Travelling abroad can be daunting for small children, but there are steps you can take to ensure that they adjust to being away from home and out of their usual patterns more quickly.
Take your time – Travelling with young children can sometimes be a stressful experience, but one way to make sure that the travelling runs smoothly is to set aside enough time for you and your family to get organised. As most of us know, when holidaying with children, simple activities can take longer than expected. Whether it is getting to the airport with plenty of time before your fight, or, once on holiday, having breakfast a bit earlier to prevent rushing to your next activity, leaving enough time is essential for ensuring everyone has a stress-free holiday.
Don’t forget the medicine – One thing parents often forget to think about when travelling abroad with children, is the slim chance of the kids feeling unwell. Travelling abroad means that children are taken out of their daily routine and often subjected to unfamiliar climates and delicious new foods. The combination of these factors can sometimes result in the kids picking up a bug or developing a cold. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have some basic medicines to hand, rather than having to worry about locating a pharmacy abroad. It is also a good idea to carry your medical cards with you if you are travelling within Europe, and to always bring sick bags if you are embarking on a long journey.
Think about travelling games – Whether you are travelling by plane, bus, car, train or boat, the journey can often be long and young children are likely to become bored quickly. It’s a good idea to be prepared for this scenario and have some family games up your sleeve that you can use to distract the children. Eye Spy is a great game to play, as it encourages them to engage with their surroundings. If you prefer an educational game for your kids to play, then one that can be done anywhere is the alphabet game. When you start your journey, the children must look out for something beginning with the letter A, once found, they can then move through the alphabet to see how far they can get.
Check the airline regulations – A recent survey by travel search platform HolidayPirates (www.holidaypirates.com), found that travelling by airplane was the most popular method of transport for parents with young children, with 87% of surveyed users saying this was their preferred way to travel. However, while this may be an easier way to travel with kids, be sure to book your tickets carefully. Many airlines have different regulations when it comes to flying with a baby, so to avoid last minute difficulties, it is a good idea to consider this before you book your flights. For instance, some airlines offer infant fare at 10% of the adult fare, while others have set prices. Some airlines require that you book an additional seat for an infant at least six months in advance, and many airlines have different variations in policy when it comes to free luggage allowance for equipment such as pushchairs, travel cots and booster seats.
Kid’s bag – Depending on the age of the child, it can be a good idea to provide each child with their own small bag filled with activities and snacks. This will give your children responsibility for looking after something of their own, as well as giving them something to do at all times. Fill the bag with whatever is likely to engage your child, such as a colouring book, soft toys or perhaps a small book. Don’t overfill the bag, as items are likely to be lost and if your child has packed the bag themselves, then be sure to check what is in it, before you set off on your travels.
‘Meet and Assist’ services – If you are travelling with young children and carrying lots of bags, and feel that you may need assistance, then check to see if the airport you are flying from offers a ‘meet and assist’ service. This service is offered by many airports and ensures that a member of staff will meet you at your check-in point and help with your bags all the way to the plane. The service depends on staff availability, but if you think you may need assistance, then it is a good idea to plan ahead to see if you can make use of this service. Some airlines also provide a ‘flying nanny’ for long haul flights, an extra pair of hands to help keep your children entertained during the flight. This is a great service to make use of and helps ensure that you have a relaxing flight yourself.
Assign a meeting point – As parents, we never intend to lose sight of our children, but amid the stress of travelling and being in a new country, children can sometimes wander off, or lose sight of their parents and panic. While this may seem like an unlikely scenario, it’s a good idea to pre-empt this possibility and assign a designated meeting spot. When you arrive somewhere new, whether it is an airport, train station, shopping centre or city, clearly assign a visible spot, which if anyone in the family becomes lost, you can all head to straight away.
Travel journal – There are bound to be points in the trip where you have some waiting time and when the family games have run out, or you simply want a break, a great way to ensure the children have something to do is to encourage them to keep a travel journal. This can be a small notebook that they draw or write in about their holiday, and you can turn this into a family activity by helping them collect mementos to include. Not only will this entertain the children and give them an important creative outlet, it will also provide them with a wonderful book of memories to look back on in years to come.
HolidayPirates (www.holidaypirates.com) is one of Europe’s fastest growing, free-to-use, travel search platforms and apps, providing users with the best value for money international travel deals. Since its inception in 2012, the company has grown the biggest online travel community in the world, achieved 30 million monthly page visits, 8 million app downloads, having launched services across 10 countries and 7 different languages.