Summer is always a popular time to travel with your family from Dubai; whether you are off on a trip to explore a new destination or touching base with family and friends in a different country. Travelling with toddlers does require planning, organisation and often a lot of patience, but it does not have to be an overly stressful experience. With a few strategies you can help make getting from A to B with a young family a relatively smooth process.
If possible, book a direct flight to your destination. A shorter flight time is always a plus and requires a little less logistical planning when flying with toddlers. Of course, this is not always possible and depends on your destination so if you are booking a connecting flight, give yourself plenty of time for the layover. This should help ensure that you and your toddlers are not frantically running between terminals to catch a connecting flight, whilst carrying all your toddler’s necessities.
In the lead up to your trip, talk to your children about travelling and their exciting upcoming plane journey. If it is their first airplane journey, this will help prepare them for this new experience. If not, it will provide an opportunity to reinforce your behavioural expectations.
Plan, plan, plan!
Write a list of everything you will need well in advance of your flight and give yourself lots of time to minimise any unnecessary stress on the way to, or inside, the airport. Make sure that you are aware of all Covid-19 related protocols and requirements for leaving the UAE and entering your destination country.
If your airline offers priority boarding, then take advantage of this. It may seem counterintuitive to spend more time than necessary inside the aircraft, but this will allow you and your family to get comfortably seated and set up at your own pace before the plane becomes busy.
Entertainment and distractions
Flying, particularly when it is a long haul, is challenging for young children. It can seem like an awfully long time to remain in one place. Ease their boredom as much as possible with toys and devices.
Keep their little fingers busy with different travel toys like;
• Magnetic travel games and puzzles
• Colour pads and crayons
• Soft toys and teddies
• Kids travel tray (with sidewalls to prevent falling toys)
• Books to read
Electronics are also very useful for this purpose. Even if short periods of screen time on a device (for children of 3 years and over) is not your first choice, you could perhaps use this as a back-up. Watching a cartoon, reading an e-book or playing an interactive game will likely be a welcome distraction for your child. Using different educational apps will also provide time for learning in transit.
Bring double the toddler essentials
You don’t have any control over flight delays, but you can ensure that you have packed more than enough of those toddler necessities in case of unexpected circumstances. These include:
• Hygiene essentials
• Snacks and food (Here are some great ideas for healthy snacks!)
• Easy-on, easy-off outfits
• Spare shoes (sometimes they go missing!)
Recreate bedtime routine
If you are traveling through the night, it may be helpful to recreate your child’s bedtime routine in an attempt to ease them off to sleep. Change into pajamas, read a bedtime story, turn off lights and tuck them into their seat with a blanket. Incorporate whatever you can to mimic their normal routine. It is important to reduce screen time or anything that may be overstimulating in the lead up to their bedtime. Instead, go for a walk down the aisle when it’s quiet and get them moving.
Even with extensive planning and organisation, there will always be minor mishaps and despite your greatest attempts to mitigate stress and avoid tearful toddlers, there still may be some tantrums. Keep calm, breathe and if your child is having a difficult flight, be attentive and reassure them (and yourself) that it will all be over soon.
If you are renting a car or staying in a hotel, make sure that you have booked any additional equipment that you may need for your young children in advance. Make sure all preparations are in place for onward travel from your destination airport – you don’t want any unnecessary hiccups on the other side after you’ve made it so far! Then, you can relax and enjoy your holiday.