Going on holiday is meant to be a relaxing pastime for all the family to enjoy; after all, you’re meant to be taking a vacation away from the humdrum of everyday life. However, the reality of travelling can be the polar opposite of relaxing, particularly if you are travelling with young children.
In general, the more people you have grouped together doing an activity, the more stressful it can be to get things done. Add in a couple of children to this and you basically have two or more people who can’t do anything unaided and have to be accounted for at all times.
This can make airports a nightmare and I’m sure we’ve all been witness to family fallouts at the check-in, or baggage reclaim. You know the picture: a parent is shouting at one kid, while one is wandering off, and meanwhile the other parent is trying to grab everyone’s bags at once and the airport bus is about to leave. Alternatively, all of this could be happening at security when the number of the gate is on the screen and you’re on final call while you’re a 15-minute run away from your terminal.
Of course there are some things that you can do to make travelling through airports in the UK, you can and you will survive it! You never know, you might end up being so prepared that you actually start your holiday off with perfect ease.
One first bit of advice we’re going to give you before we get going is to say that whatever happens, breathe and remain calm – you’ll be shocked at how much that actually helps when you’re ready to rip your hair out.
Before you get there
It might sound crazy, but there is a lot that you can do to make your travel much easier before you even get there. Think of that old adage: fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. As irritating as that might have sounded when you were doing your exams, it held some truth and it still does
Leave home earlier than you think you need to, this will do a lot for your peace of mind because let’s be honest: you don’t know what kind of traffic you’re going to be facing. As Mumsnet.com says, there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a traffic jam and panicking about missing your flight.
Similarly, it isn’t easy to rush with small children because carrying them isn’t an option with everyone’s hand luggage and they won’t enjoy being dragged by the arm through a terminal. It’ll create a lot of noise for you and for everyone else, so it’s better off avoided.
Pre-booking your parking is another great way to save time, just as it is with traffic, as you don’t know what the space situation is going to be like at the airport. So why not save yourself the hassle and sort it out ahead of time? That way you’ll know exactly where your space is and how much it’s going to cost you too.
Whether we mean to be that way or not, everyone gets angry when they’re hungry – or hangry if you want to use 21st century lingo.
The reality is that as humans, we need to eat and drink often, particularly during travel, which easily makes people weary. This can be true of short flights from London to Belfast, but it’s even more prudent when we take long-haul flights to America, or even further to Australia, or somewhere similar.
Also, keeping food and liquids handy is almost guaranteed to keep children happy (and quiet) and therefore make your travelling through airports a lot less stressful.
Airport Parking Shop recommends keeping a container of powdered milk with other baby essentials in your hand luggage as the way forward for happy travel.
Thankfully, most, if not all, airports are well-equipped with amenities like warm water, so you’ll be able to make up formula for your baby as and when you need it. Of course, you’ll be able to get assistance from flight attendants when you’re on the plane, but if you just can’t wait, you should be able to seek out a nearby coffee shop.
If you’re worried about hand luggage restrictions on liquids, you should be able to pre-order cartons of baby milk that you can collect from Boots in the departures lounge – so you won’t have an issue with your liquids. There’s nothing worse than getting milk taken away from a hungry baby!
Never underestimate the peace and quiet that you can enjoy in an airport lounge, if only for the fact that they usually have child-specific activities that will keep the children occupied while you enjoy a complimentary coffee. Or perhaps a glass of prosecco before you fly?
Check with your airline, but most luxury airlines will have their own lounges in the airport that are built for quiet. Most usually have a fee that you’ll need to pay, but with this you’ll get fast-tracked access on to the plane and light refreshments.
As we said previously, some will have activities just for children, including play areas and TVs that show kids’ programmes and films.
Of course, London airports are particularly well known for their airport lounges, purely because the airports are large enough to accommodate different lounges for various airlines. However, there are others throughout the country that you can take advantage of to make your time in the airport much more enjoyable and less stressful.
Children can carry bags too
There is now hand luggage that is manufactured purely with children in mind. The most popular example of this are Trunkis, which are little suitcases on wheels that can be easily pulled around by children.
Children will often quite enjoy carrying these around as they are brightly coloured and have a cartoon-like appearance. You can also make a game out of it, by telling your child how grown up and important they are now that they’re responsible for their own bag.
Of course, this basically makes things much easier for you, as you’ll have one less bag to carry. However, we would recommend that you keep an eye on your child while they’re pulling around their bag, just in case they get bored of it and decide to leave it behind for a bit.
The best thing about Trunkis though – just in case you do end up having to carry it around as well as your own bag – is that they’re very small and very light. They also offer just enough space for the child’s essentials, and maybe a small teddy or two, meaning they won’t be heavy for you or the child to carry.
Don’t forget to bring some distractions for the kids too. This will be particularly prevalent if you’re not booking into an airport lounge.
Bring some books, colouring books or iPads with lots of gaming app for the child to play with. If you’re going to be in the airport for a long time, this is going to be invaluable to you, because a bored child is a grumpy child and you certainly don’t want that when you’re stressed about missing your flight.