Travel with family
Travel with family can be fun if sometimes challenging. Image Credit: Shutterstock

If a holiday abroad with your children sounds daunting, don’t fear. We know it’s a tough gig - and we've got some practical advice on hand. Travelling with kids means setting aside your own agenda and trying to fit in things they’d prefer. The younger the child, the more the considerations – from how to keep the baby entertained and hushed on a flight to keeping him/her pain free as the plane jets off and the air pressure changes. There’s the change in sleep cycle to consider, if you are heading to a different time zone, and how to ferry him/her around.

There are plenty of ways to make life easier though, and first up, it’s all about the entertainment. Supercharge your tablet and tuck away the charger in your handbag. Pre-download a movie or some games – compute the amount depending on both flight and waiting times.

As for budgeting – get your child invested in savings and you’ll not only impart a valuable life lesson but also give him/her a great sense of accomplishment. How do you do it? Give the child ‘pocket money for the day’ and tell him/her he can either spend it – or some of it - on a treat or toy today or keep it, collect it and at the end of the holiday spend that money in whichever way he/she chooses. One of the chief things to consider on the ground is that sudden bout of hunger that all children suffer at the most inopportune of moments – it’s especially tough when there’s an allergy involved. One easy way to stem this issue – and keep costs down – is to keep a stash of easily eaten healthy snacks with you.

We also asked our in-house mommies for their tips on keeping the kids calm and making trip-taking easy. Here’s a look at what they said.

Your essential survival guide by a frazzled parent

By Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor

tired parents with kids
Find a local babysitting service or nanny: Many major hotel chains offer an in-house babysitting service. If you are comfortable with what’s on offer, give yourselves a night off - you deserve it. Image Credit: Shutterstock

After enduring a pandemic pregnancy that was largely spent trapped within four walls of my relatively tiny one-bedroom apartment, we decided to spread our wings a year later and celebrate the first birthday of our twins with a trip to France.

Restrictions were easing, a travel corridor had opened between France and the UAE, and all of us – barring the twins of course – were vaccinated. The world was now our oyster, welcoming us back into its fold. Unfortunately, the world forgot to remind us that we were now twice as many boarding that flight.

Seven hours ahead of our flight to Paris, my husband did what any desperate man would do facing three angry women: he called the airline to arrange for an upgrade into Business Class.

The two weeks that followed had many highs and lows, with the Mercury hovering at mid-forties adding to the overall discomfort of the vacation. But we lived to tell the tale, thanks to some obsessive planning on my part and the added support of my nieces who joined us a week into the trip with the boost of energy needed to keep two troublemakers occupied.


Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when travelling with tots, especially with COVID-19 still very much a daily reality.

Travel prams: This became an obsession with me two months before we were set to fly. Finding the right stroller to fit in the overhead bin is extremely important for those of you who would like to be hands free during the endless wait and the long walk from check-in to boarding your flight. This becomes even more essential when you factor in twins. Check with your airline which stroller size will fit and is lightweight and make it your absolute mission to find one. While high quality options are available, if you don’t want to splurge, join a Facebook group where parents are selling their used strollers. We bagged two from one such group for less than Dh500.

Book a bassinet: If your children are below two year and south of a certain height restriction, make use of the travel bassinets located in the bulkhead of the airline. An added bonus often is to find other parents like you seated in the area who can sympathise and lend a helping hand when a baby decides to empty their lunch down your shirt. If you can’t book a bassinet for whatever reason, check with the airline whether they can give you a row with a spare seat. Trust me, it comes in handy.

Pack extra clothes for the flight: And by this I mean not just for the baby but the parents as well. Mama’s mood will find some Zen if she isn’t wearing a T-shirt that has spit up creating its own artwork down the front.

Keep toys handy: This was a suggestion handed down to me by a parent of twins on a travel Facebook group that gave out nifty ideas to first time travelers with kids. And by toys they meant shiny new play things that the baby has not been bored by already.

Keep the baby gear to a minimum: While travel prams are essential, we debated whether we needed two travel cots to come along for the ride as well. Finally, we wrote ahead to all the hotels and the Airbnb we had booked, who were able to arrange cots for us at a minimal price. We were sold. Similarly, diapers were another big one that we downscaled and chose instead to carry enough for a few days and buy the rest locally.

Car seats: This is a tricky one considering several rental agencies quoted us astronomical rates for renting out two car seats. But ultimately, we found the international car rental companies followed a standard rate that was perhaps a little more affordable.

Travel by train: Do the math. We skipped having a car in Paris and chose to take the train down to Avignon, thus saving on the cost of the car seats and the one-way rental, plus leaving us hands free to actually play with the kids.

Pack light: Your babies will not need 20 outfit changes for the Gram. They will not need 15 cute hats to match and eight different sandals to go along for designer look. In fact, check ahead whether the Airbnb has a washing machine tucked away or a trusty laundromat is located around the corner to your hotel. It will save you a lot of grief when you are sprinting to board a train with two babies, a frazzled father and seven suitcases.

Keep it simple: Let’s be real. The travel you did in your 20s and early 30s is probably not feasible anymore with children in tow. Try to limit your moving around and stick to perhaps one or two hotels that will save you from the hassle of packing the family and stuffed animals ever so often and allow you to pace out your holiday. Keep the nap schedules of your kids in mind as you plan.

Find a local babysitting service or nanny: Many major hotel chains offer an in-house babysitting service. If you are comfortable and have faith in what’s on offer, give yourselves a night off as well. Even you are allowed to enjoy the vacation.

Have a good cry if you must: I won’t lie. Eight days in and braving the heat of Cannes at the peak of summer with two fussy babies, I found myself pushed to the edge. With my husband and the nieces watching the kids, I found myself sitting in a church pew and wiping away the tears. No, travelling with kids isn’t easy and but they will grow up. Just give it time.

My favourite travel partner is my child

By Evangeline Jose, Social Media Editor

Mum and son
The more you travel with your child, the easier things will become. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The first time I travelled with my son was when he was just 28 days old. Like all new mums, I was worried. What if he cries on the flight and disturbs other people? We can all agree on how frustrating it is to hear babies cry on flights. But, I had packed the one important thing that helped me deal with this issue – a pacifier. As a new mum, there are hundreds of things people tell you not to do. For me, one of them was people advising me not to let my baby become dependent on a pacifier.

Only a paediatrician can tell you whether that advice is correct or not, but the pacifier became my best friend every time we had to travel till my son turned two. Changing cabin pressure during a flight causes temporary changes in middle ear pressure, which triggers ear pain. To help equalise the pressure in your baby's ears, breastfeed them, offer them a milk bottle or pacifier to suckle on during takeoff and the initial descent. On road trips, as a mum with severe motion sickness, a pacifier would help me manage the baby.

Since then, over the past eight years, the two of us have travelled to India a few times for him to meet his grandparents over school holidays, and a couple of trips to other countries for vacation before the COVID-19 pandemic. Just the two of us. And, as he grew up, it was more fun each time.

After my son turned two, the one rule we had when stepping out of home was no use of phones or tablets. I try to stick to this rule at airports, during the flights and the rest of the trip as well. I had often seen parents depending on tablets and phones to nanny children, but decided not to go that route. This meant giving my toddler all the attention he needed. It’s wonderful how they forget about these devices if we just listen to them and engage in a conversation with them. Most part of the flights were spent drawing, reading books, playing word games and listening to music. Thankfully, like me, he loves to sleep on flights. Sometimes we watch an in-flight movie together. During our trips, I love answering his questions, watching him observe and discover new things. I enjoy hearing him talk, he often surprises me with things he has learnt.

Luckily, so far I have also found very accommodating fellow passengers. Many would entertain his questions, talk to him, and some would even play with him. I look back at our last trip in 2019 – from Dubai to Bhutan via Delhi. It was one of the most fun trips I have been on, thanks to my then six-year old. He is eight now, and has grown to be my favourite travel partner, whether it’s aboard an aircraft or a simple road trip to the next Emirate. I look forward to many more fun trips around the world with him in the future.

Managing toddler tantrums with travel

By Huda Tabrez, Living in UAE Editor

pop it
The fidget toy makes for a useful distraction on trips. Image Credit: Shutterstock

As I sit at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, having arrived six hours before the flight’s departure time, the toddler sits deeply engrossed with a ‘fidget toy’ - rows of colourful silicon bubbles that a child ‘pops’ only to turn the tray-like toy over and pop them all over again. It’s one of the few toy crazes I gave in to as a parent - a basic tactile experience turned into a global phenomenon, thanks to a viral TikTok video by an influencer monkey, who was seen playing with it. It’s a more durable version of the satisfaction one gets by popping bubble wrap and I kept it as one of the few things I could use to keep my hyperactive three-year-old in one place.

Travelling during COVID-19 can be stressful - making sure you are up-to-date with the latest travel guidelines, have done your PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests and are also in time for a rapid PCR test at the airport, if required, as it was for our return trip. Add a toddler to the mix and things can get out of hand quickly. Apart from the fidget toy, I also gave in to downloading some hour-long nursery rhymes, in case tantrums were unmanageable, but thankfully I didn’t need to pull out the tablet. As parents, we had decided we’d make the trip as much of an educational and engaging experience for our daughter as possible, so we both made sure we were hands-on throughout the trip - playing ‘spot the animal’ as we drove through the internal roads of India or answering the countless ‘What’s this?’ questions. And I am happy to report that it worked relatively well.

After over two weeks of meeting family members and visiting a few different places in India, as we wait patiently to return to Dubai, the stress of travelling with a toddler seems worth it. After many months of limited interactions during COVID-19 related movement restrictions, the first post-COVID trip seems to have given the little mind a world of experiences to process as she comes back home.

Have an issue you'd like us to cover? Write to us at