How to beat stress when travelling with children

YOU’VE been longing for months for that foreign beach holiday with your young family.

How to beat stress when travelling with children

But you wish you could just be teleported there because at the back of your mind is the nightmare scenario: What if my baby cries or my toddler whines for the duration of the flight?

It’s an anxiety that packs a double whammy, says Laura Haugh, mum-in-residence at

“You’re not only stressed because you’re trying to calm your child. You’re also very conscious you’re in a confined space where you could be disturbing other passengers. It makes you doubly anxious.”

You can help equalise pressure in your child’s ears or prevent earaches by breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, using soothers or getting them to suck sweets during take-off and landing. But children also whine when bored and have to stay in a confined space and abide by airline rules like not removing their seatbelt.

“This can be particularly difficult for pre-school children who are exerting a bit of independence and don’t like restraint,” says Haugh, a mum of two children aged five and two.

The key to happier, easier, calmer flying with children is to plan meticulously – because small things can catch you. Your six-year-old packed his bag, in the rush to leave you didn’t check it and now there’s a problem at airport security. Or your child’s favourite teddy has disappeared into the X-ray machine and he’s hysterical because he thinks it’s gone for good. You wish you’d explained beforehand and made it into a game.

Haugh advises a preparatory chat with your child a few days pre-holiday – “we’re going on holidays, it’s very exciting, you’ll have a special seat that the pilot will want you to stay sitting in but you can still eat, sleep, and have fun”. Let your child know all the exciting fun things he’ll be doing once he you land.

She recommends visiting a euro-shop or cheap toyshop pre-holiday and buying a wide variety of inexpensive toys. During the flight, introduce toys gradually, so you have an alternative each time they start to get bored or restless. Portable movie devices are great – ensure they’re fully charged before you leave. If you want batteries to last the flight, avoid letting your child using the device during the airport wait.

It’s also a good idea to bring lots of snack-type finger food that won’t need spoons – ensuring you don’t have to wait for the food trolley. Snacks are also handy if you have a fussy eater. Do give children plenty of fluids in-flight – the very dry air means it’s easy for kids to become dehydrated or constipated.

See  or the stress-free travel guide at


* Make life easy: Try to get an extra seat if the flight isn’t full.

* Bring a favourite blanket if you want child to sleep – air conditioning can be cold.

* Stick to your child’s routine around feeding and sleeping.

* Bring a light travel buggy for use in airport.

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