Category Archives for "Flying"

Surviving an overnight flight with kids

By Melanie | Flying

Last week we flew to Penang, Malaysia on an overnight flight with Air Asia. Sounds easy enough, right? Not quite.

I booked a too-good-to-be-true deal on flights from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia. (For tips on how to find amazing flight deals check out my article Cheapest Flights guaranteed.) The cheapest flights often depart at the least convenient times – usually very early morning or late in the evening.

We started out with a 3.5 hour drive to Sydney airport, arriving in good time to check in and find some dinner. Then we had an 8 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, which departed at 9:30pm, followed by a two hour layover and then a one hour flight to Penang, arriving early in the morning.

Let’s just say it was a learning experience! Here are my tips to survive an overnight flight with kids and arrive refreshed and ready for your holiday.

Overnight flight with kidsOvernight flight with kids

Prepare your kids

We had several discussions in the weeks leading up to our trip about what would happen and what our expectations were on the flight. Immediately after take off there would be a meal served (which we were not having, since we had already eaten in the airport), then the lights would be dimmed and everybody would be trying to sleep. The children knew that there would be no in-flight entertainment and they wouldn’t be allowed electronics or books since it was past their bedtime.

We talked about how it might be difficult to sleep comfortably sitting up in their seat, having to keep their seatbelt on even while sleeping and generally discussing the order of events. In my experience, it’s difficult enough to deal with half-asleep overtired kids without springing surprises on them in the middle of the night.

Overnight flight with kidsOvernight flight with kidsOvernight flight with kids

Keep to normal routine (as far as possible)

Before the flight, we had dinner at Sydney airport, brushed teeth and changed into comfortable warm clothing (which we called pyjamas).  We had brought along the essential bedtime stories for our two year old (currently Brown Bear Brown Bear, The Very Itchy Bear and Where is the Green Sheep) to read during the meal service, as her cue that it was sleep time once the lights were dimmed.

Overnight flight with kids

Create a comfortable environment

The air-conditioning in planes can be very cold, especially when you are tired. On a full service airline, blankets are often provided, but if you are travelling on a budget airline you will need to be prepared with warm clothing.

Ensure clothing is comfortable and non-restrictive. Sleeping upright often results in pretzel-type manoeuvres – you don’t want the further complication of getting tied up in clothing!

Make sure your children have had a good dinner and have water accessible and that they’ve used the toilet before settling down to sleep.

You may like to consider headphones and an eye mask to reduce distraction but my children were not comfortable with them. They were, however, grateful for their travel neck pillows which minimised uncomfortable head droop.

Overnight flight with kidsOvernight flight with kids

Gentle Wake Up

As we all know, some people are larks – bright and breezy in the morning, others are night owls. My two older children definitely fall into the latter category and more closely resemble grizzly bears than any kind of bird in the morning. Add in a late night, restless sleep and a dash of anxiety about a new environment, and you have a couple of pretty unhappy travellers. For that reason, I made sure to wake them up half an hour before landing, to give them time to wake up properly and adjust to their surroundings before attempting to exit the aircraft and face immigration and security.

Overnight flight with kids Overnight flight with kids

Have a quiet first day

This is where we didn’t do quite so well. Having arrived in Malaysia early in the morning, we arrived at our hotel at 9am but were unable to access our room until 2pm. Five hours of roaming the streets in the heat and humidity with tired, grumpy children is not the ideal way to start a holiday! We rectified our mistake with a long afternoon nap in the air-conditioning as soon as the hotel was ready. Early to bed that night, and we were raring to get exploring the following day.

Although overnight flights with kids can be challenging, the benefits of reducing  expenses of both flights and accommodation, as well as maximising your holiday time, are worth it. By following these simple tips, I hope you survive your overnight flight with kids and  make your travel dreams a reality.

For tips and tricks to manage day time flights with young children, have a look at my Ultimate Guide to Flying with a Baby or Toddler.

This post contains affiliate links which, should you choose to purchase, provides me with a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Your Family Can Travel is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

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Cheapest flights guaranteed with these easy tips

By Melanie | Flying , Money


You’ve decided to take the family on holiday but are short on funds. You dream of white sand, palm trees, turquoise water and cocktails with little umbrellas, but don’t want to max out your credit card. Never fear! Your dream holiday is much more affordable than you thought. I’ll show you how to find the cheapest flights to make your family travel dreams a reality.

Cheapest flights beach

Cookies

If you have been researching the cheapest flights for a while and felt that the prices are getting higher each time you look, you are correct! Many websites use cookies to track your browsing history and remember your previous searches. The more times you search for the same destination, the more likely you are to book, so the price rises.

The answer is to hide your search from cookies so each time you search appears to be your first visit to the site. This can be done by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or an Incognito browser.

Alternatively you can clear your cookies and/or search history after each visit or use multiple devices.

Cheapest flights cookies

No, not those kind of cookies!

Subscribe

Subscribe to newsletters and follow airlines and cheapest flight Search Engines on social media, to ensure that you are notified as soon as a sale is announced. Followers and subscribers will often receive advance notification before sales are advertised to the general public.

Join groups like Secret Flying and I know the Pilot , which advertise error fares and last minute sales.


Kiwi.com - Book Cheap Flights!

Search Engines

Googling cheapest flights will reveal a dizzying array of choices, but how can you know which are a genuine bargain and which are making profits for third-parties?

Tried and tested search engines for finding the cheapest flights include:


UK Skyscanner 120 x 60

Of these, my personal favourites are Skyscanner and Google Flights. It is always a good idea to cross-reference more than one site and check with the airline’s own website to see if you can get the cheapest flight by booking directly.

Skyscanner and Adioso both have the facility to save your search and notify you when the price drops.

Cheapest Flights Destination board

Travel Agent

In these times of D.I.Y. travel booking, it can be easy to forget about traditional travel agents. However, some agencies can be very helpful with finding the cheapest flights, by offering a price match guarantee. When you find a cheap fare online, consider showing it to your preferred travel agent to see if they can price match it for you.

Flexibility

The ability to be flexible which dates you fly can save you hundreds of dollars. If you know where you want to go but don’t mind when, Skyscanner allows you to search by cheapest month. So for example, you could search Sydney to Kuala Lumpur by cheapest month, to see that August is significantly cheaper than April.

Every destination will have peak, shoulder and off-peak seasons. Off-peak can sometimes be a fantastic experience (e.g. snow holiday in Europe) for a bargain price.

If you are inflexible with the time you need to fly (two weeks in mid-September) but don’t have a destination in mind, use “Everywhere” as your destination in Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.

Even varying your departure and arrival by one or two days can create a significant saving. Monday, Friday and Sunday are generally the most expensive,while Tuesday and Thursday are usually much cheaper.

Obviously, avoiding holidays and festivals if at all possible will help you find the cheapest flights.

If you are unable to be flexible with either dates or destination, it’s generally best to book as far in advance as possible. While there is a possibility of last-minute specials, it is not worth the stress of missing out altogether.

Cheapest flights Arrivals Hall

Alternatives

Once you have decided on a destination, research other airports in the area. It may be cheaper to fly to a smaller airport and catch the train to your destination. Of course, you need to account for the extra cost and time. If you need to add on a night’s accommodation and ground transport costs, it may not be the bargain it first appeared.

Although the search engines are very comprehensive, they don’t feature every airline. Google airlines which fly to/from your destination to see if a local budget airline has been overlooked, then book with that airline directly.

Consider booking each leg separately.  Sometimes multiple one-way tickets are cheaper than a return fare. This also gives you the option to plan a stopover. Two holidays for the price of one!

Add-Ons

Sometimes budget airlines do not have the cheapest flights! By the time you pay a surcharge for luggage, meals, entertainment and priority seating, in addition to booking fees and taxes, your bargain airfare may not be looking quite so cheap. It’s definitely worth researching all-inclusive airlines to see whether the price is comparable.

Bringing your own food, electronic device and flying with carry-on luggage only will help reduce costs. If you do choose to fly with checked luggage on a budget airline, always pay for it at the time of booking your ticket, you will pay a hefty premium if you wait until you are at the airport.

Cheapest flights Lego family catching bus

Package holiday

Depending on where you are travelling and the type of holiday you enjoy, a package holiday may be an affordable option. If you can find a good deal, it can sometimes work out cheaper to buy a package holiday than to purchase flights and accommodation separately. This is even more likely if airport transfers, meals, excursions, kids club etc are included.

Rewards and Loyalty Schemes

Free flights and accommodation sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? However, that’s exactly what you can get with rewards points and loyalty schemes. If you anticipate flying with a particular airline or staying in a certain hotel chain regularly, sign up for their loyalty scheme as soon as possible to start earning reward points towards your free flight or stay.

So there you have it – 9 sure-fire ways to save you money and help you find the cheapest flights. What are you waiting for? Make your travel dreams a reality today!

Cheapest Flights tropical beach

If you found these tips helpful please let me know in the comments.

This post contains affiliate links which, should you choose to purchase, provides me with a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Your Family Can Travel is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.


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Ultimate guide to Flying with a Baby or Toddler

By Melanie | Flying

For most of us, the thought of flying with a baby or toddler is as appealing as a trip to the dentist! The fear of your child crying for hours while your fellow passengers tut-tut and shake their heads judgmentally is enough to make any parent break out in a cold sweat, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With some simple planning and preparation, you and your child can board your flight confidently.

I have been flying with a baby or toddler for eight years now, with great success. Here are my tips for an enjoyable trip.

Babies are the easiest age to fly with – highly portable and usually happy to go anywhere, as long as mum is close.

The best way to avoid earache from pressure changes on take-off and landing, is to ensure baby is sucking – breast- or bottle-feeding or with a dummy/pacifier.

Baby Sleep

Most airlines have bassinets available on longer flights on request, but they must be booked well in advance and priority is given to the youngest infants. Maximum age, weight and length vary between airlines, so check when booking.  Even if your baby won’t sleep in the bassinet, it provides a safe place to put them down while you eat your meal. For safety reasons, the baby must be removed from the bassinet each time the seat belt sign comes on and the bassinet will be packed away by the crew for landing.

Although airlines carry baby food and nappies/diapers, it is best to bring plenty of your own to ensure you have the preferred type.  Crew are usually happy to warm a bottle on request, just allow plenty of time.

Flying with a baby or toddler Sleeping baby

Change Time

A diaper/nappy wallet or small bag avoids the need to take an oversized bag into the toilet for nappy change. It is already challenging enough in such a confined space. Make sure to bring a complete change of outfit for both baby and yourself. You don’t want to spend hours covered in pee, poo or vomit.  Baby wipes are an essential item for a multitude of reasons – wiping down questionable surfaces, clean up messes, freshen up, “wash” hands and so much more. I love these biodegradable aloe vera wipes for sensitive skin.

Stroller or Baby Carrier?

Depending on your destination, you may want to bring a stroller.  A lightweight umbrella stroller which is easy to fold/unfold and to manoeuvre in crowded places is ideal. Check that your destination has footpaths – small wheels do not work well on cobbled streets or gravel paths.  Some airlines will insist that it is checked with your luggage, while others allow you to take it to the gate. Keep in mind that it will most likely be handled roughly by the baggage handlers, so think twice before bringing your valuable iCandy or Bugaboo! You may wish to protect your stroller from dirt and rain with a gate check stroller bag such as this one.  An ergonomic baby carrier is invaluable for hands free negotiation of customs, immigration, baggage claim etc.  There are many types available to suit different body shapes and budgets. I highly recommend the Ergobaby 360 or, for tropical climates,  the Beco Gemini Cool, which has a mesh section to keep baby cooler. You will have to remove it to go through security however, so practise taking it off and putting it on without help before you fly.

Flying with a baby or toddler Baby carrier

Hands free convenience with a baby carrier

Toddlers are more challenging than infants, but with prior planning and preparation, your flight can still be enjoyable.

I’m not promising uninterrupted movie watching while sipping champagne, but you and your toddler can survive a long-haul flight with your sanity intact!

Before your trip, read books and watch videos about flying on a plane and discuss how, just as in the car, the seat belt must stay on at all times, as well as expected behaviour (e.g. aisles are not for playing or running, keep feet off the seat in front). You may like to set up some chairs and role play with your toddler and their toys.

Entertainment

Entertainment is the key to a happy toddler in-flight. Older toddlers may be happy watching some familiar television shows on the in-flight entertainment system, or playing electronic games for a while, but a short attention span means you will need other options. Many travellers recommend stocking up on small toys from a charity or dollar shop and gift wrapping them for the child to unwrap at intervals.  Toys which don’t have multiple small parts to get lost are best.

Some ideas are:

Painters or masking tape can be used for making roads, race tracks, fences or noughts and crosses (tic tac toe) on the tray table and is easily removed without leaving a sticky residue.

Toddler Food

A child’s meal can be ordered when you book your flight, but mealtimes don’t always coincide with the times that your toddler is hungry, and they may be unwilling to try new food is such an unfamiliar environment. Packing your own supply of snacks will avoid the inevitable hungry toddler melt-down.  Try to minimise the amount of sugar since they won’t be able to burn it off. The crew can supply drinks and warm your bottle on request. If you are flying without another adult to help, ask the crew to hold your meal until you have finished helping your toddler with theirs.

Flying with a baby or toddler exotic fruit

Toddlers may be unwilling to try new food

Toddler Sleep

When it is time for bed, try to follow your bedtime routine from home as closely as possible. For example, after dinner take your child to the bathroom for a “bath” (wash hands and face with warm water), brush teeth and change into pyjamas. Back in your seat, read a story together then snuggle down with blanket and pillow. Most children are amazingly adaptable and can sleep in odd positions. Once your child is asleep, don’t be tempted to catch up on all the new release movies that you have missed over the past two years. This may be your only chance to sleep!

Being organised and maintaining a positive attitude will go a long way to ensuring a successful flight.  With these tips you and your child will be happy jetsetters!

Flying with a baby or toddler Mum and daughter walking on beach

 

For tips specific to overnight flights, check out my post on Surviving Overnight Flights with Kids.

This post contains affiliate links which, should you choose to purchase, provides me with a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Your Family Can Travel is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Please like and follow:

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