Travel with children by car, plane, bus and train

Travel with children by car, plane, bus and train

Travelling with kids by car

It can help to keep the things you and your child need for the journey within easy reach - for example, snacks, water bottles, wipes and toys.

For long car trips, plan regular stops so everyone can get out of the car and have a stretch. This includes babies, who can roll around on a rug on the ground.

You can put a visor or sun shade on the car windows, or hang a damp towel over the window to protect your child from the sun. Just check that shades don't stop the driver from seeing the road through the side or rear windows.

Also, don't put a hood or bonnet over a capsule to protect your baby from the sun. This can reduce air circulation around your baby.

Find out what the law says about appropriate child restraints for children of different ages, as well as car safety.

Travelling with kids by plane

Here are some tips for making plane travel with kids as much fun and as low-stress as possible.

Planning for your flight
When booking tickets for family travel, you could look into:

  • booking a bassinette if you have a baby
  • pre-ordering children's meals
  • getting a stroller at the airport
  • looking at seat arrangements - for example, it can be easier to sit on the aisle so your child can get to the toilet quickly if he needs to
  • getting help from a staff member at the airport (some airlines provide this if you're travelling with children by yourself or your child has additional needs)
  • booking flights at times your child is likely to be well rested.

Make sure you have all the things your child might need in your carry-on luggage. These things might include:

  • a change of clothes
  • a pillow and special toys
  • nappies, wipes and tissues
  • extra sick bags
  • drink bottle
  • extra snacks
  • entertainment items like books, pencils, paper and so on.

If you have one, you might like to bring a tablet for your child to watch movies or play games on - but remember to pack headphones too.

Getting on the plane
It's a good idea to talk with your child ahead of time about things like going through security. Explain that she might have to take off her shoes or anything that has metal in it, like a watch. And she won't be able to carry her toy or backpack through the security gates.

Note that you'll need to carry babies and toddlers through the security screening checks. If your child can walk by himself, he'll be encouraged to walk through the metal detector on his own.
Air pressure
The change in air pressure on planes can give children sore ears, especially during take-off and landing.

Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding babies and toddlers can help with this problem, because swallowing reduces the pressure that builds up in their ears. If you can, time your baby's feeds for take-off and landing.

For preschoolers and older children, a drink of water or a chewy lolly to suck on can help.

Travelling with children by bus or train

When booking bus or train tickets, you might like to look into:

  • whether you can book seats that offer more room for babies and children
  • where the bus or train stops for meals and breaks or what food you can get on board
  • whether a staff member can help you at the station (you might be able to get help if you're travelling with children by yourself or your child has additional needs).

As with car or plane travel, it can be a good idea to pack extra snacks, as well as toys and books or a tablet to keep your child entertained.

Motion sickness

Motion or travel sickness happens when your inner ear 'tells' your brain you're moving - for example, travelling in a car - but your eyes 'say' that your body is still. This clash of information in the brain can cause vomiting, sick feelings and dizziness.

You and your child can try to avoid motion sickness by:

  • looking at the road ahead, or at the horizon
  • trying to keep your head still
  • not reading or using tablet devices in the car
  • getting some fresh air into the car
  • eating and drinking small amounts regularly, rather than having large meals
  • trying to take your minds off feeling sick by singing songs or playing games.

If you know your child gets motion sickness a lot, it can be a good idea to have a container, plastic bags, wipes and a spare change of clothes handy, in case your child vomits. Check on your child every so often to see how she's going, and take a break if she needs to get some fresh air.

If you or your child vomit a lot when you travel, see your GP. Also talk to your GP or pharmacist before trying motion sickness medication.

If you're travelling with children with additional needs, you might need to give extra thought to things like carrying your child's medications, organising equipment for your child, preparing your child for travel, planning your time and so on.