We all want the annual family holiday to be a highlight of the year. We want to use the precious time off work to make memories that will last a lifetime. But we also know that travelling with babies, toddlers or kids can be like herding cats! There are a few tricks to keep little ones entertained that may make getting to and from your destination a little less stressful:
Travelling with a baby, especially for the first time can be daunting, but a little preparation should help everything run smoothly.
Contact the airports you are flying out of and into and understand how the process of travelling with children works. Dublin airport have a handy guide explaining exactly how everything works when travelling with babies or kids. Being familiar with the process before arrival will make a big difference on the day.
We are so used to travelling through airports these days that many of us have it down to a fine art but everything changes when you have a baby in tow. Security takes longer and you can be guaranteed of a last minute need for a nappy change and a feed before the flight so make sure you allow yourself lots of extra time.
If you are travelling alone or with other adults, unreserved seating can be a great way to save some money for your holiday. But if you are travelling with your baby we recommend reserving seats so that you know exactly where you will be sitting. This will make things much easier when it comes to boarding because you will know where on the plane you are headed.
Top tip: try and reserve a seat near the top of the plane, there is less vibration there and it makes it easier for boarding and leaving the plane.
Packing for a baby can feel like a military operation at the best of times but if you are flying to your destination make sure you have everything your baby will need…and more!
Unexpected delays can double travel time, or more, especially if you are travelling over the winter months.
Top tip: don’t forget to pack enough for the return journey!
Most airports will let you wheel a child in a buggy right up to the gate but it is worth checking this out. If your baby is under 2 you can travel with them on your lap, often for free. But remember to really think this through if you are travelling a long distance or your toddler likes to move! If you have reserved a seat for your baby then they will need a baby seat to travel in.
Sometime the pressure changes in the cabin can hurt a baby or toddler’s ears. If this is the case they are likely to let you know about it! Be prepared with a bottle or soother for younger babies (swallowing helps relieve the pressure) or a lolly pop for older children.
Travelling with toddlers is probably the most challenging of all, they have the same needs as a baby but they want to move independently! The tips on extra time and supplies apply for toddlers too but we have a few more suggestions for a comfortable trip:
Make sure you pack plenty of snacks for your toddler. They will both stave off hunger and be really useful as a bribe if they become fussy either on the way through the airport or on the plane. We’d recommend keeping snacks low in sugar, particularly on a long flight, the last thing you want is a toddler high on sugar in a confined space!
Help your toddler make their seat their own by bringing some familiar items from home including a pillow, favourite blanket and cuddly toy. Having something familiar in a new environment will help them to relax and hopefully sleep for some of the journey!
Keeping little ones entertained can be a challenge at the best of times, not least when they are confined to a small space. One of the easiest and most immersive forms of entertainment for a child on board a plane is use of a tablet or portable DVD player with a set of over ear head phones, that way they can watch as many episodes of Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig as they like without disturbing other passengers.
Top tip: wrap a few small gifts like toy cars or a colouring book and give them to your child throughout the journey for being good!
If you have decided to stay at home this year or take your car on a ferry to Britain or France then there may be long car journey’s involved getting to the ferry port and to your final destination. Stop ‘are we there yet’ starting 2mins after you leave the driveway with our top tips for travelling by car with kids:
An oldie but a goodie, the whole car can get involved in a game of I spy. One player says ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with (the first letter of the object)’ and the rest of the players have to guess objects beginning with that letter. The person who guesses correctly goes next.
Top tip: avoid arguments by agreeing parameters around what can be spied so the object hasn’t disappeared by the time everyone is guessing!
Perfect game for older children make a list using words or pictures of things you are likely to see on the way to your destination; red car, stop sign, traffic lights. Players have a marker and cross the items off as the spot them.
Top tip: don’t forget a prize for the winner (and possibly a consolation prize for those who aren’t so successful!)
Reading in the car can make some children feel travel sick. A sick child is the last thing you need when there are hours of travel left so a great bet is to load the CD player or link a bluetooth device to some audio stories to keep everyone entertained for an hour or more.
If the car journey is likely to run into many hours having films to watch on a portable DVD player or tablet could be the secret to travelling with kid’s success! A stock of Disney classics should keep them entertained for 2-3 hours when hopefully it will be time for a nap!
Wherever you decide to travel with your family this year, remember their health and wellbeing is most important. If something should happen while you are abroad make sure you are covered by our great value family travel insurance. AIG travel insurance offers a host of great benefits to make sure your dream holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Visit our travel insurance page to get more information.