Happy holiday travels with little people in tow

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Hi! I'm Sandy (although lots of people call me 'Auntie') and my husband works offshore in oil/gas on a 4 in 2 roster. We've been together for 27 years and are the proud parents of two daughters, aged 19 and 21. I wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO (fly-in, fly-out).

I was standing at the airport one night recently with my two grown daughters, and they were amazed at the number of young mums travelling with little babies on a late-night flight that got into Sydney in the early hours of the morning.

Sandy's essential care kit for FIFO workers...

Of course their words were: "I hope they are not sitting with that screaming kid near me!" Haha their time will come!! They will grow to understand that to fly at night is the best time, as generally the baby will sleep and everyone should remain happy. There is the need for sleep for the baby and the chance of little distractions as everyone else on board will be asleep.

We have travelled long distances with our girls by various means (yacht, plane and car).

There are basics that can help each time:

  • Pack a changes of clothes for mum and children. You never know when someone is going to throw up on you.
  • Paracetamol is great for plane trips and the chance the little one might suffer from ear ache. Remember to have them breastfeed on take off and landing. If they are a older then a boiled sweet does the same job.
  • Have a bag filled with snacks - not too sugary as there might be that sugar rush that other travellers may not be so used to. Include things that may not normally be on the menu but are a firm favourite. Just make sure no preparation is required. Cut sandwiches with cookie cutters to make interesting shapes. Ask them to help and at least that way they will get what they want. Seal everything in snaplock bags. Don't put all the sandwiches in one bag as they may all be gone in one go. Don't forget to drink plenty of fluids when flying so as not to suffer from dehydration.
  • Wet wipes are essential for any trip. These were not around when the girls were little and we used a damp facecloth in a sealed plastic bag. Also a new chux cloth, kept damp in a sealed bag. Now days you also have those little bottles of hand sanitizer. Wet wipes can be used to clean, cool and freshen.
  • Games to keep them occupied (if electronic, make sure they're full charged!) Old fashioned card games or colouring books are also wonderful. Don't forget the pencil sharpener if taking pencils. What about a new book? Have you ever visited the science shops, you can discover some very interesting treats in here and they have the extra advantage of teaching children at the same time. Origami was always a favourite with our daughters. Have a look at Spotlight or a craft shop and you might discover a new activity. Try to avoid games and toys with small parts as these are bound to be eaten by the carpet. Have a couple of new toys that can be released when meltdown point is about to be reached.
  • Essential to any trip is the favourite toy or blanket. I always tried to keep this hidden until the need really arises. You know - the back up plan!
  • If you're driving with older children, include them in the making of plans. Give them a map so the can mark off the route and it gives them something to talk about with friends when they return home. You can even play the old-fashioned games along the way. Eye spy etc.
  • We had a pass-the-parcel game that was a favourite with the girls. The treats were packed in layers of paper (old kindy paintings, newspapers and wrapping paper). In the layers were little delights - typical party items from the supermarket or whatever was fad little toy at that stage. Clues were then given, such as "take off a layer when you see a brown cow" or maybe the first one to see a red car. Every few layers there was a sweet treat but not enough to send them too crazy. There would always be money at the end to spend on the trip. This was a firm favourite and is still remembered fondly after all these years.

It's really important to remember that children sense when parents are stressed. Don't let the two-hour delay phase you too much. Children can sense this and the delay could soon develop into more than you expected. Make allowances for unexpected events along the way.

Also ensure your destination has accommodation and facilities for children. When out and about seeing the sights, make sure you include all family members in activities - maybe visit the museum one day, and a water park the next.

Most of all: be prepared!

More from Auntie Sandy:

If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!