It’s that time of year again where we’re spinning around in circles trying to catch a break and our breath – and also looking forward to the much needed Summer vacations so that we can put our feet up and relax…or perhaps take that long anticipated road trip to explore our beautiful country…or maybe even venture out to discover distant shores! Travelling has always been a dream of mine, but travelling with kids in tow during long haul flights and without any proper preparation, can easily turn the dream into a nightmare! We may not have travelled enough to be seasoned travellers, but we’ve certainly had our fair share of in flight disasters to be able to impart some travel wisdoms that could help make the journey easier for you this festive season.
Make sure all your children’s travel documents are in order – ID, Unabridged birth certificates, passport, visas etc. Also important to have copies of all important papers and to keep in mind that you would need an affidavit if your child/children are travelling with only one parent. I’ve had to run around for all of the above, but knowing from the onset what documentation was required made the process a breeze. Keep in mind that every destination may need different requirements, so ask the relevant questions right at the beginning.
Pack an extra set of clothes
I once was on a flight from Cape Town to Dubai and my two year old vomited on himself and me!! I had more than enough change of clothes for him…but didn’t pack any for myself. Needless to say, I didn’t make that mistake again. I always pack in extra clothes even if I never use them, as well as any comfort items like a fluffy toy or pillows. I also like to take the climate change at our destination into consideration. For this reason, I insist on layering to either warm up or cool down and accommodate the pending climate change and always have a hoodie as back up for the cooler airplane temperature. My older kids always roll their eyes for my extra precautions…but my judgement has never been wrong in this department.
Some people may laugh at the thought of lugging around some old fashioned padkos, but when you’re travelling with kids, a few extra nibbles is never a bad idea. Sure enough the airplane supplies meals; but they have their scheduled times of serving these – and we all know that kids have their own schedules. There’s nothing worse than a hungry child having to wait an hour for the scheduled meal time. Ask me, I know! For this reason, I make sure we have enough nibbles (and an extra meal and more than enough bottles for younger kids) to last us through the flight.
Pack in some activities
Now that the kids are older, they download their favourite series to watch while in the air, pack their own earphones, electronics and chargers and take along some reading material to enjoy. When the kids are younger, you may have to be a bit more creative. An Ipad is always a good idea for young ones. Some crayons and a colouring book will keep them occupied for quite some time, and a story book or two can also be helpful, even a crossword puzzle booklet can do wonders at occupying an enquiring mind Whatever the age group, make sure you take some age appropriate activities with to help bide the time.
Keep essential medication close by
I have had a kid vomit on me in a plane, had to nurse a kids’ fever on an airplane and even deal with chronic earache due to an infection starting up; and most times I’ve been prepared. Having a kid that gets air sick means that motion sickness medication is essential for me! I’ve also never regretted keeping panado in my handbag. Whenever I travel, I always make sure I have important medication at hand in case I should ever need it.
Take flight times into consideration when travelling
I generally like to travel at night because everyone (mainly me) gets to catch some sleep and it makes the time go so much faster when travelling long hours with kids. Also, it means you get to do less of entertaining the young ones cos hopefully they catch a couple of winks too (if you’re lucky).
Ultimately, the destination and the memories more than makes up for the little trials we need to put up with to get there! Happy travelling and keep safe over the festive period…
Thanks for reading!