For some people travelling with children can be very daunting. Where to go? What to pack? How to keep them amused on a long flight? Here is my top ten tips on how to arrive in style and with family relations still in tact!
1. Choose your holiday wisely.
The famous saying that “if the kids are happy, the parents are too” springs to mind. This can mean different things for each family. Some parents love kids clubs, as it gives them much needed quiet time. Others are happy if there is a nice beach or swimming pool. Some family resorts now have extraordinary facilities, from stage schools and swimming lessons to football academy’s and even water parks on site. These resorts are not for everyonem, but you are guaranteed the kids will never be bored! However, if you have teenagers, you will probably find that free wifi is the most important holiday accessory for them!
2. Don’t let the flying time put you off.
I am often asked about holidays with short flights, the Algarve and Majorca would be the obvious choices. However make sure you check out the transfer times from the airport. Some resorts like Puerto Pollensa (one of my favourite family resorts) in Majorca or Lagos in Portugal both have long transfer times. You may find you are ruling out going to Lanzarote because flying time is 4hours 15 minutes yet the transfer from the airport to Puerto del Carmen is only 10 minutes. The total journey time for all three holidays is the same. If you have young kids the chances are they will sleep on the plane so waking them when you land, only to take a long bus journey. You would have to ask yourself which is actually the better option?
3. Check that your passports are valid at the time of booking.
Also ensure that your kids have their own passports. It is necessary for most countries now. Check visas and make sure you have adequate travel insurance. Check the names are spelt correctly on flight tickets, the hotel you have booked is correct and any special requests are noted. If you have requested a cot and you are arriving late at night, you could email the hotel and make sure it will be in your room when you get there.
4. Plan your trip to the airport.
Make sure there are no road works on the way to the airport and check which terminal you are leaving from. You don’t want to arrive at the airport late, this increases stress levels and inevitably ends in a bad start to the trip. Depending on your departure time it might be a good idea to arrive early and have a bite to eat, I find that it a nice relaxing start to the holiday. Check out more details and airport tips by clicking here.
5. Use your kids hand baggage allowances.
Let the kids pack some toys into their own cases. They will love the independence of packing and wheeling it around the airport. Trunkis are great, they can also be used as a seat which can come in very handy! Kids will also pack the toys they want to bring so you won’t be scolded when you arrive for forgetting the latest barbie or transformer! If you are travelling with young kids, I would suggest that you keep their toys in your handbag. Speaking from experience, opening trunkis that are full of crayons and small action figures on the plane is not a great idea – they will end up everywhere!
6. Bring plenty of toys / to play with on the airplane.
Old fashioned crayons are hard to beat, kids of most ages still like to colour and a new colouring book won’t break the bank. For toddlers I find the water based aquadoodles great and very easy to use. Puzzle and sticker books are another good choice and at a very low price. Most kids now can play games on mobile phones, iPads etc. Download the latest peppa pig or minecraft game before you go, or even download a new movie and surprise them with that. A Verbatim MEDIA SHARE is much handier than a portable DVD player. It creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere. It is great to have on the plane, in restaurants, or in the car.
7. Prepare for flight delays and the unexpected.
Make sure you have plenty of nappies, wipes ( don’t go anywhere without them!) calpol, baby formula, and of course food. No matter how much or little your kids eat, you need to make extra allowances for boredom! Just when you think they couldn’t possibly eat anymore, they announce they are hungry again. It also passes the time if you are waiting on luggage, buses or particularly in the dreaded car hire queue! All of this extra food can of course translate into messy clothes, travel sickness or even toilet accidents. So no matter what their age, a change of clothes is a MUST!
8. Check out the resort you are going to and pack the appropriate supplies.
If there is a shingly beach, bring surf shoes for the kids. Bring a good insect repellent. If you are going to a country where there are mosquitoes I would suggest bug bands. (Check out my blog post on the best products on the market) Kids keep them on all day, some of them even look ‘cool’! There are numerous available now, Boots have their own brand but I find the family pack is a great choice. It goes without saying to bring sunscreen but some are better than others. When my kids were small I loved Parasol, it was so easy to apply and great for sensitive skin. The all in one swimsuits are great, and even the surf tops for older kids. You don’t need to worry about too much sun, and the kids will thank you for not applying cream to them every hour!
9. Check you have adequate supplies for babies and toddlers.
Nappies, wipes, formula are readily available in most family resorts. If your child has sensitive skin you may need to bring your own brand but I find in most cases this is not necessary. The ready made formula is so handy, likewise the Avent 3 scoop powder dispensers. Try your baby on some ready made food pouches before you go. There are some excellent healthy options on the market now. If they have tried them before, they are more likely to eat them abroad. These can be life savers on the plane journey, or in resort if you haven’t made it to the supermarket yet. Don’t forget disposable bed mats, these are a must if your child has just recently been toilet trained. The warm climate generally means a larger intake of liquids and if having late meals, accidents are inevitable.
10. Relax and enjoy it.
Kids sense it if you are stressed and will act up. Don’t panic if your child cries on the plane or misbehaves. People who have kids have all been there and completely understand what you are going through. Remember that in a few hours you will be relaxing, having a glass of wine and enjoying the sunshine! Family holidays are a special time in both your life and your kids lives and unfortunately don’t happen often enough. They are made of special memories – make sure they are good ones!