Travel To Zante - Zakynthos Travel Tips - Advice to Travelers
How to Travel With Children on Zakynthos
Traveling with children to Zakynthos is not always easy, especially on long-delayed flights, or any long trip by car. However, with a little preparation your traveling time can possibly become as smooth as a baby's bottom.
Have your children's appropriate legal documents. If you don't need a passport to travel, still remember to take a copy of your children's birth certificates. The cut-off age for lap children is two years old. Some airlines don't ask for a birth certificate and some do. So to be on the safe side, keep a copy of your children's birth certificates in your purse/bag. Of course, if you have a passport, you will not need to bring birth certificates as the passport will provide complete authentication.
Bring a backpack of toys and activities. Kids like being in charge, so give them something to be in charge of. A backpack is perfect because it stays put, unlike a bag which can slip off their shoulder and you end up with one more thing to carry; just don't make it too heavy for them. Not only is this useful in-flight/on-board entertainment but it'll serve a dual purpose of amusing the kids once you reach your destination. Put in all your favorite ideas, including these suggestions:
Books. There's never enough time in the day to read to the kids, so take advantage of the opportunity of the long plane, train or car ride for some one-on-one time. Pack your kids' favorite books for you to read or easy-reader books for them to read by themselves. There's no reason to plug their brains into electronics for the whole journey. Expand their imagination through the endless possibilities in a good book!
Coloring Books. Coloring books can be a great distraction and can help get out a little scribbling energy. A favorite coloring tool is Crayola's "Color Wonder" markers and paper. They're great because the markers only write on Color Wonder paper, which means your little ones leave no evidence behind! Also try dollar stores for coloring books you won't mind them half-completing and being discarded for the sake of extra space.
Comfort Toys for Small Children. Throw in a favorite blanket or bear for small children. It may help them snuggle down for quiet time or just help get through a bumpy patch of air or a tedious part of the drive. You can never have enough props for entertaining that last 20-30 minutes of a flight when everyone is impatient to get off! Favorite games to play with a blanket or cuddle friend are "peek-a-boo" and "pat-a-cake".
DVDs/Movies and Personal DVD Players. A laptop with a DVD drive works just as well as a personal DVD player. Bring a long a set of earphones (or a splitter so you can have two sets of earphones), so your child's viewing of his/her favorite movie doesn't interfere with the comfort of others. Although, if you are taking a plane flight, you can save on space and rely on the in-flight entertainment. Best suited to car travel.
Electronic Games. Handheld games are extremely popular for older kids and can keep them quiet for hours. Bring a long a set of earphones so your child's favorite game doesn't interfere with the comfort of others. A long plane or car trip might be a good time to invest in a new game for a special surprise!
Sticker Books. Reusable sticker books are great for early elementary age kids. You can find them in your child's favorite TV/movie character or interest. And because they're reusable you can create new scenes, stories or just mix them up for fun!
Bring your car seat on the plane. One way to rein in a squirrelly toddler is to take their car seat on the plane. Young kids behave much better in a familiar car seat, which keeps everyone happy. They can rest and fall asleep more easily in their car seat because it reminds them of riding in the car. Check with your airline first that this is permissible before lugging it down to the airport.
Divide and conquer. Don't lose the kids, especially if you have more than one to keep an eye on. Decide ahead of time who is in charge of which child. This will eliminate the heart-sinking question "Where is so-and-so?? with the answer of "I thought you were watching him?" Miscommunication and lost children are not a good way to start a vacation!
Take precautions to guard against ear problems:
For babies: bring something they can suck on to help regulate their ears during the course of the flight, especially during ascent and descent. Airline flights can be quickly spoiled by a little one with an earache! Some ideas to try: Bottles of juice and/or water, pacifier, jello jigglers with extra Knox gelatin (this is messy but the kids love it!), or any Gerber baby type snacks. They dissolve quickly in the mouth eliminating a choking hazard (read safety precaution on the label before buying). Try such snacks as "Gerber stars" (lots of flavors), fruit snacks (these start dissolving almost instantly) and baby cereal bars. As of August 2006, such snacks and gel products may be prohibited under tight new security regulations. Check with the airline or government transport security sites for prohibited items.
For toddlers and older children: toddlers and older kids don't always understand how to regulate their ears by just swallowing, so a little help is sometimes required. Try Starbursts because they take a long time to chew and a lot of saliva begins flowing, which to keeps the child swallowing. Some other ideas are fruit snacks, gum and hard candy (for older children). Again, check with your airline or government transport security site to see what is and what isn't permitted to be carried on board.
Take items for mess clean ups. Keep a bag of wipes, hand sanitizer and disposable bags for dirty diapers nearby. Baby wipes can clean up almost anything-even something spilled on carpet. Hand sanitizer is a must for traveling with kids and those disposable bags are good for containing messy stuff besides diapers! And don't forget to bring your favorite brand of stain remover wipes or pens for those times when the baby wipes just aren't enough. As of August 2006, very strict security regulations are in place which may impact on which of these items you can take on a plane.
Be flexible with your seating arrangements. If you're traveling with a group, or a large number of family members, it might be fun to let your children choose which adult they want to sit by. If they don't see Uncle Bob very often and want to sit by him (and Uncle Bob is okay with the idea), then relinquish parental control for a few hours. It's a great time to talk and tell stories with people you don't get to see every day. And the parents have a small rest!
Take snacks. Snacks, snacks and more snacks! Snacking keeps children busy and entertained. So pack your kids favorites for your long journey. The healthier the better - try carrot sticks, celery pieces, permitted nuts, gummy bears etc.
- Check with your airline for any requirements as to where you can place the car seat on the plane. It may be the window seat, which will provide one more source of entertainment-the great outdoors!
- Sit an adult in between two kids who can be in control of the DVD player. This eliminates power struggles amongst the kids. It sounds like a scary place to be but it sure beats having to control upset children! Always bring the movies you KNOW the kids will watch and stay occupied with.
- Potty trained - almost: Put a pull-up over their underwear! Avoid doing extra laundry and still give kids the feel of staying dry. Do this during the long trip. At your destination, small messes should be easier to deal with.
- BONUS TIP: Don't put kid's snacks in their special backpacks or bags. While it's great for them to be in charge of their games or coloring books, you may not want them in charge of snacktime. Take your own a big carry-on bag with all the goodies you need for your kids for the flight or trip. Then you have control over who gets what snacks, when.
- Travel Surprise. Put a small surprise or two in your kids' travel backpacks - it is like Christmas Day: A new book to read, page of stickers, small toy to play with, activity book with puzzles and mazes or (if they're really lucky) a new movie to watch.
- Take only *copies* (not originals) of your child's birth certificate--you don't want to take the chance of losing your original legal documents.
- Make sure a childseat is properly fitted in your car. If you aren't sure, contact your local police station to have them check it or to refer you to someone who can check it for you. Better safe than sorry.
Check airline or government transport security sites for changes to carry-on luggage. Don't get caught out by losing things to airport security because they have decided to ban them: Be aware in advance.