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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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