travel

'I just travelled solo with 3 kids under 5 years old. Here are my top travel hacks.'

In Mamamia’s Parenting Hacks series, real women share their tips and tricks on everything from meal prep to organisation to nailing the morning routine.

This week, This Glorious Mess host Tegan Natoli shares her tips for travelling with kids.

As travel is now back in full swing, we are all a little out of practice.

I recently went on a family holiday interstate. However, due to last-minute work commitments, my husband had to change his flight to the day after, leaving me to fly solo with my four-year-old twin girls and my three-year-old son.

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After surviving a plane trip with three kids under five years old, here are my top travel hacks.

Plan ahead.

Different airlines and airports have different rules regarding prams and what you’ll need to check-in or carry-on. Do your research before you get to the airport so you know what you’re working with.

If you have a travel pram that is considered appropriate size and weight for carry on, the airline may require you to have the correct pram bag/cover before they’ll allow you to take it on board. Some airlines might allow you to take the pram to the gate and they will store it underneath for you. 

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Don't be a bag lady!

If the kids are of backpack wearing age... don’t be a bag lady. Make them carry their own stuff. The backpack is your (and their) treasure chest to see you through the day. 

Pack their backpack the day before and out of their sight, so the thrill of getting on the flight to open their backpack is as exciting as their birthday morning. 

BUT the most important part of this is to make a deal (aka a bribe). 

Tell them: "This backpack is full of fun, but you don’t get to open it until you’re in your seat on the plane. And you have to keep it safe by carrying it on your back." 

Additionally, when it comes to packing your check-in luggage, pack light and share suitcases. My three kids share one large suitcase. 

Also, don’t pack too many bulky things like nappies, etc. Buy them when you get to where you are going.

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Bring lots of activities.

This is the prep part! I recommend popping into your local Kmart or cheap shop and putting together a little activity pack. 

You could include colouring-in pencils or crayons, a notebook, stickers, a couple of fidget toys and a book. If you can’t be bothered or don’t have time to prep an activity pack yourself, brands like Very Busy Bag have already done them for you based on age.

Don’t forget to keep the activity pack a surprise that they only get to see once they’re sitting down and buckled up. 

Abandon screen time rules.

I actually shudder to think how our parents ever travelled with us before devices were invented because when travelling with kids, iPads are life.

Don’t forget earphones and make sure they are the basic, old school, don’t-need-to-charge kind, so you don’t find yourself in a 'no battery' pickle. And most importantly, make sure you pre-download all the videos and movies you need before the flight.

There are also lots of great gaming apps that don’t require the internet to play. 

Finally, be sure to check that you have downloaded the inflight entertainment app in case they suddenly don’t want to watch the stuff you downloaded (which they’ve probably watched every day for the last six months). Ensure devices are fully charged as some flights don’t have seat chargers.

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Snack b*tch like you've never snack-b*tched before.

In their backpack, be sure to have an easily accessible snack compartment. 

Some easy suggestions: sandwiches, a yogurt pouch, cheese and crackers, a muffin and ready to eat healthy snacks such as carrots, cucumbers, and apple slices. 

I also recommend keeping a lollipop stash in YOUR pocket... giving them one for takeoff and one for landing, which can also help your little one’s ears adjust to changing air pressure. 

Be sure to have a water bottle and pop it in the seat pocket in front so they can grab it when they need to.

Listen to This Glorious Mess, where Leigh and Tegan share more hacks for holidaying with kids. Post continues after podcast.


Flight attendants are angels.

In my experience, travelling with kids, flight attendants are angels, so don’t be afraid to ask them for anything you need. 

A lot of them have kids themselves, so they totally get it. One lovely lady even supervised my three kids while I ran to the loo... which leads me to my last point.

Do a wee before you leave.

As parents, we are so focused on making sure everybody else has everything they need. But if you’re travelling solo with more than one child, simple things like going to the bathroom at the airport or on a flight can be tricky. So just like we tell our kids to go to the bathroom before we leave home, make sure you do too.

You’ve totally got this!

You can catch up on our previous Parenting Hacks articles here:

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