There’s no getting away from it, flying with tots can be a challenge but, having travelled so much with Erin in tow, I’ve found some strategies that can help make it a pleasurable experience. Here are my top tips:
1. Get an Airmiles Credit Card – My American Express British Airways has been a revelation. I whack everything I possibly can on to it, as well as exchanging my Tesco Clubcard points for BA Miles at 600 per £2.50, and use accumulated miles to upgrade and get free companion flights once a year. As a result, Erin recently snoozed almost all the way through a recent 7.5 hour flight to Dubai on a flat bed first class!
2. Check-in Online – If your airline allows it, DO check in online. It ensures the family get seated together, minimises queuing at the airport and takes the angst out of getting there super early.
3. Book Meet & Greet Airport Parking – Sites such as Holiday Extras and Go Simply often offer this for less than £20 per week more than standard parking. It removes all the stress that can go with the start of a holiday, such as searching for the car park, finding a space, negotiating the often seat-less car park-airport courtesy buses with pushchair, baby, suitcase, handbag etc as well as saving time. Just turn up at departures, hand your keys over and off you go!
4. Pre-Book Lounge Passes – Rather than hanging around the airport shops, investing in lounge passes ensures you have an oasis of calm with a guaranteed place to sit, complimentary drinks, snacks and, in most cases, TVs to help keep everyone happy until departure time. Invaluable when flights are delayed. Virgin have a great new family lounge ‘Vroom’ at Gatwick but it’s hugely popular, so must be booked long in advance, and can only be used if flying Virgin. For other lounges see Holiday Extras.
5. Got a Toddler? Get a Trunki – Erin will not be parted from hers. It’s been a life saver when, thanks to her Mum’s terrible concept of time and inability to ignore airport shopping opportunities, we’ve been racing to departure gates which can be 25 minutes walk for adults, let alone those with little legs. Investing in a Trunki is major insurance against toddler tantrums! From £29.99 – Save 10% by quoting FMBFB at www.funkymoose.com
6. Got a Baby? Get a Hip Seat – If your little one is too big for a hands-free sling and too small for a Trunki, get a Hipseat. This is like a bum bag with a built in seat which takes the strain when carrying little ones for long periods. Check out the Hippychick hipseat for only £29.95 at Kiddicare
7. Last to board = Less Bored! – Some airlines allow families with young children to board the plane first, but I advise boarding last. Your little ones will have far less time forced to sit still whilst waiting for take off, and you avoid the horror of a queue of fellow passengers gagging to get to their seats whilst you try to get your kids settled, with essential kit to hand and other hand luggage stowed away.
8. Hand Luggage Checklist – Along with the usual, change of clothes, wipes, nappies, nappy sacks, bottles, formula/drinks (best bought after security for less hassle over liquid limits), sachet or two of infant paracetamol, disposable/folding change mat, favourite cuddly toy or blanket, think about adding a surprise new toy or book to distract your child with when all else fails. Try adding some iPhone apps for kids or give in to the evils of the Nintendo DS or portable DVD player. I am guilty on both counts and, after about 10 flights a year with my toddler, still relatively sane largely as a result!
9. Take a Pashmina – They may no longer be the height of fashion but pashminas are invaluable for travelling. They can used as blankets, apronts, sheilds against the effects of travel sickness and impromotu shade against sun on arrival.
10. What’s Your Number 10? – I have run out of tips at 9. Perhaps lovely BFB readers can suggest a number 10? Please add your flying with tots tips in the comments below.