Going away with the little ones can be a little stressful, especially when the trip involves a flight. To help make the whole experience a little easier, here are ten top tips to consider if you are plan to jet off with the kiddy winks this summer.
1) Let the kids be in charge of their own luggage. Leave them to pack in themselves while you supervise and from the moment you leave the house make sure they know they are responsible for their own bags. Not only will they feel grown up but it also means it's less for you to carry!
2) In terms of your own luggage, try and get all the gear you need for your baby into a relatively small bag that will slide under the seat in front of you on the plane. This way, you won't disturb the passengers next to you every time you need to get to the bag if it is the overhead lockers.
3) For toddlers, think about investing in a child harness. This may look like a dog lead, but it's extremely practical as it allows your child freedom of movement while at the same time giving you peace of mind that they can't run off into a busy airport. It is particularly useful if you are travelling alone with kids. It also makes going through security together a whole lot easier as the toddler can go through first without being stranded on the other side of the metal detector.
4) If you are taking a short-haul flight with seat allocations, DON'T opt for the 'early boarding' option. Many airlines will offer for those with children to be allowed onto the aircraft first, however this rarely makes sense. All it means is that the kids will be seated, and therefore be fidgeting, for longer and in the summer the air conditioning will not be switched on until the plane takes off so they will be sweltering too.
5) If you and your partner are travelling with one or two kids, then think about booking seats away from each other. This means that while one of you is looking after the kid(s) the other can have a rest.
6) Always remember to include in your hand luggage a change of clothes for you and your kid(s), or at the very least a spare top. Many little ones suffer from travel sickness and are prone to bouts of vomiting, so something to change into would be a wise inclusion in the on board bag.
7) Entertainment is also very important, especially for long-haul flights. You should always carry a pack of cards and other small games that the kids can play with. Try and wrap these up before leaving so that there is maximum intrigue. If you let them have the games one by one then this draws out the process and they won't get bored as quickly. If possible, try not to bring games with small pieces as firstly they could choke, but it also means you won't be picking them up off the floor every five minutes! A good, free form of entertainment is to make puppets out of the sick bags in the seat pockets in front of you.
8) Many children will suffer with their ears on flights. To combat this, try feeding (from a bottle or breast-feeding) your baby during takeoff to avoid their ears popping, or for older kids, give them lollipops or chewing gum.
9) On many long-haul flights there will be large screens showing films throughout the journey. These can serve as a useful distraction from you as parents so don't stop the kids from watching unless it is offensive of course. This will give you some rest. However if you are trying to get a baby to sleep, the light can be frustrating, so think about bringing a thin sheet to cover your baby's face with to block out the light.
10) No matter how long the flight, the kids will probably want a snack at some point and the likelihood is that whatever they want the airline won't have. So consider bringing with you some treats for the kids which will keep them occupied and quiet! Try not to bring liquid onto the plane as this will probably spill and avoid any snacks that may melt as this will cause havoc if the kids get near them!