The half term is nearly upon us once again, so it’s time to start planning that week away. Many Monarch staff are well-travelled parents, so we turned to them to compile a list of top tips to help you go with the flow.
1. Let your kids help with the planning
Worried about the budget? Let your kids be part of the planning. Get them excited about your trip but set expectations about what activities you will and won’t have time for. If they’re keen on very expensive activities, negotiate which ones you’ll do this half term holiday and which ones you’ll save for next time. Of course, you can also build one or two fun surprises in, that they don’t know about until you get there!
2. Be prepared to get down and dirty
Kids can be messy creatures and their clothes invariably have a magnetic affect on chocolate ice cream and tomato sauce. Pack an emergency set of clothes for them at the top of your hand luggage, including wet wipes and a plastic bag or two, just in case there’s an accident during the flight.
3. Blow off some steam early
Kids get quite excited about travel, so if you think they’ll fidget too much during the flight, it’s a good idea to try to burn some of their energy off at the airport. You could do an ‘I spy with my little eye’-style treasure hunt around the terminal, using items in shop windows as the targets.
4. Bring a bag of tricks
It’s a great idea to pack a carry-on bag with some new surprises in. The children will spend half of the flight getting excited about the mysterious things that have been packed for them – unwrapping even simple things like a new book, colouring game, a travel game or cards. For the other half of the flight they will be sat happily playing with their new things and by the time they start to get fussy the plane has landed! (Thanks to Brian Prendergast, Lesley Northall and Lauren Nichole Perkins for these tips on Facebook and Twitter).
5. Nurture their artistic talents… and bring spare batteries
If you’re travelling with a mini Picasso, an “Etch-a-Sketch”style toy is a great option as it will never run out of ink and can be used over and over again. Sticker books are an exciting alternative to story books and these are also available for purchase onboard. If you’re bringing electronic entertainment, make sure your gadgets are charged up and you’ve got plenty of new games/new movies/extra batteries for the flight.
6. BYO prescription medicines
If someone you’re travelling with has an illness, it’s best to make sure you have enough medication to cover you for the whole trip. Double-check with our customer services team if you’re unsure about which ones you’re allowed to bring onboard. Medications can have different names in different countries, so it would pay to take a copy of your prescription just in case you need to re-order overseas.
7. Beware the sugar binge
If you’re worried about the kids going on a sugar and caffeine-fuelled hyperactive rampage, keep things under control by researching the onboard snacks and drinks in advance in our in-flight magazine or bring your own food so you can avoid arguments over treats.
8. Make the most of meal time
Sometimes it helps to time your flight with the kids’ eating and sleeping patterns in mind. If you can, time your own meals so that if you’re travelling with a companion, you can take turns looking after the child while the other eats. Meal times will give the kids plenty to do, with lots of excitement around what’s to come with your pre-ordered meals and opening all the different packages .Children’s meals can be purchased in advance and you can learn more about the children’s menu on our website.
9. Explore your environment
Airplanes are interesting so don’t be afraid to wander down the aisle and explore, when it’s safe to do so. While seated you could show your child how the armrests lift, the trays come down, the button helps the seat recline (check behind you first if it’s OK to move). If there’s no queue, you could take them through all the interesting gadgets in the bathroom. The sink is so small, the flap leads to the rubbish bin and doesn’t the toilet make an interesting whoosh!
10. Keep them comfortable
If you’re travelling with a child with a disability, we offer a specially designed chair for disabled children, known as the Travelchair. The Travelchair fits into the airline seats with adjustable security straps offering upper body support. The Travelchair is suitable for most children aged 1 to 9 years and is available on request from our customer services team free of charge.
BONUS TIP 1: To avoid squabbles, don’t let the kids sit next to each other – always park a parent or lucky family friend in between them so there’s no opportunity for pushing and shoving. We’ll always seat an adult with a child under the age of 16, however if you need want to ensure the whole party sits together, we recommend pre-allocating your seats online.
BONUS TIP 2: Get a suitcase on wheels for your kids to take their own 10kg luggage allowance. Known as Trunkis, you can buy them at airports or through www.trunkis.com. They can be sat upon when you’re waiting in queues at security and immigration and when the kids are dragging their heels on the way to the gate, you easily can tow them along as the Trunki has cleverly added a set of wheels.
Are you planning on travelling with kids this half term? What are your best tips? We’d love to know! Please share your own ideas and comments below.