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Guide to travelling with kids

Posted By Digital Team

6th April 2022

Your first family holiday with your kids can be incredibly rewarding, but we would be lying if we didn’t say that it comes with a fair amount of stress. Stansted Express has compiled some top tips and practical advice for staying sane on holiday with your little ones so everyone can have a fun and fuss-free time away from home.  

If you are looking for some kid-friendly travel destinations, we have put together a list here.  

Travel Outfits for the Kids  

For travel days, whether you're flying or catching a train or ferry, dress your kids in something bright and memorable so they’re easy to spot in a crowd, and in the unlikely event that they wander off.   

When it comes to outfit logistics, chances are the weather conditions will change once you get to your destination. This is where having comfortable layers will be a godsend. Think a light jacket, a jumper or hoodie which will be comforting to kids when they fly but they can easily tie around their waist or throw in a rucksack once you land and it’s a bit warmer.  

What to Pack  

However daunting packing may seem, it’s one of your first opportunities to take a step back and plan the trip in its entirety. During this process you can plan for anything life will throw at you during the trip and decide what you might need to pack with you for each scenario.    

Our general rule is to never bring more bags than hands if you can help it. You will thank us later. If one of those bags is a rucksack, this will make your life even easier.  

For any parents who are packing for their family for the first time, we've listed some absolute essentials for each age group below.   

Toddlers and Babies:  

  • Pram or buggy – even if your toddler is a confident walker, holidays can be rather tiring for the best of us. Bringing a buggy can help to avoid some unnecessary tantrums due to exhaustion from a lot of extra walking. Having your buggy with you provides the option for your toddler to have a nap without you having to head back to your accommodation. 
  • Microwaveable steriliser bags – if you’re bottle feeding or using dummies, these bags are an easy way to sterilise while out and about. They also don’t take up much space in your suitcase either.
  • Nappies or pull-ups, nappy cream, wipes and changing mat
  • Portable/foldable toilet seat (if toilet-trained)
  • Wipes or sanitiser for little hands
  • Easy-on, easy-off outfits (the fewer the buttons, the better)
  • A minimum of two swimsuits per toddler or baby as they tend to live in these if you are going to a hotter place
  • Travel crib (unless your accommodation has one for you already)  

School-age Kids: 

  • iPad or Tablet – A tablet is essential for warding off journey boredom, no matter how old your children are. If you’re worried about what they will be up to on there you can get handy apps which act like a child-lock, or you can download some educational games yourself which will hopefully settle your own parental fears about violent or explicit content in games. You can even download eBooks or audiobooks for your kids so they will have something to keep them entertained at different energy levels of the journey.   
    And don’t forget headphones! 
  • Scrapbook – This is a great idea for keeping school-age children engaged your whole trip. Bringing a scrapbook for each child to stick in tickets and postcards, and write down the things they spot along the way is an easy way to keep them entertained and quiet for a little while.  


  • Wi-Fi hotspot – making sure your international roaming is taken care of before you go away will save you a lot of pain when taking teenagers away from their internet source.  
  • Suncream and a Water bottle – Truth be told, your teenagers will probably want to do their own packing, but they might leave out some of the more practical stuff.   

All ages:  

  • At least two pairs of shoes for each younger child (You might find you lose one en route) 
  • Healthy snacks and drinks – no one wants a hungry child at any point of the journey, so make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks like fruit and cereal bars in your hand luggage ready to whip out any time. 
  • First aid kit:  
    Accidents can happen! Give you peace of mind by packing as many of the following as you can get your hands on:  
    - Kids Paracetamol/Ibuprofen  
    - Plasters  
    - Antiseptic cream/wipes/spray  
    - Antihistamine  
    - Insect repellent spray  
    - Children’s cold and flu relief medication  
    - Rehydration tablets suitable for children  
    - Motion sickness tablets/bands  
    - Any special medication your child may require (Inhalers, EpiPen etc.) 

Don’t forget, there are many merits to involving your children in the packing process. Along with building excitement for the trip, helping to pack allows them to mentally prepare for being away from home and allows them to have some autonomy over the process. This may also be the time to talk to your kids about what to expect on holiday and on the journey itself which may ease any anxieties they have.  

Travelling Smarter  

Give yourself extra time as everything takes longer when travelling with kids in tow. We would recommend doubling your estimation time of how long each leg of the journey will take.  

If your kids are good sleepers, try and plan travel time with nap time, meaning they will nod off on the train or plane. If you struggle to get your little ones down for a nap on the best of days, try and get a nap in before you leave for your trip. This way they will be less cranky if they don’t manage to get any sleep at any point during the journey.  

Getting to the airport on time with kids in tow can always seem like a daunting time, especially if there is driving involved too. This is where trains can actually be very handy. There are lots of different direct train options (like Stansted Express routes from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport) which will get you right outside major airports like Stansted and Gatwick.  

Self-Catering or Hotel?  

The decision of whether to go for a hotel or a self-catering option is quite a big one when there are kids involved. It’s not just about the eating options, self-catering can provide you with more space and independence if you have toddlers or babies (think heating up bottles and doing your own laundry). Bigger hotels usually have kids-clubs or a creche which can be invaluable for keeping them entertained for a few hours.   

Both have their merits, but sometimes it may just come down to your budget, self-catering can often be cheaper, but are often less ‘luxurious’.   

Routines on Holiday

This is another age-dependent one. You might make the decision to relax the rules a little when you’re on holiday, like when it comes to bedtimes, for example.   

For some children, sticking to a routine may be ideal. But for other families, relaxing those boundaries may allow everyone a bit more freedom – including the parents. There’s less pressure on you to do a certain number of things by a definite time.  

Kids can also take a little bit of time to adjust to a new environment. Having a packed schedule will leave you all a bit exhausted, so allow for plenty of breaks throughout the day. After all, holidays should be relaxing. You can return to the routine when you get back home.  

So, whatever you have planned for your time away, we hope we have helped you solve some first-time jitters. Remember preparation will go a long way, but don’t be too hard on yourself if everything doesn’t go quite to plan. Happy holidays!

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