The summer season is almost upon us and dreams filled with sun, sand, sea and escaping the humdrum of everyday life will soon become a reality. Whilst it’s one thing to pack for yourself, packing for a holiday with babies and kids in tow is a whole different ballgame.

For those aiming to fly away, here’s some advice from Chloe Lowe, Founder of parenting app, Parent List, to help you make flying with kids way less stressful and ensure you can manage that mental load. 

Babies (0-2)

  • Pre-order formula and nappies to collect from retailers inside the airport departures. This way, you don’t have to carry them through security. Just be sure to pack more nappies than you think you’ll need and add in some cream to soothe any sore bottoms – you don’t want to be helpless or caught short when dealing with a high-altitude dose of nappy rash.
  • Book your seat in advance and as early as possible – sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how often people forget and leave this to the last minute. Choose your seats wisely; for example, try to sit close to the toilets with baby-changing facilities. Cabin air pressure can wreak havoc on tiny tummies, so you may need it more often than you expect.
  • Call the airline after booking and check if you can book a seat with a baby bassinet for your newborn to sleep in. 
  • A sling is an absolute lifesaver enabling you to keep baby close and your hands-free. 
  • Pack lots of spares, from clothes – for the baby and for yourself, to wipes, nappies and formula. That way you’re prepared for any delays or mishaps. 
  • Help stop tiny ears from popping with a dummy, or bottle, or nurse them to keep the ascent and descent as pain-free as possible.

Toddler and preschool 

  • Slings aren’t just for babies, if your toddler is a willing participant be sure to pack one. They really can save the day when it comes to moving around the airport or helping to settle them to sleep.
  • Suitcases that double up as ride-ons are a great option for keeping up the pace in the airport, particularly if you are running late or carrying lots of luggage. 
  • If travelling with a buggy, take it all the way to the gate, you don’t have to check it in as oversized baggage – it can be stored overhead on the plane, but if you do decide to check in a buggy, look out for it on the oversized baggage carousel, not the main luggage belt! 
  • Reigns are ideal for passing through busy airports with wandering toddlers!
  • Don’t forget to pack Pj’s – the perfect way to help kids associate sleep time from awake time, especially if flying long haul. 
  • Bring a small backpack, this can be filled with toys, books, and other activities to keep your toddler entertained during travel. We suggest mess-free colouring, stickers, fuzzy felt, mini play doh, paper and coloured pencils in an easy-to-reach case. 
  • Don’t forget your child’s favourite cuddly or comforter – you may be afraid of losing it but if it’s the difference between them being able to settle or not, then it’s a risk worth taking. Remember to take a photo of it before take-off – that way if you are separated it’s easily identifiable! 
  • Don’t fight the tiredness – at this stage, they will still need naps and so just let them sleep when they need to. 
  • Pack a few quiet activities that you can occupy them with once the lights are low and the cabin is quieter.

For Kids (5+)

  • A scooter case is great for both storage and travel, making it fun whilst keeping everyone moving – the Flyte case works well.
  • Pack a water bottle that they can sip on for take-off and landing to help with ear pressurisation or anything they can suck on to relieve discomfort.
  • Involve your kids in the planning process – Let them help plan your trip by choosing activities or destinations they want to visit once you get there. 
  • Don’t just rely on the in-flight entertainment – bring books, small games such as Dobble, Uno and other activities to keep your kids distracted.
  • Bring your own travel neck pillow, they are far more comfortable than the aeroplane offering. 
  • Pack a refillable water bottle – this is the best way to keep them hydrated whilst in the air and also avoid any spills. 
  • Inflatable foot cushions can be used to fill the gap in front of your chair, providing space to keep feet raised and enabling kids to stretch out and rest more easily. Just be sure to check in advance if your airline allows them.
  • When showing older kids, the inflight entertainment, be sure to look through the games too as there are excellent child-friendly options. You can often play against each other too!

General Tips for all ages 

  • Use packing cubes to aid your packing – they keep everything so well organised, and you can even go a step further and buy everyone a different colour so they’re even more easily identifiable! 
  • Most airlines will let you check in two large items at no extra charge, such as a buggy or car seat, so always check this in advance.
  • Pack plenty of snacks and picnic-type foods. Even more than you think you’ll need. Do not rely on the food provided to satisfy fussy tummies. It also means that they can eat when they’re hungry rather than when meals are served. Snacks also help to allay boredom so bring plenty of variety and even include some treats for when the going gets tough! 
  • If flying long haul it’s a nice idea to buy and wrap up a few small items to bring out along the way. These little budget buys could include a new book, fidgets, scratch art, mini-figures etc. Perfect for when the kids start to get restless.
  • Pack comfortable over-the-head earphones – if your little one is likely to watch the screen during your travels then be sure to take headphones they’re used to using. Much better than battling with the aeroplane offering. And avoid wireless, the ones with the cable are likely to be more reliable.
  • Don’t forget to select a child’s meal option in advance – these tend to be served before everyone else on the plane so you can feed them with ease before enjoying your own. Also, don’t be afraid to refuse the meal if your child is sleeping when it’s brought out. Most airlines will save it for a later time or offer an alternative once they’re awake again. 
  • If you’re taking a tablet, ensure it’s fully charged before take-off and download any favourite shows so they can view them anytime, anywhere – especially useful if you get stuck in transit. Don’t forget to bring charging cables for all electricals too. Nowadays you can typically charge whilst you’re in the air too.
  • Pre-boarding – can be a great idea but it means you’ll be sitting for even longer whilst you wait for the rest of the plane to join you. If travelling as a pair, then consider sending one ahead to set everything up in the seats, that way you can keep the kids active until the last moment possible.

Overall, the key to easy travel with kids is to be prepared and flexible. Adjust your expectations and try not to sweat the small stuff. Travelling with kids can be unpredictable, so be prepared for unexpected challenges and be willing to adjust your plans as needed. Everything may not go according to plan but don’t let that stop you from travelling and having the time of your life!

Manage the mental load of parenting with the help of Parent List.


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