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Posted by Mama Max - - 0 comments

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1.  Make sure your child has all the documentation they need to travel. Sounds obvious, but sometimes easy to forget. Many countries now require that children of all ages have their own passports rather than travelling on their parents. Also, remember children's passports need renewing at smaller intervals than adults, plus many countries require that the passport will be valid for a further 3-6 months before allowing travel. If you are travelling solo without your child's other parent, there may be circumstances requiring you to have a legally valid permission letter. Check all these details prior to travel, allowing enough time to remedy any issues!

2.  Booking your flights takes some thought, especially when it comes to selecting seats. If available, "Bulkhead" seats can work for some families. They face a wall rather than seats in front (so your little one can't annoy the person in front by kicking). They often have a little bit of space in the foot-wells where toddlers can sit to play. Some airlines even have 'bassinets' or 'reclining chairs' that can be attached to a fold down table in front of these seats. Ask about these on booking and confirm availability on check-in. These are only available for infants under the age of 2, and can't be used when the seat belt light is on. In my experience they are small and a bit cramped, especially if you have a bigger baby. Check for weight limits too. A downside of the bulkhead seats is that you are often required to stow all your hand luggage in the overhead compartments, rather than putting it under the seat in front. Some airlines won't allow you to reserve the bulkhead seats ahead of time (with the intention of reserving them for families). In these circumstances, book the next best seats you can and then ask for them at check-in.

Photo borrowed from www.daddytypes,com

3.  A trick you can try if you are flying solo with one child is to book the window and aisle seat in a row of three. Most people will not chose to be seated in the middle seat when booking in. Then, if the seat in between is unoccupied, you can then lift the armrests and spread out, allowing your child to lay down(ish). If the flight is full, and someone ends up booked in the middle seat, politely offer them the aisle seat instead ... they won't refuse!

4.  When we travel as a family of 5 it can be quite awkward selecting seats. However, we have made good use of the last row of the plane... often just a row of two seats! We can occupy the last two rows (3 + 2) without bothering anyone else. It also means you are close to the toilets and the galley area in case you need to get up with your child.

5.  Using your car seat on the plane is the safest way for your child to travel. Watch the video below if you need any convincing. In fact, the evidence is so overwhelming that the F.A.A. in the USA has a policy giving every child under the age of 18 the right to use one (this is great for families with children with handicaps or developmental issues). The caveat in that is that it must be an approved car seat... the manufacturer will state if it is airline approved. For travelling in other countries and you will need to check in advance with the airline (not the National aviation authority) as there is not necessarily any requirement for them to allow you to use a car seat at all. They may have restrictions on rear facing seats and for children 3 and above. An alternative to using a car seat is the CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System).

6.  If you choose to use your car seat, investigate options that will mean you don't need a stroller... the Gogo Babyz Travelmate is fabulous (I've reviewed this product before), but I know people who have used and love the Sit'n'Stroll. Britax have also got a travel seat cart similar to the Travelmate.


If you chose not to (or can't) use your car seat on the flight, but still need to take it you might want to consider the Sunshine Kids Radian RXT, which folds flat for easy transportation. Alternatively, you can buy sturdy bags that protect the car seat in the hold.

7.  Decide in advance what you plan to do with pushchairs & strollers. If you plan to use your car seat, I would invest in the Travelmate (or similar) and check your stroller with your luggage at check in. However, if not, for babies and young toddlers my advice is to use a sling and still check the stroller in the hold! Next best is the Quicksmart stroller ... amazingly this stroller folds up into a backpack that can be stowed in the overhead locker!

Other than that, most airlines will allow you to use your stroller up to the boarding gate, where it will be taken off you and put in the hold. At check in, they will attach the labels ready for it to go in the hold, but then you keep it until the gate. Usually, a stroller doesn't count towards your luggage allowance but do check with your airline in advance. You can buy bags to protect your stroller from damage in the hold, but if not, I would simply advise removing things that could fall off (like cup holders) and wrapping things like the foam handle with bubble wrap as these are easily ripped. You will also need to fold up and secure the pushchair yourself or you will be very unpopular with the airline staff!! Depending on where you are flying, the stroller will be waiting for you at the planes exit or you may have to wait until baggage reclaim to get it (another reason to use a sling or car seat adaptor).

See more in this series of posts.

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Mama Max

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