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Learningtosayno7

Expert tips for travelling overseas with 4 kids

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born.a.girl

I found our Kathmandu packing cells invaluable. Bought them as they were ridiculously discounted, being last year's colours (wtf?).

 

 

Largest was for laundry, next one down all of my clothes which could be rolled up - worked amazingly well, next one down all of my underwear. V. important to know that you've got clean knickers for the next day without having to fossick through the whole suitcase.

 

Clip lock bags could work nearly as well, esp with six people. That's another thing OP, clip lock bags, lots of them. Large ones are great for washing not yet dry. And a handful of plastic coat hangers for drying stuff in places where you can't remove the hanger from the wardrobe.

 

 

With only two adults we could manage our laundry differently from those with kids - took clothes off, dumped them into the shower, even if it was the day we were leaving. Rolled up in towels, jumped upon, packed in plastic and voila hung out to dry at next destination.

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Claudia Jean

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Edited by Claudia Jean

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Inkogneatoh

While I've never traveled with any number of kids, I have spent a lot of time flying with a person with a wheelchair.

 

In addition to the "mixing clothes" bit, when returning home or shifting locations, I pack the dirty clothes in one bag (or section as we use backpacks with multiple pockets a lot), the clean in another, and where possible the "it's been worn, but can go again" in a third. By pack, I mean it's treated like clean and rolled tight. Dirty undies are often rolled in pants or shirts, socks are stuffed in the small holes.

 

We do the mixed clothes thing as we are both slightly larger, and there is no way known to man, I'm traipsing round a strange city at half a hour before the shops close looking for new underwear and clothes so I can finally shower the funk of running around an airport pushing a wheelchair and being jammed into a tin can hurling through the sky all day. I also split the dressing kit, and make sure that not all of the chargers and bank cards go in the same bag (even though they are carry on). I also know as a child the biggest melt down travelling would have been being told I have no clothes of my own, I can't get you any now, you need to wear your bothers or the overly large ones of a parent.

 

Call me paranoid, but if the airlines can lose a bright purple wheelchair, I don't trust all my luggage will get where it is meant to be until I see it.

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Lifesgood

Another vote for packing cells, they were brilliant for separating everyone's clothes. One large one each for clothes, a small one for underwear. One more for shoes.

 

We travelled with 3 medium sized bags for 10 weeks, plus 3 day packs. This meant that DH, DD and I could each roll one bag along and carry one daypack. It made us very mobile.

 

I used a small packing cell for all the electronic accesssories - travel plugs, power board, phone/iPad chargers.

 

I also got the kids an Instamatic camera each and a couple of photo cartridges to take snaps to stick in their travel journals.

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Wahwah

I'd echo the comments on rethinking the suitcases, especially because your older kids will be capable of managing a suitcase without a problem. And we do what the PP does - dirty clothes consolidated in one suitcase until we can wash them. Dirty clothes take up more room because we put them in a laundry bag rather than packing them like clean clothes.

 

We took two small suitcases (like 62cm) and one medium/larege suitcase for four people travelling in Europe for 5 weeks. None of them ended up being heavy and our 10 year old easily handled one of the small ones. Left plenty of room for anything we bought while away. The kids shared a suitcase and I used cheap packing cells to separate their clothes so they didn't have to rummage through everything.

 

In our kids' backpacks on the plane we have books, pencils, notebook, iPod, mentors, plastic 'spew bags' (because it can happen anytime for us) and spare undies, t-shirt, socks and warm top. I carry the extra snacks with me, but often they get eaten after landing while we stand around at customs etc.

 

If you live in Melbourne or Sydney there's a store called Daiso which has a lot of cheap packing cells and those blow up neck pillows which were handy on the plane.

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sueb31

Have done 9 long-haul return trips and about 5 x 4-5 hour flights with children over the years.

 

Love packing cells. I use one large one for each person. They do take up a bit more room - this means that if I do some souvenir shopping I just pack outside of the cells on our plane trip home.

 

Don't forget to think about how many suitcases fit in the back of a car / taxi / whatever method of transport you will need when there.

Plan your washing arrangements as best you can. This will also dictate how much you have to pack. I cannot tell you who much easier life is if i have access to a washing machine. I take cheap plastic children's coat hangers to hang things up to dry - worst case scenario can hang them in the cupboard. The changes fit in the outside zipped pocket of one of the suitcases.

 

For 2 adults and 3 children we use 1-2 medium suitcases and a duffel bag checked in (often taking hiking boots, camera tripod etc). Each child has a small backpack as hand luggage. 1 rolling hand luggage bag and 1 small backpack between 2 adults as hand luggage. This all fits in the boot of a station wagon sized car. It wouldn't fit in the back of some SUV's though.

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heatherbell89

Haven't read all responses so I apologise if I repeat anything. Also apologise for the fact that its really long!!

 

We travelled to Europe for six weeks with a then 7yr old, 4.5yr old and 18 month twins. We took one bag for all the kids one for me one for hubby which were checked in. Then I had nappy bag and hang bag, DH had a back pack, each of the big kids had a backpack. All of that went on the plane with us. I actually had pretty much nothing in my hand bag except nappies. We also had to take strollers which they allowed us to keep until the gate as we boarded the plane then stowed for us.

 

In on of the suitcases, we had a collapsible totally floppy bag which we thought might come in handy ("someone" in our family likes to shop and particularly likes Next clothes for kids......not mentioning my name at all ;) ) We also packed at least one outfit for everyone in the other bags so DH had one for me and each child, children's bag has one for me and DH and mine had one for each child and DH. And we collected every single complimentary toothbrush/paste and spread them across bags too.

 

On the plane the big kids were totally happy with having the freedom to choose whatever they wanted to do on the entertainment system. Their back packs had heaps of different activities, paper, colouring stuff, a journal, uno, normal cards, and snacks as well. They didn't touch any of the activities except the travel journal (I had DD do that as 'schooling' work) for the entirety of the trip an we threw out a lot of the papery activities about halfway through as they were just dead weight. I had borrowed a whole heap of readers from the school a few weeks prior and took photos of them on the ipad for my DD to do but in all honesty I think we sat down maybe three times. We were just go, go, go the whole time.

 

Foodwise, we travelled Emirates on the A380. The kids were served first and given the same amount of food as adults, PLUS an entire box full of goodies such as kit kats, dried fruits, crackers and cheese etc. The downside was that the trays were left in front of the kids for ages, as the plane is so huge. They would have finished eating before we were served and then get annoyed that it took about 45min - hr to get cleared away after we were served. Not much they could do about it, purely down to size of the plane.

 

We took our own empty Tupperware bottles, had a feeling if there was any turbulence those delightful little cups of drinks would be all over us!

 

We all had lollies for take off / landing (well twins didn't they had dummies) my go to is Wurthers Original. they last the longest.

 

Lastly we all had one outfit in our carry on (two for the babies) just in case our luggage was lost / something was spilt.

 

I didn't give the kids any medicine at all but did have nuerofen in my bag just in case. I also had lipgloss, a couple of new toys wrapped in present paper - one for before we took off which was a pilot barbie for my DD cant remember what it was for DS, oh and I made pretend passports. They had to spot different things which started in the airport and then put a sticker to say they had spotted them. They had a lot of fun with those, and its good for my DS as he was prereader/writer but still has a travel journal of sorts of things we saw. Then when we got on the plane there were the lollies wrapped up and I think a lipgloss....cant remember but things we needed anyway but just wanted to keep the excitement up.

 

For travelling, DD had her own camera which she had free range over, some of the photos are awesome most are of the back of heads lol but its lucky we had it as we used all of our memory card and spare card so had to use hers in the end.

 

We also had the Ikea zippable luggage bags actually think they might be toiletries bags, to use for dirty clothes. It worked a treat and I loved that they were closed off from the rest of the clothes. We packed enough clothes for the longest stretch between possible places to wash plus one outfit. Think the longest stretch was eight days, so packed nine outfits for big people, the twins had about five extra outfits :)

 

My last top tip is don't bother to plan too many activities for them to fill in travelling or waiting time. Or kids were more happy people watching and coming up with stories of where those people were going on holiday, watching planes take off etc and yours being elder would be even more able to self entertain..

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gemgirl

Took four kids to Europe - all very young, incapable of carrying/ wheeling bags. DP had 1, 1 had 1 and we had 1 for the four kids combined - given they're small, clothes are small. But I don't understand why your older two can't have their own bags. I travelled as a child, myself, and always had my own bag, on wheels.

 

Anyway… if you're taking any trains (e.g. England - Paris), you'll need to be able to easily handle your luggage AND any kids that need support. With lots of young kids, and lots of luggage, that can be a challenge. Learnt that the hard way!

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luckyducky

We travel internationally regularly with our 5 kids. (13, 11, 9, 5 and 4)

 

Each child has their own day pack - small backpack

Older kids have a magazine, some pens and some nibbles (dry biscuits, chips, fruit and nuts). We have a strict NO Lolly policy on planes....

Little kids have a spare pair of pants (leggings) and undies, colouring books and pencils. HEAPS of sugarfree snacks too. Keep their belies full wit healthy snacks and you will survive :)

 

All kids are in charge of their own backpacks at all times.

 

We pack lightly and use the laundries overseas. Its much easier to send off your laundry and pay to have it washed and folded than to lug around copious amounts of clothing.

 

Everything we take matches (this sounds dumb but hear me out)... all daypacks are same brand just different colors. We have matching suitcases that are clearly marked so when collecting luggage we know what is ours. Its great when they all come of the plane at collection and easier to spot.

 

Your kids are a good age to travel with, do not stress too much, those gorgeous adult type colouring books keep them going for hours, and they will just watch back to back movies on the plane anyway. As long as they have enough food, they will be fine.

 

Enjoy your trip, the kids will love it :)

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triangle

If most of your stuff is in one suitcase and the airline loses your luggage then what will you do?

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Coffeegirl

We always carry a change of clothes in our carry ons. Light t-shirt, pair of undies and a pair of shorts, or light pants. After DD chucked up all over herself and I half way between Sydney and LA, it was well worth the hassle.

 

Carry or wear a light warm jumper onto the plane, regardless of destination. I like light wool/cashmere ones. They can be worn, used as a pillow, or as a blanket. It's 99% of the time, really cold on the international flights.

 

All liquids that you are carrying onto the plane, in a single ziplock bag. (Toothpaste, hand sanitiser, kids Panadol etc) That way you aren't unpacking 4 different bags at security. Also, any travel aerosols in carry ons must have lids attached. Shoes that are easy to take off and put back on again while juggling kids and carry ons.

 

Pack clothes that can be layered, rather than lots of heavy outerwear (unless you really need it for extreme weather or skiing). Singlet, t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt, warm jumper can be just as warm as a heavy winter jacket depending on the season, and easier to wear in warmer climates. If you do need heavy jumpers, than only pack one or two and rewear them. They don't get smelly as you are wearing tshirts under, and only need to be washed if they have things spilled on them.

 

Invest in a small set of durable luggage scales. These have saved us hundreds in excess baggage charges and hassle at the airport. https://www.bagworld.com.au/shop/detail/samsonite-foldable-digital-luggage-scale-black/

 

If you and the teens have iPods, phones etc, buy a double or triple charger that you can plug into a single travel charger. Like this. http://www.harveynorman.com.au/phones-accessories-gps/mobile-phone-accessories/cables-chargers-adapters/mbeat-gorilla-power-4-port-world-charger.html

Saves fighting over who can charge what.

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Mpjp is feral

We go for a month at a time and the best thing I have learned is to travel carry on luggage only. Each of us get the largest allowable carry on suitcase + a back pack. And we are ruthless in what we take. There's lots of tricks - we have those north face jackets that squish up into a tiny sleeping bag - and hang that from the backpacks. You'd get more in 6 carry ons than one large bag anyway.

 

No checking in luggage, no chance of airlines losing it, no waiting around for bags on carosels - arrive and you are on your way. At your kids ages they can be responsible for their own bags.

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eachschoolholidays

That sounds like a lot of luggage! One thing to think about is how your luggage will go when you are over there ie does it have to fit into a car, do you have to get it onto public transport eg local buses etc.

 

We only have 2 kids but have taken them to Europe 3 times.

We take 2 large suitcases. When I am planning the trip, I make sure I can do washing every 4-5 days. In some cities, like Prague, it's not overly expensive to leave your washing at the laundromat in the morning and pick it up in the evening - washed, dried and folded. Magic! If you are staying in apartments or using laundromats where you do the washing yourself, make sure you take pre-measured powder or tablets.

 

If your kids are older, I would say they can take a backpack between 2. DH takes a 'good' daypack from Kathmandu which we also use to carry lunches, water, maps etc when we are wandering cities. I take my large handbag.

 

Take a sharp knife (with a sheath) and large plastic plate for cutting in. Then you can make your own lunches in a park. Just make sure you put the knife in your checked in luggage!

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Lokum

 

Call me paranoid, but if the airlines can lose a bright purple wheelchair, I don't trust all my luggage will get where it is meant to be until I see it.

 

Did this happen???!!!

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Inkogneatoh

Did this happen???!!!

 

Yep!!

To start with, Mum can walk short distances, but only about the length of the house, and can not do stairs of any sort. Mum had been flown down to hospital for a fortnight in Brisbane by the Flying doctors. I went down for a week, taking her chair with me as check in, but had to leave due to the G20, and there being no accommodation. When Mum was discharged, she flew back commercial, solo. As a result, when she got to check in, she was made get out of her chair, and into one of the airport ones. She made it back home and her chair didn't come with her. After about a hour of panicked calls (because hey, it's a wheelchair, it's not super easy to replace and kind of essential), and some "polite" yelling (because it really wasn't the fault of the check in girl at the regional airport), her chair was found. Sitting behind the check in desk at Brisbane. It was nearly 24 hours before it was returned to us. She now refuses to get out of her chair until we get to the plane door, and they don't argue with her anymore. And yes, losing her chair is the more minor infraction, and they are still who we prefer to fly with.

 

The other major airline have tried to refuse her to fly with them twice. Once because they already had 2 assisted passengers booked and had lost the wheelchair request from the Hospital Travel office, and once because they didn't like her medical certificate. That had been issued only a couple of hours before when she was discharged from a major hospital. She had had exploratory bladder surgery, involving no incisions, and her lines had been removed. The second one, she was also flying home solo after the RFD took her down. Not only was she wet from the rain as she had to make her own way in from where the taxi had dropped her off, while they quizzed her, but she was taken and left at the wrong gate. She queried the gate, but the person just told her it was the right one, and left. When she finally waved someone down to tell them that she was at the wrong gate, and they where paging her, she was asked "Well, why are you here and not there?".

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