Positive relationships: A parent's guide to ... travelling with children

Are we there yet? Annette Rawstrone has tips for stress-free journeys by air, car and train

Q: I'm flying with my young children for the first time. Have you got any tips?

A: good starting point is to check how much extra luggage your airline will allow for young children. This tends to be a pushchair as part of your free baggage allowance. Also check in advance whether sky cots are provided for babies and reserve if they are available.

When packing, share your family's possessions throughout the bags, just in case one goes missing. Anticipate delays and pack extra nappies, spare clothes, snacks and toys or books to occupy your children.

At the airport:

- If you can use advance online check-in it will save hassle when you arrive at the airport.

- Keep your pushchair until you board the plane, but remember that you will have to take your child out of it when you go through security.

- Be prepared to take off your child's coat and shoes at security, as well as your own - wear things that are easy to remove.

On the plane:

- Under-twos do not have a fully developed middle ear, so take-off and landing can be more painful. Giving them something to suck, eat or drink can help to alleviate any pain caused by the cabin pressure changes.

- Try to get bulkhead seating so that you are near to the toilets and galley, plus have extra leg room.

- Airline staff will usually warm up bottles and baby food on request.

- Have some spare toys and books in reserve for later in the flight when your children may be getting bored.

- Check out the parental controls on in-flight TV monitors.

Q: How should we prepare for a long family car journey?

- Make sure car seats and boosters are properly fitted and meet safety requirements.

- Work out how long your journey should take and then add an extra hour for toilet stops, nappy changes, meals and to have a play outside the car's confines.

- Cars can be a wonderful somnolent so try to plan your journey for when your child is due to be asleep.

- Have an easily accessible box of toys and snacks, and use toy ties to keep favourite toys attached to the child's seat.

- Consider the potential for car sickness before taking a portable DVD player. Instead, play child-friendly music and story CDs.

- Peppermints, ginger biscuits and a cool facecloth can all help stave off car sickness.

- Don't forget the tried and tested games from your childhood, such as 'I-Spy' or 'Who am I?'

- A small mirror attached to the passenger visor and directed at the back seat can give reassurance and save you from repeatedly turning around.

- Use a sun shade to stop the sun shining into your baby's eyes.

Q: What should I think of before a train trip with my children?

Your preparation for a train journey will be very similar to travelling by plane and car, such as being prepared for delays and keeping your children entertained. But, of course, the joy of train travel is that you're more able to move around - so be prepared for lots of walks up and down the carriages.

- Plan the most direct rail route to avoid unnecessary changes.

- Pre-book seats together as a family and try to get seats at a table.

- Think of your fellow travellers and try to avoid noisy games and toys.

Q Do we need to take special precautions for travelling abroad with children?

- Remember to ensure all your children have their own passports.

- Taking passport photos of babies can be tricky - many chemists and photographers offer a passport photo service.

- If you are going to a hot country make sure that you take plenty of high-factor sun cream and keep your children well covered, including with hats.

- Buy comprehensive travel insurance.

- Check with your local health centre whether you or your children require any vaccinations.

- Check with your tour operator that cots and car seats meet British safety standards.

Further information

Child car seats: www.childcarseats.org.uk

Home Office Passport Service: www.ips.gov.uk/passport

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