Taking a young child on a flight is something that a lot of parent dread.
What should or can you take, how much time should you allow, and how will the flight go?
We’ve travelled abroad with our child from a young age, but always as a couple, tag-teaming along the way.
I recently travelled on my own with my daughter though. My husband was away on a long business trip, so given the less than great British summer weather, we decided to take a break.
It meant I’d travel separately with the girl, and then we would meet up for a few days in Spain on his way back.
Horrified at the prospect of managing the little one without that 2nd pair of hands?
So was I initially. Then I thought about it.
Daddy is normally in charge of holiday admin and I tend to manage the child.
So the only real difference would be that I’d have the additional job of printing and remembering all of the documents, setting the alarm and packing the car.
I figured I could handle that.
I was just going to have to be more organised.
How to travel alone with a toddler, without losing your marbles
Here are my tips of how to manage the airport and travel alone with a toddler:
- Don’t pack things for every eventuality. Only take what you really need. If you’re flying to any mainstream destination, you can usually buy forgotten items locally (which we did; thank goodness for airport Boots).
- Don’t leave things until the last minute. Pack 2-3 days in advance rather than the night before. That allows you to pop an extra wash on if you realise something isn’t clean.
- Print off all of your docs 2 days before too. Remember that if you’re hiring a car abroad you may need the driving licence check code number.
- Load the car in advance. Especially if you have an early start.
- Invest in a buggy bag. Even if your child doesn’t use your pushchair much anymore, a buggy bag for travel is super handy. You don’t want to be without it in the event of an overtired child, especially if you’re planning a few later nights to enjoy holiday evenings. You can also load those bad boys with tonnes of other stuff too (scooters, towels, beach toys etc).
- Empty the buggy. If you’re taking your buggy through to the gate, empty everything out of it before you go. We all find stray toys or water bottles in the bottom of the pushchairs that you might have to leave behind at security. It’ll also save you extra stress emptying another thing too.
- Take your own car seat. Save yourself lots of money by taking your own car seats rather than hiring them. You can still check it into the hold for free, and again, a carry bag might mean you can sneak extra items in too.
- Take practical hand luggage. Use a back pack and don’t overload yourself with unnecessary items. You don’t need all the toys, coats and teddies so put them in the hold. Remember, it’s you who is going to have to manoeuvre it all (and children) through the airport.
- Charge the iPad and load it up with downloads. If you’re taking a longer flight, also take a charging block and make sure that’s full of juice.
- Find the kids area or soft play at the airport. Most bigger UK airports have child-friendly areas that might mean the wait to board is a bit easier.
- Pack snacks. We all do this for trips to the shops, so why not do it for a flight? Keep little ones happy during queues with nibbles and pick up some more bits at the airport for the plane. Everyone loves a ‘plane picnic’ and the choices on board are not always the best!
What other tips would you add?