Amanda Brunker: 'Travelling with kids are three words that strike absolute fear'
Travelling with kids… it's just three little words, but for most parents they can strike absolute terror.
As a person who much prefers to travel solo when possible, being a mother of two doesn't always lead to such luxury. So now, the simple pleasure of driving in my car on my own is a joy to behold.
Anyway, over the last 10 years, I've done long-haul car journeys to long-haul flights with the kids and while my sanity didn't always stay intact, we all survived and lived to tell the tale.
Inevitably, I learnt a few tricks along the way, so whether you're new parents or just virgin travellers, I'd like to think I have a few useful travel tips to make any future journeys a little less stressful for you. I said "a little" folks… because travelling with kids is never just a walk in the park… even when it is *coughs* a walk in the park.
Okay, let's start at the start with the newborns. Just last week, I flew to London to interview Ben Affleck and the cast of Batman v Superman. Apologies for gloating, but on my return to Dublin, I had to listen to a young child scream for the majority of the flight.
Unlike some grumpy ol' farts, the noise of the crying didn't annoy me, but the distress that the child was under did upset me. Although the parents did their best, they were unaware that it was the pressure of the child's ears not the popping that was causing all the heartbreak.
I spoke with the parents afterwards, they were lovely, but nobody had ever mentioned to them to time a feed, be it by bottle or boob, for take-off and landing. Yes, it might mean you have to stretch out feeding your child so they're definitely hungry for such times, but trust me, it's worth it. Being a little hungry over being in severe pain is the much lesser of two evils.
Obviously, treats like lollipops or a sucky sweets can work wonders for slightly older children.
Another great tip is to try get your child to poo before you take a flight. Of course, you can't ask your baby to do that. But most infants love pooping in fresh nappies. So even if they're clean, change their nappies before you leave the airport and see if they perform. Take it from a woman who has suffered the embarrassment of horrendous smells thanks to cabin pressure!
For long car journeys, I found bringing cotton pillowcases a great way to stop my children from overheating in their car seats. Even the material in expensive car seats can cause your tot to get very sweaty on their backs. So a neatly folded cotton pillowcase placed behind your child's back can really help regulate their body temperature. Replace with fresh ones as needs be.
A few other tips include homemade healthy snacks, instead of sugary ones, for journeys. For obvious reasons.
Also, avoid dragging your children in queues until you really have to keep them in line. It's not fair to expect them to behave for long periods.
And lastly, always hold out on electronic devices and tablets until you really have to distract them. Hand them out too early and they'll be bored when you want to snooze!