Travelling With Kids As A Single Parent: Airport and Flight Hacks

Taking your children away and making new memories in an exciting place is one of the best ways for you to bond with them away from the stresses of everyday life. For many single parents, the prospect of going to a place they don’t know and being responsible for their children can be daunting. But don’t fear, as there are so many different things you can do in order to make your trip as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, starting with your airport and flight experience.

You know your children better than anyone else, so you will be able to preempt what could potentially go wrong and thoroughly risk assess the situation before going into it! Maybe your little ones are fussy eaters, so you’d take your own food on the flight. If your toddler has a tendency to run off, reins attached to a baby backpack would be perfect. For the fidgety children, keep plenty of snacks on hand to keep them occupied and satisfied. There are so many things you can do to make the journey as comfortable as possible for both you and your children, so don’t sacrifice an amazing trip over fears about getting there. We’re here to help!

Pre-Book Your Trip As Early As Possible

The first thing you can do to make life easier as a travelling single parent is to book your trip as far in advance as you can. There are multiple problems with leaving your flight to the last minute.

Firstly, the later you book the flight, the fewer options you will have. This is especially bad if you’re planning a long-haul flight, as it is best to find flight times that will ensure your kids lose as little sleep as possible. If you’re stuck with a dodgy flight time, not only will the flight be much more difficult for you all but jet lag could also impact the first few days of the holiday. So, booking in advance will help you to choose the most suitable times to avoid jet lag.

Not only this, but last minute flights often don’t have much choice when it comes to seating. Although it might be relaxing for you, I’m not sure the other passengers would be too happy if you’re in row c and your child is in row f! Of course, it’s a given that you need to be sitting by your children, so booking in advance helps to ensure that you can get seats together on the flight of your choice.

Be Prepared

If you feel prepared before you get to the airport, it is likely things will go far more smoothly. Now, this might seem extreme, but you can start getting prepared up to six months before your trip!

The first thing you can do to make your life easier is to check all of your passports six months before the trip. The last thing you need when you’re about to go away is the stress of having to apply for emergency passports. So, check all of the essential documents in advance.

Next, start your holiday shopping a few months before you fly. Create a list of everything you will need so you know you won’t have the dreaded feeling of forgetting anything. Collecting things bit by bit will give you time to realise what you are missing. Going for an eight-hour shopping spree the day before you go away is likely to end in disaster.

This is also a good time to look into your transport, as if you don’t drive, trying to get to the airport using transport won’t be very easy with your children and lots of luggage. Put some money aside to pre-book a taxi or airport driver service to make the journey as seamless and quick as possible.

A week before you go, start packing. There is no harm in starting early and packing things you won’t be using at home. This will make the whole experience much more relaxing, which in turn will help your children to feel more relaxed. Our kids have the ability to pick up on everything we’re feeling, so if you can remain as calm as possible they are likely to be calm.

The day before you go, check-in online. Having to stand in long queues could trigger tantrums, so avoiding queues when possible is a great thing to do. Once you’ve checked in online, all you need to do when you arrive is go to a bag drop and you can head through to the security. Then, the night before you leave, get your car all packed to make things as smooth as possible in the morning.

Finally, the morning of the flight, check that you definitely have all the essentials. This will vary depending on the age of your child, but prioritise your passports, travel documents and phone. You can buy most other things at the airport, so as long as you 100% have these, anything else is fixable. Have all your travel documents in one place, as juggling everything as well as a child or two is not an easy feat!

Arrive Early, Really Early!

So, the car is all packed and you have everything you need, including the kids! Now it’s time to head off to the airport. When travelling on your own, it’s safe to get to the airport about two hours before your flight. However, every parent knows how unpredictable life with children can be. When planning when to leave, aim to get to the airport at least three hours before your flight.

This will give you a bit of leeway with your journey time and then plenty of time to go through security, relax in the departures lounge and find your gate. The last thing you want is to be rushing, as you’ll be much more likely to lose something or someone, so leaving extra early is your best option.

Pre-Pack Food (Plenty Of It!)

Whilst most airports have a great range of food available to pick up before the flight, if for any reason you’re running late, the last thing you want is to be on the flight without any food already. You will have the option to buy food on board, but the prices are extortionate and if your children are a bit fussy when it comes to food, you don’t want to feed them something they really don’t want. Also, pre-packing food will save you some money that can be spent on making memories when you’re away.

So, the best thing to do is to pack plenty of food you know they will enjoy. Pack some snacks for the journey to the airport, a sandwich or something similar when you’re in the airport and then another substantial meal for the plane along with lots more snacks. Games will keep kids entertained for a little while, but they usually find food much more interesting!

Take a variety of different things, along with your coverall bibs to prevent you needing to do a full clean up job or several outfit changes. Yoghurt pouches, crunchy biscuits, crisps, fruit pots and pasta are just a few options that will keep them nice and full and might even send them off to sleep. Give them the fresher food first and then any non-perishable snacks can be eaten throughout the trip. You can take food through security but not drinks, so it’s recommended to take some empty water bottles that you can fill up on the other side.

Toilet Trip Before Boarding

Once you’ve found your gate (aim to do this as soon as possible), it’s a good opportunity to have one last toilet trip. Trying to fit into a plane toilet with even one child is difficult, so if you’re travelling with more than one, it will be very testing. So, take the chance to go before you board to minimise the number of trips on the plane.

When you’ve boarded, a really good tip is to inform the plane attendants that you’re travelling on your own with the children. They’re there to help you, after all, so giving them a quick heads up can make your life easier. This is particularly helpful when one of your children needs the toilet, as they’ll be happy to keep any other children occupied. Don’t feel like you have to struggle, ask for help and someone will happily help you.

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Written by Natalie Wilson

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