Alongside moving house, arranging a wedding and commuting to work - many people, ourselves included, would count air travel as one of the most stressful events that everyday life can throw at you. The best way to magnify this stress is almost certainly to attempt air travel with your toddler, an activity that multiplies all the difficulties and stresses usually associated with air travel many times over. To help you get through this often traumatising experience, try following these top tips to hopefully make your journey a little less of a bumpy ride.
It takes time
Think how much longer any task tends to take with your child in tow - the weekly shop, car journeys etc. - and apply the same logic you would in these situations to air travel. Always allow yourself plenty of time to check-in and for inevitable treks from the Bureau de Change for your travel money, to Boots for your sun tan cream and finally to the right gate for your flight. Arriving early to your relevant departure gate is also useful, as being the first on the plane puts you in the best position to be helped by a member of the cabin crew whilst boarding.
A journey within a journey
Coming prepared for the airport itself is another important factor to remember. A lightweight push-chair with a carry strap, which can be folded and carried over your shoulder, is an essential for ferrying your child around the airport. Carrying them in your arms might be fine in small doses, but for the cross-country trudge to your gate a push-chair will be an invaluable ally. Do remember to bring the carry case for the push-chair if you have one, as this will mean you can store the chair in the overhead luggage space whilst you fly.
Entertainment on the go
Regardless of your usual television policy and however strict you are with minimising screen time at home, throw this all out the window when it comes to air travel. Any respite that can be provided by the in-flight entertainment system should be cherished and positively encouraged. You may also want to consider a portable DVD player (you can pick them up for around £40) with a collection of your child's favourite DVDs to keep them entertained and occupied.
Spread the load
This may seem like a slightly strange suggestion but one great tip is to consider booking seats that are far apart from each other if you are fortunate enough to be travelling with your partner. This is so at least one of you can rest up, whilst the other takes care of entertaining and looking after your child. This will leave the lucky chosen one, who was not in charge of the little one, bright and awake upon landing, where they can then take over the role of number one child-minder. This role can then be reversed on the return leg of the journey to keep things nice and fair!
Finally as with any holiday abroad, it pays to purchase travel insurance for your family. With the majority of UK travel insurance policies, toddlers get free travel insurance if the parent purchases cover.