Travelling with children - a survival guide

Does the thought of going on a long journey with your children by car, train or plane fill you with dread? Well help is at hand. If you’re looking to book a summer getaway, read our guide on surviving your journey with children.
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Travelling with children by plane

A long haul flight with a screaming child is nobody’s idea of a relaxing journey. However, to minimise the stress of travelling with children, there are some top tips you can try.
  • Check out if the airport you’re flying from has a crèche
  • Pack plenty of snacks, water, nappies and changes of clothes for both the hours in the departure lounge and the hours on board the plane.
  • Request a bulkhead seat, which usually have bassinets to allow your baby to sleep.
  • If you can afford it, book an extra seat for your baby so that you have a spare seat which can be invaluable.
  • Make friends with the people sitting next to you before you take off to minimise any future stress when the tears start to flow.

Travelling with children by car

Travelling with children by road needn’t be a nightmare. They key, as with many things, is preparation. Plan your route thoroughly, check the traffic before you set off and think about the best time of day to travel. Travelling in the evening could mean your children sleep the whole way. To avoid being driven up the wall by the constant “Are we there yet?” try to distract your children as much as possible. Don’t forget to pack:
  • Plenty of snacks
  • Games
  • Paper and pens
  • Handheld devices such as tablets or smart phones
For more great tips from parents online, visit the mumsnet website.

Children and travel sickness

Ensure that your children are comfortable in the back seat before travelling, especially on long journeys. If your child suffers from travel sickness, try asking your GP or pharmacist if there are any medicines they can safely take.
Even if your child isn't usually sick, it's worth being prepared. Keep a plastic bag in the glove compartment in case anyone starts to feel a little green. It's also a good idea to pack plenty of kitchen towels, disposable wipes or similar just in case. Also, some air freshener to take away any lingering smells could help you all avoid feeling queasy.

Travelling with children by train

Travelling by train with children can be less stressful than most other forms of transport.
  • There is less chance that your child will suffer from travel sickness.
  • There is more space to move around, go to the toilet and a lot of trains also have a buffet carriage or trolley service.
  • If you’re travelling long distance, see if you can book your own overnight cabin.
  • Make sure that you can take pushchairs or buggies onboard - check with your train operator before you travel.
  • Avoid busy times if possible, it not only less stressful for everyone but it'll cost you less too.

Travelling abroad with children

Don’t forget to check what the health situation is like the country you’re travelling to. Children may need extra vaccinations before they travel. For more information visit the Foreign travel advice section on the GOV.UK website. You should also make sure your children have up to date passports. For more information on applying for or renewing a child’s passport, visit the Passports section on the GOV.UK website.

Last edited: 7 June 2016

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