When traveling with children there are some pre-flight tips you can apply that will ensure a smoother journey when in the air. The key is to think ahead and be prepared, you know best the needs of your children. There is only so much the crew can do once in the air, What you do before the flight is the game changer. Here are my top 10 tips of things to do before you travel with children – from my family to yours:
- CHILD’S PASSPORT AND VISAS: Organise your child’s passport and visas (if required) well in advance, i.e. months. Most governments are very particular and strict with their specifications, including on photos. For Australian readers, I recommend Ted’s Camera Shop over Australia Post Office’s. In short, the cost of using professionals is often less than having to re-submit applications.
- FIRST AID KIT: I always stock up pre-travel on trusted first aid products like children’s pain and fever relief (e.g. Panodol & Nuerofen), anti-histamine (e.g. Clarintyne), antiseptic & anesthetic cream (e.g. Savlon) hydration supplements (e.g. Hydralite) and plasters & bandages. Hand Sanitizer is something I always travel with. There are chemists at most airports, but I suggest you stock up well in advance of your trip.
- SEATING REQUESTS: For those with infants, request a baby bassinet if they meet the specifications. For those with young children, I recommend an aisle seat in close proximity to a toilet with baby change facilities. You can request seats from booking your ticket and potentially as late as the boarding gate, but not once in the air.
- FOOD ON BOARD: If you would like a child’s meal you need to order this in advance of travel and confirm at check-in, as all catering is done on the ground. Once in the air, the flight attendants will do all they can to improvise for any non pre-ordered requests, but you will need to manage your expectations. I recommend packing snacks that you know your child will like, e.g. infant food packages, for the airport and during the flight, as it can be a long time between services once on board.
- CARPARKING: Think about where you will park your car. There are a lot of specials around at the moment and I advise shopping around. For my Melbourne readers, my favourite place for value and service is Andrew’s Airport Parking –there is nothing like a friendly face and sparkling clean car upon arriving home. Better still, Andrew’s are offering mum with wings readers a 10% discount, right up until Christmas. Book at http://www.andrewsairportpark.com.au/melbourne.aspx and use the Discount Code WINGS.
- LAGS: Liquid and Gel regulations are something that parent’s travelling with infants are exempt from, as long as the amounts are proportionate to the duration of the flight, with a little extra in case of delays. I strongly recommend reading up about these regulations for those airports you will be visiting to avoid any undue worries when passing through security checks. You can find everything you need here http://travelsecure.infrastructure.gov.au/international/lags/exemptions.aspx
- ENTERTAINMENT: We are very lucky that these days we have access to iPads/ tablets, but remember to charge and load it up before you travel with your children’s favourite shows, games and books. For a number of airlines, usually non-premium, you can pre-order iPads for in-flight entertainment. I still pack activities like stickers and colouring books, which are handy when electronic devices cannot be used during the flight, e.g. taxiing.
- PREP YOUR CHILDREN: Explain to your children what is about to happen and the processes at the airport. I find when children know what is about to happen they will be relaxed and not afraid of any checks.
- HYDRATE and REST: If children are hydrated and well rested before travel they will be more comfortable once in the air.
- CABIN BAGGAGE: Think about packing well in advance, especially cabin baggage. One tip I always recommend is preparing some freezer bags with nappies and wipes to keep in the seat pocket and a wrap. This means every time your child needs changing you don’t need to get your bag down from the overhead locker. Packing is a blog post of its own.coming soon.
Travelling with your family is an amazing thing to do and I want everyone to experience it. If you do these 10 things I mentioned before flying with children you will be prepared and organised for a great flight with your family. Safe travels.
Mum with Wings