Up until a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t even tell you if there was a changing table on a plane. I mean have you seen the size of the toilet cubicles?! But having just booked our first holiday and with a few other trips lined up I made it my mission to immerse myself with all things baby travelling. I hope this information helps any parents or grandparents travelling with kids!
By Plane: Flying by plane with any child can be daunting and with babies for the first time it’ll be an experience one way or another. Follow some simple steps to make sure it’s as relaxing as it can be for a first timer…
- If you are travelling long-haul and want a bassinet you need to check which airlines will offer this. If boking a seat for your baby expect to pay 60-75% of the adult fare and you’ll need a car seat too. If you are not booking a seat you might still be expected to pay 10% of the adult fare for your infant.
- Most airlines will allow you to take a buggy and a car seat for free as part of your luggage. Some may only allow 1 so it’s worth checking with the airline before you leave. Be aware that buggies are often taken to the gate and will be put on board just before take-off. Some airlines will check in the hold – find out before you go. Finally, ask ground-staff where you will pick up the buggy when you land.
- If your baby is weaning then you can and should request a baby meal, most airlines will provide jars of pureed food, some may even have a toddler meal option for the post puree stage. You MUST check before travelling as if they do not you will need to bring food for your baby yourself.
- Travelling with food and milk is exempt from the usual security regulations when it comes to food and liquids. But it must be taken out of your hand luggage and be visible for security to see before you board.
- Its well worth having your baby carrier in the airport, as you’ll already know there is LOTS f walking so a sling or carrier is the best way to get to the luggage belt of through duty free successfully.
- Bring toys!
- Allow extra time to get to the airport and time at the airport – you’ll know by now that everything takes double the time!
- If travelling from the UK you can actually order last minute amenities through Boots, and would be able to pick them up after security e.g. nappies, wipes, sun cream, milk etc.
- Some airports will have play areas or designated soft play allowing the little ones to run wild before a long flight!
- Breastfeeding is perfectly acceptable on the plane
- Ask with plenty of time for the stewards to heat up any milk if needed.
- Some children/babies will cry with pressure change as their little ears might hurt – try feeding them, this will often settle the problem.
- And finally some airports will offer courtesy buggies/pushchairs to use through the airport. It’s worth asking if it frees up some hands!
Thomas Cook allow Buggies/Car seats and travel cots on board often free of charge!
By Train: Travelling by train is actually a great way to travel with young children and babies. Firstly, if under 5, there free. Enough said.
- There’s plenty of room to feed, change nappies or pace the carriage but it’s still worth trying to travel off-peak to get more room. If you do you might even get a couple of spaces next to you where they can rest and sleep.
- If you want peace and quiet, consider booking first class (often cheaper in advance) this will get you the quiet your baby might need to sleep.
- Best to leave the pram at home due to the endless stairs, gaps and platforms you have to manage. Much easy to transport baby with a sling or carrier. However, if you do, always collapse it and carry on separately for ease of travel.
- Get to the station early so you can get seats facing each other, or a table if you infant/child wants to play and draw.
- Don’t rely on station food or a snack trolley, they are unpredictable and expensive – you should know by now to bring your own snacks and drinks!
- Before you get on the train locate the conductor and ask which carriage has the largest toilet and changing area.
By Boat: Living in the UK we are accustomed to the odd ferry crossing whether it’s to Ireland, France or even just the Isle Of Wight.
- If you can it’s well worth booking a cabin. If you’re on-board for more than just a couple of hours then it’s worth having a space where children (and yourself) can nap, feed and relax in private. Not to mention having somewhere to store endless luggage and a private toilet is a godsend!
- Have a day bag for the ferry, packed full with everything you need for the crossing. In the haste of having to leave your car pretty sharpish it’s easy to forget essentials and if there are any shops you’ll break the bank buying a packet of nappies. So make sure your day bag is stashed with the important stuff for a quick escape to the upper deck.
- First things first – Who needs the toilet? The last thing you want is to be rushing through crowds of people looking for the facilities last minute. Find them straight away, change that nappy and make everyone try to go so you can then relax a little.
- Although food and snacks are available it can get expensive after you’ve bought your family of 5 a meal each, drinks and then snacks on top. So it’s totally worth packing food and water. Even if you only bring snacks with you it’ll help you stick to that budget!
- Unfortunately with boast comes the ultimate travel sickness – sea sick. If it’s the first time you’ve taken the kids on a boat then BE PREPARED. Take sea sickness tablets the night before, have sickness bands, don’t overeat on the day, stick to relatively bland food and keep hydrated – and know where the toilets and sickness bags are!!
Condor Ferries have a children’s soft TV area for fun family films!
By Car: Most of us know how to travel with young children by car, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but do you know other countries car seat regulations? Do they even know what car seats are?
- Firstly always check car seat laws in the country you are travelling to. For example when we land in Turkey I needed to find out how my 9 month old was going to sit in the taxi to our hotel. As of 2010 the EU adjusted the Traffic Regulations to include children being in suitable car seats. This is upheld mostly in rental vehicles, taxis and private cars. I your child has a seat on the plane, depending on their size, you will need to bring a car seat with you – which solves the problem abroad. If like us however you won’t be taking a car seat they are readily available but you must book ahead when ordering cars or taxis.
- Plenty of games, or if younger – toys, songs, music etc. Unlike other modes of transport your child may be strapped in the back away from you and might be lacking your attention for some time. Make sure you stock up with entertainment for a hopefully peaceful journey.
- Accept your journey will take longer, make frequent stops to feed or break up the journey. It’s important that babies aren’t in car seats for too many hours on end – their backs can hurt and they need a break to stretch and crawl around!
- Try teaching your baby to accept cold foods/milk before you travel so that it makes feeding easier whilst on the go.
- It’s important they have shelter from the sun, make sure you have shades and a hat!
- The best time to start a journey with your baby or infant is either at nap time or bed time – this way you’ve more chance of them drifting off to sleep the moment you pull away.
- A towel is useful in the nappy bag – this way when you’re changing on the back seat or with the boot open you can chuck down a towel. You also don’t know what kind of mess you could encounter on a road trip with a baby…
- If there are two of you in the car it’s nice to take it in turns and occasionally sit in the back and play with your child. They love the interaction and it can make all the difference to them on a long journey.
It’s safe to assume that the best laid plans often go up the creek but the only way you can hope for a relatively enjoyable journey is to be prepared for anything, plan ahead, allow PLENTY of time and try not to sweat the little things. Enjoy your trip!