• Shades of Black

Travelling While Black... With Small Children

So we're nearing the end of summer in the UK (I'm expecting - hoping - for a couple of sunny weeks in late September/early October!) and lots of us are going on holiday or making plans to. Here at Shades of Black Parenting we've tried to help you out - we've been through the stress of travel preparation and research so you don't have to!

In addition to our podcast episode, we've put together check-lists for travelling with little ones - one for babies and one for toddlers.

Below are our top 5 tips for travelling with the kids:

1. Make sure you sort out passports and visas well ahead of time

We've all been, or known someone who has been, caught up in a tricky predicament where they've got organised and booked the family holiday, only to realise at the last minute that someone's passport is out of date or doesn't have at least 6 months on it. Or, you realise that the country you're travelling to requires a visa.

Remember that for children, their passports last only 5 years; so if you were super speedy and got that passport when they born, and they're now in Reception/Year One, you need to make sure that you renew their passport as soon as possible. The quickest you can get a child passport renewed is by using the 1 week fast track option, however, for adults there are options to renew the same day. In the age of #Brexit, there is lots of uncertainty, so make sure everyone in the family has at least 6 months remaining on their passport.

Find out whether the country you're visiting requires visas on the Government's very handy travel website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

2. Whether you pack everything required for your holiday or you buy the essentials at your destination - be prepared

If you've listened to our Travelling While Black episode, you would know that I like to pack everything we might need as a family from toiletries to vitamin tablets (seven tablets for seven days!), whereas Ola prefers to streamline the process by packing only what she'll need on the first day or so, as well as the personal/unique items, and then buying everything else at her destination. Whether you do it my way or Ola's way, it's best to be prepared in advance. Print off our checklists to help think about what you might need to pack or to buy.

Make sure your hand luggage is sorted with things you need for the plane/car/train/coach/ferry. If you have checked baggage, make sure all non-essential liquids over 100ml and sharp objects like tweezers are placed in there (I've had to dispose of a couple of expensive make-up items and luxurious hair oils due to shoddy packing!).

3. Toiletting - Hygiene matters!

I'm a self-confessed germaphobe when it comes to public toilets. When my daughter reached toddler-hood and potty-training time came along, I was seriously dreading the time when I would have to take her to use a public toilet. I'm aware my fears are totally irrational, but I did come across a total #pottytraininglifesaver! Introducing the #Potette...

The Potette can be used as training seat - just put it on top of the toilet seat and your child can hold on to the sides of the Potette for balance. It can be used as a standalone potty - you just use one of the disposable bags to collect your child's... offloads! We've used it outdoors, in the car and in public toilets where the hygiene standards left a lot to be desired. I would so recommend it, especially for travelling!

In addition to the travel potty, you want to make sure you have wipes handy, as well as antibacterial gel and a small packet of tissues. Encourage the whole family to wash their hands as frequently as possible as you travel. I cannot count the number of times we went out as a family to dinner or an excursion for example, and after finally getting to use a toilet, found there was no soap or toilet roll anywhere!

4. Comfortable travel at your destination is important too!

On our first trip as a family of four, I knew that we needed to make sure that when we went on walks or excursions, we all needed to be comfortable and secure. Our baby was just coming up to 5 months then so we took our baby carrier, to make sure we could get around easier.

Even though our firstborn was 4 years old and no longer using a pushchair at home, I knew that she was likely to get tired more easily from all the activity and excitement from the day, so I looked for a stroller that would provide enough support for a baby as well as carry the weight of a 20kg+ child. It also needed to be lightweight, sturdy, fold easily, have decent sun protection and a rain cover, and also manoeuvre easily on difficult terrain. So eventually we found the MacLaren Quest, which made our lives so much easier!

5. When it comes to your kids' hair, keep it super simple!

Obviously this will depend on the type of holiday you're going on but if you're going on an activity based holiday with swimming pools, beaches, or camping, then it's best to keep the kids' hair in very basic styles (but if you're going for a family wedding or a special occasion, then please do go all out with your children's hair!).

Ola kept her two year old's natural hair in straight back cornrows, whilst I kept my four year old's hair in loose twists. I took a leave-in conditioner/moisturiser, as well as a hair oil mixture of grapeseed oil, olive oil, castor oil and jojoba oil. I did have to wash my daughter's hair on holiday a couple of times to get dirt, sand and chlorine out (I used African black soap as shampoo), so having the leave-in conditioner and oil meant that I could quickly do the LOC method and lock-in moisture in her cute, juicy twists!

Hairstyles that I would say are a no-no for small children on this type of active holiday include hair extensions, hair beads and leaving hair in an afro puff or out. This latter style may be fine for children with looser curls or finer strands, but for children with tighter curls and/or thicker strands, avoid detangling and general stress by twisting or cornrowing your child's hair! So that's it from us! Let us know what you think of our tips and leave some of your own below!

And don't forget to listen to, subscribe and rate the podcast!

Until next time!

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We desire to bequest two things to our children - the first one is roots; the other one is wings.

~Sudanese Proverb