Travelling to a Formula 1 race with kids
Ooohhh you’ve had kids, now you can’t leave the house, go on holiday or have any fun for the next 18 years…or that’s what we were told anyway.
However, long before children were even a twinkle in our eye, my wife and I made the decision that we wouldn’t let them rule our lives - sure you have to change, adapt and in some cases admit defeat, but there is no reason you can’t do everything you want (within reason) WITH your children.
We nodded and smiled whenever anybody told us that it’s all about to end, knowing inside we were going to do exactly what we wanted to do when that day came.
6 weeks after our little girl was born, she was on her first flight and before her first birthday, she had been to two Formula 1 races, five countries (excluding her home country) and had been on 26 individual flights.
Before you automatically decide to scrap travel plans just because you have children, don’t be so quick to listen to everybody else, you can make your own decision, and you can (quite easily), travel with young children.
So here are a few things that we have learned while attending multiple Formula 1 race weekends with children between 7 months and 2 years.
Expect them to be out of sorts! Unless you arrive a day or two before the event, your child is going to switch from jet-lagged to tired, hungry, sad, clingy and happy at the drop of a hat.
Your child will be put out
We flew to Canada from Australia with a 7-month-old, we spent a lot of time and money getting there and on paper, we thought we would get there, shower and head straight off for Practice 1…
Well, after a terrible flight, we arrived jet-lagged, she wouldn’t cooperate at all, and we ended up sleeping through Practice 1 instead. We headed to the track for the afternoon feeling refreshed and ready to conquer Montreal. Don’t be afraid to miss out on parts of the event if it means you will enjoy the rest of it more.
What do I need to pack?
How long is a piece of string? It depends on the age of the children, pack the necessities like bottles, water, and depending on the race, a jumper or raincoat. Don’t be afraid to bring their iPad or DS either as there are often slow times between races.
Remember to bring comfy walking shoes and if you need a pram, it needs to be easy to fold up, there is always lots of walking but also places where prams aren’t really designed to go. We spent a lot of time researching travel prams and almost two years later, our trusty travel pram is still one of the best “baby” purchases we made.
Parents, remember a change of clothes if you have an infant (for both the infant and yourself!), ear muffs (not earplugs) for them over the race, and something to put over the pram while they’re sleeping.
Sunscreen is important too, for all ages, and bring lots of snacks to keep them going.
That isn’t a comprehensive list and may seem pretty obvious, but re-read it before you go, because you will always forget something, and Formula 1 circuits aren’t known for selling kid-friendly products.
You may have to pay full price for their tickets
Unfortunately, most Formula 1 grandstands around the world don’t have children’s ticket prices, particularly the grandstands with a better view. General Admission will sometimes be free or discounted for children, but you haven’t travelled halfway around the world to not sit in a grandstand!
So have a look around, some grandstands may have discounted or even free children’s tickets but if you want a great view, you will most likely have to pay full price for a seat for your children too, so don’t forget to budget for it.
There will be a crowd
If your children are still in a pram, you have little to worry about. If they are walking around though, know that there are large crowds, so keep a close eye on them. If your kids are the ones that love to get lost or run off for no reason, be prepared!
For older kids, organise a meeting point and consider getting a local SIM card so they can call you if they do get lost. For younger children, toddler harnesses can be a lifesaver!
So why take the family overseas for Formula 1?
You're raising the next generation of fans, getting your children used to travel, exposing them to new places; foods; cultures; and experiences. These aren’t all Formula 1 specific, but travelling as a family can be a great experience. There are lots of reasons we would recommend taking your kids to a race weekend.
The off-track entertainment isn’t just for adults either, depending on the race, there is usually just as much entertainment for children too. Take this into consideration when planning your trip. Have a look at whichever race you plan to visit, your kids are guaranteed to have a great time, even if they don’t care about the cars.
We know that every child is different and we didn’t write this to force you into lugging your kids around the world. You know your kids, what they can and can’t handle, what they are like in crowds and where you can push the boundaries. Don’t be afraid to travel with them, take them outside of their comfort zone while you enjoy a great weekend at a world-class event.