Tips for travelling with kids

 I have been very lucky to travel a lot with the boys over the years and often get asked for tips. I get it. The very thought of my solo trip to Texas with a 3 and 1 year old can still make my heart race. I remember spending hours pouring over the internet for tips to keep a toddler strapped on my knee AND happy, while also entertaining another for 10hrs straight...in reality they should have just given us all a sedative upon boarding and woken us up when we landed!

  However, I have found with a little prep things go much more smoothly these days and dare I say are even enjoyable! So with the summer holidays fast approaching I've popped my top tips, and must haves here. These are more air travel focused but most can be for any type of travel.  

Hand Luggage Tips.

1. Check what you can take.

Sounds stupid but whilst security is at an all time high they have relaxed some rules on what you can take. I once was made to feel like a drug mule after I was found with an apple on me at Brisbane airport. It scarred me for years but I recently found out you can actually take A LOT more than you think, especially food stuff which is super helpful for kids and people with dietary issues or concerns. It's worth checking with the airline and country you're entering first, as could def save you a lot of stress and money by bringing what you need from home. Personally I just hate wondering if they sell "it" at the airport or at the destination. 

2.Take a mini case.

On most flight's you are allowed to take a piece of hand luggage and it might seem excessive but I have found this to be a god send and well worth taking for all sorts. Most blokes I see wandering around the departure lounge with just a Passport clearly don't take anything so just use their allowance! - Make sure they fit cabin size.

 I find these case's so useful for filling up with food, at home and then topping up with items once through security. The airport/planes are SO expensive and kids instantly turn into Hungry Hippos the second they are past check in. In case you hadn't noticed they also need a lot of stuff and this is so much easier to pull around than a big heavy bag.

Things I pack in it:

* A change of clothes for each child. - Just a simple t shirt and shorts or even PJ's will do, but every time I have travelled with them, I have wanted to burn their outfit's after. I don't know how they get so filthy but they do, so great to have change - also god forbid an exploding child, drink or other accident when a change is much needed. -If you have small kids stick a t shirt in for the grown ups too, better to be safe than sorry. 

* Food from home. - Now my kids are bigger I give them their own variety of snacks but still fill this with lots of other food. If you for some reason don't eat them they will be great for the room when you get to your destination. Did you know you can even bring sandwiches through?

* Food in the airport. - Who doesn't love a Boot's meal deal? If you can't be bothered to bring your own sandwich's etc it doesn't save a fortune versus a £6 panini on board that they will probably just pick at. It's great to pop these and any other item's you might need like carton's of baby milk in the case. 

* Water. - Firstly did you know you can take an empty water bottle through security and fill it up once through? Manchester Airport have been actively advertising this with 19 points to fill it up! I don't know about anyone else either but I get super thirsty flying but bottle's are so heavy and expensive on board...voila. Once through security I hit Boots or WH Smith and buy a few big bottles and pop them in the case for during the flight...Well might just bring my open bottle now but still not heavy. 

* Various Chargers - Say no more.  

* Full pack of baby-wipes - Tissues and Hand Gel...Well just why not? If you know you know.  

* Essentials - If you have any room left its great to pop hoodie's or neck pillows in again not having to lump them around. If you have a baby I find a thick layer of nappy's in the bottom will save on space in your change bag. 

3. Let them have their own bag.

Give kids over 3, a light weight ruck sack with all their stuff (crap) in. It helps you not be a sweaty pack horse and makes them feel more grown up. It especially keeps mine busy with all the little bits I pack in. You will notice it's all about keeping them happy, quiet and or asleep. Today is not the time to be super strict, just all get there in one relaxed piece. Here is what I pack.

Kids Hand luggage list.

*Tech device - i pad, Tablet, Switch what ever floats their boat. Personally feel these are invaluable at most ages. Loaded and charged up.

*Headphones - The above is much less annoying.

*Small Activity's - Pick and mix a few of the below. Just something to keep them entertained for a break from Tech. Also a back up if god forbid batteries run out or no WIFI.
Colouring book
Word searches
Rubix Cube or puzzle cube. 

*Pencil case - A few Pencils and or Crayons. NO felt tip pens though as they go everywhere.

*Travel Pillow - I used to say no as too bulky BUT kids love em and I have to say they are so handy for making them sleep.

*Teddy or fave toy - You do not want to be 1000's of feet in the air without this die hard family member. 

*Wallet - They love having a little spending money of their own on their journey. Bigger kids I allow them to buy a magazine for a few hours entertainment. 

*Snacks -

I love doing one of these snack boxes especially for car journeys. They are awesome for littles as no unwrapping and keeps them busy for ages. I have to say now my kids are older I just let them have normal snacks on plane journeys as once demolished you're stuck carrying it around but worth it for toddlers. You can get them all over and different sizes, I got this in the DIY bit in Home Bargain £2. 

Top Snacks -

Pick some goodies they love and are normally a big treat.

NOTHING too sugary, sticky or messy though you will hugely regret it... for everyone involved. Avoid skittles at ALL costs, I thought we might have to emergency land once. 

  • Crisps
  • Popcorn
  • Biscuits
  • Sweeties
  • Flapjacks.
  • Cereal bars
  • Fruit Winders
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Rice Crispie treats
  • Marshmallows
  • Kinder Egg - if you dare.

Note: I have done the 'Wrapped up bag of toys and treats' thing once before to dish out every 30mins or so. While it worked a bit it wasn't worth the cost, time or mess for me. On a plane you just don't need all that wrapping paper around you AND the toys kind of just got broken or ditched as they wanted the next one asap. The 2 items that were awesome though, 'Chatter Teeth' hours of fun and a Rubix cube which I still include now. Each to their own just google it if you don't know what I mean.

Normal Luggage.

What to take
This was taken from an email I sent my friend years ago, you may not agree, please add your own below. I will save you on the basics, you know what to take on your holidays for your kids but here's my must haves:

Small People:

  • Buggy up to 5yrs I would say, even if you stay in the hotel/complex. Lots of fresh air and late bedtimes make tired legs. A nap while you eat in peace and walking back after is much easier.
  • Door claws/stops these foam C shapes are so good, can be placed over the top of any door to stop fingers getting jammed and stress levels go down.
  • Night light its hard to get to the loo in the pitch black in a new place...also keeps monsters away.
  • Sarong, couple if you have them, ideal as extra shade, towel, blanket, cover up or... sarong.
  • Lightweight towels, Unless you have washing facility's, 2 per child I cant even describe the state of their towels, after daily sun cream, ice cream and general spills.
  • Medical kit: Just pack everything, the chemists are very good abroad but its so easy to just have it in your room plus naturally children get ill in the night NEVER in the day! My Top: Plasters, Calpol, Ibuprofen, Thermometer, Teething powders, Laxatives, Imodium, Anti histamine, Savlon, Bug spray, Tweezers and a cool pack ours is Nemo shape.
  • Huge beach bag of just a big bag for life, it's amazing how much stuff you need for kids and surprisingly they don't like carrying any of it themselves!  

It's been a while but as I said it was from a notes at the time. I stressed every time about what to bring and do, I have done it both ways not taking much and taking everything but the sink and in my opinion take as much as you can. A full pack of nappy's and swim nappy's easily line your case and take up less space than you would think and again you don't want to spend the first few days of your holiday trying to find the "right" nappy's or baby foods also what happens if you cant read the packaging etc. The below obviously depends what stage your baby is:

  • All of the above for small people.
  • Nappy's, at least a big pack or enough for whole holiday.
  • Swim Nappy's
  • Baby Wipes, there is no end to how many you can use.
  • Bottles - even a breast fed baby might enjoy a slurp of cooled boiled water
  • Steriliser, It depends on the facility's but I have done tablets and micro steriliser, the latter is by far the best tablets are really hard work all the washing, soaking, rinsing and drying you can also get a mini steriliser for 2 bottles at a time.
  • Formula, I have taken a full unopened box before and a Tupperware box with a bit extra in, why worry yourself they wont have your brand or chance your baby getting poorly etc? A few cartons are good too.
  • Baby foods- Pouch's are ideal, they wont smash like jars and you only need a spoon...Oscar sucked the fruity ones straight out of the spout. I took enough for two meals a day (a mixture of savoury and sweet) with a bag of their baby porridge. It's easy to get Weetabix, baby yogurts and fruit pots anywhere.
  • Spoons, bibs and Sippy cups.
  • Small washing up liquid, cloth, t towels and an antibacterial spray for all the washing.
  • Pram sunshade I has a Kiddopotamus Rayshade which was brill, it's better than a parasol as doesn't have to be adjusted with the sun and it can black out the pram for naps too but let a lot of air in too.
  • Hat, take a couple they get scruffy and I always lose one.
  • Muslin's, so many uses including spills.

What not to take: 

Loads of clothes. I look hundreds of lovely outfits day and night, what was I thinking...they are not going clubbing! Babies literally wear a nappy or vest in the day and PJ's before you go out so you can put them straight to bed on return simple. 

Bigger Kid snacks...Oz was wasting no time!

I hope that was of some use, please add your must haves in the comment too!