Family holidays sound like an ideal opportunity to recharge the batteries and spend quality time with the family but more often than not traveling with children can be very challenging and draining. We have all heard horror stories of passports left behind and screaming kids on planes, so we have come up with some advice on how to keep the stress to a minimum on your family holiday. On a further note, Aer Lingus have done a fantastic article on traveling with children with autism. You can download their visual guides on every step from check-in to touchdown here.
Step 1: Airport
Preparation is key. Before setting off to the airport ensure that everyone has everything they need; passports, tickets, baby milk, nappies, soothers, and teddies. The last thing you want is an episode of the waterworks before you have even left Irish soil. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the airport in advance of your flight. Traveling with children is a lot more time consuming than you may realise and you do not want to stress out your little ones with a mad dash to the gate. It is often a good idea to have a meal at the airport especially if you have picky eaters and are about to embark on a long flight. Ensure that you have fully charged up iPads, phones or laptops order to keep the kids entertained on the flight if needs be. There are several play areas in airports which are a great idea to tire out the kids before a long flight. Secondly, colouring and puzzle books can be found in shops throughout the airport and are a great way to keep kids entertained on board.
Step 2: Flight
If everything has gone smoothly so far you are off to a good start. Next up is the flight, most airlines allow families with young kids to board the aircraft first so there is no need to stand in a queue with restless young ones. Take off can be scary for kids and often hurts their ears. A few sucky sweets and Calpol are your best friend here. One of the main things parents, traveling with children, have pointed out that children react to the moods of their parents. If you seem stressed out and under pressure, the children will feel this unease. Try and remain calm and relaxed and encourage your children to do the same. If your little ones are getting hungry and you have milk, the cabin crew will heat up your baby bottles for you.
Long haul flights have tv screens on them and are often equipped with movies and games like hangman and X’s & O’s to keep the kids entertained. One thing to be mindful on long distance flights is to try and prevent jet lag when you arrive at the destination. Change your watch to the time zone of your destination and do your best to keep your children awake to as close as their usual bedtime in that time zone. You should begin to adjust your kids to the destination time zone in the days leading up to the holiday. This will prevent crazy sleeping patterns in the coming days of your holiday. Where possible choosing and evening or nighttime flight will succeed in causing least disruption to the routine of your child and there is an increased chance of sleep on board.
Step 3: Resort
Arriving at the resort for children is like embarking on a new exciting adventure. There is no doubt your family will be tired after travel but let the children embrace their new surroundings and explore. If you know that check-in is not for a few hours after arrivals it could be worth packing swimming togs in your hand luggage. You can breathe out a sigh of relief that you have made it through the nightmare of airports and airplanes and you can begin to enjoy your holiday.
Many good resorts have excellent kids clubs which host different activities throughout the day and evening for your little ones. Some even do excursions to water parks, horse riding and other activities. Kids clubs are a great opportunity for your child to make friends and leave you with a bit more time to relax. If you are staying at a resort with several pools there will often be a designated children’s pool with a lifeguard. Our final piece of advice is to check if your hotel provides a babysitting service so you can enjoy a nice relaxing evening for the adults.