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Flying with children

Seven top tips to help make flying with children more fun

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As thousands of families escape the summer heat, tempers tend to get a little frayed. Whether you’re a mum travelling alone with little ones, or you have a husband on hand to help out, there are lots of tips to take the stress out of travelling with your brood.

Make a list
Don’t leave the packing until the last minute. Draw up a check list so that you aren’t overloaded with stuff you don’t need. It would be silly to take an entire carton of baby formula if you can get some at your destination. Take enough to last you a day or two. The same goes for nappies, wipes and snacks. Even essentials like car seats can be booked in advance with your airport pick-up, or a relative at home can borrow one for the duration of your stay. Don’t struggle to bring everything, as a few advance phone calls can make the world of difference.

Inflight essentials
Your inflight bag will be big. There’s no getting around that when you travel with nippers. First off, do take an extra set of clean clothes. That way, if your little one has an accident, it’s not going to be the end of the world. Pack some new toys they’ve never seen before (and produce one every couple of hours to keep them amused), a small tub of snacks, a spare dummy and a few extra nappies, just in case. Cut down on bulk and take disposable baby bottles that you can throw away once used. It’s not strictly eco-friendly, but sometimes needs must. Make sure you take a mini first aid pack too. It should contain a few plasters, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer and travel sachets of either Calpol or child Brufen.

Take care of the blankie
You will be kicking yourselves if you leave the toddler’s treasured toy either at home, in the main suitcase – or horror of horror – back at the airport! Use a nappy pin to secure it to your tot’s clothes so that it won’t get lost if he/she likes to trail it around. If dummies are essential get a clip to stop it dropping on the filthy floor of the plane and then being popped back in the mouth, fluff, germs and all.

Invest in a portable DVD
Murphy’s law dictates that as stressed out parents, you’ll end up on a packed flight in the seats with the broken TVs. Charge up the portable in preparation and pack the favourite movie of the moment into the machine so it’s all ready to go. These brilliant contraptions come in handy on long road trips and visits to your favourite, dotty old aunt too (who will no doubt have far too much china within reach) thus providing a welcome distraction.

Be strategic
Change bubba just before you get on the plane, and ask an attendant which loo has changing facilities. There is usually one slight larger bathroom at the rear of the plane. Put a couple of nappies and a travel pack of wipes into a small plastic bag, and tuck it into the pocket of the seat in front of you for easy access. That way, you won’t need to go on an item finding mission in the overhead locker just to fix a smelly bottom.

Don’t expect too much
There will be crying episodes, and your toddler probably will annoy the fat man in front of him by kicking the seat from time to time. Take no notice of other passengers’ tuts and moans; just concentrate on staying calm and managing your brood your way. If you receive a complaint, don’t lose your temper. Just politely request that they seek alternative seating arrangements, and get on with the flight. After all, everyone was young once.

Happy landings
Young children often suffer from ear ache pain as the plane ascends or descends. Offering a bottle or feed to a small baby will help. Equally, if you have a no sweets rule in your house, now would be the perfect time to relax it as sucking on something does help to equalise the pressure. Once the plane has landed, resist the urge to hastily gather up all your belongings and disembark as fast as possible. Instead, take your time to collect up all the dropped toy cars/sippy cups etc, and wait until the other passengers have left. That way, a flight attendant can assist you with your bags, will have time to reunite you with your travel
buggy, and you won’t leave anything precious behind.

By Time Out Kids staff
Time Out Dubai,

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