Help! We need your tips please on surviving airports with babies and children...(75 Posts)
It's that time of year when parents trail through airports with suitcases, children, children's suitcases, babies, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
So how do you keep track of your offspring and your chattels? Do you have essential tips for what to do before you even leave home to smooth the whole process at the airport? And what about fodder - for you and the little ones? And distraction (we're thinking flight delays and the interminable wait to get your hire car when you get there)? Oh, and pushchairs and bottle warming, and packing restrictions?
We need your top tips for making the airport bit of going on holiday as painless as possible - on the outbound and homeward bound legs of your journey - please add them here.
Portable DVD player was a god-send, especially when we were delayed for four hours in Bodrum airport.
We did have to resort to buying him an overpriced toy in the duty free though, just to keep him occupied/calm, so maybe little presents that are brought out at intervals.
Get a trunki if you have a toddler and let them pack it themselves.
Spend more on sticker books than you did on your entire holiday, it will make your journey easier!
I know a lot of people seem to hate toddler reins but you'd be mad not to in a crowded place like an airport.
Pack some familiar snacks and drinks and a favourite teddy, airports can be a bit scary for toddlers so a little bit of home can help.
Get a backpack to use as your carry on instead of a little wheely case, it's one less thing to carry.
Find out in advance if the airport has a children's play area.
Spare clothes for everyone
Also, unless you haven't got allocated seats, BOARD THE PLANE LAST! There are no prizes for getting on first, all that happens is you are stuck in a confined space for an extra 30 minutes, when you could be at the gate, letting them have that final run round.
If all else fails, remember it's unlikely that you are going to see any of the people on the plane again
Pack a little lunch that they can eat on the plane when they reject the airline childrens meal (AMerican airlines - fried bread with cheese on)
(for maximum effect this packed lunch should not be left in the car in the off airport car park prior to an 11 hour flight to the USA)
Lightweight booster seat (polystyrene seat & zip on/off back) - take minimal hand luggage for yourself, so you can wedge this in the overhead locker during take off and landing. If your child can sleep sitting upright with head to ne side supported by booster seat then you have a hope of arriving at least half sane.
Meant to add my own in OP and forgot: don't allow your child into the entirely walled-in from floor to ceiling airport toilet without checking that they can work the lock BEFORE they go to the loo alone and lock the door.
When the person in the seat in front complains about their seat being kicked, offer to swap places with them as you think it only fair that since it is your child, you should be kicked. I promise you they will not accept your offer and sit next to your dc instead, but it will also mean that you have offered them a solution and mean they can't whinge again.
Ask for as many isle and window seats as you legally can. Airlines will not place people in middle seats alone if they can help it, giving you extra space. If it happens that someone is placed between you, they will almost certainly switch with one of you.
Get on the plane last. Put toys etc under seat in front. Make a loo stop the last thing you do before boarding.
Don't prebook seats if you have an under 2. They don't tell you but they have already allocated your seats together in advance.
Put the mother in the extra leg room seats at the front of the plane, and the father at the back with the children. That way the children have somewhere to travel to when the seatbelt lights are turned off.
Pack the children into the suitcases and just wear 8 changes of clothes. Its a bit uncomfortable, but you don't notice so much after your 5th G&T. The rest of your stuff can fit into your hand luggage.
Failing that a portable DVD player. Snacks that take time and effort to eat e.g. boxes of raisins, lots of crap magazines, lolly pops for the descent and a sense of humour are essential.
We tend to make long, trans-atlantic journeys.
On a red eye flight, turn off all the lights and electronic entertainment when they dim the cabin lights. The child will fall asleep if they are bored and it is dark. They will not fall asleep if you let them watch movies.
We always pack all the food the children will need for the day. We bring sandwiches, fruit, biscuits and yogurt tubes (be sure they are less than 100ml each). This means they still eat even if the airplane food isn't palatable to them, and they can eat when they want too. Just remember to throw away leftovers on the plane if you are travelling abroad and there are restrictions about bringing fruit, meat, and dairy to the next country. We also bring an empty spill-proof water bottle for each child. The flight attendants will put the children's drinks in their cups.
Ipad, portable DVD player with long battery life and favourite shows, the kids own headphones, and little fiddly toys to keep their fingers busy. We like transformers for 5 and 8 year old boys.
I find alcohol is a bad idea when travelling with children. It makes me less interested in entertaining them and keeping them quietly cheerful for 15 consecutive hours.
If you are going to give them something to make them sleepy, only do this during the hours their body is normally sleepy. Otherwise they just get cranky. Also, be sure to test that medication at home to make sure it doesn't work the opposite way than you expected.
Oh, sorry. I didn't notice that the tips were for airports and not planes.
Airports aren't too bad, there are plenty of places to run and play.
Best thing for the airport is a little life backpack with a handful of little toys in!
Being willing to walk around for as long as there little legs will let them works well - also means they will hopefully be tired out when they get on the plane and sleep!
Leave home earlier than you think you need to - there's nothing worse than being in a traffic jam and worrying that you'll miss your flight. As dull as airports are, it's better to be there early and be the first to check in than screeching up to parking like a bat out of hell and trying to drag small children at Usain-Bolt-speed through the terminal.
Be last to board the plane, no point boarding first (when they call those travelling with young children) as then you are stuck in a seat with children whilst the other passengers try and squeeze in next to you and drop their luggage on your head.
Food and drink costs in airports are, IMO, extortionate. Take a picnic if you are able to, and then more snacks for the plane especially if travelling with a budget airline as you'll need to sell a kidney to be able to afford a coffee and some biscuits. Remember you can't take much in the way of drinks through security but take bottles to drink prior to security then empty them and buy fluids airside if needing refills.
Don't head for your departure gate too early - there's naff all to do there and they can be quite a distance from toilets. But conversely don't leave it until they are calling for you by name to board as you won't be overly popular with the flight crew. And always do a toilet trip/nappy change at the last possible minute.
I tok note of an obviously ultra-experienced mum at a greek island airport. She had 3 under 5s, and the 3am flight was delayed...but she had brought a portable dvd player, had plugged it in to a wall socket, had produced 3 rugs from her hand luggage and had three very content children curled up . Mine and everyone else's were trying to huddle round too
oh and at the aforementioned greek island airport, the snack shop was horrifically expensive - 4euro for a calypso style juice drink and we had very few euro left anyway. So we hit the duty free shop where we found plenty of drinks and snacks on 'special offer' and dined interestingly on a 6-pack of Sprite, Milka chocolate and peanuts....In my defence, it was 4am, flight delayed by 2 hours aand we had been up since midnight by this point
If your child is in nappies take more spare outfits than usual. We got through three by the time we landed after a two hour flight, outfit number four was in the suitcase.
Lots of snacks and drinks.
Try to take a bag you can fit under the seat not above your head - it will make life so much easier
My tips are playdough, sticker books and a small, squashable pillow (not a blow-up one). And bribery .
In a word: TRUNKI. Oh and possibly valium (for yourself of course). Praying sometimes helps. Then again so does cursing to yourself.
Just saw sage advice from Maryz above- bribery is good. One must ALWAYS have a carrot dangling at all times even if small. 'If you are good you can have 15 minutes on Moshi Monsters when we get back from this flight from Australia'.
Disposable bibs help keep the hand luggage a bit lighter (you can get environmentally friendly ones)
I second sticker books too, lightweight and lots of entertainment time. Get new ones and only produce them once your journey has started.
And by the way, it doesn't have to be expensive bought sticker books. Mine loved it when we took toy shop catalogues, children's scissors, prittstick and ordinary cheap school copybooks.
They used to make "scrap books" of all sorts of thing we found on the way - cut outs from newspapers, airline magazines, postcards we bought, that type of thing.
IME airlines will now either let you take your pram to the gate and then unload it again at the arrival gate or have airport prams. Do check and take advantage of this as babies get heavy being carried with so much walking around.
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