the clothes they are wearing. And could easily distribute photo. Never actually needed it…..phew.
Hannah @ themumandthemom says
This is a really great idea. If I tell my husband I am doing this he will think I have reached peak paranoid but I think it is v brilliant! Xx