It doesn't matter where you go, travelling with kids is always an ... well, it's an adventure. Planning is key, particularly if you're flying, and the more prepared you are the better your chances are at having a smooth and stress-free journey, especially if you're going overseas. If things take an unexpected turn, keeping your kids, yourself and your belongings safe (that includes teddy) is crucial. At 1Cover Travel Insurance, we understand what it's like to contend with all the possibilities of travelling with kids. So here are a few handy tips to keep everyone happy and safe on your travels.
Breaking up the trip can be a great way to get two holidays in one go. However, it's all about timing; a short 12 hour stopover can work if you book a hotel day room at an airport hotel to help with jet lag. Hong Kong has a fantastic hotel within the terminal, Singapore also has sleep rooms that can be hired. Singapore Airport is generally quick and easy to exit and you'll be able to find comfortable hotels within 15 minutes of the airport for a refresh and nap. Dubai, after a long flight, is also great for a stopover.
A lot of kids love airplanes, and all the sights, sounds and smells of the airport are just as brilliant. There's so much going on and it can be an big new adventure for young travellers. Get your kids excited about watching the wings going up and down, the baggage getting loaded, and all the other planes moving around the tarmac. Even if kids are a little wary of the noisy planes, playing games will help them become more comfortable and familiar in an airport and flying environment, meaning future holidays will be easier! If you have two kids, and there are four of you in total it's best to travel in two rows so both of the kids get a window seat, saves all the screaming and arguing mid flight! There is a great research tool called SeatGuru, where you can see the airline seat map of your flight prior to check in - it rates good and bad seats.
Check out the airline inflight entertainment guides ahead of time. The kids will love being able to look through and point out the movies and shows they might watch. Several of the airlines have a parents/kids setting to ensure they don't watch anything inappropriate. Check out the guides here for Emirates, Qantas, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia. Also we all know the kids love their gadgets whether phones or iPads. It goes without saying load them up with anything from Peppa Pig, Adventure Time, Frozen, or download games or apps to keep them busy.
Sounds obvious, but many people forget to order the kids meals ahead of time. The last thing you want is your little one complaining about an adult meal and being hungry the whole flight. The other great benefit of kids meals is they are normally the first to arrive, meaning they eat first and you can relax with wine and a movie... hopefully.
Now this could work either way. Sometimes being near the exit also means being near the toilet, which we all know is horrible as people queue near your seat and the odour is well, not nice. However, if you're able to get the right location (speak to the airline or booking agent in advance), your little one may be able to set up their own little 'camp' in the extra space. Let them set in up with their favourite toys, a pillow, and a couple of books or iPad, and you may be rewarded with blissful quietude for a couple of hours. Plus, they'll be happy too!
You're shattered after a long flight, you land and see a huge line for customs... it's not the best feeling! The US is notoriously slow (get ready for photos and fingerprinting) and Sydney Airport can be very busy, particularly if taking an early morning flight. Sydney to its credit is getting better with its self service lines now available. However, if you're stuck in a nightmare line, it doesn't hurt to ask Customs if they can help express you to the front. You might not get anywhere but there's no harm in asking, you might even find an understanding Custom Officer who is also a parent.
When everyone is tired and grumpy after 20 hours of flying it's the perfect moment to keep them going one last time. Play 'Hunt The Bag' as 500 identical looking bags make their way on to the Carousel! You can also try the car game Spotto (whenever you spot a certain coloured car you shout Spotto) but for luggage. Extra points for spotting red and yellow cases. Hopefully the kids are distracted and more importantly your baggage arrives and hasn't gone missing!