• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

Travelling back home with children after holiday… be prepared

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It is definitely not easy travelling around with children, especially when you make stops on your journey.

As an adult, you naturally know the dos and don’ts at airports and onboard aircraft. You are at liberty to sit anywhere as long you know you are not infringing on anybody’s right or not disobeying flight rules, but little children don’t know all these. Therefore, they tend to want to behave like they are in the house where they have freedom of movement.

That is why it is necessary for adults and parents travelling with children to guard them and make them enjoy their flights and trips as much as possible.

For instance, to keep your children more relaxed on the journey, you could bring new toys and books along with you. Something that they have never seen before will hold their attention far more than something that has been played dozens of times already.

You could bring a toy phone (not a noisy one) and a set of keys for a 10-month old, for the one-year-old, you can have a new Curious George book and a new car.

This time, the baby needs no entertaining but the big brother does. You may not bring them out too soon, wait until the meltdown begins and then bring them out.

Then use the technology made available to you. Even if you don’t let your children watch the television at home, now is the time to break those rules. Little screens in the armrests of chairs are a godsend for those travelling with small children, and for those around them.

Don’t worry about headphones, if your child won’t keep them on, or if you worry about the noise damaging their ears, the pictures will most likely be enough to distract the most irritated of children.

If you have your own technology, bring it. If your tablet or phone is off limits to your children, get a sturdy case and load up a few apps that they can use, along with digital copies of their favourite movies. Just suck it up and let them play. They won’t do permanent damage with just a day’s travel.

In fact, knowing that they are being allowed to use something ordinarily off limits is one of the biggest draws of this.

You can also pack for individual diaper scenarios. Rather than needing access to the overhead compartment every time a diaper change is needed, prepare for one-by-one situations. When packing your carry-on, place a plastic bag inside each diaper. Before the plane takes off, move all your in-flight magazines into one of the seat pockets, then put two diapers of each size, your changing mat and your wipes of choice in the other. If you like disposable travel mats, then put a mat and a diaper inside each bag. When the seatbelt sign turns off, you can get to the bathroom before anyone else and without too much fuss.

Let your child travel in footie pyjamas. They could wear sneakers over the feet on this journey, they will like the novelty of travelling in pyjamas, you will like the convenience too.

If there is a diaper blow out or vomit incident, it is nice to only be dealing with one item of clothing. It is also then easy to pack for such emergencies: you only need a few extra sets of pyjamas each instead of full outfits for each child. Unless your child is prone to messy situations, you could take spare sets.

Also, bring a spare t-shirt for yourself. Obviously, you can’t travel in footie pyjamas, or even have a full change of clothes on hand, but if you are thrown up on you will appreciate a clean smell around your upper body instead of wiped up vomit.

Forget the pacifier wipes on board, but bring a hand cleanser. Your child will be touching something gross before you have chance to call out their name, so make sure you have your hand cleanser of choice with you. The bathrooms may be questionable and inaccessible, especially once on board.

To make things easy for you, bring one carry on. You no longer need a book to read, you no longer need your own snacks. You can no longer use your carry on in place of checking luggage. Once you have filled a bag with the essentials for a long flight, you won’t have the strength to carry anything else, and you will appreciate only having one bag to keep track of in a busy airport.

If your children are old enough, do however, let them bring their own carry on. In cases of delays, they can pull the case as a distraction to keep them moving, they can sit on it and you can pull them along, it can contain enough toys to keep them occupied for any delay.

If you are bringing a backpack, don’t let them bring a backpack unless it is small enough for you to carry as well, they will get sick of it at some point.

You could also bring snacks. Meals on flights will not necessarily time well with your child’s needs, and airport food is not always suited to the palate of a toddler. Use snacks they are familiar with, snacks that don’t break any customs laws, and snacks that don’t need refrigerating and are still edible after a good deal of squishing. Familiarity with the snack you bring means they are less likely to vomit.

If you have an infant, use the baby carrier of your choice. Most airports will let you wear your baby through security, so if they are asleep you will be allowed to keep them on.

Not so if they are in a stroller, most will ask you to remove the sleeping child. Use of a stroller is a personal choice.

However, be warned and do your research, some places have peculiar stroller policies. You may think that it will be great to have the stroller the second you get off the plane, but some airlines/airports will not allow the return of your stroller until you are through customs. So, check procedures before you fly.

By:  Sade Williams