flying with kidsThis year, I am determined to take S on holiday. I want her to experience different cultures and languages – and also to experience a holiday with actual sunshine – the kind you know will be there before you open the curtains to check!  I’ve been looking online at flights to Tenerife and others of the Canary Islands; I feel like our first time going away should be somewhere that’s fairly popular with British tourists, where we won’t feel too out of our depth.

The problem is, much as I am determined to take S away and to travel with her, it’s a bit daunting isn’t it! Being a single parent makes it all seem a bit more scary, since it would be down to me to make sure we got flights, found our way to hotels, didn’t lose our passports and so on. Nobody to carry our luggage for us! But that won’t put me off; I just want to ensure I’m prepared.

I’ve been researching tips for travelling with children and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Give them a camera – This one I can definitely see working. S loves to take photos with her camera, and it’s likely to keep her distracted from whatever else is going on, as well as providing some entertainment when she’s bored on a long journey. I’ve also seen suggestions to download lots of child-friendly apps onto your phone, which is something I’ll definitely be taking advantage of… if you have a suggestion for an app that’s not too hideous to listen to for hours at a time, do please leave a comment!

Bring snacks – children really do have a Jekyll and Hyde personality when they get hungry, or at least S does. When she’s hungry she goes from the most pleasant, happy child in the world to… snotzilla. I definitely need to bring snacks with me if we’re travelling for more than an hour or so!

Dress comfortably for travel – this one hadn’t occurred to me but it’s common sense when you think about it. An adult can probably cope with uncomfortable clothing for a long journey (I recall flying back from Fuerteventura a few years ago with terrible sun and wind burn that didn’t quite fit with the underwear I had on – ouch!) but children are very much “the princess and the pea” aren’t they – the slightest discomfort will keep them wriggling for hours. 

Book sensible flight times – I’ve had flights before that left at 4am or returned at midnight; both involved spending a lot of time sitting in a coffee shop, reading a book. Not too bad for me; hellish for a small child!

Ask for a spare seat – When you check in, ask if the flight is full. If not, ask if you can have a spare seat next to you. Apparently they often say yes when the flight’s not full, and you can stretch out a little more on the flight – maybe even get some sleep!

Invest in a child locator – I am so paranoid about losing sight of S even when we’re in our local shop. The idea of losing her at an airport or worse a foreign train station is the stuff of nightmares. A child locator is one of those things you hope never to need, but it brings you comfort just by having it.

Bring medicine – This is another one of those things I probably wouldn’t have thought of, but it makes perfect sense. We always have a good stock of Calpol in the cupboard at home but it’s the sort of thing you’d also want to keep in your hand luggage for a mid-flight emergency.

Do you have any tips to add? If I’ve missed anything I’d love if you could leave a comment – forewarned is forearmed, after all!

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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