There are those who say small children should be nowhere near a populated area, let alone an airport or an airplane, but parents deserve a break too and sometimes travelling with a small child is unavoidable. Here are Cheapflights' parent-tested suggestions for travelling with a little one:
Before the journey
Pick a family-friendly destination. Never underestimate the attraction of a beach for a young child, but make sure the little ones are aware of the dangers of water. Look for hotels that let children stay free of charge in their parents' rooms and provide free meals for children or buffet-style breakfasts included in the price of the room. Ask about babysitting services, creches, kids' clubs and facilities for children, too.
Don't forget that your child needs a passport.
Be flexible and keep your itinerary simple. Book direct flights. Travel at night so children can sleep through journeys.
Try to get bulkhead seats on the airplane (the bulkhead is the partition that divides a plane into different sections, between Business Class and Economy for example). Call the airline in advance or arrive extra early at check-in.
During the journey
Bring snacks and a water bottle. Children can get dehydrated during a flight and toddlers will not always wait for mealtimes. Pack bananas, raisins, rice cakes, bread sticks, juice, dried fruit and small boxes of dry cereal. Bring along baby wipes for little spillages and a bib to keep clothes clean.
If you are driving, break up your journey so your child has regular chances to stretch and run around. Make sure you bring along toys, blankets, and other familiar items from home to make your baby feel as secure as possible. Put some resealable plastic bags in your car boot or carrying bag. They are great for holding messy items such as bibs, nappies, wet bathing suits, sea shells and half-eaten, sand-encrusted lollipops.
Plan just one major activity a day.
Bring along a basic child-proofing kit to use at your destination. If you are travelling by car, make sure your baby's car seat is properly installed. Use removable window shades to keep the sun off your child. Check out the room or apartment for safety. Bring hats and sunscreen for your toddler, and blankets and pillows for napping. Don't forget medicated cream for little cuts and scratches, sticking plasters, some after-sun cream for mild sun burn and Calpol for little sniffles.
Take along a goody bag with plenty of toys, snacks and drinks. Include favourite toys, games, books and some surprises. For toddlers, try puzzles, dolls, action figures, puppets, brightly coloured paper for drawing, non-toxic crayons, stickers for the car windows, story tapes and books. For babies, possibilities include shiny new objects, baby-proof mirrors, rattles, musical toys, soft animals, pop-up toys, plastic keys or teething rings. Start building your toy stash a few weeks before the trip.
Staying within budget
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Updated April 2013