My 7 M's for travelling with kids

Troy Tvoller

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

My 7 M's for travelling by plane with a husband,  1 - 8 children and a boyfriend.


It hasn't been easy travelling with larger amounts of children and it is uncomfortable travelling with babies and toddlers. But it is worth it, if it means reconnecting with family or gaining knowledge and understanding by talking with different  people and experiencing new places. New perspective opens doors for future opportunities. It is good to travel. 

What have we had to consider when we have travelled by plane with our 8 children? 
Cost has been the biggy! The cost of travelling has influenced  the decisions we have made concerning the modes of transport, accommodation,  food, hydration, clothing, luggage bags, entertainment, health care, phone, insurance, itinerary, travel money and destination.
In 1999 we travelled from NZ to Australia with 5 children aged 5-12 yrs. It was a one way ticket as we were embarking on our new life in WA.
In 2001 I travelled to NZ from Perth with my 3 month old baby at the time. My Grandmother had passed away. We got stuck in NZ because  the World was stunned by the 9/11 tragedy. Some flights in NZ were cancelled or delayed.
In 2003 we travelled back from Australia to NZ with 6 children aged 3- 16 yrs. This was our first family  flight back home. My brother Caleb was getting married and we could not afford to return,  so my brother Josiah offered to pay half our fares. We were able to return the favour a few years later.
In 2008 and 2009 we travelled from Australia to NZ twice, once for a Family Reunion and once for an unveiling with 7 children, aged 2/3 yrs - 22 yrs. Those 2 trips cost between $15 000 - $20 000 altogether! We didn't borrow any money! I'm so proud of ourselves and Gods wisdom! 
In 2010 we travelled to Coolangatta from Perth with all 8 kids and my eldest daughters boyfriend. I remember driving our 14 seater van to the airport. It was packed to the brim with 11 people and 11 big bags of luggage, carry on luggage and a backpack!
In between these dates we have travelled to Melbourne and Karratha with either 3 - 5 children with us.

Below are my 7 Ms for travelling by plane  with a husband, 1 to 8 children and a boyfriend.

1. M-anagement: Establish your destination; purpose for going; climate; budget; costs of flights; car hire; accommodation; sightseeing; car parking;  contacts; insurance; health issues; numbers etc. Plan the structure of your holiday but leave room for flexibility once you get there. 

2. M-oney: 
*Use Credit Card  to book your flights, car hire, accommodation and any big sight seeing activities eg. 'Movie World'
*Pay off Credit Card  before you travel. Holiday debt free.
*Working Older children pay half their tickets, save own spending money. 
  On one of our trips to NZ we had to ask the teenagers if they could pay one way and we would pay the remaining.
* Use a travel card. You can deposit your money into the travel account before hand and change currencies at the drop of a hat through your phone app. Pay for eftpos items with Travel Card.
*Exchange loose coins and notes into new currency. Cash is good for the children to have pocket, food and souvenir money.
* Use Credit Card on plane for food. You can balance accounts when at destination.
* Use shoulder bag with the protective compartment inside, so any credit cards and passports are on your body all the time and are scan proof.

3. M-unchies: 
* Buy water when you get to the different airports and have passed through customs.. On International flights  I found taking your own water bottle a hassle and customs don't allow water on their conveyor belts or scanning stations.  
* Buy a hydration drink to help combat jet lag. At the Auckland airport we brought a Hydration drink for the whole family. It contained a lot of vitamin B's and natural ingredients like apple cider vinegar and lemon. It was also customs approved so we could take it on board the flight.
* Buy food: Its easier to book a flight that has an inflight meal included. It occupies your time and feels like a treat being served. But if you have to book a cheap flight then be prepared to buy inflight food or take packaged food such as chips, nuts, dried fruit, muesli bars. Just make sure they are eaten or disposed of before entering the new country. If you have a stopover I still find MAcDonalds cheaper and has healthy options such as salad or wraps without the mayo. Choose water instead of sugar drinks. If you do buy fried chips choose the small size.
* Chewing Gum: Take chewing gum for the family so their jaws are moving when the plane is descending. This is the time when children's ears can get blocked or sore. Chewing helps equalise them.
* Breastfeeding/ Bottles: Descending is a good time to give your baby the breast or the bottle. The sucking motion will help their ears equalise.
*Take wet wipes instead of hand sanitiser. Its confusing to remember the liquid limitations on hand sanitisers. Some customs allow up 30 mls of liquid and others 100mls, so its easier to go the wipes. Wipes are great for everything. Handwashing, face washing, spills and surface cleaning. A must for the family!

4. M-obility: 
* Decide at the time of booking your flights what weight of luggage you want to take with you. Use  pull along bags to save wear and tear on your shoulders. If you have multiple bags with shoulder straps ensure you have loose change so you can hire  a trolley to load up. Some airports  have free trolleys.  It costs around $4 for the hire trolleys. Some airports have the escalators that are purpose built for trolleys. 
Children under the age of 8 can pull their own bag along as their clothing only weighs around 4-6kgs. They love the feeling of being an independent traveller.
* Plan your mode of transport for  the other side. I like to hire a car because you have independence where ever you go. Ensure you have your licence with you, a credit card for ID and money for petrol. In NZ the petrol cost around $2 per litre. I found JUCY car hire on our recent NZ trip pretty good. When getting car hire for a large family over 7 people you need to hire a van. They are harder to obtain so the earlier the better. Booking well in advance over the internet is convenient. If you have children its easier to hire the car seat through car hire. Obviously transport choices  depends on budget. I have taken big prams, our own car seats and we have had family and friends  pick us up from the airport in the past.
Having family pick you up is warm and welcoming but it can put extra burden on them especially if it costs them time and money to come and get you. So just weigh up the odds and communicate with your family. Use google maps to guide you to your destination.
* Take a stroller, back pack, front pack or easy to fold lightweight pram if you have a baby or toddler. It is definitely better to have hands free when travelling with children. If you can't be handsfree make everything as lightweight as possible for lifting.
* When its convenient and you''re not rushing  allow your children to hand their passport, boarding passes and entry forms to the check in/flight attendant themselves. It teaches them to participate in the travel plans and have direct contact and confidence with the authorities.
* Stay with family for some of the time if you can. It helps build relationship between cousins and creates bonding and memories for future gatherings.
* Rent a motel, hotel or camping  accommodation for some time if you can. It is nice to have personal space to just be your own family unit. We recently booked 2 days at the Awakeri Hot Pools. It was enough time to give us a family breather, feel like we were on holiday and reflect before heading home.

5. M-obiles and devices:
* Take an iPad, earphones and charger.My 8 yr old enjoyed playing on the iPad and with her younger sister. She could also use the iPad as a camera and journal all in one. Some flights don't include entertainment but you can  download their inflight entertainment system onto your  phone or device and you can watch their movies.
* Take mobile phones,earphones,chargers. On our recent trip Virgin Airlines encouraged us to download their Inflight Entertainment App onto our phones. Tony and I were able to watch their movies through our phones. Phones are great for keeping contact with friends and family during the travel experience. Ensure you buy a new sim card in the new country. Otherwise make the most of free WIFI at Airports. Communicate via Messenger or FB. Airports also have charging stations. Mobiles are great tools for taking and storing photos. No need to take an extra camera. its all in one!
Tony loads his phone with games for the 5 yr old. That keeps her occupied.
My 13 yr old enjoyed taking pictures on her phone then instagrammed her journey so her friends could follow her experience. 
* Take laptops, chargers: If you need the laptop for work or writing then take it. I took mine but found I did not use it often as we were very busy most of the time.
* Take pens, paper, books and homework. If you have stopovers and long flights it is good for you and the children to have something to occupy your minds.
My 5 yr old took 9 little Readers from the School so she could practise her reading. It was hard to find un-interrupted time, but eventually we found 1 spare night to practise reading!
 My 8 yr old took her 4 NAPLAN books so she could practise school work while on holiday.
My 13 year old took a novel which she thoroughly enjoyed and remarked that she had forgotten how much fun reading was! It was nice to see her choose her book over and above her phone!
*You need a pen/s to fill out all the forms. If you are not rushing get the younger children to sign their name on forms  or get the older children to help the younger ones to help  fill all the forms out.

6. M-edicines: Be prepared. 
* Take a thermometer, children's pain relief, syringe, any medications, band aids, small bottle of betadine.
* I took Inhalers, spacer and tablets to help manage Angels Asthma. 
* Make sure you have travel insurance to help cover any medical costs you may incur.
* Take the kids to the doctor the day before you travel just to get their ears and throats checked out before you go. If they are inflamed get the Dr. to write out a script for antibiotics and ask for a dry version of medicine to take with you. I did that and had it as a back up incase no Dr was available in NZ.

7. M-ood: 
*Be happy. 
*Be thankful. 
*Use manners
*Dress appropriately. Be comfortable. Nothing worse than being cold.
* Sleep.
*Use kind words.
Not everyone gets to have the opportunity to travel. Encourage the children to think about the good things they are experiencing and not take it for granted. Being thankful and kind makes the journey so much more pleasant.

Happy and Safe Travels. xox