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How to travel with your toddler

  • News
  • By Lauren Godfrey
  • Published
  • Revised 03 July 2023

Airports can be a little stressful at the best of times, so travelling with your toddler may not always be a breeze. We totally get it, and we’re in the same boat, so we thought why not share our first-hand experience to help your next getaway go a little smoother.

“With my two-year-old Otis, I try to travel from Gatwick if it’s an option as it has a kids’ soft play area in both the North and South terminal. Plus, there are dedicated nursing chairs for breastfeeding mothers,” David Ox, Winged Boots' managing director said. “Similarly, London Heathrow terminals two, three, four and five have soft play areas as well as baby and junior zones." It’s a great way to let children burn off some energy ahead of a flight as well as stretch their little legs in a safe environment after being strapped in a pram during check-in and security.

But it’s not just the airport and flight to consider. Speak to your personal travel manager or hotel to see what facilities they can accommodate to help reduce your packing list. From bottle sterilisers and warmers through to requesting a fridge to store milk and food, many family-friendly hotels are happy to assist where they can. And if you're going to arrive in the morning, we highly recommend requesting an early check-in so you can go straight to your room, unpack and get settled without having to wait around in the hotel lobby.

To help you choose your next holiday destination with a toddler in tow, we've rounded up seven of our top choices.

Halkidiki, Greece

Flight time: 3 hours from London
Boasting sandy beaches with plenty of umbrellas for shade as well as warm yet calm waters, Halkidiki is a great option for families. Visit between April and October for balmy temperatures.

Stay at: Ikos Olivia
All-inclusive and all-accommodating, Ikos Olivia has a dedicated area for babies and toddlers. There are ample dining options plus you can sample the local restaurants also included within your stay.


Double Bungalow with Garden View

Ikos Olivia Double Bungalow with Garden View

Algarve, Portugal

Flight time: 3 hours from London
With plenty for the older children from waterparks to forest assault courses, the littlest members of the family can also enjoy shallow pools and the Atlantic Ocean at one of many safe beaches.

Stay at: Pine Cliffs Hotel
Named as the ‘best family resort in Portugal’ by the world travel awards, pine cliffs' children’s village activities include two large pirate ships, a playground with bouncy castle and mini golf.

Pool at Pine Cliffs Hotel

Pool at Pine Cliffs Hotel, Portugal
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Tenerife, The Canaries

Flight time: 4.5 hours from London
The slightly longer flight time is worth the journey as Tenerife is excellent for toddlers. The summer months guarantee high temperatures, so visiting in spring or early autumn may be preferable.

Stay at: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama
The range of spacious rooms and suites are perfect for young families. Oh, and the restaurant selection, that includes Michelin dining, will satisfy both parents and little ones’ taste buds.

Villa pool at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama

Villa pool at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama

Mauritius, Indian Ocean

Flight time: 12 hours from London
With a mild climate and paradisal setting, Mauritius is well-worth the flight time. Casela Nature Park has an avalanche of wildlife activities for all ages while the resort boasts excellent childcare.

Stay at: One&Only Le Saint Géran
A scene from a postcard, One&Only Le Saint Géran redefines luxury. Toddlers can enjoy exploring the private beach with nan, while mum sneaks off to the spa and dad enjoys a fishing experience.

Resort view of One&Only Le Saint Geran

Resort view of One&Only Le Saint Geran

Dubai, UAE

Flight time: 7 hours from London
There is so much to keep all ages enthralled in Dubai. From Legoland and The Lost Chamber’s Aquarium, to multiple waterparks and miles of sandy beach, you’ll never go bored here.

Stay at: Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort 
This beachfront resort is an adults paradise with swim up bars, luxury spa and modern accommodation. But what about the kid's you ask? While you enjoy some down time your pride and joys will be having the time of their lives at the kid's and teen clubs. Younger children can explore their senses with arts and crafts, sandcastle building and tailored menus while teens can delight in a game of foosball, battle on the playstation or take part in special themed nights. 

Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort 

Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort 

Sicily, Italy

Flight time: 3 hours from London
With a calm coastline and delicious kid friendly cuisine, Sicily is the perfect spot for your next family getaway. Hire a pedalo, tuck into gelato and stick your toes in the sand for a fuss-free relaxing break. 

Stay at: Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel 
Adults and children alike can find haven at Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel. Keep your little ones out of mischief and check them into the excellent kid's club where sporting activities, cooking classes and play areas await. The summer line up also includes mermaid swimming and teenager friendly festivals. 

Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel

Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel

Antigua, Caribbean

Flight time: 8.5 hours from London
Antigua boasts 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Long Bay has shallow waters so you can walk to reefs without a snorkel. There are also plenty of boat trips to spot whales and dolphins.

Stay at: Carlisle Bay
Carlisle Bay is situated on a private curve of Caribbean coastline, providing still waters, a tranquil pool and every amenity you could wish for. It’s all-inclusive too, so you needn’t ever leave the hotel.

The stunning beach at Carlisle Bay

The stunning beach at Carlisle Bay

Six top tips for flying with your toddler

Book an early morning departure
And if possible, avoid connections or lengthy layovers. A morning flight should encourage a nice nap on the plane, and also mean a slightly quieter airport with less queues.

Pack surprises
A new toy, book or magazine will be much more appealing. Wrap them up too to really dial up the excitement.

Choose seats wisely
Keep young children away from the aisle to try and deter them from exploring, especially during take-off and landing.

Vary the entertainment 
From colouring and downloaded episodes of Peppa Pig to books and fidget toys that stick to the plane’s window, by keeping the entertainment fresh the boredom should stay away.

Dress in layers
Be prepared for changing temperatures and any accidents. Oh, and don't forget to bring a change of clothes for you, too. You never know when travel sickness may hit.

Bring in reinforcements
Travelling with grandparents will help lighten the load.

What our agents have to say

“Invest in a lightweight, foldable travel pushchair which fits in the overhead lockers on a plane. This is essential, especially when travelling short haul as otherwise you won’t be able to put your little one in the pram until your baggage is on the carousel, which can feel like a lifetime with a sleeping toddler. 

“However, my best tip for travelling with a little one is to take a portable, blow-up swimming pool which you can fill up and leave in the shade by your lounger. This means your child can enjoy splashing around safely under your watch, while you can still relax.”

Samantha Seals, Head of Sales

“When travelling to Dubai with young children, I always find the day flight better on the way out. Everyone tends to think night flights gives them that extra time in resort, but in my experience the kids are too excited to fall asleep which results in very tired children and parents on arrival. It’s just not worth it for the extra half day! Plus, your room is always ready for check-in when you arrive at the hotel in the afternoon.

"If you are travelling to Florida with young children, it’s best to not plan for any theme parks within the first few days, as everyone is usually awake at 4am and it’s virtually impossible to keep little ones awake for the 10pm fireworks display at Disney. Wait until you have acclimatised to the jetlag as it’s much more enjoyable that way.

"Unfortunately bribery is the key to keep children in check on flights, so pack lots of sweets and treats, too.”

Daniel Ox, Co-CEO Ocean Holidays

“My top tips for air travel with a toddler are to bring a drink with a straw for take-off and landing to encourage them to suck and prevent popping and achy little ears. I would also wrap little toys up as little surprises to reward good behaviour.

"It’s also worth investing in some comfortable padded earphones to attach to a tablet, phone or laptop. As much as I’m sure the rest of the plane enjoy Baby Shark, there’s only so many times they’ll want to join in the fun.”

Jenny Bonifacio, Sales Support Manager

Your toddler travel essentials

Invest in a good SPF such as Anthelios Invisible Kids Spray SPF50+ from La Roche Posay or Child's Farm SPF50+ Sun Cream.

Non-slip swim shoes will help littles ones stay steady on their feet and protect from hot floor.

Padded headphones are perfect for non-stop nursery rhymes… and giving parents a break.

Don’t forget your little one’s favourite toy or comforter.

An all-in-one swimsuit will protect young ones from the sun. Oh, and remember swim nappies too!

Suction toys are fantastic for the plane. Stick little spinners to the window or even the seat in front for imaginative play.

A silicone bucket and sand shape toys fold down to fit in any beach bag. We love these ones from Scrunch

And finally, some stain remover to try and tackle those chocolate ice-cream spills before they have time to stain.

Travelling with you toddler FAQs

How do you travel with a toddler?

Be prepared and pack plenty of toys, snacks and clothes in your carry on. A cabin approved stroller is also an essential. Try the Bugaboo Butterfly, Silvercross Clic, Joolz Aer+ or the Babyzen Yoyo. These can all be taken onboard with you, so you can place your toddler back in the pram as soon as you're off the plane, perfect for tired little legs while waiting in line at security.

How can I get my toddler to sleep on the plane?

Try sticking to your little one's routine as much as possible. For long haul flights, this may include changing your toddler into their pyjamas, reading them a story and bringin their favourite blanket.

Children under two can travel for free on their parents lap, in any class. However, for both the toddler's and parent's comfort on long haul, it may be better to book your little one their own seat. You can also purchase plane beds that fit onto a normal seat and allow your child to lay flat comfortably if you're travelling in premium economy.

What facilities are at the airport for children?

All airports have restaurants that cater to adults and children with specific menus and food items aimed at kids.

London Heathrow has dedicated family areas and soft play for children as does London Gatwick.

Plus, there are plenty of shops for last-minute airplane supplies. Why not pick up some baby food in Boots,a giant bag of treats in Duty Free and a new toy in Hamleys?

Where is the best place to sit on a plane with a toddler?

Each airline will have its own rules for child flyers and where they can safely sit.

If a toddler is sitting on your lap, you may wish to be away from the aisle and the temptation for them to want to get up and explore.However, if they will need to get up to use the loo throughout the flight, or be changed, you may wish to sit somewhere where you won't be disturbing other passengers not flying within your party.

A bulkhead seat is usually at the front of the plane and comes with a little extra leg room - or play room - so if desirable for parents with a young family.

However, business class is much more spacious and will be the most comfortable for all.

If you're looking to travel with your toddler and don't know where to start, call Winged Boots today on 0203 816 0985 and we'll be able to curate the perfect holiday for you. Enquire today and we'll have the perfect trip planned for you in no time.

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