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Advice for Travelling with Children

It's finally here, the family holiday you've been looking forward to for a long time. You've packed your suitcases, you've got your passports, tickets and spending money, now all you have to do is get in the car and set off for the airport. So far everything is running smoothly, and then the tears and tantrums start from your toddler and at that point you think to yourself, 'there must be an easier way to travel with children, right?'.

Well, honestly, it doesn't have to be as much of a hassle as you think. Below are a few fun and practical tips to ease the journey for you and your little ones.

Keeping your children entertained

In the days leading up to your holiday why not research what wildlife, plants and exciting sights you and the children are going to see? Create a fun tick sheet so once you have spotted something your child can tick it off.

Once you are on your way to your destination, show your child the tick sheet and explain to them all the exciting things they could see. At the end of the holiday you have a keepsake of some of the memories you have all made, which can be stuck to your child's bedroom wall or into a holiday scrap book, along with any photos you have taken.

Don't forget to pack their favourite teddy bear, toys or cuddly blanket to help make them feel safe and secure. It's a good idea to also pack their favourite snacks to munch along the way too.

Toys, children's magazines and colouring books are always a good way to keep your little ones entertained. Why not treat them to a few small new toys especially for the plane and wrap them up? It will add that extra magical touch to what can be a long journey, and give them something else to focus on. Plus, magazines and colouring books are light enough to pop in your hand luggage.

A great option for the 21st century is to take an iPad or tablet, so the children can watch cartoons and play on one of the many kids apps that are readily available.

If the children want to sit on the floor of the airport and play while you wait, then why not? If you're put off by the thought of germs and dirt then you could always buy a disposable plastic sheet that can be easily folded away to place on the floor in front of you so the children can play safely.

Kids suitcases could be a fun way of keeping them entertained, with their own little bag to take responsibility for. Especially Trunkies - the suitcases that children can pull themselves or sit on and be wheeled around.

Break the journey into time slots and schedule activities. For example, your child could do twenty minutes of colouring, and then move onto watching a fifteen minute cartoon. You can keep switching the activities they do so they don't become bored. An easy activity for when you're flying is to look out the window fifteen minutes after take off and fifteen minutes before landing, to see what they can see.

Practical tips when traveling with children

Invest in a bigger carry on case when flying with children, but don't forget to check the maximum size you can take on board with the airline you'll be travelling with. Within the bag, put all the toys, colouring books, iPads etc into a bag of their own, to make it easier for you to locate them once you're in your seats.

Make sure you have enough of everything you need to get you to your destination. Including nappies, bottles, dummies etc. Trying to find that fine line between packing the right amount of items and too much is hard, but it can be done. For example, one change of clothes should be sufficient to pack into your carry on case for each child, and include a top for yourself, incase of any spills.

Checking in online and pre-booking your seats can make the whole airport experience flow a lot smoother. All you'll have to do is check in your baggage. Normally there is separate queue which tends to be quicker to get through, allowing you all more free time around the airport and to help prevent the little one's becoming bored while standing in line.

If you're travelling abroad always arrive earlier than you plan at the airport, just in case of any hold ups or tantrums! This can reduce the chance of becoming flustered.

Make sure all itineraries, phone numbers, passport, tickets and any other important documents you need are all in one place, and easy to obtain when needed.

It's always a good idea to carry a first aid kit with you, as well as any medicines that your children take. If travelling with children abroad then it would be a good idea to take medicines like Calpol and Piriton, so if you need them you don't have to worry about finding the right medicine in a different country.

Always arrange a safe and visible meeting place should your family get separated. There is a gadget now whereby your child wears a watch like strap and you have a monitor. If your child goes beyond the user defined distance, or the strap is taken off, then an alarm will sound so you can find them.

It's always a good idea to take a travel pillow and a fold up pushchair, so when your little one gets tired you can pop them in the pushchair and they can cosy up to a pillow and visit the land of nod.

Don't forget your ears can pop when you fly, so always take some sweets for you all to suck on to make the ear popping experience less painful. Do bare in mind that your little tot doesn't understand why this is happening, and it can be painful for them. Flying can cause the expansion of air in the middle ear and sinuses, causing pain. If this happens, then massage their ear from behind and tug gently on their earlobes. This will help to ease the discomfort.

Hopefully these tips will help you towards a hassle free trip while travelling with children. Most importantly if you are travelling with another adult, don't forget to arrange some time for yourself away from the children. Even if it is for half an hour, negotiate with the other person a babysitting time so you can go off and enjoy your holiday too.

For more information about travelling with kids take a look at detailed guide to travelling with a family.