Last week, we took the girls to France for what was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing family holidays we have had to date - it was brilliant. Before we traveled, I had been apprehensive about flying with Holly; she can be a handful even when sitting in the living room for five minutes so I wasn't relishing the though of even a 2 hour flight with her! Thankfully, both of my girls were angelic for the flights both to and from the South of France. Phew.
Holidays are meant to be relaxing but research commissioned by Airport Parking and Hotels has shown that flying can be a fairly stressful experience from check-in, through the queues at security all the way to waiting for your bags at the carousel on the other end. So here are my top tips for how to reduce the stress of flying with children.
1. Pack Light
Travelling with children is hard work. Don't make it harder by packing everything you can ever think of. Have you ever tried carrying three suitcases, two car seats, three handbags, a camera AND herding two children onto an airport carpark bus at 2 o'clock in the morning?
This holiday we consciously packed light. We are lucky that we no longer need to pack baby food, nappies and wipes but even so, we made a decision to pack only enough clothing for half the week and bank of there being washing facilities. This meant at least one less suitcase to take.
2. Know the plan!
Travelling with the girls is always so much easier when we know exactly where we are going, and how we will get from A to B. This is partly because it offers the promise of the next exciting thing to come - first the car, then the bus, then the plane, then the hire car and then the hotel. The girls thought it was great fun to tick off each of the different forms of transport on their travels... for us, it was about being organised and prepped for the journey ahead.
3. Take Snacks. Lots of them.
Flights are only survivable with small children through the medium of food. We took muesli bars and bought crisps and treats at the airport to last the journey. Our flight did offer a small snack but the girls didn't enjoy it so I was glad that I had backup.
4. Buy a Magazine or Book at the Airport
A kids magazine with colouring or puzzles and stories is a great way of passing the time on a flight - the magazine also provides entertainment during the stay. We enjoy taking the girls to the bookshop in the airport to chose a picture or story book to take with us that we can read in the evenings of our holiday, or on the plane for a bit of quiet time.
5. Tech Trumps Everything
I never thought I would be the sort of Mum that relies on kids tech to keep the kids entertained but I'll admit that on this holiday we let the girls take their Leappads on the plane with them. This meant they each had to carry a bag, which gave them a sense of responsibility. They played on their tablets for a short while on each flight, each wearing the headphones. Peace and quiet!