We have spoken so many times about our dreams of taking our boys abroad, and this year it is finally happening. We are so excited but also a little nervous about our first experience of taking the boys away on an aeroplane. Previous holidays have involved a boot full of suitcases, crates of food, bags of books and boxes of toys and games. Packing well is entirely familiar but packing light is not! Not to mention we bundle into the car, stopping at services when the need arises or taking detours to stretch our legs. Jacob and I may be well used to foreign travel and aeroplanes, but the boys are not.
How do we prepare them for the airport, the take off, the landing? What do we pack? How do we make sure we don’t go over our limit but we do remember everything essential?
I’m a big fan of lists so happily this element falls to me. As I move through my planning phase I wanted to share what I’ve found with you, and top tips from fellow bloggers.
The boys have never been on a flight so my starting point for preparing for this holiday is to talk them through what airports look and feel like, and what happens on board an aeroplane. Fortunately there are some great videos available on YouTube to help. We’re not business lounge travellers but I found this one in particular really pinpointed some of the main aspects of pre-flight travel and what the plane sounds like on the inside, especially during take off and landing. Perfect for my anxious child to get his head around the process.
Anna at Twins and Travels agrees:
“Prepare them for the airport. What it is like and what will happen. The first time we travelled my girls got freaked out by security and became hysterical. Talk through what they have to do and we even have an order we walk through security in!”
“Try and find pictures to show them what it looks like and what you have to do. That sometimes the buzzer will go off and what happens. Just lots of discussion without adding to the anxiety.”
Finally Anna suggests printing of lots of airport pictures and ordering them, talking about each picture and making a collage.
Kate at Kate Lili.com adds:
“We looked at books about aeroplanes and vlogs of flights before our first trip to Spain.”
All great ideas and we will be sure to continue the conversation, visit the library to find books to help and maybe even role play the security process! I hope if we make it fun and talk about it as a family it will help when it comes to dealing with the process for real, especially for our little first-time fliers.
My next set of lists focuses on packing. The one bag each plus a blanket, sets of games, multiple toys and books system that we operate when going away in the car won’t work for air travel. We have to slim down. I’ve made a start by finding 3 small backpacks, one for each of them and perfect hand luggage size on the flight which will naturally restrict what they take. I’ve also had a look at up to date restrictions of what we are allowed and are not allowed to carry on with us. Beyond that, I was in need of more practical advice.
Monika at Family Flight Advisor says:
“The most important things to take on any trip: passports, money and a good sense of humour. Beyond that pack as little as you think you can get away with, and then leave 1/3 of that at home too.”
Victoria of Travel Vixta suggests:
“Make the most of your cabin baggage allowance. Depending on the airline you are allowed a weight limit of anywhere from 7kg to 23kg for any carry on luggage. Some airlines even have no weight restriction so long as you can carry the bag yourself and place it in the overhead lockers by yourself. It’s a great idea to take at least one cabin suitcase with a set of clothes in each, a towel or two and entertainment just in case of delays or lost luggage at the other end.”
Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One adds:
“Take activities, small toys, snacks, books etc but remember to keep some back in a suitcase for the return flight. If kids are anxious about take off and landings then a favourite teddy might be useful to pack in their hand luggage. Remember something for them to chew/ swallow for take off and landing too.”
I love all this advice. Especially remembering to pack favoured treats and snacks for the journey home.
Other packing tips include Sam from Meandering Wild who suggests:
“Get the kids involved in packing their own back pack with their choice of entertainment (with some guidance) for the journey and while they are there. That way they have what they want. We also pack small bags of mixed Lego if Lego is a toy of choice.”
Nicola from A Blog’s Life gave me a very important tip:
“If you’re taking iPads, phone etc then pack those portable chargers!! Everyone makes a beeline for the plug sockets so these are a must.”
Becky from The Mummy Adventure adds:
“Take books, entertainment and all the snacks. I find the hardest part of holidays is the travel there and back so make sure you pack your/ their hand luggage well!”
Armed with all of these tips there is just one final list my brain can cope with at the moment: the unexpected need for medication or supplies list. When we holiday in the UK we know we will always be relatively close to a shop and will no doubt be able to find what we need if we forget something. Whilst shops of course will be in good supply on holiday, a little extra thought and preparation seems sensible.
Janet from Falcondale Life gave me reassurance in this area:
“Take a good set of first aid things. Be prepared for catching bugs like sore throats, bites and stings, upset tummy as well as blisters and headaches. If your kid falls ill abroad you may not know where to get medical help and there can be a language barrier. My tip is that in most countries a pharmacist is a great place to get help.”
“If we are flying then most of [this] goes in hand luggage. All of it goes in the original packaging as some countries are quite picky about what meds you take in. Check the rules before you go.”
Phew! All that advice certainly makes me feel more prepared and ready to not only finalise my lists but make a start on getting things together. Hopefully by the time we take off we will be well prepared, well packed and able to relax…
Have you been abroad with a young family? What would your top tip be? Do let me know in the comments below!
N.B. Huge thank you to all the bloggers who kindly shared their tips with me for this post.
If you found this useful, you like lists, and you have a dog, you might want to check this post out too: Holidaying With A Dog