Flying with children – preparations, toys and packing
Whether it’s the first time you are flying with children or you are a seasoned flyer, preparation is incredibly important. Partly because it reduces the stress and the worry for you, and partly because it makes your child or children calmer and more relaxed. If you are well-prepared and have the right things packed in your hand luggage, the flight can even be really nice.
Also, do your research on the airline you are travelling with – some airlines have a ”deliver to gate” service that allows you to pick up your pushchair at the gate when you land. For small children a baby carrier can be worth having – it is comfortable for the child and ideal for you so you have both arms free. You may also want to consider booking an evening flight when the children will be tired and so hopefully fall asleep.
Good things to take on the flight can be:
- A really good bag: if your hand luggage has a large opening, you can quickly and easily reach whatever you want. Often, you only have one arm free as a parent, which means you want to make everything as easy as possible.
- Toy bag with favourite toys: good toys that are not ”too wild” and won’t roll around in the cabin can be the difference between chaos and peace and quiet on an aeroplane. Crayons, paper, books, GameBoy and stickers all work perfectly as distractions for a few hours.
- Tablet: Be sure to charge your tablet and add some children’s favourites – it can make the trip a lot easier. If you also have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, the children (and fellow passengers) will avoid making any extra noise.
- Fast and simple food: Children often become hungry without warning. That’s why it’s good if you’ve got wafers, mini-carrots, rice cakes and “välling” (instant porridge for infants) on the aeroplane. Pack it in sealed bags that you can easily display at the security check. Raisins are a favorite that work well both as snacks and for chewing on when the plan lifts off, to reduce the risk of ears popping painfully.
- Changing bag and medicine: Some nappies and wipes are always good to have to hand, especially if you are going to fly for a longer distance. Also be sure to have nasal spray and headache tablets – it can help with the pressure changes that might cause the children pain.
Driving with children – planning, games and breaks
Driving has several advantages over flying. First of all, it is very smooth – you have great freedom and no times to keep to. You can therefore stop whenever you want and bring more things than would be permitted on a flight or train. In addition, you will also often arrive very close to your final destination and you will not have to worry about bags and children between airports and hotels.
But there are also drawbacks to driving with children. Some children do not like to be stuck in the car for a long period of time. They get restless and if they are sharing the backseat with siblings, there is a great risk of fighting and moaning. But with a little planning, flexibility and remembering to take deep breaths, the journey can be fun for you as a parent as well as for your child or children.
Before the trip: plan the route and select places where you can stop. Maybe there is a playground where the children can play for half an hour? Have plenty of time and do not stress when you’re driving with kids!
During the trip: Just like when you fly, it’s good if you have a bag that opens wide in the car that you can easily access. Pack their favourite toys and something tasty to eat and drink. Also be sure to bring a small bag with changes of clothes and nappies. To entertain and engage the children during the trip, have things like toys and tablets. For long drives you can have presents that you give to the children now and then. This will be appreciated and keeps them distracted.
There are also a variety of car-games that make the trip more enjoyable. Counting cows and counting cars are usually appreciated by smaller children. With slightly older children “how far away is that thing?” can be a fun game. Someone says an object or landmark far away that he or she can see, for example, a church. After that, everyone guesses how far it is and the driver checks the milometer. The winner gets one point and may choose the next item.
Hotel accommodation – the importance of choosing the right accommodation
When booking a hotel for you and your family, it is important to do your research carefully. Keep in mind that it makes a big difference if you are staying in a hotel with children or if you are just adults – so make sure to book a family-friendly hotel with good reviews.
With a good pool area, playgrounds and hotel mascot you make the hotel experience fun for both your children and yourself. Food can be a problem when it comes to children. Make sure to book an accommodation with either a good, large menu or with nearby restaurants.
Decide if you want to stay close to the city centre, close to shopping and restaurants, or if you want to stay in a quieter place where you will have to take some form of transport into town. Staying at a hotel should be an adventure, especially for young children. Be sure to have fun, enjoy yourselves and take it easy on your vacation!