Off-peak season is such a gift for parents traveling with preschoolers and children under the age of 5; not only are airline, car rental and hotel prices much better value, but the airports are less crowded and frantic. I would even go so far as to say travel on a Wednesday if you can – reportedly the least busy day of the week in terms of business travel too – imagine you could have the whole plane to yourselves!
There are ‘Family Lanes’ at security in Dublin Airport – look out for the buggy symbol. You are supposed to put your buggy through the scanner so be prepared to take even a sleeping baby out to collapse the buggy and put it on the belt. Having a sling for getting through the airport is a very good idea because you will need your hands!
Equipment -what can you bring?
… most airlines will allow you to check two items of baby equipment for free, so that could be a car seat / pram combo if you want. You can now also use your own pram all the way up to the steps of the aircraft, but be sure to collapse it for staff, tuck in all straps and remove anything loose. The most common type of damage that we see at The Stork Exchange is snapped wheels, bumper bars or brake bars. Rips where the harness or straps probably snagged on something is also common and another one is wet equipment! (I’ve no idea why things come through soaking wet but my suspicion is that it’s not rain water). I would highly recommend using a pram travel bag or Airshell.
Car Seats and Airplanes
If you decide to bring your own car seat (I wouldn’t personally) then bubble wrap it first and use a travel bag, and then on arrival – check under the cover for any stresses in the frame or cracks in the polystyrene – I know, I know, that sounds totally excessive and a complete pain but I would say it’s completely necessary. A car seat is a piece of safety equipment and is not built to sustain the weight of tonnes of bags potentially placed on top of it in an aircraft hold.
If you are flying out of Dublin and wondering about the logistics of long term car parks, shuttle buses and lugging all the bags and children around then pay attention! Most of the car parks are outside the airport campus and require a shuttle bus… however, keep this between you and me – you can book long term parking in Block C at Dublin Airport and that is within walking distance of both terminals. I would even suggest dropping one adult, bags and children at the Departures Drop-off and going around again (it’s a one-way system) to park the car – no lugging involved whatsoever!
Again if you have time to kill at either Dublin or Shannon it might be a good idea to run off some of your toddler’s steam! There is a play area landside (before security) in terminal 1 on Level 3 (beside McDonald’s) and upstairs beside the café at Shannon airport. They are both relatively small, soft play structures, but better than nothing. Very handy too that they are close to baby changing and food halls and it allows little legs to stretch and refresh before plane or car journeys.
Traveling with preschoolers means…Be prepared!
You’ll need to think in terms of spillages, leaks or accidents and bring spare spares! Give yourself plenty of time at the airport for nappy changes, snack stops, curious toddlers…. Let them run off steam before they get on the airplane (and hopefully sleep!). Pack a play bag for the flight and bring things like colouring books, stickers or games and of course the life saver of the modern world IPads. It’s also good to bring a new toy so that it keeps them occupied.
Feel free to get in touch with us at The Stork Exchange if you’re looking for any travel tips or advice.