Emma Ross, her husband and three children love to travel in Europe, and in particular are lovers of France, so they’re accustomed to the long hauls.

Here, Emma shares some top tips for travelling with kids.

By Michelle Hespe

“When it comes to airline travel,” says Emma Ross, “Remember what you’re throwing your children into when you put them on a plane. You are placing them into a space where they’re supposed to be quiet, calm (basically, everything that children are usually not) and comfortable with time zone changes, and exhaustion, which nobody deals with well. And then you add disruption to their routine, food they are not accustomed to, and they don’t have everything they love and know around them.”

Sounds like a disaster if you haven’t done it before, but Emma is calm, as she’s guided many parents through their ‘first times’ before.

“It’s all in the planning, and the rest of your holiday will depend on you doing it well,” she says. “If you want the best possible outcome, think about the timing of your flights. How long are you in the air? How long is the travel to get to the airport? How long are the waits in between? When you travel with kids, it ceases to be only about the price-point, and believe me, I have learnt this through personal experience —   one of the worst experiences of my life.”

Emma decided to travel to Europe when her kids were ten months and two years old, but she didn’t look into the airline first. “They were not child-friendly at all,” she says, cringing at the memory. “It was a complete disaster. Not stopping and having a break was a mistake, not flying at night, was a mistake. The stewardesses weren’t in the least interested in us, and I couldn’t wait to get home.”

So today, with experience behind her and the kids getting older, what are Emma’s hot tips? “Pack their favourite toys or comfort blankets if they are young, and take layers of clothing so that you can take some off, or add some when needed. Make sure you have plenty of snacks and activities, and special ‘bribery’ toys. I always pack a big scarf because as it can act as a light blanket as well, and as a baby wrap if you don’t have enough wrapping or want to walk around the plane with your baby in a sling. I never travel without some basic beauty products as well – cleanser and moisturiser. That just makes you feel nice and fresh when you’re not. And the all-important baby wipes!”

Emma also has some tips for the airport. “I pay for passes to a lounge area if we’re not in Business Class and have hours to kill, because having a shower is next to Godliness in my books. And by the time you buy the whole family food and drinks in the airport, you may as well have paid for passes and then let the kids go and drink juice and eat all the pretzels they like. It makes your life easier!”