Tips for Travelling Internationally with Children

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As many of you may know, travelling with children is not for the fainthearted! Travelling with smaller children is definitely more demanding, from the endless questions, “are we there yet?” to the numerous amount of restroom stops, requests to play the same song over and over again and not to forget the “I am Bored”, “I am hungry” exclamations from the back seat! It’s exhausting!!! Scared yet? Well you should be and this is only local travel that I am talking about :)

After the birth of our first precious princess, my hubby swore that we would only travel internationally with our children, when they were at least over the age of ten. Well as a women well trained in the art of persuasion, I managed to convince him otherwise. Our first trip to the UK was in 2007, with two children aged 6 and 3, in tow! Am I good or what! The rest as they say, is history! We have done a few trips internationally with our girls and have learnt so much along the way, which I thought I would share with you. These are my Tips for Travelling Internationally with Children:

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  • Flying ~ For a first time international adventure with children under the age of five, try and stick to a shorter over all travel time. Flying is tough even for adults, who have longer attention spans, so why subject a tot, who cannot sit still for more than five minutes, to such torture. Perhaps try somewhere closer to home such as Zanzibar or Mauritius. Also for first time travelers, perhaps a local airplane trip would be advisable, just to get the hang of things, before you set out for distant shores.
  • Planning ~If you are planning a longer trip and finances allow, then book a direct flight. There is nothing worse than hauling kids through an airport, trying to find your luggage and check in for your connecting flight, with only 5 minutes to spare. This can be extremely stressful and I am speaking from first-hand experience. It is definitely not a good way to start your holiday. If you do need to fly an indirect route, then ensure you allow enough time to locate your luggage and check-in for your next flight.
  • Packing ~Packing is never a fun exercise and is the bane of my life but unfortunately unavoidable! Try (I know this may seem impossible for some) to pack less than you think you need, especially if you tend to over pack like me. Chances are you will wear less than half of what you pack. The main issue with packing is that if you are travelling to an area, which, like Cape Town, can experience all four seasons in one day, you will need to pack a wider variety of clothing, which takes up more space. Be warned though, do not make your suitcase to heavy! As I tell my girls, “you pack it – you carry it”! If you can, buy luggage with four wheels, especially for children, as it will be much easier for them to manage on their own.

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  • Hand Luggage ~ Something still related to packing is hand luggage. Remember to pack a change of clothes for your children! This is definitely something you would do if you are travelling with babies or toddlers but something you may forget with older children. It is especially important if you are travelling to another climate, to have an appropriate change of clothing. There is nothing worse than arriving in a country where the outside temperature is over 35°c and you are all wearing warm winter gear! Again do not over-pack your hand luggage and in my opinion, using a backpack is the preferable option, as apposed to a tog bag. A backpack is much easier to carry and leaves your hands free, to catch escapee tots, and older children can carry their own pack.
  • Medication & Incidentals ~Whatever you do, do not forget to pack the medication, whether it be sleeping tablets, motion sick tablets or something as simple as headache tablets and remember the airline rules{LAGs} when it comes to packing liquids etc. in your hand luggage. In addition to medication, pack face and hand wipes, which can come in very handy, in many different situations. I also find it useful to pack small snacks or sweets, which will keep your little ones happy. Flying can be arduous, especially with young babies, who can have a problem with the air pressure in an airplane, it can affect their ears and be quite painful! So ensure you have a drinking bottle to soothe them or a pacifier for them to suck during takeoff and landing.
  • Entertainment ~If your flight offers in-flight entertainment, then this is a definite lifesaver – most international carriers do but if not, pack books, game consoles or an iPad or tablet. These things may be the difference between a peaceful flight and a moaning, whining child for the duration of the trip.

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  • Documentation ~Ensure you have all your documentation, air tickets and passports on hand, so that you do not need to riffle through your bag each time you are required to present them. If children are old enough to understand, discuss the customs procedures and security checks with them, explain what may happen and what they are required to do.
  • Timing ~Something which may seem arbitrary but something we learnt the hard way on a recent trip, is to remember to confirm check in times with the hotels or resorts you are staying at. You may arrive in a country early in the morning and only be able to check in after 2pm and after a long flight you do not want to wait around for hours on end.

There are many more tips to share but I felt these were the most important. If you have any that you would like to share, please leave a comment below this post.

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  1. says

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an reallly long
    comment bbut acter I cicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted tto say excellent blog!


  1. […] I know it may seem like ages since our Thailand trip and that is probably because it is! Much like childbirth, I think it has taken me this long to get over the emotional and physiological scarring induced by certain parts of the trip! Do not get me wrong I love travel but it must be said, travelling to distant lands with kids in tow is not for sissies!{You can read my Tips for Travelling with Children here} […]

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