Visiting Sea Life London with Kids: How to Have an Awesome Visit

As some of you will know, we spent a day in London prior to our USA Road Trip. We acted like tourists and visited the London Eye, did a spot of dragon hunting in the Tower of London and we also went to Sea Life. It was a day dedicated to BattleKid as we knew he was facing some long days of flying and driving ahead. In this post I tell you all about our visit and give you some tips about visiting Sea Life, London with kids to ensure you have an awesome visit.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit

Sea Life was our second attraction of the day, after our trip on the London Eye. It is conveniently located right beside the London Eye, meaning you can easily combine the two. As with our tickets for the London Eye, I booked Flexi Anytime Priority tickets. Given that it was the end of the summer holidays, I thought it was best to book these tickets as it meant we could arrive at anytime on our chosen day and by-pass any queues. As it was there wasn’t a huge queue when we arrived, but this isn’t always guaranteed.

Sea Life was opened in 1997 as the London Aquarium and is located on the ground floor of County Hall in Southbank. It plays host to one million visitors a year. Within Sea Life there are around 500 species of fish and various marine areas including a Shark Walk, Ray Lagoon, Nemo’s Coral and Penguin Point. There are various feeding times during which staff give family-friendly talks. Sea Life is also heavily involved in conservation and has programmes including ray breeding, coral propagation and a big fish campaign.

When we arrived, we had to pick up a Ranger Pack for BattleKid which I had ordered when I booked our tickets online, and then we were in. I had been apprehensive about what visiting Sea Life with a toddler would be like, whether it would be any good. And we weren’t disappointed. Sea Life London is huge!

We started out by walking over the shark tank, and to be honest, it gave me the heebie jeebies. I’m not a huge fan of sharks but walking over them on glass was a bit disconcerting. Things like “the glass is going to crack and break” were running through my mind. BattleKid, however, found it fascinating. From the Shark Walk, we entered the Atlantic Coasts area, we saw sand eels and an octopus.

We soon found ourselves at the Ray Lagoon and saw rays and sharks of various sizes before moving onto Rockpools. In Rockpools we saw anemones, starfish and crabs too. In this area there are open tanks, allowing you to get your hands wet, although we stopped BattleKid from doing so.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Amazed at each and every tank of fish and sea creatures.

From Rockpools we passed under the Ocean tunnel, giving us another chance to see more shark and ray swimming over our heads. It was a cool tunnel and reminded me of the one in the Blue Planet Aquarium. We also saw some Green Sea Turtles in this area. They were so beautiful, so majestic. They were one of my personal highlights of our visit to the aquarium in London.

The tunnel led us to the Pacific Wreck area where I discovered the skeleton of a whale inside one tank (see our vlog video for a glimpse of this). And then came the main attraction for kids of all ages, Nemo’s Coral Reef. There was a tank huge of both white and orange, and white and black, clown fish (Nemo to you and I), and a certain little boy did not want to leave this tank I can tell you. It was hugely popular with kids and was the busiest place in the aquarium during our visit. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time there!

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Nemo was a hit, someone didn’t want to leave this tank!

We visited the Seahorse Kingdom and saw a few different varieties. BattleKid wasn’t that interested in them and we swiftly moved on to the creatures of the Rainforests of the World. Here we saw fish, including piranha with vicious looking teeth and catfish, as well as a crocodile. From the Rainforests area, you pass by the Thames Walk where you can learn about the creatures of this great river, as well as the efforts it takes to clean the river and its banks.

Then it was time to meet the penguins. You pass through an ice tunnel to reach their enclosure and it’s a bit chilly in there. The penguin enclosure is not the biggest I’ve seen but it more than caught the attention of BattleKid. He loves seeing the penguins swimming past him at the window. They are one of his favourite creatures thanks to the Oliver Jeffers book, Lost and Found.

By this stage someone was starting to get hungry, so we quickly passed through the Conservation Cover before entering a new area for Sea Life in London, Ocean Invaders. In this area there were tanks of jellyfish of various shapes and sizes, and jellyfish projected onto the floor, which BattleKid loved jumping on. It was a really impressive display and one BattleKid enjoyed a lot.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Seeing ALL the jellyfish at the Sea Life London Aquarium
Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Trying to keep up with the jellyfish on the ground.

While all the areas and tanks of Sea Life London Aquarium are impressive, none are more so than the main and biggest tank around which the London aquarium in centred. It forms most of the Pacific Ocean display and spans the three floors of the aquarium. You pass this tank on several occasions during your visit and it is by far my favourite part of the aquarium at Sea Life. It houses fish, ray, sharks and turtles and plays host to some Easter Island Head statues. It is the most impressive aquarium tank I’ve ever seen. Each time we came upon it during our visit I was awed by it.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
My favourite part of our visit? The Easter Island Heads in the main tank.

After visiting the gift shop for a magnet for our fridge (we collect them everywhere we go), and buying a little treat for BattleKid, it was time to say goodbye to Sea Life Aquarium in London and move on to our next stop on our 36 hours in London.

Tips for visiting Sea Life in London with Kids

  • Sea Life London is open 7 days a week from 10am to 7pm, with last entry at 6pm.
  • It will take you a few hours to get around so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Sea Life London ticket prices are as follows*: Standard adult tickets cost £26 and children are £21 (ages 3 to 15), under 3’s are free. There are savings to be made online if you book in advance, and Sea Life tickets can be combined with certain other London attractions. We booked Anytime Priority tickets at a cost of £25 per adult and £17.55 per child. These allowed us to arrive at anytime on our chosen date and enter with no queuing.
  • Sea Life is also part of the Merlin Annual Pass, making it easy to visit regularly if you are pass holders. If we were still in the UK I’d seriously consider getting Merlin Passes.
  • A Sea Life Ranger Pack is available for £4 from the ticket office and includes an activity trail, magnifying glass, dress-up accessories, trading cards and a lanyard for tickets. This will make the visit a truly interesting one for kids a bit older than BattleKid (three and a half at the time of visiting).
  • There are toilets available on every floor, along with baby changing facilities.
  • Sea Life is fully wheelchair accessible with lifts going to all floors.
  • Note that there is no café or restaurant in the aquarium and you are not allowed to bring food in with you. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby for refreshments though.
  • There is no parking at the Sea Life London Aquarium. For details on how to get to the London Aquarium, nearest parking to Sea Life and the nearest tube station to Sea Life London Aquarium, visit the information section of their website.
  • There is an area for official Sea Life photos, although I am afraid I cannot remember how much we paid for our 3 photos.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sea Life in London. Although it was the end of the summer holidays it wasn’t too busy. We kept bumping into the same group of mums with their buggies, but apart from that it wasn’t crowded. We also liked the fact the aquarium was right beside the London Eye, meaning we could easily combine the two. And there are additional attractions nearby for kids of various ages too.

Sea Life in London is definitely worth a visit with kids and wasn’t as busy as I expected at the end of the summer holidays. If you are planning to go during the peak of the summer holidays, I’d suggest getting there early or booking the Fast Track tickets. Be prepared to take your time and go at your children’s pace. And expect a lengthy stop when you come across Nemo. By keeping these points in mind you are bound to have smiling children, although they might be reluctant to leave.

If you are visiting London with kids and are looking for an interesting and enjoyable place to visit with them, then we highly recommend a visit to Sea Life. They won’t be disappointed.

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post. We were not asked to write this review of Sea Life London

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit. With hints and tips to make your visit an awesome one.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit. With hints and tips to make your visit an awesome one.

Best and Worst Holidays – Liberty on the Lighter Side

Next up in my Best and Worst Holidays series comes from Liberty who blogs at Liberty On the Lighter Side.Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side

We haven’t had one outstandingly terrible awful holiday, yet, but we’ve had holidays with dreadful moments. I tend not to photograph those moments to post on Facebook although I did write about that on my blog here. Strangely enough those bad moments all depend on who you ask in our family because the children and adults have totally different opinions about what those moments were.

For example, if you were to ask the grown-ups, we hate camping in the pouring rain. My husband is still suffering from the trauma of a trip to Galway when he spent six miserable hours trapped in a small tent with our four young children and no car while mummy (me) swanned off to a wedding with my sister (and the car) to eat lovely food and drink nice wine with grownups. I’m not sure how it was all that bad for him to be honest, at least he was able to order pizza deliveries to ‘the first wet blue tent on the right hand side’ in a soggy field in Salthill. The children thought it was GREAT, camping is ALWAYS fun when you’re a kid and especially when beans on toast is upgraded to takeaway pizza. YAY!

Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
Drying out the tent!

I also don’t have very fond memories of all those holidays (lost count) where we’ve had to  either take a child to the doctor, or the car to a mechanic. Holidays are surely only meant to be plain sailing and pain free?

On the other hand. there are a few holidays that stand out as our unanimous favourites. One is to a campsite especially designed for children in Brittany, France (yet again in a tent). There was an over abundance of pools and waterslides, but it wasn’t blisteringly hot.

Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
2 Fountains Pool

This is important point actually, we had a big tree to shade our tent. We’ve camped in hot places (Vendée, France as well as in the Pilanesberg, South Africa) without shade and I’d rather be dead than boil alive like that again. The avenues in this campsite were quiet for safe cycling and our neighbours played badminton with the kids. It was bliss! I read books by the pool side while the kids and hubby splashed about for hours until lunch, and then back again to the pool for even more strenuous relaxation all afternoon. I still dream about that deep sleep I had every night, all week. 

Another was to the Isle of Skye. In every way a total opposite to the commercialised campsite holiday scene, this was remote and rugged. There were no discos, karaoke or bars. There were barely any people! The landscape awed us at every turn, we swam in the icy sea, built dams in the burn and walked for miles, catching a fleeting glimpse of a couple of shy stags before they turned tail over the hills. We stayed in a self-catering house that had its own private cove and plenty of room inside for the kids to play table tennis on the damp days.

Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
Enjoying the sunshine on the Isle of Skye.
Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
Building a Dam

Really what we love best is visiting family back in South Africa, partly because it’s so familiar, but also because it’s so different to life in Ireland. We love spending time with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and we also love eating seafood cooked over the coals out under the stars on warm evenings, stroking giraffes, antelope or ostriches and playing on soft sand beaches that stretch for miles. We can’t rave enough about a holiday in South Africa!

Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
Feeding Nyala
Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
Beach Tergnietsa

No two of our holidays have been the same and we are always open to new experiences. Meeting new people and experiencing their culture, language and food is one of the highlights always so we’ve house swapped six times around Europe as well as South Africa and this coming summer we are planning to ‘Couchsurf’ our way around the USA. (I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!)

Since having our kids, holidays have certainly been more frenetic, more fun, more exhausting and hilarious. We’ve done fewer ‘adult’ things and have enjoyed the ‘sillier’ kiddie things. Travelling is never dull. Even the painful moments change us, make us more resilient to the next incident. At the least, the terrible disasters make for great stories afterwards. In my mind, travel is not always just about having a holiday, it is about being changed in your outlook on the world. When you return home after a trip, you are never the same person who left home.

John Steinbeck says, “Once a journey is designed, equipped and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality temperament, individuality and uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us.”Travels with Charley

Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side
Liberty and her family

Liberty is a mother of four kids living in Wexford, the sunny South Eastern corner of Ireland, but was born in the UK and raised in South Africa. She and her family get about a bit and usually avoid having ‘normal’ holidays.Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side

Thanks to Liberty for sharing Why not check out Liberty’s blog. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve never camped with BattleKid yet, but I’m sure we will. I do remember a very wet, soggy end to a week at the Isle of Man TT. It was so bad that my husband I booked into a hotel for our last night because we couldn’t take the rain anymore!

And if you would like to feature in my Best and Worst Holidays series on the blog, please send me an email at

Best and Worst Holidays featuring Liberty on the Lighter Side. In this post, Liberty shares her stories about what holidays haven't been great and which ones have!


The Portugal Diaries #18

Christmas arrived to Portugal at the beginning of December with our local shopping centre installing a big Christmas tree in the centre. There was also an area for Pai Natal (Father Christmas in Portuguese), although he wasn’t arriving until later in the month.

On the first Sunday of December, we visited our local park again to stretch our legs and let BattleKid play in the playground. We visited the lake first and as we made our way back to the playground at the park entrance, we came upon some reindeer. There was a gentleman there with some feed and he allowed us to feed the reindeers. At one point we had five deer around us. It was a brilliant surprise and is a memory we will treasure as a family.

Portugal Diaries 18
Feeding the reindeer at our local park

The next day was D-Day, Disneyland Day. We had packed BattleDog off to his grandparents the day before, so after picking up our car from the garage in Faro, we headed straight for the airport, ready to get our plane to Paris. We had an amazing few days in Disneyland Paris and I’ve written all about it in my Holiday Diaries. That said, it was very cold in Paris and we were quite happy to get back to the sunshine by the end of the week.

Portugal Diaries 18
Enjoying the Illuminations show during our visit to Disneyland Paris

The weekend we got back we caught up with my parents and also enjoyed the sunshine by visiting our playground and having a cuppa in the sun together. It was so good to feel the warm sunshine again.

Portugal Diaries 18
Enjoying a drink in the sun

Much of the rest of December was about preparing for Christmas. We were kindly given a tree by BattleDad’s aunt as our huge 7.5-foot tree is in storage and simply wouldn’t fit in the mobile. We also had to buy decorations as all of ours were in storage and we couldn’t plan a visit to fish some out. But we made the living room as cosy as possible, before helping my parents do the same the day after.

Portugal Diaries 18
Writing his letter to Santa

On December 22nd my nephew arrived for Christmas and I picked him up at the airport with my Dad. Christmas Eve was spent painting again and getting things ready for the next day.

Portugal Diaries 18
Ready for Father Christmas

We didn’t wake too early on Christmas Day and first up was presents from Santa, who only went and brought BattleKid his first ever real motorbike. He was thrilled and couldn’t wait to get out on it. After breakfast we got ready and headed down to my parents’ house as we were having Christmas dinner in their local restaurant. I opted for traditional Portuguese bacalhau (fish dish) which was very nice. My Dad had kindly cooked a turkey crown, so we didn’t miss out on turkey sandwiches later that evening. We had a lovely first Christmas Day in Portugal.

On St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) we visited BattleDad’s aunt before going to see my parents and nephew again for a Beef Wellington dinner. The next few days were a mixture of relaxing and motorbike practise with the boy before I turned the big 40 on the 28th. It is also my parents’ anniversary that day, so we went for a lovely meal in Cabanas de Tavira where we enjoyed tapas-style starters, huge main meals, and of course some desserts.

Portugal Diaries 18
Getting to grips with his motorbike

On the 30th we all went to Mar for a shopping trip before having a 4th birthday party at my parents’ house for BattleKid. Although this was a few days before his actual birthday, I wanted to do it early, so he’d have his cousin there to join in the celebrations (he was returning to Ireland the following day).

Portugal Diaries 18
A birthday party in the sun

New Years Eve was spent building BattleKid’s new storage shelves while the boys went out on the bike. Other than that, we had a very quiet day and were in bed before the New Year even rolled in.

Cath x

A Dragon Hunting Adventure at the Tower of London

BattleDad and I had visited the Tower of London a few times in our pre-BattleKid days. It gained our interest after we watched the Tudors television series, and we always enjoyed our visits to the Tower. When I realised we had 36 hours to kill in London, I started looking into fun things to do with kids in London. And a dragon hunting adventure at the Tower of London was a must with our little dragon hunter, BattleKid.DRAGON HUNTING ADVENTURE AT THE TOWER OF LONDON

As you will already know, we started dragon hunting with BattleKid in an effort to make visiting castles interesting for him. Living in Wales until our move to Portugal, we were surrounded by castles, but they’re not always interesting places for toddlers and young children. So, to make our visits more appealing to BattleKid, the dragon hunting adventures were born. We’ve hunted dragons at Chepstow Castle, Carreg Cennen and Powis Castle, to name but a few. But we’d never ventured further than Wales. Our family day in London was a chance to hunt dragons further afield and our destination was going to be the Tower of London.

The Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it dates to around 1078. It is a complex of several buildings set within 2 rings of defensive walls and a moat. The Tower of London has been used for a variety of things including as an armoury, treasury and menagerie. It was once the home of the Royal Mint and was used as a public records office. It was even used as a prison between 1100 until 1952, when it housed the Kray Twins. It is still the home of the Crown Jewels of England and is one of London’s most popular attractions.DRAGON HUNTING ADVENTURE AT THE TOWER OF LONDON

And it was the scene for one of our dragon hunting adventures. We made our way to the Tower after visiting Sea Life at Southbank and had precooked tickets, so we could make our way through security and through the main entrance gate of the Tower of London. The Tower of London can be both an educational place to visit as well as something being part of a fun kids day out in London.

The first part of the castle we visited was St. Thomas’ Tower, the building which sits over Traitor’s Gate, and which forms part of the Medieval Palace. We searched the rooms in here but there was no sign of a dragon. From the Tower, we checked nooks and crannies around Traitor’s Gate but still no dragon.

Checking the water under Traitor’s Gate for signs of dragons


We moved on past Henry III’s Watergate and into the area where the ravens are housed. I can remember thinking how big the ravens were the previous times we visited, and I was reminded again. But alas, no dragons were lurking around these huge birds.

At this stage we were all a bit pooped, having been on both the London Eye and visiting Sea Life, so we decided to stop at the Raven’s Café for a cuppa and some cake. We also visited the Raven’s Shop for a souvenir before carrying on our dragon hunt. I got us a keyring (to turn into a Christmas tree decoration) and BattleKid picked out a set of knights and horses.

Our port of call was the White Tower. This is by far one of my favourite parts of the Tower of London. Although there is a lot of steps and parts to it, it is filled with history. You can even view the armour worn by previous kings, including Henry VIII.DRAGON HUNTING ADVENTURE AT THE TOWER OF LONDON

We checked each room on each floor that is accessible to the public and we finally found our dragon on the top floor. He was hiding in an alcove on the same floor as the magnificent treasure dragon which lies within the White Tower. (We hid BattleKid’s dragon just beside a wall in an alcove, and thankfully the security guard in the room was very accommodating of a little boy on his dragon hunt. I’ll admit it looked slightly suspicious as one of us distracted the boy while the other placed said dragon to be found. But she was very understanding when we explained what we were doing. We certainly didn’t want to get locked away in the Tower!)

This wasn’t the dragon we were hunting!
BattleKid keeping an eye on the Tower Dragon after finding his own hidden in the same room

Happy that we’d found the dragon, we made our way downstairs and as a certain little person was starting to get tired, we decided to start making our way to the exit. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Crown Jewels, although BattleDad and I have seen them on our previous visits and to say they are stunning would be an understatement. Nor did we take one of the Yeoman Warder’s tours, another thing BattleDad and I have done on our previous visits. We exited the Tower of London onto the banks of the Thames beside Tower Bridge, satisfied we’d achieved what we’d come to do.DRAGON HUNTING ADVENTURE AT THE TOWER OF LONDON

Things to note if you’re planning a dragon hunting adventure at the Tower of London

  • Tickets for the Tower of London cost £21.50 per adult (16+), while children cost £9.70 (5-15 years of age). Under 5’s are free and members have free entrance to the Tower.
  • Opening times for the Tower of London are as follows: Tues-Sat 9am to 4.30pm, Sun-Mon 10am to 4.30pm. Last admission is 4pm.
  • There are toilets in various locations within the Tower of London as well as baby changing facilities and wheelchair accessible toilets.
  • There is free WiFi at the Tower of London, although we didn’t use it.
  • Four eateries are located within the Tower of London. We had drinks and cake at the Raven Café. There is also the Wharf Kiosk, New Armouries Café and the Perkin Reveller.
  • Five gift shops are located at the Tower of London.
  • The Tower of London is not completely buggy or wheelchair friendly due to the cobbled ground in certain parts of the site. There are also stairs in many of the buildings. There is a buggy park for buggies located next to the Salt Tower, the Middle Drawbridge and at the entrance to the White Tower. There are virtual tours of areas not accessible by wheelchair.


There is plenty to see and do at the Tower of London and it is just one of many fun things to do in London with kids. I wondered whether the Tower of London would be suitable for young kids, but by having a dragon hunting adventure there, we had no tantrums or tears from BattleKid, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Some of the other things I’d like to try in the future with BattleKid are the Yeoman Warder tours. As mentioned we’ve been on two of these pre-BattleKid, and they were brilliant. One Beefeater (their other name) was full of funny stories and facts about the Tower, while the other Beefeater whose tour we joined gave us interesting facts about the Tower that we hadn’t learned in the previous tour. Each Yeoman has his own style and stories and they really do make visiting the Tower of London really interesting.

I’d like to also see the Crown Jewels again and to visit the Chapel Royal. But the one part of this London attraction that would be amazing to witness would be the Ceremony of the Keys. This is a 700-year-old ceremony conducted every night to lock the Tower of London. While it is no longer a residence of the Royal Family it does house the Crown Jewels. However, I recently learned that tickets to this event are booked up a year in advance!

Either way, there is no doubting that this is top of the list of things to do in London with kids. It can even be made interesting for younger kids and toddler with a little imagination as we’ve demonstrated. And if you have only one day in London with kids, you can easily squeeze in a visit to the Tower as we did.

I hadn’t been too sure if the Tower of London was a London attraction for young kids, but BattleKid enjoyed his visit, albeit a dragon hunting adventure, and we adults enjoyed it again. I can wholeheartedly recommend it as part of a family day out in London.

Have you visited the Tower of London yet?

Cath x

If you’d like to read of our dragon hunting adventures, just check out our Dragon Hunting Series section.

*We were not asked to write this post. All prices are correct at the time of writing this post (February 2018)


Awesome Tips for Flying with Babies and Toddlers

Hey, guess what? BattleKid at the ripe old age of 4 has done over 50,000 nautical miles by plane so far. How do I know? By totalling up the miles recorded in his flight logbook.

And since we’ve accompanied him during those flights, either both parents together or mum on her own, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about travelling by plane with kids. With our experience comes a certain level of knowledge and to help you with your forthcoming flights, I’m going to share with you some awesome tips for flying with babies and toddlers.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers

First and foremost, I want to say that you shouldn’t put off flying with a baby, or toddler for that matter, because of those “what ifs”. Yes, flying with kids can be a daunting prospect, especially for first-timers, but it can actually turn out to be fun. And besides, flying with small children is often a means to an end, with a family holiday or reunion waiting for you when you disembark that plane.

This is by no means the ultimate list of tips for flying with kids, but these are ones I’ve either used myself to have a successful flight with a baby, or the ones my fellow travellers suggested that I thought were genius. Yes, I also asked some of my fellow travel and family bloggers what is their number one tip for flying with a baby or toddler, so watch out for them too! So, without further ado, here are my awesome tips for flying with babies and toddlers.

Tips for Flying with Babies and Toddlers

Before the Flight

1 Relax

The big thing to try and remember is to relax. Yes, I know this may be hard to do, especially if you are fretting about it being your first time flying with a baby. But remember, babies in particular can pick up on your worries and anxieties, so if you’re not relaxed, they won’t be either.

2 Plan your bag and other carry-on luggage

Take time before you get to the airport to plan your bag and carry-on luggage. Why? You really don’t want to be struggling to remember which bag you packed the spare nappies in when you’re in the boarding queue or on the plane. Packing cubes or even makeup bags can lend a huge hand in organising your cabin luggage. I used clear make-up or cosmetic bags to organise our hand luggage for our trip to Portland so that if I pulled out the wrong one, it was easy to see and quickly.

3 Use a backpack

Backpacks are so much easier than a traditional change bag when flying with young children. Not only can you generally pack them with more things, but they also leave your hands free to deal with little ones in queues. Backpacks are also far easier if you are flying solo with babies or toddlers. I travelled with a traditional change bag until I discovered the ease of backpacks and I’ve never looked back. Now, we never travel without our Cabin Zero cabin bags.

4 Choose your seats before you arrive at the airport

If you can afford it and it’s an added extra, pay to choose your seats and pick them as soon as the option becomes available online, so you can ensure you are sitting together. I know many families will disagree and say this is adding more cost onto your flights, but do you really want to leave it to chance that the desk or online check-in will automatically put you sitting together just because you are a family. Not all airlines give families priority when it comes to seats, even for under 5’s. We always pay for choosing our seats to avoid this unnecessary stress.

5 To board first or not with priority boarding

Generally, most airlines will allow families to board first, but increasingly we’ve found this not to be the case. For this reason, and more so as BattleKid gets older, we pay for speedy or priority boarding, especially on low-cost airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair.  This ensures we can place the bags we don’t need during the flight into the overhead lockers, and so that BattleKid is seated and out of everyone’s way.

Some people say board last but then you face the stress of not having anywhere to store the bags you don’t need during the flight. Sorry, but that’s another stressful situation I avoid. By boarding first, our bags are stored, BattleKid is seated and we can start to relax about the flight ahead.

If you really don’t want to board first with your children, send the other adult in your party, provided you aren’t solo travelling, on first to stow your bags and then board last with your children. This might be a better option with toddlers who are now walking and might not be ready to sit still in a seat any longer than is necessary.

6 Arriving early gives you a better chance at bagging a bassinet

Arrive early at the airport so that you can take your time and are not in a rush. Arriving early will also allow you to queue for check-in first and this might in turn mean you can get a bulkhead seat with bassinet for your baby (if you haven’t already prebooked it). This is particularly important if flying long-haul with babies.

7 Check in and bag drop early

Following on from the previous point, getting rid of your hold bags early will free you up to keep an eye on little ones, and to get you through security and into the departures lounge quicker. If checking-in online before you arrive at the airport, ensure you have your boarding cards printed, or downloaded to the airlines app on your phone (make sure your battery is full for this option). However, if travelling with a stroller or buggy, you will need to visit a desk to ensure you get the tag for your buggy if bringing it through to the gate.

8 Be prepared for the security desks

Have your bags ready, coats off, pockets empty, tablets/iPads out and liquids ready for inspection. There is nothing more infuriating in those queues than someone who doesn’t get ready before getting to the belt, especially when there are children involved. We’ve queued long enough to get to the desks in some airports, only to have someone in front of us spend 5 minutes sorting themselves out with a bored toddler on our hands. Get your stuff ready BEFORE you get to the desk.

9 Use the playroom at the airport

Before the flight, take a visit to the airport playroom (if there is one available), to help energetic toddlers burn off excess energy before the flight. I must admit that I had not heard of, or even knew, there was such a thing as playrooms in airports until before our two-week USA road trip. I learned of them on a Facebook group and thought this was a genius idea.

We used the one in Heathrow before our flight, and also found one in Portland before our return flight. Not only does it help kids burn off some energy, but it will give you a few minutes peace. They are also worth their weight in gold if your flight is delayed as your baby or toddler won’t know any different.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Use The Airport Playroom
BattleKid enjoying the playroom in Portland International Airport
10 Buggy/Stroller or Baby Carrier

Consider whether you really need your buggy or stroller with you, all the way to the departure gate. If not, then I’d advise you to check it through with your hold luggage and use a baby carrier instead. It is one less item to have to worry about in the departures lounge. We stopped taking BattleKid’s buggy to the gate once he hit three years of age, but you might decide you need it. It’s always handy if they are still napping during the day or you have an evening flight.

For more pre-flight tips, check out the brilliant post by Carrie of Flying With A Baby in which she guides you through tips from booking to your arrival. She has many more tips you should consider before even booking your flight, including what are the best airplane seats for kids.

What to pack for the Flight

11 Toiletries and Medicines

Make sure you pack a small, clear toiletries bag which includes the following items

  • Plasters
  • Calpol
  • Teething granules or Bonjela
  • Nappy cream
  • Antibacterial hand gel
  • Paracetamol (for the adults)

You never know when you might need one or all of these, and if you don’t, you might find another parent on the plane who is grateful you had it with you. A travel first aid kit might also be a useful thing to add to your cabin luggage.

You might also want to pack a small packet of antibacterial wipes. Polly from Follow Your Sunshine suggested

Carry antibacterial wipes as well as your usual wet wipes as planes, trains and baby changing rooms harbour so many germs, and there is nothing worse than a sick baby while travelling.

Leona from Wandermust Family said

remember Calpol and Bonjela in your hand luggage.

12 Snacks

Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Snacks can be a lifesaver when flying with babies and toddlers. They are especially handy in between meals for toddlers who like to graze. Dare I say it they also relieve some boredom in toddlers, who let’s face it, have attention spans of goldfish.

Jenna from Then There Were Three says

I fly quite a lot with my eldest – best tip; snacks!

Sarah from The Herniman House agrees and she added

As well as plenty of snacks for the kids, make sure you take enough for yourself too! It’s not so easy to grab yourself some food whilst chasing a runaway through the terminal, or even if you have an inflight meal, it might not be practical. Parents and children do not need to be stressed and ‘hangry’ whilst travelling.

Snacks can also come in handy if you find yourself delayed for any reason. Yes there are usually food outlets in departures lounges but if you’ve just had lunch or dinner they can placate a bored toddler especially. And don’t forget to keep every hydrated during the flight.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Snacks
Enjoying snacks on yet another flight.
13 Baby Bottles and formula

Firstly, for those of you wondering can you take baby formula on a plane and bottles, yes you can. You can take pre-made bottles but be aware you may be asked to taste the contents at the security desks, although I’ve read elsewhere that this may be replaced by other non-invasive additional tests in certain airports. You can also take the ready-made cartons of formula on board.

However, we chose to do something different. We packed pre-measured powder formula into the easy-add containers, enough for all the feeds needed at the airport and on board, as well as two more. We took empty pre-sterilised bottles with us in Ziploc bags (although there are also disposable pre-sterilised ones available on the market).

Once on board, we asked the flight crew for 1oz of boiling water, added the formula and topped up using natural, bottled water we had purchased once we were through security and in the departures lounge. This worked a treat each time we flew while our son was still bottle feeding. Alternatively, you can bring an empty thermos flask with you and ask a café or hot drinks outlet in the departures lounge to fill it with boiling water for you.

Make sure you bring enough formula and bottles for all the feeds needed at both the airport and during the flight, as well as at least two additional feeds, just in case of delays.

14 Spare clothes for little one and you

Most of us don’t go anywhere with babies or toddlers without at least one change of clothes for our little ones. But when it comes to flying with babies and toddlers, here’s the thing. Bring more than one set, particularly if you are flying long-haul. You just never know what might happen and you don’t want to get caught out 35,000 miles up in the air.

I always travel with 3 sets of spare underpants (now that BattleKid is toilet trained), at least one set of shorts and trousers, two t-shirts or tops and also a pair of pyjamas, especially for red-eye flights. And that’s just for BattleKid alone.

I also travel with a spare t-shirt or top for both myself and my husband, just in case BattleKid should ever get sick. Touch wood, that is yet to happen but never say never! No-one wants to face hours on a plane in wet, sick-encrusted t-shirts!

Sam from Travelling with Our Kids said

We always take spare clothes for baby and us. You never know when you will need it. Especially if baby is prone to being sick after feeds like our two.

15 Pack plenty of wet wipes and nappies

What did we ever do without wet wipes? How did people cope before them? Not only do you need them for all manner of wipes and clean-ups with kids, but you can use them to clean the tray table too. When BattleKid was in nappies I also packed at least 3 extra nappies, in case of delays.

16 Don’t forget the nappy bags

Not only will you need these for nappy changes, but they also come in very handy for rubbish/garbage. These can hang from the tray table catch on the back of the seat in front of you and you can place all your accumulated rubbish in there. Then it’s easy enough to hand over to the cabin crew when they make their pass through the cabin.

17 Toys

Try to remember to bring a few quiet, interactive toys, to keep babies and toddlers entertained during the flight. Try to leave the noisy ones at home so as to not annoy your fellow passengers. Sticker books, colouring books and crayons are always a hit with BattleKid, especially when he was younger and didn’t really want to sit in our laps ready for landing.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Toys, Crayons and Stickerbooks
Don’t forget to pack some toys – crayons and colouring books work wonders
18 Tablet/iPad

Does your family have an iPad or Tablet? If so, let your toddler use it, especially if you have exhausted all the toys from the point above. We don’t let BattleKid use electronic devices at home, but he has not one, but two tablets for flying. He has a LeapFrog Epic with games and some TV shows on it. He also has another android tablet on which we’ve put numerous films for him to watch.

Flights are the only time BattleKid gets his tablet and it keeps him quiet. Even on long-haul flights with individual screens, he uses his tablet as the children’s films are often ones he has seen or is not interested in. They can also be a lifesaver if you find yourself delayed. (There’s that dreaded word again.)

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Tablets
BattleKid relaxing on a trans-Atlantic flight with his tablet
19 Portable chargers, for said iPads/tablets

Make sure you pack at least two portable chargers for your phones and iPads/tablets. This is even more important for long-haul flights. No-one wants to run out of battery half-way across the Atlantic and have an irate toddler on their hands. We have been lucky with some airlines having USB charging ports at each seat, but this has only happened twice on America-bound flights. For shorter European flights the chargers have come in handy, especially if we’ve been delayed leaving and have resorted to giving BattleKid his tablets before boarding.

20 Bring a familiar cuddly toy

But don’t lose it! BattleKid was sent a fabulous knitted Curious George by his Nan when he was just 18 months old and until late last year, George travelled everywhere with us. He has been to the Canaries several times, Slovenia and even New York.

He was a home comfort that BattleKid knew and loved, and was also something he fell asleep with every night. So, consider bringing one of their familiar cuddly toys, but whatever you do, guard it with your life. Or ensure you have a second one at home like we did, just in case.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Cuddly Toy
George in a hotel room on holiday, somewhere…

During the Flight

21 Ignore all the glares

When boarding the plane, there will no doubt be glares sent your way for daring to travel on someone else’s flight with a baby or toddler. IGNORE THEM. We all have to start travelling at some stage or have holidays as a family, and that involves flying with babies and toddlers as well.

That said, do not let your kids kick the seat in front of you or scream their heads off for no reason for the entire flight. Not only will you get glares and tuts, but it will stress you out! While BattleKid has always travelled well, we do our utmost to ensure he isn’t kicking the seat in front of us, and remains relatively quiet too.

22 Keep one bag under the seat in front of you

Following on from my point about preparing your cabin bags before you get to the airport, keep all essentials in one bag and place it under the seat in front of you. Pack 2 bags if necessary and stow the other one away in the overhead compartments. And ladies, don’t bother with a handbag, it’s too much faff!

We also have a Trunki insert bag which holds all of BattleKid’s sticker books, crayons, colouring books, small toys and tablets and this usually hangs quite nicely from the pocket on the back of the seat. That way we have everything we need to keep him entertained to hand.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers
BattleKid’s Trunki insert bag on the seat pocket in front with everything he needs for a flight
23 Feed or give a dummy on take-off and landing

I have experienced troublesome ears after a flight and I can tell you it is very unpleasant. That is until I learned how to pop my ears, particularly when we are coming into land. However, babies and toddlers cannot do this, so we need to give them a helping hand to ensure the air in their ears is equalised.  

Feeding during take-off and landing, or giving a baby or toddler a dummy during this time, can really help to ensure their ear pressure is equalised and that they don’t suffer with pain in their ears. Thankfully BattleKid has never had a problem with his ears and flying, but that is because we have heeded this advice.

Alana from Baby Holiday said her top tip is a bottle for take-off.

It’ll help prevent their ears from popping, and if you’re lucky will send them to sleep!

24 Use pull-ups and a changing mat or towel

For children who might be undergoing toilet training or are newly potty trained, it might be advisable to use pull-ups, particularly for long-haul flights.

We nearly had a heart attack on our flight from Heathrow to Portland in August 2017, when shortly after take-off and before the seat belt sign was turned off, we heard those dreaded words “Mummy I need a wee”. At three and a half, BattleKid was quite good at holding it, but as the minutes ticked by his desperation became more and more apparent. We hadn’t put him in a pull-up.

After 20 minutes we rang the call bell and the air hostess told us we could bring him to the toilet (despite the seat belt sign still being on), “You gotta do what you gotta do for your boy”. She was so lovely about it. Disaster was averted. But I regretted not bring pull-ups with us.

Also, it might be advisable to put a changing mat or towel under newly toilet trained toddlers on the seat, just in case. At least if they have an accident, the seat will be saved.

25 Have regular toilet breaks

Even if BattleKid said “I don’t need to go” when we asked him, we took BattleKid regularly to the toilet after he was trained. And he ALWAYS ended up going! Make a game of it if necessary.

And always anticipate when the seatbelt sign will come on in preparation for landing and take toilet trained toddlers to the toilet just before this. Again, it comes back to my previous point in that you don’t want to forget and hear “I need a wee” during those final few moments before you touch down.

26 Dress comfortably for any flight over 2 or 3 hours

We generally wear loose jogging pants for long haul flights and always change BattleKid into pj’s for these flights. It makes us more comfortable having to deal with sitting in one seat for a long period of time. It also makes sleeping on the plane a little bit easier.

27 Layer up with clothes and bring a blanket for little ones

This might seem crazy, but ensure you have a cardigan/jumper/hoodie with you for the flight, even if you are flying from a hot country to a hot country. Planes get cold, and babies and toddler will feel it even more than us adults. It’s easier to remove a layer or two of clothing than it is to get a baby or toddler warm when you’ve nothing in reserve.

And for babies and toddlers, I’d advise bringing a small blanket with you to cover them up if they fall asleep. It’s worked wonders for us in the days when BattleKid would still sleep on a plane. For the very few times we would be flying in the evening or at night, we always brought BattleKid’s travel Grobag to keep in line with our usual bedtime routine before he outgrew them.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Layer up
BattleKid sound asleep with a blanket to keep warm
28 Ask for help if you need it

This is even more important if you are flying solo with a baby or toddler. If you need it, ask for help. From the crew, or fellow passengers. Don’t assume they will realise you are struggling or are in need of some help. No-one in their right mind would dare refuse a mum or dad some help on a plane if they needed it.

One of my first ever solo flights with BattleKid came when he was ten months old, and the Aer Lingus staff on both my outbound and return flights couldn’t have been more helpful. They held BattleKid so I could stow my bags and get them at the end of the flight, and they also checked on me during the flight despite it only being a 55 minutes flying time. If I could fly with them all the time I would.

29 Be prepared to relinquish the window seat

BattleDad used to always sit at the window, always. But not anymore. For a few years now, he has had to relinquish the window seat for our toddler, and now pre-schooler. No matter how much bribing he tries, BattleKid always gets the window seat. He might look out if a few times during the flight, but it’s his and his alone these days.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers - Window Seat
“I’m looking out the window”

Other Things to Consider

30 Adventure belt or toddler reins

This can be a hot topic with some parents but believe me, until recently, we never travelled without toddler reins for BattleKid once he became a walking toddler. We now travel with the Adventure Belt, the next step up for preschoolers, which I reviewed on the blog last year.

They might not necessarily be needed if you are taking your stroller to the doors of the plane before take-off, but you aren’t always guaranteed to get your stroller the minute you land. So, to prevent toddlers from running off in the airport, it’s worth considering packing a set of reins or an Adventure Belt to save your sanity after a long flight.

31 Use the Boots pre-order facility in your departure airport

If travelling from the UK, did you know that you can order things like nappies, wet wipes, formula, creams and lotions to be delivered at a Boots in the departure lounge of the airport you are travelling from? This is a brilliant way to save on luggage space for things like nappies and formula and can ensure you remember everything you need for your family holiday. I’ve personally never used the service, but I know people who have and would recommend it.

32 Consider your flight times carefully

For long-haul flights I would try to fly at times your babies and toddlers would normally sleep, particularly if leaving in the evening and arriving in the morning. You cannot guarantee they will sleep but if it coincides with a time they will be naturally sleepy, you’ve a good chance of them nodding off.

For short-haul flights, either choose a morning flight or try to get one when they usually nap. Before BattleKid was one years old he slept on planes whenever the flight coincided with his nap time. However, over the age of one it became trickier. And a short-haul flight at night with BattleKid didn’t work. He didn’t fall asleep as there was too much going on in the plane and the lights were kept on. So, try to think about your flight times before you press that BOOK button.

33 Pay extra to park as close to the terminal as possible

While yes, this will cost you more than long-stay parking, bus transfers are a pain in the bum with bags, a baby, stroller and hand luggage, especially if you are flying solo with a baby or toddler. So, if you can stretch to just a little extra, book your parking at the airport as close to the terminal as you can. It will also mean you’ve less distance to walk and might negate the need for bus on your return, meaning you can get home quicker.

34 Don’t forget your travel insurance and EHIC cards

It goes without saying that if you are going to be flying with babies and toddlers, you really MUST have travel insurance. Most times you won’t need it but that one time you forget it will turn out to be the time you do need it. We went on holiday to Lanzarote one year and were grounded for an extra three days because BattleKid came out in chicken pox. Thankfully our travel insurance covered most of our extra expenses.

The following year, at the same hotel, BattleKid fell on our arrival day and cut his knee so badly he needed 4 stitches. A trip to the nearby hospital was needed and they asked for his EHIC card. I had brought it and his passport, as well as ours, so we were all sorted once we arrived. So, do not travel within Europe without it.

35 Use drawstring bags for toys

This tip comes from Anna at Popitha. Her tip is genius!

Use drawstring bags to put toys in for the flight so you can easily get one bag out at a time, and then pack it away so all the bits are still together.

I haven’t used this before, but you can be guaranteed I will be from now on!

Drawstring Bags For Toys For Flights
Tip and Photo Credit: Anna from Popitha
36 Plan your sleep and relaxing shifts

Sounds crazy but this is essential for long-haul flights. This tip came from Helena of Babyfoote, who said

My top tip (if you are travelling with another adult) is to plan in advance fair ‘shifts’ to take care of the kids and relax/watch movies/sleep. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a place with one parent who’s had 8 hours sleep and managed to watch a movie, while the other seethes with resentment because they walked the plane behind their toddler the entire flight.

37 Bring their Flight Logbook

If your little one is going on their first of many flights, why not invest in a Simply For Flying Flight Logbook. This is the flight logbook I mentioned at the start of this post. Apart from one or two return trips (where mummy forgot to pack it), we have logged every flight BattleKid has done and gotten some lovely messages from the captains. It’s a lovely memento to have for them.

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers

As already mentioned, this is by no means the only list of tips for flying with babies and toddlers. It may even be added to it as other hints and tips for flying with babies and toddlers spring to mind. There are numerous other posts about flying with a baby and toddler available to read and they are all packed with handy tips. It’s natural to feel nervous or anxious if you are taking a baby on a plane for the first time, but remember the #1 rule, relax.

Whether you’re facing a short or long flight with a baby or toddler, these tips are designed to make it as smooth a flight as is possible. Remember, most parents have been there, done that and gotten the t-shirt when it comes to flying with kids. You aren’t the first one to fly with a baby and you won’t be the last.  Flying with young children can be fun if you are prepared. But even if your flight isn’t a great one, just keep in mind that it’s only a few hours and that you’ll probably never see your fellow passengers again. So if necessary, glare back and tut at them, and if all else fails do this…

Are there any hints and tips for flying with babies and toddlers you can add to this list? Did I miss anything out?

Cath x

Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers