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A recent TripAdvisor survey found that 69% of people travelling with children find it nerve-racking. With that in mind, we have created this guide to help combat any pre-travel worries, one step at a time...


The ultimate guide to travelling with children

A TripAdvisor survey found that 69% of people travelling with children find it nerve-racking. This guide might help to decrease that percentage.




Before your go


Required from their first international flight – even babies.

Check their current one is in date.

Young children must be alone in a photo (no dummies or toys). If the child is under 1, their eyes can be closed.

UK adult passports (for those over 16) cost £71.20 (£81.25 for Check and Send.)

UK child passports cost £54.75 for the Post Office Check and Send service.

They take at least 3 weeks to arrive, although if you pay extra fast-track service is available.

Prices/times vary depending on country, so it's recommended you apply in advance.

Flight fares:

Under-2s can sit on a parent’s lap and don’t need a ticket. Older children must pay a full fare.

6-12-year-olds must pay a full fare.

Teenagers must pay a full fare.


Plenty of wet wipes; enough nappies for your journey – you can buy more at your destination; extra clothes; favourite toys.

Their own rucksack with toys, books and a selection of healthy flight snacks.

Books; magazines; electronic gadgets. Teenagers should be able to pack their own flight bag – just give it a check over once it’s done.

Luggage allowance:

Children over 2 have the same allowance as adults. Infants without seats are usually allowed a checked bag + stroller + car seat (but it depends on the airline).

Same as adults.

Same as adults.


Visit your GP at least 2 months before flying, and bring vaccination records. Make sure the kids are up to date with regular vaccines.

At the airport


Get there 30 minutes before the recommended arrival time – you don’t want the stress of rushing!

Avoid the queues by check in online and print boarding passes beforehand. If possible, travel with carry-on only to avoid the baggage drop queue.


Entertain under-5s with: rattles; soft toys; bottles/healthy snacks (babies & toddlers); guessing games.

Entertain 6-12-year-olds with: quiz book/app; I-spy; healthy snacks.

Make sure your teenager/s has their iPod/iPad/mobile phone – this should keep them entertained.


Pin your details to your child’s clothes in case you get separated.

Get your kids Velcro or slip-on shoes in case they have to remove them to go through the gate.

Make sure they take off anything metal and remove phones/coins from their pockets before they go through the gate.

Departure Lounge:

Explore the airport or look at the planes taking off and landing. Some airports even have specific play areas or activities for kids. If all else fails, iPads or mobile phones will keep them amused.

Give them the freedom to wander off and explore on their own – and enough money to buy a few treats – e.g. magazines, snacks. iPads, iPods, mobile phones and books will also keep boredom at bay.

Travellers with infants are usually asked to board the flight first, so head to the gate about 15 minutes before the scheduled boarding time.

Change nappies just before you board the plane.

Make a toilet stop just before you board the plane.

On Board


For longer flights there is usually a selection of children’s films and on board entertainment. Many airlines also offer colouring or activity books.

Make sure you take items such as sticker books, wrapped ‘presents’ and fiddly snacks to engage them.

Make sure you take a selection of reading books and sticker books.

For longer flights there is usually a selection of films, TV shows and computer games. Books and magazines are a good idea.

Gadgets are a great way to entertain young and old children…



Electronic storybooks

Portable DVD players

MP3 players

Portable games consoles

Mobile phones

Help ear pain during take-off and landing with breast or bottle-feeding, or a chewy sweet for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Help ear pain during take-off and landing with a chewy sweet.

Make sure they turn off their phones/electronic gadgets during take-off and landing.


Pack a special toy, pillow, bedding and a bedtime story to help your kids get to sleep. A dummy or bottle of milk or formula will help smaller kids drop off (ask to get it warmed up in-flight). Dress them in pyjamas before a long flight. N.B. Doctors advise against giving children drugs to assist sleep during a flight.

Pack a special toy, pillow, bedding and a book to help your kids get to sleep.

Buy them a neck pillow especially designed for airplanes so they can get comfortable.

If you prepare properly, travelling with children becomes a lot more manageable. If all else fails, just remember: stay calm, it will be over soon!

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