travelling with kids

Family HolidaysTravel Tips

Top Tips for Travelling With Kids

airport with children

Travelling with kids can be daunting, so check out my top tips to help make your journey a little easier.

 

Before you go:

Discuss what type of holiday you want with your partner. Many parents book the top family complexes because they think they need to. A kids pool may be all you need. Kid clubs can be handy, but many only start at age 3, you will need a specific club or crèche that caters for babies and toddlers. If travelling with an infant, ask yourself are you going to leave your baby in a crèche? So many parents don’t even use the facilities on offer.
 

 

 
There will be many future holidays where you need to book the best family complexes, where slides in the pool and mini discos will be the best part of your child’s holiday, but if your children are young, why not take advantage while you can and book a holiday that suits you too! Talk to your kids, ask them what they want from a holiday, it may just be free WiFi!

travelling with kids

 

 

 

Check your airlines baggage allowance:

Many airlines allow you to bring a buggy / stroller as well as one piece of equipment, i.e car seat, booster seat or travel cot, separate to your baggage allowance. Aer Lingus insist that infants cabin baggage must be included in your own allowance, while Ryanair allow an additional 5kg, free of charge. Airlines baggage policy, child’s meals and seat requests all vary, so when travelling with kids, it is important to check with the airline you are flying with.

travelling with kids
 

 

 

Don’t be put off by long flights when travelling with kids:

With the exception of the crawling age (usually 7 – 12 months), travelling with babies and toddlers on airplanes should not be a big ordeal. In most cases they will have a nap and once you bring plenty of snacks and toys to keep them entertained, it is usually, in my opinion, fairly straightforward. Many people choose to book short flights to Majorca or the Algarve (2 and a half hours), but then spend 2 hours on a coach to get to their resort. Personally I would prefer to spend 4 hours on a plane to the Canary Islands and take a 10 minute taxi ride to my accommodation.  
 

 

 
If you are flying to the USA, try to fly direct where possible. Being able to clear customs in Ireland before you fly is a life-saver. There is nothing worse when you are travelling with kids, than having to queue for 90 minutes to clear customs, when you arrive at your destination.

We flew via Heathrow to San Francisco last year and we barely made the connection, we literally had to run onto the plane. Athough we made the flight, our bags didn’t! We queued for 90 minutes at customs, only to find our bags were not on the carousel! We had no luggage for two days. I’m a firm believer that families should fly direct where possible. If you can’t, allow plentyy of connecting time between flights.

Read my top tips for long flights here.

travelling with kids
 

 

 
Ditch the trunkis:

Did you know that a 20kg checked bag to the Canary Islands is €110 during the summer months? I have many travel tips for travelling with kids, but one of my favourites is to invest in light weight hand luggage! Get rid of the trunkis as soon as your children are able to wheel heavier cases. Kids like wheeling their own cases anyway and if you invest in the best lightweight suitcase available, you can save a fortune on checked baggage charges. I tell my children they can bring whatever fits in their case, this usually works out well when packing! Buy a portable luggage scales and bring it with you to avoid any stress thinking your luggage may be over weight. You can buy them for less than €10.

travelling with kids
 

 

 

Travelling with kids on city breaks:

If travelling on a city break, choose an early flight home. Once you have checked out of the hotel, the kids will just want to go home and you will spend a fortune trying to amuse them on the last day. The €30 saving you thought you made by coming back on the later flight, believe me, you will spend it twice over. For city breaks where there is a lot of walking involved, buy a cheap fold up scooter from Smyths for €15. Depending on your weight allowance, leave it behind you if necessary.
 

 

 
Try to fit some sightseeing in the morning while the kids are fresh and plan an activity for them in the afternoon – a visit to a park, zoo or kids attraction is ideal. Give them maps and let them help plan your day. My kids bring cameras with them and enjoy taking pictures and selfies. Encourage them to take selfies in front of famous landmarks, they can show them to their friends or teachers when they get home.

Top ten city breaks for families
 Check out my top 10 city breaks for families here.

 

 

 

Always bring lots of supplies when travelling with kids:

Although I would like to say that my kids don’t need electronic devices on holidays, unfortunately, they do! We invested in a Media share many years ago and we don’t leave home without it. It is a small portable device that creates it’s own WiFi network. Children, or adults, can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. It is really compact so it is much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.
 

 

 
If travelling on an airplane with babies or toddlers, make sure you bring ample snacks. Children are always hungrier when they travel. I suggest bringing twice what you think you might need, in case of delays. A new toy or colouring / activity book is also a good idea and whatever you do, don’t forget wipes and a change of clothes!

travel hacks
 

 

 

Email the hotel before you go:

Avoid bringing the kitchen sink! Most hotels have baby equipment, so you wont have to bring your own. These are not always advertised in brochures, incase many families ask for buggies, sterilisers or bottle warmers at the same time. Call or email the hotel before you go and ask them what equipment they have. Pre book it if possible.
 

 

 

Like this post? You  might like these too:

Top tips about travelling with babies and toddlers 

Tips for driving with babies and small children.

 

Like Travel Tips ? See more here.

 

 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

Travel Tips

My Favourite Travel Hacks As Discussed on Newstalk

travel hacks

I discussed my favourite Travel Hacks on Newstalk FM. Check out my top tips and tricks to save you time, money and make your next trip away a little easier.

 

Compare Like with Like

 

Tour Operators / Travel Agents v Booking direct.

Many travel agents and tour operators packages include checked baggage and transfers. If you need to pay for a checked bag with Aer Lingus, it will cost you €110 to Lanzarote for 20kg in July. Likewise if you are staying in the North of Majorca or the west coast of the Algarve, it could cost €200 for return airport transfers. The cheap deal you thought you had managed to get direct, may not be so cheap afterall.

USA & Long haul flights:

It is important to compare like with like on long haul flights as checked baggage and meals is no longer standard. With low cost carriers like WOWair and Norwegian now offering regular flights from Ireland to the USA, you need to compare what you are getting versus flying direct with other carriers who include meals, seats and checked baggage. Norwegian are charging an additional €130 on a return flight to New York for a 20kg checked bag, seat reservation and a meal on board. They also fly into Stewart Airport which is 90 minutes from New York city, and have no inflight entertainment on board… WOW air fly into JFK but they only allow you bring a hand bag with their cheaper air fares. You need to add on a carry on bag and a checked bag if required. The cost for a carry on, checked bag and a standard seat is €150 return. Inflight meals are extra! Airlines like Ethiopian airlines who fly direct to Los Angeles include 2 checked bags as standard as well as free inflight meals and drinks.

review of ethiopian airlines

European flights

There are so many new carriers flying from Ireland but we tend to only look at Aer Lingus and Ryanair, when booking flights to Europe. Icelandair are now flying direct to Iceland as well as WOW air, Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian are flying direct to Copenhagen, Cobalt air to Cyprus, Aegean airlines to Athens and Vueling and Iberia Express fly to Barcelona and Madrid respectively. Don’t limit yourself to one airline. It may be cheaper to fly out with one and back with another. Also the flight times might suit better if you use two carriers. Websites like Skyscanner will show you all available flights to a destination in price order. You can also sign up for price alerts so if you are looking at a particular route, you will receive an email to tell you if the price has gone down. Alternatively talk to your local travel agent, they will know instantly who flies where and the best prices.

** Sign up to newsletters so you are notified of sales and special offers **


Weather 

Before you book any holiday it is important to gauge what the weather will be like. Wunderground.com is an excellent resource for checking historical weather. It will show you the temperature and rainfall for the same period you are looking to travel, over the past number of years.

travel hacks 

Passports

Use the passport reminder service, enter your details on line now and you will get a reminder 3 months before your passport is due to expire. Once you get this reminder, renew your passport online. It is so easy, check out my definitive guide to renewing your passport online. You can even upload your own photo from your smart phone now. Note this is only for existing passport holders. New passports have to go through the normal channels. Check the turnaround times on the Passport website and never assume that Passport Express is 2 weeks – it rarely is.

travel hacks

Take Out Car Hire Excess Insurance 

This is a personal bug bear of mine. When you arrive at an airport, particularly with kids in tow, the car hire companies always insist you have insurance excess policies, and they are usually charging exorbitant rates. You can avoid paying these by taking out a car hire excess insurance policy with CarHireExcess.com before you travel. With prices from €2.99 per day instead of €15 per day (approx cost), this is something that everyone should have, if hiring a car abroad.

travel hacks   

Online Tools

 

Check in on-line

Checking in online will not only save long airport queues but it may ensure you get the best seats available. For airlines like Ryanair, you HAVE to print your boarding passes before hand, most other airlines this isn’t necessary. Although I would recommend doing it anyway, to save time checking in.

Pre-book seats.

Pre book seats where possible, www.seatguru.com is the ‘tripadvisor’ for seats! Use this website to find out where the best seats are on an aircraft, read honest reviews from travellers who have flown on the same aircraft. If travelling long haul, pre book specific meals so you will be served first, particularly if it’s a night flight and you want to sleep. I find the vegetarian options are usually the best!

travel hacks

Pre book attraction tickets:

It is almost always cheaper to pre book attractions on line. Not only will it save you money but it will also save you time queuing. Check the local tourist boards for free activities and for discovery passes. Usually you will find a bulk attraction / city pass is cheaper than paying for each attraction separately. Websites such as Attraction Tickets Direct also offer discounts for booking in advance and offer real tickets so you can avoid queuing for tickets at your destination.

 

Join Frequent Flyer Clubs 

You will be amazed at how quickly you can accumulate points, even if you are not a frequent traveller. Most clubs are now affiliated with Hotel chains or retailers so you can collect points in various different ways. This may enable you to get a free flight, an upgrade or a hotel stay.

travel hacks

 

Useful Travel Apps

If travelling outside Euro, know the exchange rates. This is a common mistake. You arrive tired and although you may have known the currency conversion before you left home, the likelihood is you have forgotten once you arrive. Don’t end up paying huge money for taxis or tipping hotel staff the wrong amount because you don’t know the proper exchange rate. Download the XE currency app – it also works offline ( you dont need to be connected to wifi or use roaming).

The Tripadvisor app is invaluable when checking restaurant or attraction reviews. It will also send you push notifications about highly rated restaurants or attractions close by.



If you haven’t already downloaded the UBER cab app, do it before you go on holidays. Arriving into a strange country and being unsure of taxi fares can be daunting. Just use the app to book an uber, it is much safer and will probably save you money too!

Many people don’t realise but Google Maps can also be used off line. Download your route plans before you leave home and use them when on holidays. Google translate is another excellent tool, you can use your phone’s camera to photograph menus, sign posts etc, and it will translate them to English for you.

travel hacks

Travelling with kids

 

Ditch the trunkis

I have many travel tips for travelling with kids but one of my favourites is to invest in light weight hand luggage. Get rid of the trunkis as soon as they are able to wheel heavier cases. Kids like wheeling their own cases anyway and if you invest in the best lightweight case available you can save a fortune on checked baggage charges. I tell my kids they can bring whatever fits in their case, this usually works out well when packing! Buy a portable luggage scales and bring with you to avoid stress of thinking you may be over weight. You can buy them for less than €10.

travel hacks

City Breaks

If travelling on a city break, choose an early flight home. Once you have checked out of the hotel, the kids will just want to go home and you will spend a fortune trying to amuse them on the last day. The €30 saving you thought you had by coming back on the later flight, believe me you will spend it twice over. For city breaks where there is a lot of walking involved, buy a cheap fold up scooter from Smyths for €15 and depending on your weight allowance, leave it behind you if necessary.

travel hacks

Buy a media share

Although I would like to say that my kids don’t need electronic devices to on holidays, they can be a Godsend. Invest in a Media share, it’s a small portable device that creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. It is also really compact so much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.

travel hacks

Email the hotel

Avoid bringing the kitchen sink. Most hotels have baby equipment so you wont have to bring your own. These are not always advertised in brochures incase 20 families ask for buggies, sterilisers or bottle warmers at the same time. Call or email the hotel before hand and ask them what equipment they have and pre book if possible.

 

Like Travel Tips ? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

 

Family HolidaysTravel Tips

Top Tips for Travelling with Babies and Toddlers

baby on plane

Check out my top tips for travelling with babies and toddlers, hopefully it help you with your travel plans.

 

Before you go:

Do your research.

Discuss what type of holiday you want with your partner. Many parents book the top family hotels because they think they need to. A kids pool may be all you need. Kids clubs can be handy, but many kids clubs only start at age 3, you will need a specific club or creche that caters for babies and toddlers.

If travelling with an infant, ask yourself are you going to leave your baby in a crèche? So many parents don’t even use the facilities on offer. Trust me there will be a time when you need to book the best family properties, where slides in the pool and mini discos will be the best part of your child’s holiday. But for now, why not take advantage while you can and book a holiday that suits you too?

tips for travelling with babies and toddlers

If you want to book a top family complex that caters for babies and toddlers, look at TUI Holidays Holiday Villages or Family Life resorts. These are all inclusive resorts where all meals and drinks are included in the price of your stay. They will also have evening crèche facilities so you can have a ‘date night’! 

You don’t have to worry about bringing the kitchen sink because most will have baby packs with highchairs and blenders that you use. Many even have their own baby corner at meal times, where you can choose what you want from the buffet and blend it yourself. What ever hotel or apartment you choose, check beforehand what baby equipment they have available, it may be a lot easier and cheaper than bringing them in your luggage allowance.

Don’t travel during school holidays.

One of the best things about travelling with babies and toddlers, is that you can travel at any time! Take advantage of the fact that your child hasn’t started school yet and travel off peak.  Not only will you save yourself a lot of money but you should be able to get availability in the best hotels / apartments and should also avoid the crowds.

 

Stay near a beach

If you want time to sunbathe, book an apartment or hotel close to the beach. Babies and toddlers can entertain themselves for hours with a bucket and spade. If you base yourself a distance from the sea shore, you won’t have to worry about them going into the water. Sitting by the pool with a crawling baby can not only be quite stressful, but you will spend your day jumping up and down from your sun lounger for fear that they will fall into the pool.

tips for travelling with babies and toddlers

 

Don’t be put off by long flights.

With the exception of the crawling age (usually 7 – 12 months) travelling with babies and toddlers on airplanes should not be a big ordeal. In most cases they will have a nap, and once you bring plenty of snacks and toys to keep them entertained, it is usually fairly straightforward. Many people choose to book short flights to Majorca or the Algarve (2 and a half hours) but then spend 2 hours on a coach to get to their resort. Personally I would prefer to spend 4 hours on a plane and take a 10 minute taxi ride to my accommodation (Lanzarote, Tenerife etc.)

If you are flying to the USA, fly direct where possible. Being able to clear customs in Ireland before you fly is a life saver. There is nothing worse than arriving after a long flight only to queue for 90 minutes to clear customs. We flew via Heathrow to San Francisco last year and we barely made the connection, we literally had to run onto the plane. And although we made the flight, our bags didn’t! We had no luggage for two days. I’m a firm believer that families should fly direct where possible. If this is not feasible, make sure you allow lots of connecting time between flights.

tips for travelling with babies and toddlers

 

Make use of your child’s luggage allowance:

Considering you pay as little as €20 for flights for babies under 2, some airlines give a very generous baggage allowance. Ryanair allow a 5KG baby bag plus two pieces of baby equipment, a buggy and either a booster seat, a car seat or travel cot. Aer Lingus offer the same, although they state the baby bag must be part of the adults allowance. Airlines policies vary but check the luggage allowance before you go. Once your children turn two, you have to pay for a seat and so they may be entitled to a 5-10kg hand luggage allowance, as well as a buggy, so make use of this too and save on checked luggage charges.

This might sound obvious but always count every single piece of luggage you have (there can be a lot with babies) and keep that number in your head when collecting from the carousel. I left a bag on the carousel once. Whether it was baby brain or just having too many bags, I forgot one and there is no re-entry back into the baggage hall…

tips for travelling with babies and toddlers

Make lists!

Make a list of all things to do/bring and do this in the run up to the holiday and at your leisure. The night before the trip can be fairly hectic and something can be easily overlooked. That way you won’t arrive at your destination, having forgotten something. Maybe a checklist of the most important items that must come home too, so you know you won’t leave anything behind.

 

Airport and Plane Tips:

Prepacked formula is your best bet.

Babies’ bottles technically don’t fall under the 100ml liquids rule, but not all airports, or airport staff for that matter, tend to acknowledge that. You should be ok to bring large bottles through security in Irish airports. They might just ask you to taste it to prove it is formula. However I would always bring empty sterilised bottles and powder dispensers just incase the baby’s bottle is taken from you, particularly for your return journey. You can also bring pre packed formula cartons that are 100ml size. Calpol comes in sachets now too which are much handier for the plane.

tips for travelling with babies and toddlers

Bring plenty of supplies for the journey.

Change nappies right before you board the plane, as the changing facilities on planes are tiny! Bring a change of clothes too, in case of accidents and a blanket to help your baby sleep. When travelling with babies and toddlers, snacks can be a life saver, especially if delayed. Bring more than you think you need, babies always seem to eat more when travelling.

Depending on the age of your child, I found the Aquadoodle great, you don’t have to worry about markers destroying your clothes, or the airplane, and they are suitable from 18 months. A new toy is always a good idea too, something to keep them occupied for a while. If they have a favourite toy that they can not live without (there is usually one!), bring a second one. If you loose it when abroad it can ruin your trip, having a second one in the bag can be a life saver.

 There are phone Apps that cater for young kids too and if they are watching TV at that stage you could always download a movie or TV programme that they could watch on a tablet or phone. I have a media share which is a portable device that creates it’s own WiFi network so you can watch movies at any time, on the plane, in restaurants, the car etc and you don’t need WiFi to use it. I don’t travel anywhere without it, but it might be used more with older kids.

Verbatim 49160 MediaShare Mini Wireless MicroSD Card Reader Black Amazon.co.uk Computers Accessories

 

While you are away:

Keeping safe in the sun.

I think it goes without saying to apply sunscreen regularly, but you should also test it on your baby’s skin before you go, to ensure they don’t break out in a rash. There are sensitive skin creams for babies, I use the Boots ‘Soltan’ sensitive brand normally and find it good. Body suits can be a God send – you don’t have to worry if you missed a spot! Sun Tents are also a good buy, if you plan on spending a lot of time at the beach.

Buy light coloured clothing as dark colours hold the heat more. Bring a few hats and sunglasses – you will lose one or two! Download the Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App. It will tell you UV forecasts so you can see what time of the day the UV rays will be at their highest, it is not always midday!

tips for travelling with babies and toddlers

Keep your baby cool.

Give your children plenty of water to avoid dehydration. If travelling with babies and toddlers during very hot temperatures, always book a hotel or an apartment with air conditioning. Check that it is in the bedrooms too and not just the living room. Hire a white or light coloured car as dark cars hold the heat. This might be a hard task to guarantee, so if you can’t get one, buy a cheap windscreen reflector from a local supermarket.

 

Sarah

 

Like Travel Tips? See more here!

 

The Travel Expert

Family HolidaysTravel Tips

Top Tips for Family Holidays

lanzarote easter holidays

          Whether you are travelling with kids for the first time or just looking for some help for future holidays, check out my top tips for family holidays.

 

Luckily I get to travel a lot and I tend to bring my kids with me for most of my trips. From city breaks to beach resorts, Lapland to California, thankfully we have had some great trips together. My kids are 6 and 9 now so I have lots of experience travelling with babies, toddlers and older kids. My 24 years as a travel agent also thought me a lot about what suits cool teenagers! I was asked by Falcon Holidays to write some of my tips for family holidays for their website but I thought I would share it here with you too 🙂

top tips for travelling with kids

Just click on this link to see the full article.

 

Source: Top Tips for Travelling with Kids – Falcon Holidays Blog

 

Sarah

 

Like Travel Tips? See more here!

 

The Travel Expert

In The Media

My Favourite Travel Hacks As Seen on Saturday AM

Being a savvy traveller is easier than you think, just remember to use some of my favourite travel hacks!

 

Research the weather

Before you book any holiday it is important to gauge what the weather will be like. In the age of constant climate change, the wunderground website is an excellent resource for checking historical weather. It will show you the temperature and rainfall for the same period you are looking to travel in, over the past number of years.  No more guesses, these are real temperatures which should give you the best indication of what the weather will be like, at your chosen destination.

Check in online, prebook seats & meals.

Checking in online will not only save long airport queues but it may ensure you get the best seats available. For airlines like Ryanair, you HAVE to print your boarding passes beforehand, for most other airlines this isn’t necessary. Although I would recommend doing it anyway, to save time when you get to the airport.

Pre book seats where possible, www.seatguru.com is the ‘Tripadvisor’ for seats! Use this website to find out where the best seats are on an aircraft, read honest reviews from travellers who have flown on the same aircraft. If you normally pay for priority boarding with Ryanair, book an exit seat and they will give you priority boarding free! If travelling long haul, pre book specific meals so you will be served first, particularly if it’s a night flight and you want to sleep. I find the vegetarian options are usually the best!

favourite travel hacks

Prebook attraction tickets.

Read travel blogs on the area you are going to, or use TripAdvisor to find out the top things to do in a particular destination. Check the local tourist boards for free activities and for discovery passes. Usually you will find a bulk attraction / city pass is cheaper than paying for each attraction separately. Websites such as Attraction Tickets Direct offer huge discounts for booking in advance and offer real tickets, so you can avoid queuing for tickets at your destination.

Take out car hire excess insurance

Car hire excess is a personal bug bear of mine. When you arrive at an airport, particularly with kids in tow, the car hire companies always insist you take their car hire excess policy, and they usually charge exorbitant rates. You can avoid paying these by taking out a car hire excess insurance policy before you travel. With prices from €2.99 per day instead of €15 per day (approx cost), this is a must have if you are hiring a car abroad. Visit carhireexcess.com for more details.

favourite travel hacks

Travelling with kids

I have many travel tips for travelling with kids but one of my favourites is to invest in light weight hand luggage. Loose the trunkis as soon as your children are able to wheel heavier cases. Kids like wheeling their own cases anyway and if you invest in the best lightweight case available you can save a fortune on checked baggage charges. I tell my kids they can bring whatever fits in their case, this usually works out well when packing! Buy a portable luggage scales and bring it with you to avoid stress of thinking you may be over weight. You can buy them here for less than €10.

If travelling on a city break, choose an early flight home. Once you have checked out of the hotel, the kids will just want to go home and you will spend a fortune trying to amuse them on the last day. The €30 saving you thought you had by coming back on the later flight, believe me you will spend it twice over. For city breaks where there is a lot of walking involved, buy a €20 fold up scooter from Smyths and depending on your weight allowance, leave it behind you if necessary.

Avoid bringing the kitchen sink! Most hotels have baby equipment so you wont have to bring your own. These are not always advertised in brochures, incase 20 families ask for buggies, sterilisers or bottle warmers at the same time. Call or email the hotel before hand and ask them what equipment they have and pre-book if possible.

I wish my kids didn’t need electronic devices to on holidays, but they can be a Godsend! Invest in a Mediashare, it’s a small portable device that creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies and listen to music on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. It is also really compact so much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.

Verbatim 49160 MediaShare Mini Wireless MicroSD Card Reader Black Amazon.co.uk Computers Accessories

 

Use travel apps

If travelling outside the Eurozone, know the exchange rates. This is a common mistake. You arrive tired and although you may have known the currency conversion before you left home, the likelihood is you have forgotten once you arrive. Don’t end up paying huge money for taxis or tipping hotel staff the wrong amount because you don’t know the proper exchange rate. Download the XE currency app – it also works offline (you dont need to be connected to wifi or use roaming).

Tripadvisor app is invaluable when checking restaurant or attraction reviews. It will also send you push notifications about highly rated restaurants or attractions close by. Many people don’t realise it but Google Maps can also be used offline. Download your route plans before you leave home and use them offline on holidays. Google translate is another excellent tool, you can use your phone’s camera to photograph menus, sign posts etc, and it will translate them to English for you.

favourite travel hacks  

Photocopy or scan important documents.

It is not something we like to think about but is it possible that you could be a victim of a crime on holidays, or simply loose your passport or other documents. Passport, insurance details, credit cards, flight tickets – all of which are much easier to replace if you have copies of the originals safely stored. Alternatively, store the scanned documents in the ‘Cloud’, using Google Drive (15GB of free space and part of your Gmail account), Dropbox which gives you 2GB of free storage space or an app like Evernote. These digital copies are stored safely online and available by logging into from any computer in the world.

 

Have you any favourite travel hacks? Comment below, I would love to hear them!

 

Like Travel Tips? See more here!

 

Sarah

AmericaDestinationsFeaturedLong Haul

San Francisco – Biking The Bridge!

Biking the bridge

Forget Alcatraz, forget Fishermans Wharf!  In San Francisco – biking the bridge is the coolest thing to do!

 

Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. Getting the chance to cycle across it with my family was not only the best experience I had in San Francisco, but it is one of the best family experiences I have had on any holiday!

San Francisco - biking the Golden Gate bridge by The Travel Expert

We were staying at the Suites at Fishermans Wharf and on our first day we happened to stumble across Blazing Saddles – literally three minutes walk from our Hotel. I had heard about cycling across the bridge but I assumed the kids wouldn’t be able for it. Luckily the sales staff were good at their jobs and caught me curiously looking at the poster as we walked by. Within seconds they knew we were Irish and out came ‘Georgie’ from Blanchardstown to greet us! She not only assured us that the kids would be ok but let us try various styles of bikes until we found the right ones for us. We selected a tag-a-long bike for my husband and daughter Alex ( age 5 ), my son Luke ( age 8 ) was able to ride his own bike. There were also other options for younger kids with trailers or baby seats.  After a 3 minute video showing us the highlights, we were given maps and helmets and we were on our way.

Biking the golden gate bridge by The Travel Expert

The bike path is so easy to follow and it is almost impossible to get lost. The fact that you can’t possibly miss the Golden Gate bridge helps too! We decided to go for the option of cycling across the bridge into the pretty town of Sausalito and getting the ferry back. Although it is only an 8 mile ride, (from Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito) I would advise you to take the whole day. You will find yourself constantly stopping for selfies and although a three hour time is recommended, we took a lot longer! You will pass beautiful neighbourhoods where you will stop to admire the opulent houses, the luxury yachts on the marina, the beach, as well as the numerous photo ops of the bridge itself. There is even a picnic stop if you fancy a break.

San Francisco - biking the Golden Gate bridge by The Travel Expert

The cycle across the bridge is actually quite short and although busy with pedestrians, cyclists and of course cars – you never feel nervous. The cycle path is completely separate to the cars and you can stop as many times as you wish for photos or just to take in the view! Once you ‘make it’ across, take the downhill (steep) ride into Sausalito. It is a picture postcard town, complete with quaint shops and panoramic views across the bay. It also has some great restaurants so it the perfect place to enjoy a well deserved meal after your bike ride! We opted for Napa Valley Burger Company, a great organic burger house, ( they even pair their burgers with wines!) – there were clean plates all round.

San Francisco - biking the bridge by The Travel Expert

After a quick spot of souvenir shopping it was time to catch the ferry back to the wharf. Queues can be long in the Summer months so make sure you purchase your boat ticket as soon as you arrive in Sausalito – the evening ferries in particular can get booked up quickly. If you book with Blazing Saddles you can pre-purchase the ferry tickets, so no need to worry about having to cycle back up the steep hill – trust me you wont want to do that!

For me it was definitely a case of ‘the journey was the destination’ – the whole day was a fantastic experience and one that the whole family enjoyed. My kids felt very proud of their achievement, particularly across such a iconic landmark. My son, Luke, couldn’t wait to tell his friends in school that he did it, and I must say I was pretty proud too!

San Francisco - biking the Golden Gate bridge by The Travel Expert

If you are visiting San Francisco, make sure you put it on your to do list so you too can say you ‘biked the bridge’!

 

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Sarah

 

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City BreaksEuropeTravel TipsTraveling With Kids

Top 10 tips for taking kids on city breaks

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Check out my top 10 tips for taking kids on city breaks and get planning your next weekend break away.

 

Taking kids on city breaks may not be as daunting as you might think. Airfares are so low to many European cities, so it would be a shame to not take advantage of them – well thats my excuse anyway! Travel broadens the mind and is extremely educational for children. They will learn new cultures, see famous landmarks, try new foods and who knows, may even learn a bit if history too! Hopefully my handy tips and tricks will see you will jetting off on a family city break in no time.
 

 

1. Choose your city wisely.

The ideal choice when taking kids on city breaks is to choose a city that you have already been to, and you would like revisit. You won’t feel it necessary to see all the top attractions the second time round and you will have a more relaxed trip. Failing that, choose a small city where you don’t have ten ‘must see’ sights to see, because no matter how well behaved your children are, there are only so many museums and monuments that kids can take…

tips for taking kids on city breaks
 

 

2. Get your kids excited before you go.

Find something that you know they would be interested in and focus on that. Perhaps there is a famous landmark, a football stadium, a theme park or an aquarium that you know they would be excited to see. Google famous films made in that city and watch a movie together before you. 
 

 

3. Choose good flight times when taking kids on city breaks.

Very early starts are ok if your kids will sleep on the plane, but if this is not likely, then try to choose day time flights. Many hotels won’t have your room ready till 2pm anyway, so arriving at 11 am, after being asked ‘are we nearly there’ ten times, only to be told to come back in a few hours, is not ideal! On your last day all kids want to do is go to the airport, so try to get an early flight home and avoid hanging around. That €20 you think you are saving by coming back on a later flight, trust me you will spend it ten times over!


 

 

4. Choose your hotel wisely.

Try to choose a hotel that is centrally located, so you can walk to restaurants in the evening and sights during the day. Kids get tired and bored on buses and trains, so avoid these where possible. If you can, try to get a hotel with a pool. It is a great incentive when out walking all day, to reward your children with a swim in the evening before you go to dinner.
 

 

5. Get the kids involved.

Give them maps and let them help plan your day. Try to encourage your children to take selfies front of famous landmarks and bring them back and show their friends or teachers.

Tom ten city breaks for families

6. Choose museums that are interactive or child friendly.

The ‘please do not touch’ museums don’t work out so well! There are usually technology, science or transport museums in most cities, that everyone can enjoy. Boat trips can also be something that will appeal to adults and kids.
 

 

7. Plan one thing to do each day that interests them.

Try to fit some sightseeing in the morning while your children are fresh. Plan an activity for them in the afternoon, a visit to a park, zoo or kids attraction.
 

 

8. Bring portable toys, buggies or even scooters!

Bring pocket colouring books, lego, smart phones, tablets or anything that fits into a backpack. When you are taking time out for a coffee or standing in line in a queue, they can come in very handy. 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 – just remember to bring headphones! It is great to have on the plane, in restaurants or even in museums where kids usually get bored. Depending on your children’s ages you may want to bring buggies too. If they are old enough a fold up scooter can be a great asset to get around a big city.

tips for taking kids on city breaks
 

 

9. Try something new.

Children will visit lots of aquariums, zoos or even theme parks in their lifetime, so do something different that they will remember the trip for. Maybe its something simple like eating the local street food, or taking a tuk-tuk ride around the city, but do something that you would not do in your own home town.
 

 

10. Relax and enjoy it!

Don’t stress out if you can’t ‘fit it all in’. Enjoy taking kids on city breaks,and if you love the city that much, you can always come back!
 

 

 

Want to see more travel tips? Click here!

 

Sarah

 

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

Family HolidaysTravel TipsTraveling With Kids

Travelling with children

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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!

 

Want to see more travel tips? Click here!

 

Sarah

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