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First time flying with kids – five crucial tips

We have just come back from holiday and our first time flying with kids. As you can imagine flying with three kids, all aged five and under, is challenging. This is especially the case when you have four suitcases, two adult hand luggage in addition to the kids and their three individual backpacks. It did feel like we were preparing for the apocalypse, but I was told that this was a standard amount of luggage for the ten-day extravaganza.

In our travels, we learnt some good lessons on how to survive the flight and holiday ordeal. Here are some gems of wisdom for those of you contemplating such a tricky journey. You are welcome.

1. Deploy distraction tactics on the aeroplane

If your plane journey is longer than 5 minutes and 34 seconds, you run the risk of your child causing utter mayhem. It could be their desire to unbuckle their seatbelt mid-flight, a sudden need to run up the aisle and irritate every other passenger on board or undertake the simple and traditionally effective meltdown. To stand any chance of preventing this, you need to deploy your best distraction techniques. The missus who is adept at this sort of thing, wrapped up some new cheapo toys for each of the children to unwrap as a surprise. This is organisation at its best. This managed to distract the little blighters for about two hours, except it had little to no effect on Allergy Baby as she doesn’t care about presents, but she does care greatly about ruining your life. Priorities.

2. Fear everything

Fear everything. All the locals are out to kidnap your kids, every play park may contain obstacles of death and every pool can be a potential watery hazard of doom. You are not on holiday to enjoy yourself, you are on holiday to be on edge. If you are not on edge at least 95% of the time, you are not doing it right. The other 5% should be spent wondering why you are not on edge.

3. Check "stuff" out before flying

If you have an annoying child that refuses to tolerate common items like dairy, soy, almonds, air or her parents, then it is probably a good idea to call the hotel in advance to check if they have what you need or if things can be tailored for your needs. Luckily for Allergy Baby and (most importantly) our sanity, our hotel sourced a huge variety of food and everything was allergy labelled for ease. Other things we checked were whether there would be a cot or an extra bed for the three kids, if the infinity pool renovation would be fixed before our arrival and if the local butcher could sort the vasectomy for €10 whilst I was out there. For us, all three questions were answered satisfactorily.

4. Go all-inclusive

If it does not cost you significantly more than going self-catered, go all-inclusive. We went all-inclusive for the first time ever on a holiday and it was superb. If you can only imagine the amount of requests for apple and orange juices we had on a daily basis, this alone was worth the cost. This doesn’t even take into account the infinite amount of waffles, cakes, sandwiches, hotdogs, breakfasts, lunches and dinners we had. Never mind the strawberry daiquiris, sangrias and cava that me and the missus may have sampled, in a responsible manner of course.

5. Make friends

Bearing in mind that you need to comply with number 2 above, try and make friends with other holiday go-ers in the same boat. A friendly chat with likeminded parents can sometimes alleviate the pressure. We managed to make friends with a few families that had similarly aged children and the gang of respective children appeared to enjoy playing together whenever they met. It just helped to make our kids socialise and made the holiday more memorable. Needless to say, keep it casual and don’t get stalky, but you knew that of course.

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