With spring firmly on the horizon, the start of holiday season is looming over us – but travelling with children can be as stressful as it is fun.
But now a baby and parenting expert and writer has revealed her tips and tricks for surviving a long journey with little ones in tow.
Rachel FitzD, who is a former midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, told FEMAIL that taking a flight can often feel completely miserable – and instead, suggested other forms of transport for the family.
She shared her expert advice for making travel less of trauma and more of a treat with children, including allowing the kids to pack their own suitcases and bags.
Meanwhile she also advised carrying an ‘In Case of Accidents’ essential bag.
Rachel FitzD, who is a former midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, told FEMAIL her five tips for travelling with children (pictured, stock image)
1. TREAT TRAVEL LIKE A MILITARY OPERATION AND PLAN PLENTY OF PEE STOPS
Rachel advised: ‘Take a leaf out of the military handbook and think ahead.’
She explained that children have short attention spans and ‘teeny tums,’ so told parents to pack plenty of easy to carry, nutritious snacks.
In addition, lightweight books, games and puzzles are brilliant to have on hand.
She suggested: ‘Separate them into a number of goody bags, which can be brought out when boredom hits or you crave a break from the endless “are we nearly there yet” quizzing.
Meanwhile she suggested packing a separate ‘in case of accidents’ bag with stacks of clean pants, trousers, wipes and nappy sacks, will serve you well.
Even if you think it’s not necessary Rachel encourages parents to always pack one of these bags.
She said: ‘Keep it handy at all times and never underestimate just how many pee stops are needed on a trip out with kids.
‘Me and my bloke used to lay bets and the record was 12 pee stopes in two and a half hours.
‘Sometimes you simply can’t get to a loo and that ICOA bag will save the day.’
2. GIVE PLENTY OF CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS
Parents are often very good at letting their children know what they don’t want them to do.
For example, ‘stop jumping on the seats,’ ‘don’t keep nagging me for crisps,’ etc.
The former midwife continued: ‘We are not so good at telling them precisely what we would like.
‘We are vague and hint and our children are left having to try all the tricks in their book to see which one is acceptable.’
Yet, it is possible to stop all this guessing and tell them straight; such as ‘we are travelling by train today.
‘It is okay for you to chat and read and looking out of the window but no feet on seats or running up and down the aisles.’
Rachel explained: ‘Kids want clarity and certainty from you so give it.’
3. LET THE CHILDREN PACK
The parenting expert suggested letting children pack and carry their own backpacks while travelling.
She said: ‘Kids love to choose their own clothes, teddies and games for trips and, if they have their own kid-sized backpack they will learn how to think about what they really need.’
However, this doesn’t mean that you hand over complete control of their wardrobe, snacks and games to them.
Of course, you will still need to take stuff they simply can’t manage.
However Rachel insisted: ‘You’d be surprised at just how much a few kids can carry between them.’
4. DO MAKE THE MOST OF WHEELS
‘Babies are easiest carried in a close-fitting sling or wrap, leaving you hands free,’ according to Rachel.
‘But toddlers and young children cannot walk at our pace for long so beg, steal or borrow an easy to fold but robust stroller with a foot plate front and back so that, when little feet cannot go another step, they can all hop on and cadge a ride.
‘This is how I transported my four through many a busy train station and airport – baby in a sling, toddler in the stroller and the other two “riding chariot”.’
Popular celebrity personal trainer Joe Wicks recently shared snaps on his Instagram of his three children in the airport.
The 37-year-old, known as The Body Coach, was seen pushing the Babyzen YoYo2 stroller with his six month old daughter strapped in, with enough room for his eldest daughter to sit next her, while his son sat on the retractable board at the back.
There are many options strollers these day and much of them are versatile and compact.
5. MAKE FRIENDS WITH FELLOW TRAVELLERS
The parenting expert said: ‘You can see the fear in their eyes as you head down the train carriage lugging a screaming baby and a feral toddler – they avert their eyes, stare out of the window and spread themselves right across the only remaining seats.’
Rachel advises not panicking or getting on your high horse, and instead encourages parents to stand their ground.
She suggested saying: ‘Hi, I see there are some spare seats here and we would love to join you.’
The former midwife explained: ‘Disarm and charm instead of fight and spite and you might just find yourself an ally who will entertain your tribe for a while whilst you indulge in a quick daydream about how easy this will all be… in another 10 years.’