Towie's Ferne McCann's tips on travelling abroad with a young child
Reality TV star Ferne McCann talks to Lauren Taylor about long plane trips with her toddler and how travelling has changed since she became a mum
AS ANYONE with children knows, one of the many things that completely changes when you become a parent is travel. It's goodbye to spontaneous, last-minute mini breaks, make-it-up-as-you-go-along backpacking or partying on a beach into the small hours, and hello military-style organisation.
Former Towie star Ferne McCann gave birth to her first child, Sunday, in November 2017, and is raising her as a single parent.
McCann and Sunday have just returned from a four-day trip in Japan, exploring Kyoto and Tokyo too.
We caught up with her to find out what travelling with her toddler was like.
:: How was the long flight with a little one?
"This is the first really long-haul flight we've taken together – I have to admit, I was a little nervous. It was 13 hours, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well Sunday coped with it.
"I was lucky enough to take my best friend Ellis away with me, and it was really helpful to have someone there to help. If you can, it's always worth travelling with a friend or family member when you've got a young child with you. It makes the experience far less stressful for everyone!
"Although I try and limit Sunday's time on a tablet or phone, a few cartoons, games or audio books are a good way to keep them entertained. And take their best cuddly toy or blanket that they normally sleep with – Sunday's Teddy 'BunBun' was an absolute life saver when it came to getting her settled.
"Another tip would be to pack their favourite snacks in your carry-on case, we know all too well kids can be fussy when they're in a new environment, and you're never 100 per cent sure whether they'll like the aeroplane food, or be willing to try it."
:: Is Japan is a child-friendly destination?
"Definitely – there is so much to explore in Japan and it was an amazing place to take Sunday. All of the restaurants were really accommodating when it came to finding something for Sunday to eat, and it was easy to take her stroller with us wherever we visited, whether we were exploring the bamboo forest or taking the bullet train to Japan to look around Toyko. In Kyoto, there were also loads of kids' activities to get Sunday involved in that she absolutely loved, from matcha making to origami."
:: What were Sunday's favourite parts of the trip?
"She absolutely loved it in Tokyo. It's such an amazingly weird and wonderful place to be, with all of the quirky cafes and colourful streets. She loved all of the sights and sounds and couldn't stop dancing to the music in the Kawaii Monster Cafe, she had the best time. She tried lots of different Japanese food – one night we got to experience a seven-course meal. She was really curious and loved it, it was so lovely to see!"
:: What are the biggest challenges when travelling with a child?
"I have to be so much more organised, from making sure we have everything Sunday could possibly need with us, to ensuring we leave enough time before we fly or catch a train, as travelling with a little one takes longer than travelling solo. Finding a location and accommodation that's child friendly was luckily super-easy."
:: And the best bits?
"I've had the luxury of travelling to some amazing destinations; making memories and exploring the world with Sunday is something I'm extremely passionate about. She's my little travel buddy and there's nothing I love more than seeing the smile and excitement on her face when we visit somewhere new, or when she says a new word as a result of where we've been.
"Japan has been on my travel bucket list for years and it's a dream come true to bring Sunday along with me."
:: Do you think it's important to show Sunday different cultures while she's young?
"Absolutely, I love travelling and always have done. I think it's so important that Sunday gets to meet new people, experience new things and sample different cultures, as I truly believe it shapes you as a person. She's a really sociable child and I credit that in part to the people she's met and the things she's got to experience so far.
"I am relieved that travelling to Japan was such a success, as it was far from home and a completely different holiday from any I've been on with Sunday. Japan provided the perfect stimulation for her, as she was captivated the whole time with so much going on, not just with the busyness of it all but with the natural side of it too. I'm glad I decided to take us out of our comfort zone – it's definitely made me feel more confident to venture off on more adventures with Sunday."
:: Ferne McCann and daughter Sunday explored Japan with Booking.com