Nothing signals the need for a holiday more than becoming parents. During those sleepless nights with a newborn or getting through endless mountains of laundry, you dream of any kind of getaway that involves a pool and a cocktail.
However after booking that trip, your mind wanders to the logistics – how will I actually get us out the door and onto that plane?
I’ve rounded up our 12 tips for travelling to the airport with kids that Ladies Running Errands have picked up along the way whilst transporting thousands of families to and from the airport.
1. Ladies Running Errands for airport transfers (of course)!
As soon as you book those airline tickets, give Ladies Running Errands a call to book your airport transfer.
We provide all the correct baby and child car restraints for your little one. We’ve heard plenty of horror stories of cabs not turning up or turning up without the correct car seats. It’s a stressful way to start your holiday.
We turn up in your driveway, 10 minutes before it’s time to leave – pack up your luggage, click the children into their car seats and all you need to worry about is, “Do I have the passports?”
2. Why buy when you can hire?
Take advantage of the sharing economy using companies such as “Kindershare” where parents list baby items to hire out.
There are so many great inventions for travelling with kids. Some of our favourites are:
- Yoyo pram – it folds up so compactly you can carry it on the plane.
- Fly Tot, Plane Pal and Fly Legs Up – These inflatable devices sit in the footwell of your child’s seat allowing them to lay flat and SLEEP the whole flight!!! The. Whole. Flight *Disclaimer: Ladies Running Errands does not guarantee your child will sleep the whole flight or any part thereof haha. Check with your airline which inflatables are permitted before you fly.
- Portacot – hotels often provide a portacot for a small fee however it’s a good idea to hire one a few days before you leave so bubs can have a sleep in it and get familiar with their new bed before you reach your holiday destination.
- Ride-on suitcase – there are several hard plastic suitcases, such as the Trunki, that kids can sit on and get whizzed through the airport. Great to ensure the stragglers keep up.
- CARES harness – we’re learning more and more about seatbelt safety on aircraft. This harness provides additional safety to the standard lap belt.
- Toddler and preschooler carrier – your toddler or preschooler may have long outgrown their baby carrier. Toddlers and preschoolers weighing up to 25kg can fit in certain carriers and are often happy to jump on mum or dad’s back and whizz through the terminal. We frequently see our toddler and preschooler passengers in Kinderpacks, toddler Tulas, and the good old Ergo.
- Bugaboo travel bag – This enormous bag will protect your valuable pram during transit. (You can also stuff it with excess luggage but don’t tell anyone I told you that)!
3. Babywearing and hands-free
Babywearing is a winner when you are travelling. You know your little one is safe and hopefully settled in their carrier. Best of all you have your arms free to push your little overlord’s trolley full of oversized baggage!
Keep in mind you will have to remove your baby and put the carrier through the x-ray scanner when passing through security. You will want to plan your little ones pre-flight sleep around this.
4. Airline customer service helper
This service is essential if you’re travelling sans other adults and especially when travelling with more than one child, long haul. Oh, we feel for those expats travelling with newborns back to their homeland to meet the grandparents!
Some airlines provide a helper who can accompany you throughout the terminal until you board your plane. Check with your airline before you book if you would like to use this option.
Ladies Running Errands also provide this service for an extra fee and are more than happy to assist you. Just mention your requirements at the time of booking. We can accompany you to the gate in domestic and as far as security in the international terminal.
5. Oversized baggage
Most airlines allow 2 pieces of oversized baggage to be checked in per infant travelling.
We laugh when we load that enormous Bugaboo bag into the boot only to discover it has about another 10 kilos of luggage stuffed into it. (Please let us know when you’re travelling with said enormous and overstuffed Bugaboo bag…!!)
After check-in, you drop your oversized baggage, for example, car seat and pram, to the oversized baggage counter. They will provide tough plastic bags large enough to fit your pieces however you may want to hire your own pram travel bag to protect it. If you check in your car seat, it’s advisable to pack it in its original box to protect it.
6. Take your pram to the gate or use a loan stroller
Most airlines will allow you to take your pram all the way to the gate. This is so handy if you’ve planned your little one’s nap prior to boarding. It also means your pram, being the last thing loaded, will be the first item offloaded at the other end.
If you’d rather have it checked in beforehand, you can borrow a stroller to get through the terminal.
7. Taking your car seat on board
If you have a compact car seat such as the Safe and Sound MKII, you may be allowed to bring it on board for the flight. Your little one will need to have their own seat booked.
This method of travel for little ones is fairly new and often staff are not sure of the procedure. Be sure to check prior to booking and have approval in writing (email) to show staff throughout the various checkpoints before boarding.
This option is the safest for your child. It prevents the car seat from being damaged during transit. It also provides familiarity for your little one, which may help them to sleep better and stay seated for longer during the flight.
The downside is that child car seats take up a lot of space and are a bit fiddly to get installed pre-flight.
8. The coveted BASSINET seat
Airlines like to completely mess with your pre-flight preparation and will not guarantee you the bassinet seat until you check-in at the airport. If your baby is within the allowed weight limit, about 10-12kgs, and you would like the bassinet seat you need to check-in the second the flight opens.
This is the reason we frequently collect families at 22:30 am in order to arrive 3 hours before the first flight of the day. It’s first in best dressed and then decided based on the age of the baby.
The benefit of the bassinet seat is baby gets a bed for the flight meaning you get your arms and lap free and may actually catch a wink of sleep. There is also a little more legroom in those bulkhead seats.
Be warned of the downside though – whenever the seatbelt sign is turned on, bubs must be removed from the bassinet, disrupting their sleep anyway. Als, these seats are up to the front of the cabin where there is often more traffic to the toilets and noise from the crew preparing meals.
9. Toddlers need to be wearing shoes!
Who knew? We didn’t until I heard one mum’s horror story of not being able to board because her 1 year old, barely walking and asleep in a carrier anyway, was refused boarding due to bare feet.
They didn’t have a pair of shoes for their bub so were forced to frantically run through the terminal looking for a shop with a pair of shoes for him. Total waste of time and money and undue stress! It sounds completely crazy and may not be routinely enforced but DON’T FORGET THE SHOES.
10. Adaptor for a headphone jack
If your game plan is to have your child watch Peppa Pig for 12 hours straight (hey, no judgment) you may want to invest in their own pair of child-sized headphones. They’re great as they fit better, don’t constantly slip off, the volume won’t get too loud and they come branded with your little one’s favourite character like Frozen or Minions etc.
You can pick these up for $10-20 at Kmart or Target. Just don’t forget to grab the adaptor to connect them to socket in the plane. You can buy it for about $7 from the terminal newsstand.
11. SNACKS! Bring all the snacks
Just like us, all ‘sometimes food’ restrictions are lifted once we’re in the air. Make sure you’re stocked up on abundant amounts of your little one’s favourite snacks. Mess-free snacks such as sultanas, crackers, popcorn (for older kids), berries, cheese sticks, and cereal will keep them happy and busy during the flight.
If you have a thermos you may want to pack your child’s regular dinner and give that to them onboard whilst it’s still hot. If they refuse the kids’ meal at least you have gotten something into their bellies.
12. Onboard nanny
Etihad offers an onboard nanny and we hope the other airlines soon follow suit. Whilst there have been mixed experiences, the overwhelming feedback has been that the onboard nannies are lovely and helpful.
If you’re travelling solo with kids, the onboard nanny will sit with your children whilst you use the toilet and are usually happy to walk an unsettled child up the back of the plane for a change of scenery.
If you’re not flying Etihad, many other airlines offer help onboard when you’re travelling solo with children so be sure to ask.
Phew! So many logistics to consider!! We understand what a mission it is to plan and travel to your holiday destination. All our lovely ladies are here to help you have a wonderful and stress-free start to your holiday and we’ll be waiting for you on your return to hear all about your travels whilst we whisk you back to your home sweet home.
Book us in for your airport transfer and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Safe travels x