We are preparing for our journey back to the uk for the summer holidays. After nearly a year here in Dubai, it will be nice to have a long stint in the uk to visit family and friends and enjoy a bit of cooler weather (although not too much please mr weatherman!)
So as I am dusting off our suitcases and wheeling out our carry ons, I thought I would do a bit of research into how to make our long journey as successful and pain free as possible. Flying with a toddler is quite hard work, so here are the tips and tricks I have found out...
- Sticker books, William loves them. They will occupy him for aaaaages! I have found simple cheap ones in supermarkets but Borders, toy stores and other book shops here in Dubai sell some great ones. If you really plan ahead, order them off of amazon, try this link... http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_16?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=usborne+sticker+books&sprefix=Usbourne+sticker%2Caps%2C343
- Felt tips and colouring books
- Twisty crayons, good for colouring with but also keep him occupied as he likes to twist them open and shut repeatedly. I bought these from Daiso, a Japanese pound shop here in Dubai.
- Small puzzles. These little puzzles are great! I found these also in Daiso, a set of four with varying degrees of complexity, for just 7 aed, that's £1.20 ish.
- A new pencil case and bag to hold it all. Never underestimate the effect of a child having a 'new' item. Again I got these from Daiso for about a pound each. They don't need to be expensive, or even new at all really, as long as it's new to the child. William finds it exciting that he is taking his new pencil case and I am sure he will spend time zipping and unzipping it on the plane.
I will also be adding...
- Toy plane
- Miniature cars
- A cuddly toy ( this is starting to sound like the generation game!)
- Books, as many as we can fit in!
- Lots and lots of snacks! I try to chose healthy options but you've got to add some fun things in there too! Dried fruit, fruit peelers, fruit pouches, fresh fruit, biscuits, cheese crackers, puffy rice snacks, nuts, animal shaped crackers, etc etc, you get the gist of it. Chewy sweets may be good for take off and landing to help with their little ears popping! Food is very important to keeping my son happy!
- Portable DVD player/iPad, these are a great extra if you can manage to bring them. There are some great apps out their for iPads, including educational ones that will keep little ones busy while waiting in the airport or on the plane. William is really good at sitting still and watching films too so the little portable DVD player grandad got him works wonders, you only need a couple of films for the trip.
- 'Noony', this is Williams blanket he likes to sleep with, your child may have a muslin cloth, cuddly toy or smelly old rag. Whatever helps them to feel comfortable and sleep.
- Spare nappies, more than I think I will need just in case, wipes, spare clothes for little one, spare top for mum/dad if you have a drooly baby, antibacterial hand gel, calpol sachets just in case... Oh and the kitchen sink! ;)
To top it all of, this to put it all in...
Williams Aunty Lindsey brought William a trunkie for his first Christmas present and he loves it. Unfortunately we were unable to bring it out to Dubai last year as we didn't have enough allowance, but we are hoping to bring it back with us this time. It's perfect for little ones as they have their own luggage to pull along, they can ride on it, it gives them a sense of importance and inclusion in the airport. It also stops them from pulling your suitcase around and pushing it over so it breaks fragile items you out in it... Yes this happened to us at Christmas! I know we can't all get hold of trunkies, but any child friendly pull along or small,back pack for older ones would do the trick!
While in the airport, there is a lot of waiting around, faffing about and general boredom. I get frustrated sometimes that William starts being a pain, running about, leaving the ques, pushing luggage away, going in and out of shops etc. but let's face it, kids attention spans are not great at the best of times and waiting around can be boring.
- Their own bag. They will love pulling and pushing their own bag around, it will make them feel part of it all, like mummy and daddy. If they are old enough to bring their own bag, let them, it's one less thing for you to carry! (For the first hour until they get bored anyway!)
- Make a treasure map. It could be a treasure map, eye-spy, word search, directions to follow or a simple quiz of what they see in the airport. Find the check in desk no, gate no, colour of plane, count how many other children are in the que, on the plane, etc.
- Airport staff. Talk about all the staff that you come across at the airport, get them to draw pictures of them, what are their jobs? This obviously depends on your child's age.
- Aeroplanes. How many aeroplanes can you see take off or land? How many different names or colours are there?
- Sleeping lions. How long can you sit/lie in one spot of the waiting area without making a sound or movement without getting on mummy and daddy's nerves when they are tired and sleepy because they chose to book a stupid overnight flight because it was cheaper? ;)
- Let your child do what they want. Within reason obviously. Try not to annoy other passengers or be unsafe, but you will all be happier if they are allowed a little freedom. Let them eat when and what they want, let them sleep when they want.
- Sleep whenever. If you are on a long haul flight you will feel the need for the little one to sleep, and yourself probably. I have done this before, tried making William go to sleep when he plainly doesn't want to. It makes for a stressful experience and doesn't get you anywhere. They will be excited about the trip and the plane so let them wear themselves out and they will sleep eventually. Personally I have found even with the time differences when travelling, that William catches up with sleep and gets into a routine fairly quickly into the holiday. So worry about that when you get there!
- Snacks. Make sure you have snacks for everyone. Flight meals can be rubbish sometimes so be prepared. They are expensive at the airports so take what you can from home. Take little ones own drinks bottle/cup and buy water and juice to mix once into departures at the airport.
- Ask the staff! Most airlines have something they can give you for the kids. It may be a colouring book, some sweets, blankets and pillows or extra drinks. Maybe try to see the captain in the cockpit?
- Baggage allowances. Check with your airline before you fly what your baggage allowances are and what extras you can take for free. Can you take a push chair right up to the plane door? Can you check in a car seat? Try using one of those luggage weighing gadgets when you pack, that way you can make sure you are within your weight limits and you don't have to rearrange everything at the airport. (Yes this also happened to us, but to be fair we were moving abroad!)
-Keep important information to hand. Make sure you have a special compartment in your bag for your documents, passports etc. somewhere you can get to easily each time you need to produce them.
Well I think that's the lot. Below are a few links to other blogs and sites that offer similar tips. If you think of anything that might help, please comment on this post! Most importantly, have a wonderful summer, whether you are staying at home, road trips or flying, and have lots of fun!