According to the UK Office of Statistics, in 2017, around 12m UK families travelled abroad; at Heathrow Airport alone, over 800,00 families jetted off in 2018. International travel with children is becoming more popular each year. Whether your family is going on holiday to Orlando, heading to the Caribbean, travelling to the Middle East or anywhere else that requires boarding a plane, it’s important to start off on the right foot when tots are in tow. But parents, fret not. The Kenwood Travel experts are here with some tried-and-tested tips to help reduce the stress of air travel with kids.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Airports can be a stressful setting for young families. With toddlers waddling about, and having to wrestle with strollers and suitcases, it’s important to allow yourself enough time to check-in, go through security, and make your way to the boarding gate. Many airlines will invite families with young children to board first, so it’s important to take advantage of this as it could help your little ones settle in. As well as giving yourself time to get to each point of the journey, it’s also important to make sure every step has been accounted for, whether it’s checking in online before your flight or arranging transfers from the airport to the hotel.
Make a Game of Packing
Kids get excited when going on holiday, and will want to bring everything they feel will be necessary. However, from an adult’s perspective, it’s not practical to bring 20 toy cars and 50 different colouring books. It may be worth packing with them and help them make the right packing decisions. You can design and print out a packing checklist for your kids and turn it into a game. Perhaps consider doing a scavenger hunt and make a point that they must only find the items on the checklist to win the game. This will help children to focus on finding and packing the absolute necessities.
Have Entertainment at the Ready
No parent will want to deal with a restless child while travelling. Be sure to have some entertainment at the ready, whether it’s a tablet, some colouring books or even easy to pack toys. Keep a list of game ideas on your phone or in a notebook so that kids will be able to continue to play even when devices have to be turned off during taxi. Traditional games such as ‘eye spy’ will be a good way to keep children entertained when iPads can’t be used. It may be helpful for you as a parent to let your children sit on the window seat. This will be a great way for children to occupy themselves, by watching the plane takeoff and land before inflight entertainment and personal devices are switched on. If travelling with more than one child, you can arrange for them to switch seats before take-off and landing.
Invest in a GPS Child Tracker
In busy areas, such as airports and in unfamiliar foreign cities, it can difficult trying to manage lively children. Consider investing in a GPS child tracker. Companies such as Micodus and Game Smart have released a range of electronic child trackers so you can locate your little one easily if they decide to wander off. These trackers can come in all different shapes and sizes which means you can find the right one for you. There are trackers that can be inserted into your child’s shoe or clothing, such as the TKSTAR mini GPS tracker (£42.99) or can be clipped onto their clothing like the Weenect Kids GPS tracker (£49.99). Both can be synced up with your smartphone. Some trackers even come in a form of a colourful watch or wristband, like the Q50 Child GPS Tracker (£89.95). A purchase like this will help ease your worries when flying with children.
Pack Snacks and Pre-order Milk
Throughout a long journey, your little darlings could turn into little pests when they get too hungry. Make sure to bring some snacks along with you so you’ll be at the ready if one of your little tykes is hungry. Be sure to avoid sugary snacks and sweets; the last thing you would want to have to deal with is a child going through a sugar rush in the middle of a busy airport, or on the plane. If the airport you’re travelling out of has a Boots pharmacy you can pre-order milk and formulas for babies to pick up after going through security. (please note, that must order at least five days before your travel date for milk.) This will be help avoid any hassle or issues involving bringing liquid through security.
Bring the Required Documents
As of August 2018, the Home Office have started to urge parents with a different surname to their children to bring a copy of birth certificates, or any official document that proves the relationship. By doing this, it can help speed up passport control and avoid further delays on your trip. If you’re a grandparent travelling with your grandchild, make sure you bring a letter of the parent’s consent to present to passport control. It’s also important to check your children’s passports’ validity as they tend to expire every five years. Make sure all documentation is up to date when you make your booking. For more information about travel documents please visit UK Border Agency website.