Travelling with young kids through an airport late at night can be a flipping nightmare. Even worse if you are travelling as a solo parent and don’t have an extra pair of hands or someone to good cop/bad cop with. You could be having the greatest airport experience, patting yourself on the back for navigating your kids successfully off the plane and the long walk to the immigration hall. Then all hell breaks loose, your two your old throws a massive tantrum and decides to make a break for the border and run through immigration control. Funny-ish for me, not so funny according to the immigration officers.
Here are 5 tips I gleaned from a recent longhaul flying experience with Madames Jetlag & Mayhem:
- Passports are like manna for young kids. They want to see them, touch them and play with them. Don’t let them!! Even if you think it will keep them quiet in their buggy for 10 minutes, I guarantee someone will be chasing after you going ‘is this your passport you’ve just dropped?’
- Get to the airport with plenty of time so you can GO SLOW. Kids like to walk slowly. And stop. And sometimes sit on the floor (or lie on the floor). It’s not worth the constant shriek of ‘just hurry up!’. Allow plenty of time to travel through security/immigration and crawl to your Gate.
- Take the lift/elevator wherever possible. Airport escalators can be lethal with buggies/suitcases and young kids in tow. Especially the really long ones.
- If you’re travelling with more than one child, conduct a stock take at regular intervals. Oldest child – yes. Youngest child – yes. Oldest child’s wheelie suitcase – no!! Cue frantic scramble to see where she decided to leave it behind. The stock take is particularly important when you are getting off the plane too. Not only do you not want to leave anything behind (ok, occasionally i want to leave the kids behind) but you also don’t want the faff of having to barge past people to get to your seat or wait around while they find your kids favourite teddy.
- It’s all about pockets. Travel in clothes with lots of pocket. Carry a backpack with more lovely pockets, leaving you hands free. No point having a big Mary Poppins bag where you can’t find anything. Compartmentalise and then remember where you’ve compartmentalised. And if you can’t find your passport it’s because your toddler dropped it back in baggage reclaim – I told you not to give it to your toddler!!