You’ve spent countless hours preparing the family for the big day, and it has finally arrived. With your bags wisely packed and everyone loaded into the car, you are ready to embark on what you hope to be a relaxing holiday. You know you can’t plan for everything, but you’ve planned for what you can. Now it’s time to put that plan into motion. The Popitha Family love to travel and we had two super excited twins ready to jump on an airplane. But little did they remember the last trip which meant sitting in a confined space, not really being able to move for 4 ½ whole hours and they were about to do that all again!
However, we had another challenge to face before that – the airport!! I find airports stressful, chaotic and over-crowded and it is the worst part of the holiday. So this time, I took some advice from other parents to ease the airport pain. Here are our best tips for surviving the airport with kids.
Arriving at the Airport
Don’t be late.
Give yourself plenty of time. How early you need to arrive depends upon a variety of factors, but the general airline rules for Europe is 2 hours – but allow 3, we do! You always running late or get caught in a que, so allow for this.
Know the location and workings of long-term parking.
Long-term parking is usually the most cost effective place to leave your car, but it’s also oftern the furthest away from the terminal. Do your parking research as some airports now offer different alternatives. In some cases, you’ll need to take a bus or train to the terminal; be sure you know how you are going to handle buggies, luggage and the children in tow.
When possible, check in online from home.
Take advantage of online check-in, and print off your boarding passes. It will save you aggravation and time at the airport. More importantly, book your seats. More and more airlines are not guaranteeing seats together if you don’t book so I feel that this is imperative when traveling as a family.
Consider your seat choices.
I personally consider asking for a seat in the back of the plane. If there are any empty seats left on the flight, chances are they will be in the back as these are saved for families, and you might have extra room to stretch out.
Dressing the Twins for the Airport with Frugi
This may sound silly but I actually put a lot thought into what I dressed the twins in. I do dress them in matching a lot, but recently I have gone for more co-ordinating outfits. I decided co-ordinating was the way forward for this trip and we teamed up with Frugi as they do a great range of co-ordinating outfits. My reason for this is if one of them run off, I know instantly which twin it is!
Carry on only what you need.
Easier said than done I know – I always travel with far too much. When you’ve got children, the ratio of carried to checked items is a careful balancing act. Even though it may feel like you need to pack half the house in your bags, be realistic about what you really need with you on the plane. A good selection of snacks and toys in a bag or Trunki that you feel comfortable carrying. This is often a personal choice and our Out ‘n’ About buggy came in handy too! Check out my flight survival guide to give you some ideas of what to pack for the children.
Passing Through Security
Talk the children through this beforehand – Everything but the kitchen sink must pass through the X-ray machine.
If you don’t fly often, discuss with your children ahead of time what this process will be like and what will be expected of them. All baby gear, including pushchairs and car seats, will need to be collapsed and put through the X-ray machine; you will need to remove backpacks and infant carriers. Electronics will need to go through, as well. It may seem like common sense, but avoid packing any children’s toys that even remotely resemble weapons — they will be taken from you (Oops, yes we lost our water pistols!!).
Divide and conquer with little kids.
If there are two adults travelling, it’s often helpful to take on a task to each. My husband is usually in charge of the gear, and I’m in charge of helping the twins – getting shoes and cardigans on and off, directing them through the metal detector, etc.
In the Terminal
Don’t just sit there.
Once you’ve made it through what I feel is the least pleasant part of the airport experience with children, you should have some time to kill. Remember to eat. Although you can get food on board, I prefer to know that everyone has had a good meal before boarding. If you’re lucky enough to be on a plane that is still serving meals, order kids’ meals a few days in advance.
Inquire about airport play areas.
If your children are small, see if there is an airport play area where they can burn off some energy. These are becoming more readably available. If you know of any good airports with these facilities, do let us know and I will compile a list. These areas are perfect for children before your flight.
Boarding the Plane
Make sure you make it to your gate in time for the first boarding call. Make sure that you have done the final nappy change once more after you thought it was the final nappy change! We had wet, leaking nappies on our first flight with children the minute we sat down. Don’t rush to actually get on the plane or you will find yourself sitting down for an extra half an hour before take off. We walked on once everyone had boarded, sat down and off we went. It was so much easier than being the first on. If you are travelling with a buggy, you will leave it just as you are stepping into the plane, and will reclaim it with the rest of your baggage.
On the Plane
Give kids time to settle themselves.
Younger kids will be excited and anxious, and curious about everything in their new space. This is the time to let them investigate, while it’s noisy and no one is paying attention to them. Explain that they will need to sit down and get strapped in shortly so they know there is an expectation. We also trialled the CARE Safety Harnesses. I wanted to test these for two reasons, one for the safety, and two as I wanted to girls to feel like they were strapped in, in the car to encourage them to wriggle and fuss less. More about these in their review.
So for now…. Start planning for your travels. If you are travelling with twins under 2, check out my article on surviving a flight with twins under 2 HERE.
I also have two new articles to follow, so keep your eyes peeled for these. Surviving a flight with twins under 3 and travel toys for the plane.
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** Some of the products were gifted to us for the purpose of this article but all thoughts and opinions are Popitha’s.