Going on holiday with your baby or toddler is a special and momentous occasion. However it can also be a daunting experience! Check out my top tips for flying with babies and toddlers. Please feel free to comment on or add any of your top tips below.
1. Choose your destination carefully
We chose Jersey as the destination to take our 5 month old baby on his first holiday. It was a fairly ‘safe’ option as it was only a 45 minute flight away with no time differences or language barriers to overcome. Although, it isn’t as exotic as other destinations, we really wanted to use this holiday as a ´test´ where we could make sure we had all the things we needed for when we decided to venture further afield.
2. Choose your flight time carefully
6am flight? No thanks! I find that early morning or late evening flights with a baby or toddler add more stress than necessary. Why not take it easy, and enjoy the journey rather than getting up in the middle of the night to set off or arriving at your destination late at night? One of the first things I look for when I am choosing an airline to fly with is the departure times of the flights- I’m more than happy to pay a little more for a convenient day time flight.
3. Make sure you’ve got a decent baggage allowance.
We all know that airlines offer cheap flights but I once made the mistake of booking a cheap flight and then realised that I only had a 15KG baggage allowance. 15KG sounds like a lot, but when you think that the case itself will probably weigh a few kilos – plus you need to fit in all the baby’s clothes, nappies, feeding stuff, toys etc in and there won’t be much room for your things. Having made this mistake before and found myself packing our heavy clothes and shoes into our hand luggage, I vowed to make sure that in future travelled with an airline which gives me a decent bag allowance!
4. Make sure you’ve got all the right equipment
There are loads of products on the market designed to make travelling with a baby or a toddler easier. One of the most useful things I´ve found is simple bag to put the car seat and pushchair in when they go in the plane to protect them from rough baggage handlers.
5. Get a European Health Insurance Card for your baby
These cards entitles the holder to be able to access state provided health care in all European economic area countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge. Each member of your family should have one but make sure you get one for your baby too. More information about the European Health Card
6. Find out about your airlines seat allocation policy beforehand.
Some airlines let families board the plane first so you have a good chance of sitting together, others only guarantee that you can sit together if you pay for allocated seating. Find out your airlines policy beforehand so you know what you need to do to sit together.
7. Consider paying extra to park near the Airport terminal.
Whilst it can be cheaper to park offsite, the thought of waiting for shuttle buses to take you to the airport terminal with all your baggage and an excited baby or toddler can send shivers down your spine.
8. Make sure you´ve got adequate travel insurance for all members of the family.
If you got annual travel insurance prior to the birth of your baby, make sure they have been added on to the policy.
9. Before travelling, check if there is any specific travel advice for the country you are visiting
Have a look at the Foreign Office Website for more information
10. Find out what baby friendly equipment is available at your accommodation beforehand.
We spend a lot of time choosing baby friendly accommodation when we go on holiday. It makes it easier if we can find some accommodation which can supply essential items such as a travel cot, toys, baby monitor, baby bath etc free of charge. Find out what things your accommodation can supply beforehand so you can make the most of your valuable baggage allowance.
11. Leave enough time at the airport!
Myself and my husband were always ´last minute´ travellers. We didn´t like airports so tried to minimise the time we spent there by arriving at the last minute and going straight through security and to board the plane. We got a shock the first time we took our 5 month old baby on holiday! We found that we couldn´t check in online when flying with a baby so had to queue at the check in desk, then we had to queue again to drop the car seat off at the Oversized baggage area before finally making it to the Passport queue and Security. We had to take everything out of the pram and fold it up so it could go through the security scanners whilst holding onto the baby and emptying our bags out so the security staff could check the water we were taking through. We just about made the flight but were stressed out – never again!
12. Take your own car seat
We´ve hired car seats at our destinations a few times, but never found them to be as high quality as our own. In one instance, the car seat we hired was in a fixed reclined position which meant our toddler couldn´t look out of the window. Therefore I recommend taking your own and checking it into Oversized baggage after you´ve checked the rest of your bags in. Most airlines let you take the car seat free of charge anyway.
13. Take your pushchair to the gate.
However tempting it is to check your pushchair in so reduce the amount of luggage you have to lug around the airport, remember that you will need it if you get delayed! An alternative for a baby is a baby carrier.
14. Find out about the airport´s facilities for babies and toddlers.
Some airports such as Menorca and Munich have play areas for toddlers. Find out where these are and base yourself next to the playarea whilst you are waiting for your flight!
15. Find out if the airport has a runway viewing area.
Excited toddlers will love watching planes! Find out where the viewing area is and park yourself by it whilst waiting for the flight.
16. Take a portable DVD player to entertain your toddler.
We found this to be a godsend for keeping an active toddler entertained in a confined space. We preloaded episodes of Thomas & Friends and Peppa Pig onto the DVD player and brought it out during the flight. It was also a handy backup plan for entertaining our son during flight delays
17. Toddler Goodie bag.
Pack a ´goodie´ bag for toddlers full of new colouring books, sticker books etc that they haven´t seen before. They will spend so much time exploring their ‘new’ toys that they will forget they can’t get up and run around!
18. Packing on the plane.
Put the things to keep the baby or toddler entertained on the plane in a separate bag which you can put under your seat. Put everything else above in the overhead locker to give yourself as much space as possible.
19. Be prepared for delays.
Pack extra nappies, snacks, blankets etc just in case you are delayed.
20. Relax and enjoy the experience! Flying with babies and toddlers can be fun and stressfree!
It will take longer to move through the airport, and you will have to take more luggage but plenty of people fly with their baby or toddler every day. Think ahead to the fantastic holiday you are going to have with your little baby or toddler and enjoy the experience!.
Ryanair – Travelling with Children and Infants
Easyjet – Travelling with Children and Infants
Jet2 – Travelling with Children
British Airways Family Flying Guide
Monarch Flying with Infants
Lufthansa Travelling with Children
Virgin Atlantic Flying with Children