All parents know that babies don’t always make the easiest of travelling companions, particularly on long journeys! They need lots of your attention and constant entertainment to keep them happy, especially when they are in uncharted territory. So how can you make sure that your exciting trip of a lifetime is an enjoyable experience? With a little bit of forward planning, that’s how.
Check out these helpful planning tips and then feel free to sit back and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
• First things first – check that all the family passports are all still valid, particularly your children’s. Don’t forget that they have to be renewed every five years rather than the usual ten years for an adult version. Customs frown upon parents abandoning toddlers at check-in for some reason.
• Consider the needs of your tot when booking your hire car – you will need to forward book a child seat and always make sure there is ample luggage space because you will take lots of extra stuff for your little one.
• Research which attractions and parks will appeal to your tot and book in advance. You will get a better deal ahead of time. Obviously they won’t be going on any big coasters but there’s plenty of shows and delicate rides for them to enjoy!
Take your time at the airport
• Allow extra time getting through the airport to avoid any panic or stress. Little ones love to explore so if you sail through and end up being really early why not take advantage of teaching your tot all about the airport, the planes and facilities.
• Most airports have great play areas if your baby is starting to get bored with the whole experience. (You might be able to put your partner there too if they’re bored as well).
Snacks and drinks
Most tots like to eat and drink pretty often which doesn’t necessarily fit with in-flight meals:
• Aim for lots of healthy options as well as the usual crisps or sweets – raisins, apple slices, cereal bars or bananas are great choices.
• Drinks should ideally be non-spill so pull up bottle lids are ideal.
• Take along tissues and wipes to mop up spills.
• A change of clothes in your travel bag is essential in case of an accident or spillage.
When they get tired, sometimes they can get a bit fractious, to say the least.
• If your child uses a dummy or comforter make sure you pack it in your hand luggage along with a familiar cuddly toy.
• Changing into pyjamas may seem like overkill but it might help your little one to settle.
• A travel pillow is a handy way to help them snuggle in for a nap.
• Along with any usual meds also take some Calpol in your cabin luggage. Your tot may begin to feel under the weather during a long flight.
• Dioralyte or similar can also be helpful just in case it turns out that your baby is not a good traveller. Replacing lost electrolytes is the key to beating dehydration.
Essential equipment for any journey with tots:
• Devise a hefty range of age-appropriate games in advance – Simon Says/Opposites, etc.
• Colouring and sticker books – you can always use them when the mood takes you.
• Favourite storybooks and funny poems are a great way to keep the mood light.
• Audiobooks are ideal when your child is getting tired – invest in a pair of headphones too. They will make your little one feel very grown up and will help to block out external noise.
• Tablets can be your best friend on a long journey:
• There are apps for every age group, from games and talking books through to cartoons. Definitely enough variety to keep even the most skittish mind occupied.
• A tablet is particularly useful during night flights. Your child’s body clock is not necessarily going to lull them to sleep just because the cabin lights are dimmed.
All of this advance planning may seem to be basic common sense, but believe it or not, it’s easy to forget something that could have been helpful, just because you are caught up in the excitement or organising this trip. Let’s be honest here, if you can keep your tot happy, settled and amused then your journey will be far less stressed and you will arrive in sunny Florida feeling relaxed and ready to fully embrace a wonderful and exhilarating family holiday.