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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Bawling children on holiday is a traveler's nightmare -- even when the little darlings are your own -- causing one in five parents to wish they hadn't ventured out the front door, a survey by Gatwick Airport in London showed this week.
The study questioned 1,000 British parents about the experiences of traveling with children to discover the main stresses and strains of family holidays -- most of which are connected to the reactions of fellow passengers.
More than half of parents have been made to feel bad when their child cries or misbehaves on holiday, and four in ten have found themselves on the receiving end of "evil stares" from other holidaymakers, the survey found.
Fellow travelers have asked one in four parents with noisy sprogs to move away from them, with one in ten being asked outright to keep their child quiet.
"We recognized that traveling on holiday can be a really stressful time, as this research has proven, and we are aiming to do all we can to make it a guilt-free experience. It's all about trying to extend those holiday endorphins," Andrea Hopkins, spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport told Reuters.
In addition, children misbehaving or crying when on the plane scares parents the most, with 62 percent admitting this is the part of traveling they fear above all else.
"Family holidays are supposed to give parents a chance to spend fun and quality time with their children but as this survey shows worries can often get in the way," Becky Wiggins, author of parenting blog English Mum, said in a statement.
"Stresses are only made worse by 'guilt-trippers' so parents are best advised to take extra precautions before setting out on their trip," she said.
To cope with the added summer holiday stress of traveling with youngsters, Wiggins offered these top tips:
1. Go with the flow and treat the journey as an adventure - if you don't get stressed, then the kids won't pick up on it.
2. Pack your child's rucksacks with interesting things to do: crayons, coloring books, a favorite book or toy (make sure you check if they want to help - although my son once packed scissors and a spud gun!)
3. Save a couple of surprises to be whipped out when things are getting stressful.
4. Most airlines load children first, but it's not always best to be first on board - sometimes taking an extra few minutes of freedom before being cooped up on a plane journey is a bonus.
5. Distribute essentials between bags - in case the one with all the important baby items goes missing.
6. Scan everything and email it to yourself - passports, tickets and travel insurance - you never know when things need replacing on holiday, and it's much easier if you have all the details.
7. When traveling with younger children, pack an emergency bag - wet wipes, tissues, change of clothes and most importantly a sealable plastic bag.
8. Leave plenty of time to get to the airport - then add an hour - airports are great places to explore and an extra hour at the airport is preferable to a meltdown in a traffic jam worrying about missing your flight.
Edited by Paul Casciato