Sunday 19 November 2017

Traveling with Kids: Advice from Wise Chatters

It's been a while....

All the things keep happening (illness, deadlines, birthday parties, ballet concerts, work, you name it!).

In the meantime, I'm popping in to share a goldmine I have found...

We are planning a very exciting trip to Europe next year, and I have been gleaning all the wisdom I can from friends who've done long haul flights, and planned and packed for a medium length holiday abroad.

Of late, my life has been greatly enriched by a bunch of people known as "Chatters".  They are fans of the Annabel Crabb & Leigh Sales podcast, Chat 10 Looks 3, which I highly recommend if you want to listen in on some friends who chat about life, books, and TV, amongst other things.  The group has formed on Facebook, and has been a tremendous source of knowledge on an astounding range of topics.

My new glasses are awesome (and didn't break the bank).  I only found out about them through the Chatters.

I have discovered books, TV, events, friends, and much other fabulous information through this group.

In particular, the group has been wonderful at advice for Traveling Chatters, whether solo or accompanied.

I've been looking closely at all the information relevant to traveling with children, and have summarised it below so that I (and others) can remember it, and trawl its depths for tips that will help them out.

Here's the first edition of useful travel info, with thanks to the Chatters.  I am sure I will be updating it as more information is forthcoming.  What else would you add?

Suggestions for Bags & Packing Strategies
  • Kids share a suitcase
  • wheeled/backpack hybrid:…
  • Avoid 1 suitcase each = 4 suitcase adults are trying to manage if kids can’t/won’t
  • Stick to two suitcases so adults can manage & have hands free for kids hands
  • 1 Lg & 1 Med suitcase checked… 2 Lg carry on cases.  = Heaps of luggage
  • Eg. Two checked in cases, 1 large carry on backpack, handbag, small backpacks for kids.
  • Packing cubes! (people love or hate them:  good organisation esp for sharing bags, but fewer nooks & crannies)
  • Large ziplock bags can work like packing cubes
  • Pillowcases (1 clean clothes, 1 dirty) work better than cubes bc not rigid
  • 1 backpacker style backpack + roll on carry on for 2A, 2C (under 4).
  •  Nest a suitcase inside another - extra return luggage space
  • pack a folded duffel bag – good for laundry / extra return space
  • Carry on only, eg Kathmandu backpacks for adults, Kathmandu roller bags for kids (5 & 7). No waiting luggage at airports; easier to get around.  This amount means adults can wheel the kids bags / carry up stairs.
  • OR wheeled carry on case + backpack
  • One parent + child per suitcase and small backpack
  • 2A + 2C (4yo):  2 Osprey backpack/wheelies (one larger).  Shoes & toiletries to minimum. Kids had small backpacks for travel (trains & planes).
  • 1 case + 1 small carry on per adult; Kids = shared suitcase.
  •  Rule:  if you buy something it has to fit in your carryon
  •  2A + 2C (11, 9).  2 60 L wheeled backpacks.  2 carry on (kids).  Day pack (mostly empty) w plane amusements & for sightseeing 
  • 2A + 2C (>9 yo): 2 bags for parents; 1 smaller combined kids bag.  1 able to be a backpack
  •  2A & 2C (11yrs, 20 mths): Osprey Sojourn or meridian (60L) & 2 x 35L day packs (osprey & black wolf) OR 35L + 9L Kids. Needed 2 x 35L bc of Work (clothes, laptop)
  • 1-2 ripcurl f-light bags because they have zip mesh dividing them nicely in half to quarantine belongings for each person  + 2 large daypacks for carryon
  • Depends on travel:  Lots of travel, use fewer bags (1 big case, 1 light backpack carry on). Staying in one place, more luggage fine.
  • You need less than you think. Can always buy more
  • UK:  use opshops for bags & clothes – if you don’t want to keep them, drop them off somewhere else

Suggestions for Carry-on Bags

Suggestions for Kids’ carry-on Bags
  •  7 &10 yos can manage a backpack or roll along cabin bag each
  • Kids wheely carry on bags
  • 6 yo - Trunki Ride-on carryon. It was great! She pulled it after herself like a little puppy when she wasn’t riding on it, using it as a spare seat, packing and repacking her 4 little things (pillow, change of clothes, warm top, book). And when she was tired, we could pull her along on it. 6 was the upper end age bracket

What to pack for kids how to entertain kids in flight
  • ·       DO NOT - I repeat - DO NOT get on when they start boarding - that is at least 20 minutes in a confined space no one under the age of 16 needs. Get kids to run around, play, make noise during that time. 
  • ·       In their own bags:  reading books coloured pencils
  • ·       A4 ring-bound sketch pad to draw or write about the trip.
  • ·       Wrapped presents (small things) – open one per hour
  • ·       Pack snacks. In case small human not keen on plane food
  • ·       Play doh! (2-3yo - even a new colour  = refreshed enthusiasm)
  • ·       Mix of favourite toys and books & some new stuff
  • Wrap toys for added excitement
  • Overnight flights work well:  routine – get into pjs, watch movie to chill out.
  • New toys. Unseen before trip. Will keep attention.
  • in flight entertainment can be pretty good. Go online to check at airline website
  • pre-book children’s meals online for each leg there and home (not always automatic)
  • the magic bag cheap & new things eg. twistable crayons, notepad, small play doh tubs, magnetic puzzles... when kid gets bored, something comes else comes out. We’ve used it many times and it never loses its magic. PS kids aren’t allowed to see what’s in the magic bag because then it loses its power.
  • Chuppa chup lollipops/ lollies for take off and landing (descent can be worse)
  • travel jigsaws, colouring books and iPad, in flight movies without sounds (had headphones but she didn’t like them).
  • iPads need to be turned off during take off/landing
  • kids meals can be loaded with sugar, take snacks
  • I was saved by a roll of sticky tape!! We taped fingers together and explored properties and possibilities of the tape. We survived. Mind you, can’t imagine that this could be planned or anticipated. Nonetheless, I suggest pack a roll, JUST IN CASE.
  • washi tape
  • Magnadoodle / etch a sketch
  • proper kids earphones, lots of stickers, washi tape, triangle crayons (don't roll off the tray), craft paper books.
  • Draw a road on paper & stick on the tray, made some paper trees, and he drove the toy car around for ages.
  • toy car on a piece of wool so it could be fished back if it fell on the ground. 
  • 'man down' rule on the crayons, if any fall, they stay there. I wasn't ferreting around on an airplane floor for a crayon.
  • Boogie Board(bit like a magnadoodle)
  • Magnetic activity board
  • box of cereal in carry on for ultra fussy eater (wouldn’t eat unfamiliar food)
  • keep pulling out new books, games, new games and movies on the ipad.
  • Eye masks - Kmart have animal themed sleep eye masks- really comfy and novelty.
  • Balloons are good for the airport, don't take up too much space.
  • Remember every song, hand game (round and round the garden) for when no screens possible
  • Drugs if you need to - test first as some make kids hyper.  (Phenergan, Vallergan)
  • My policy is to waive normal rules around screen time. Watch lots of movies &  programmes,
  • Colouring/puzzle books and pencils, a cuddly
  • walks around the cabin.
  • walking and dancing in the plane, who cares as long as they are entertained
  • Make friends with the attendants ;) they might even take the kids for 10 min
  • Not too much screen as it will keep them awake
  • Panadol handy for sore ear
  • Lots of quiet toys, lots of snacks, drawing stuff.
  • Spare clothes for everyone essential! In a ziplock bag
  • Mini UHT milks
  • One grown up order a special meal - they're brought out first & so there's always a pair of grown up hands free.
  • pipe cleaners and cellophane
  • A plastic slinky
  • My motto travelling long haul with two little people is "some of it will be crap but most of it will be fine".
  • To fast track jet lag get as much natural day light as possible

Washing considerations
  • Consider weather for washing:
  • Winter in Europe / UK – washing hard to dry (lines no good, check for tumble dryers)
  • In Winter kids likely to get wet / muddy – may need more clothes
  • Check if you can wash / tumble dry at accommodation. May need to pack more than 3 days’ worth if not.
  • Washing 3-4 days works
  • Scrubba bags
  • waterproof bag for wet/dirty washing
  • Pillowcase for dirty clothes

Traveling with littlies
  • order groceries online to have bulky things like nappies delivered on arrival

Littles & Sleeping on the Plane
  • Travel overnight
  • Travel to arrive at night so they go straight to bed
  • Try to get them to sleep when it’s their night time.
  • Bring a pillow so they can lie across Dad comfortably (for both)
  • sleep mask
  •  ignore the routine/naps. Night time is a bit different but don’t force sleep. Mine always stuff up sleep plans by napping in the car to or from airport anyway...
  • scheduling sleeps may not work due to excitement: try your best to help her rest / sleep however you can.
  • Don't try and force the sleep, if it happens, it happens.
  • plane pal- laying flat so much easier (check website for airlines that allow).  Ages - depends on 1 or 2 kids & how tall. Could have kids lie horizontally across them so that one was lying across 2 seats in the space where legs go, & other lying across two seats. (tall kids, were comfortable, but max age would be 6-8?? Depends on height, they rest on you). We had a window row of 3 so didn’t bother anyone. See Plane Pal Facebook page
  • Sleep when they sleep
  • Try to make them sleep every 2 to 3 hours