1. You don’t have to go on a Package holiday just because you have children
Watch out for deals on flights, keep an eye on comparison companies like Skyscanner from about 3/4 months in advance. The same goes for accommodation – you can hire an entire home on Airbnb for the price of one night in some hotels – and that’s what it is a home as opposed to a hotel room. Live like a local and you’ll see a whole different side to the country you’re in! Villa’s also mean you are not all squashed into a small hotel room.
2. Making the best of your flight
If you can book a night flight – do it! You have a much better chance of your kid sleeping through most of it – if it’s long haul check if your airline provides bassinets for kids under 2 years. However, if they are big for their age, they won’t fit in and will be on your knee for the flight! Bulk head seats are a massive advantage when travelling with kids as you just have a little bit more space. If you can’t book a night flight why not book one with a long stop over? A day in another country on the way to your final destination, not only means you get more out of your holiday, it means you and your kids get a break and it makes the flights either side shorter and easier to deal with!
Pack your bag full of surprises – whether it’s sweets, a magazine or a new toy – you can pull one out if your kid is getting bored and it will distract them for a while and it makes great bribery material! Ipad’s are particularly handy, not ashamed to admit that before we took our little boy at 18months on his first flight….to Sydney, we undertook “Ipad training” in preparation! And it worked!
If your kid won’t sleep or is having a tantrum – don’t worry about it! The stigma of screaming babies on a plane, is just that – most people have been there and will sympathise! The air hostesses, particularly on long haul flights tend to be amazing and will provide food as and when if you think it’ll helps settle your child. Lots of food means a happier flight in our family. I also don’t beat myself up if it’s not a “healthy” option, it’s worth it to get to the destination as “friends”!
3. Don’t make strict plans for your first day
Kids are very flexible and will bounce back and adjust to different time zones in no time – that being said it’s better to err on the side of caution and not plan much for your first day – it gives them and you time to recover and means nobody is disappointed if the first days activities don’t go to plan! However, if they sleep well and wake up perky, it is a good idea to do something, pretty much to keep them awake and so they can adjust into the routine of the new time zone.
4. Do your research
If travelling with kids, do a quick google search to check out the airport facilities, particularly handy and reassuring to know there is a play area if you ae delayed. In addition, to know what age specific things there are for kids at your destination. You are going to have a better holiday if you can keep the kids entertained and happy, they may even give you the opportunity to do a few things you would like to do if you have a few “bribery activities” up your sleeve!
5. You don’t need to pack everything except the kitchen sink!
There are shops and washing machines abroad! Its easier to buy it over there rather than carry it or pay for excess baggage.
If you’re travelling with young children take enough nappies, wipes and milk etc. for the first few days but don’t feel you have to weigh yourself down with enough for the whole trip. Snacks and activities for the plane are vital usage of the hand luggage allowance!
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Here’s a handy list….
1. Buy a few cotbed mozzie nets. They are great for putting over beds and buggys, but were also great for putting over windows at night if you need to air the room.
2. Take your room thermometer and a selection of sleeping bags with different togs.
3. Take your own brand washing liquid if you LO has excema issues.e.g suncare
4. Try and time a feed for take off and landing. Take a lolly or sweets that older ones can suck.
5. Get to the airport in plenty of time.
6. You can take liquids and bottles through security. So bottled formula etc is ok. They have special trays for you to put them in and be ready they may make you try them.
7. You can take your own car seat and buggy – and were allowed to keep both until we boarded the plane. I took some large bin bags and sellotape to wrap around the car seat to protect the covers.
8. When booking flights – look carefully at baggage allowance with children.
9. Patch test suncream before you go so you know if you LO will have a reaction. It also gets them use to it being applied daily.
10. Get your LO used to wearing hats and sunglasses before they go away. Makes your life much easier. Mothercare ones have chin straps to help keep them on.
11. We took all our formula with us. For UHT formula, many places have restrictions on what you can buy – so we bulk ordered from Mothercare online in advance.
12. Read NHS guidance for the water to use for LOs – for formula and drinking water. Especially if they are under 6 months.
13. An inflatable swim seat is great for the outdoor pool, together with a couple of bath toys to keep them amused, it can buy you lots of time!
14. A cheap buggy is really handy and means you don’t need to lumber a heavy and bulky (and expensive) buggy with us on holiday. One that allows the baby to lie totally flat is great and can double up as a changing table!
15. Swap the usual baby changing bag with a small rucksack – much more portable for hols.
16. Old fashioned string buggy bags for £6 from Boyes – great for throwing in toys, hats, glasses etc
17. Let dad handle the explosive bum at 30,000 feet
18. Take your own bedsheets so their bed smells of home
19. Beach towels act as great black out blinds. Take pegs to attach them to blinds or curtains
20. Swimming mats make an easy portable changing mat if you don’t already have one
21. Buggy parasols can be handy but have a good look round to get the right one for your buggy.
22. A damp cold muslin is great in the buggy for hot days
23. Take your own baby monitor so you can relax in the evening
24. Spread your clothes out across suitcases in case one goes missing!
25. Take a few cheap toys. For older kids some activity books bought new for the holiday. A kindle/iPad with loads downloaded from CBeebies in advance. Comics at the airport, stickers, colouring in books, a billion snacks
27. Straws, so that you can drink from glasses/bottles more easily when you’re on the move.
28. Few favourite snacks!