Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Muslim families ultimate guide for traveling with kids was put together to help parents enjoy their trip with an ease of mind. I find most travel tips for kids are very generalized so I’ve decided to go into more detail and sprinkle some personal experience for good measure.
Pre-Trip Tips for Traveling with Kids
Preparing kids mentally for the trip.
Preparation for travel is going to have the most impact on your experience, so naturally, I have the most to say about it. First and foremost, prepare your kids mentally for the trip. Initially, you will need to introduce it in a fun and exciting way. Get them to watch cartoon airplanes and such, talk to them about what and who you’re going to see and pack their suitcase with them, you get the idea! They will have much better expectations and thus be more cooperative.
Choosing a Muslim Friendly airline or rather avoiding some!
For short trips, I’d recommend booking a flight time that will sync with your child’s sleep patterns. For long flights, one of the biggest considerations for Muslim families is where to pray during transit. Choosing a transit in a Muslim friendly country could be helpful, but I would be mindful of their other services.
Keep the paperwork in one separate bag.
Keep all passports and corresponding paperwork in one separate zip lock or bag. Placing passports in a side pocket isn’t helpful as it will be sharing space with other items. This doesn’t make access to them easy and they could get misplaced in the midst of managing kids and juggling your luggage.
Let the airline know of your Halal food preferences in advance.
My favorite subject! For all the right reasons of course as I believe food is medicine. Flights and the food provided and travel in general can lead to upset stomachs so here are my recommendations:
If you take supplements or probiotics (or medication) take enough in a plastic wallet for yourself and your bubs. No need to skip anything you could easily take with you. I figure your system is already going to be overloaded with the disruption on your circadian rhythm and your food intake so offer it some help. You might prevent getting all those viruses flying around the airports!
I’m slightly obsessed with herbal teas so I also take my own organic teabags – they take up no space so why not. Just ask the air hostess to give you hot water when they are offering tea/coffee.
Email the airline with your halal food preferences at least 48 hours in advance if not already specified. Most airlines offer special meal requests and so I like to order halal and gluten-free. Regular meals seem to be slightly tastier than others, vegetarian is my second favorite. I figure gluten-free doesn’t have all the sauces/fillers that are laden with gluten so I’m ok with the compromise.
Packing list for kids.
I choose not to take the usual 7kg allowed for hand luggage on the plane. The less you have to handle, the easier you can handle your kids. The only carry on I will bring is a small backpack (No handbags as you need both hands free) Filled with mainly baby items, I typically take:
8 nappies (half a pack of wipes or less)
One change of clothes for your child that is lightweight and takes up little room.
One warm jacket each (depending on destination) that can be easily zipped up during travel as there are some cold cabins/airports. (Don’t forget a pair of socks for your child)
Travel toothbrush & paste for long flights. Some airlines offer this but I use natural toothpaste.
Healthy snacks for transit. Take some extra food for my baby as most airlines only offer baby purée food which doesn’t suffice for babies older than 1 year and under 2 years.
1-2 days worth of your usual supplements/medicine etc in small container/bag.
Passport and other necessary travel documents.
Hand sanitizer (I use a natural, paraben-free product).
1 or 2 small personal toys.
Some extra information to prepare you for your family trip.
I highly recommend booking a flight with a short transit. It’s usually a more expensive ticket but totally worth it – don’t question it! Consider a lounge service, there are all different types of options from the completely private room (just like a hotel) to open couches/ beds where you can fully lie down and just relax, though it is still communal.
If you’re not visiting family then I would highly recommend a self-catered apartment or villa over a hotel. Kids are always picky with food and having to manage your own preferences (halal, vegetarian, etc) and theirs is so much easier when you have your own kitchen. This way you always have that peace of mind if the restaurant didn’t work out!
Lastly, I’d say do as much as you can beforehand and make sure you get some good night’s sleep in before your flight.
In Trip Tips for Traveling with Kids
On the day give yourself that extra time to get to the airport with kids. Be flexible and try not to stress. It sounds cliche but the moment your kids sense your unease they will begin to associate the whole flight/holiday negatively. This could then make every small task a challenge, but if you start well it should be a very exciting experience inshAllah.
In the past, I would have brought an iPad for the kids but that’s extra hand luggage when you can just use the TV screen provided. As well as movies / TV shows there’s usually a children’s section where they can color in on the touch screen. The only problem is the earphones provided are made for adults so if your kid needs more stimulation you might want to bring the iPad. Get creative, sing rhymes and songs in a whisper, and, when you can, take them for a walk down the aisle. Use their personal items and lastly whip out the healthy snacks when they’re getting cranky.
For babies, under 2 years this is one of the best pieces of advice I have been given. Simply cover each of bubs ears with your fingers and press gently, then release. Repeat continuously during take-off and landing. This prevents ear popping and my little one really likes it.
Make sure you don’t over plan your holiday/trip. I plan one main activity for the day and if we fit in more it’s a plus. Plan to be near baby-friendly facilities, leave ample time for toilet stops / nappy changing, naps in the buggy, and take plenty of snacks.
Post Trip Tips For Traveling with Kids
This tip is actually a mid-trip one. Figure out the time zone of your destination mid-trip so you can sleep train your kids to their new sleeping pattern. Either keep them awake a little longer or encouraging them to sleep. When you arrive if you keep this up you might have killed the jet lag early. If not keep them stimulated with lots of sunlight, take them out during the day and do your best to prevent jet lag. Otherwise, you might be left with over a week of sleeplessness and cranky kids. Something I’m sure you’re already used to.
Of course, a lot of this advice is nil if you can get special help during transit! For the most part, though I hope it’s helped some mother or mother to be out there to prepare and enjoy their next trip.