Hi I am Jen, owner and director at JEN Travel. I have a delightful crew of 5 children of my own along with my husband varying in age from 10 years all the way down to 1 year old twins! If anyone can give some advice on travelling with lots of children, I think I can talk! Here are just a few of my favourite top tips with travelling as a family including children:
- Taking the kids on a cruise or to South Pacific? Bring some Aqua shoes. These are a really cheap easy thing to pick up from somewhere like Rebel Sport before you leave Australia. From as little at $10 a pair for the kids and between $15 and $20 for the adults, these are great to wear in the water if you are snorkelling or swimming and can help you protect your family from coral cuts that really hurt and sometimes, not always, can get infected and require a trip to a local hospital/cruise ship doctor.
- Travelling on a long haul flight? We can all think 24 hour flight ….nightmare with a child (or children as it is for me with our crew of 5 kiddies!). Not to fear, one of the biggest issues with kids travelling is they take on the parents feelings. If you show you are scared/worried or fearful, chances are they will too. Be well prepared, get to the airport early so you aren’t stressed. Take smaller easy to carry hand luggage so you aren’t laden down with that as well as the kids. Pack a small bag with a few brand new toys – something they haven’t seen or played with before that is small enough for the plane trip but enough fun to keep them occupied for an hour at a time. Sticker books, paper dolls, magnetic eraser boards, playing cards, travel size games, a new book, a little teddy or doll can all work wonders when they are just getting to that bored stage. Also pack some snacks in case the meal service is delayed due to unforeseen turbulence or another reason. Simple museli bars/snack bars or biscuits individually packed and also lolly pops they can suck on during take off and landing to prevent ears hurting are great options. Having them individually wrapped means you won’t have to discard them as the quarantine officials can see what the ingredients are and there are no open sections.
- Water inflight? Flying really does dehydrate you! Drink LOTS of water while you are up in the air. As many airports won’t allow you to take a filled water bottle onboard anymore due to security issues, my advice is to pack a good size water bottle with your hand luggage, take it through empty and then ask the flight attendant to fill it with water for you on the aircraft. Then drink to your hearts content and remember to ditch the liquid in it before boarding your next flight so it doesn’t get confiscated!
- Stroller – get yourself a good easy to fold, umbrella style stroller/pram. The airports often have a loan pram but they aren’t always available and I clearly remember stepping off the plane in Narita Airport in Japan with 3 tired kids and NO prams available. Juggling our youngest who at the time was only 2, I really regretted handing over my pram at check in as per the check in desk’s advice that I would definitely get a pram on the other end! Insist on taking your stroller to the gate of the aircraft and getting the airline to deliver it to the door of the aircraft on your arrival at the destination, or better still – check out one of these cool new prams that folds down so tiny it fits in the overhead locker on board to plane! Baby Zen Yoyo or the Zoe XL1.
- Kids Travel Accessories – seriously you don’t need every little travel gimmick sold to particularly the first time (and often solo parent). The airlines all have blankets, pillows etc to keep your children warm and rested. If your child has a favourite blankie, then by all means take it. Items do get misplaced sometimes when travelling so just be careful taking something favourite with you on your holidays. An easy to carry cabin bag or pull along is the simplest way for them to cart their important belongings along for the plane ride. If your child is quite young, bear in mind their heads may not be able to reach the level to comfortably watch the seat back entertainment. This varies considerably from airline to airline and even aircraft to aircraft. I pack a fully charged iPad/tablet with a couple of favourite downloaded TV shows, movies and games that they can use holding themselves. Some children benefit from some noise cancelling headphones to help them sleep. The internet has a plethora of cool travel accessories, trust me I see lots of them and buy lots too to try them out! Just keep things simple and chill and you will have a smoother trip.