Mother's top tips for travelling with young children this summer

I’m a mother-of-three and these are the 9 ways I’ve mastered travelling with my young children

  • Sarah Campus, who has travelled extensively with her three kids, shares her ‘dos and don’ts’ for smooth summer travel 
  • READ MORE: I’m a parenting expert and there are 5 things families must do when travelling to avoid annoying other passengers

We all dream of a picture perfect summer holiday, but if you are travelling with kids the hope of a smooth journey – let alone a relaxing stay, might fill you with anxiety instead. 

But, according to ‘mum-fluencer’ Sarah Campus, herself a mother-of-three, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Sarah, who is a personal trainer, nutrition coach and the founder of London Mums Fitness, believes wholeheartedly that ‘the benefits of travelling outweigh the negatives’ when it comes to the school holidays. 

And while she admits that she too gets ‘nervous’ when it’s time to whisk the kids away, she manages to ‘take a deep breath and relax’ so that she can focus on the task at hand. 

Speaking to FEMAIL, Sarah shares her tried-and-tested tips drawn from her own experience travelling by plane, boat, train and car with three little ones. 

Sarah Campus who has travelled by plane, boat, train and car with three kids shares the tactics that she deploys to keep them happy and keep their journey running smoothly 

1. Get organised  

‘My biggest tip is be organised! Sounds simple but I try and make sure I am all packed up a few days before including the kids changing bag for the airport,’ Sarah says.

‘I have a list (one of many) then I add to it when I remember things I need and then I would tick it off the night before to make sure I don’t miss anything.’

2. Communicate with your kids 

Sarah explains: ‘Kids may experience fears, fear of flying or fear of boats, so it’s important to try and be prepared for this and to be able to communicate with them, and talk and comfort them through their fear by reassuring them.

‘Try to avoid getting angry and take your time.’

3. When travelling short-haul…travel light

Sarah’s top tips for minimising the amount of items you take abroad are:

  • Take carry on luggage if possible: Remember you can always do washing anywhere you go.
  • Take a small fold away pram: You can put it in the overhead locker and then you have access to it straight away when you land, making everything so much easier.
  • Take a changing bag: Find one with an integrated changing mat for the baby. 
  • Take a baby carrier: So that you have your hands free. 

4. Dress the kids in bright clothes

Sarah also recommends dressing the children in bright-coloured outfits, so they are easy to spot in a crowd.

For many parents, there’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than having to keep an eye on multiple children in a crowded airport full of people – so Sarah’s tip may come in handy. 

Sarah says it’s important not to assume that kids will walk everywhere. Travelling makes everyone tired, so bring your pram or carrier so that they can sit down

5. Snacks

Sarah recommends: ‘Be over-prepared with snacks for the plane to keep kids entertained, but also try to feed them before the flight to minimise the risk of them becoming hungry and irritable.’ 

6. When travelling long haul…

Sarah revealed her tips for travelling greater distances by plane are: 

  • Pick your seats in advance: And, if you have a baby, try to get a bassinet seat, which will provide a little extra legroom. It also allows for you and baby to have a little time apart, and maybe even a sleep.
  • Preload your electronics with things to watch for the kids to keep them entertained.
  • Pre-order meals for the kids as that way they will get served first, staving off any hunger-fuelled tantrums. Special kids meals are also more likely to contain foods that they are comfortable eating. 

7. Avoid very late flights 

‘The more over-tired the kids are, the greater the risk of tantrums,’ Sarah notes.

‘It’s also worth remembering that kids love to copy their parents’ behaviour, so try to avoid getting noticeably stressed. 

‘Also try to avoid connecting flights. The more direct the route, the easier the journey will be on everyone.’

8. Pack extras

‘Accidents could happen when you least expect it, so be sure to pack extra nappies and an extra change of clothes,’ Sarah recommends.

9. Don’t think your kids will walk everywhere 

‘Bring your pram or carrier as children will want to sit down, especially in huge airports where the distances to the gates can be very long,’ Sarah says.

‘Giving kids the chance to sit will also make the inevitable queuing easier to manage.’

‘Build in extra time for toilet breaks and even the occasional tantrum. Kids hate rushing,’ Sarah notes. 

Nutrition coach Sarah says it’s key to get organised before travelling, whether that means preparing snacks in advance or packing the children’s bags a few days ahead of your trip 

And if it all goes wrong? 

‘Kids are not robots and we can’t control their every move — no matter how much we prepare,’ Sarah says.

She believes that communication is the most important element when it comes to travelling with children.

‘Stay calm and collected as kids will feed off you. Reassure kids and comfort and calm them if tantrums arise. If you can distract and remove them for a situation then do so. 

‘Don’t worry about anyone else. you’re responsible for the well-being of your children and yourself. Be respectful but don’t waste your time worrying what others think. 

‘This silly idea that we must apologise for travelling with children is slowly becoming the norm and it’s ridiculous. It’s not something I do — the more I concern myself with my kids and what I can control the more it goes right. As soon as think about others, it goes wrong.

‘Again, this doesn’t mean letting your kids go crazy. It doesn’t mean being disrespectful and making a mess and not cleaning it up. Or, letting your kids scream the entire flight and not trying to make them happy (though sometimes this is unavoidable). It means to do your best and shake the rest off. 

‘And to those that are flying without children, tolerance and a positive attitude will go a long way. 

‘Maybe even offer your help — just a thought. Finally, remember it will be all worth it in the end!’

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