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. Creches can be handy too but many kids clubs only start at age 3, you will need a specific club 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 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 others allow an additional 5kg, free of charge. Airlines baggage policy, child’s meals and seat requests all vary. so it is important to check with the airline you are travelling with.
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, 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 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 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 and if you can’t, allow lots of connecting time between flights. Read my top tips for long flights here.
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.
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. 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. Give them maps, let them help plan your day. My kids brought cameras with them and enjoyed taking pictures too. Selfies are all the rage even with young kids so let them take them in front of famous landmarks and encourage them to bring them back and show their friends or teachers.
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. If travelling on a plane with babies or toddlers make sure you have ample snacks, kids are always more hungry when they are travelling. Bring double what you think you might need, in case of delays. A new toy or colouring / activity books can be a good idea too for the plane journey, 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 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.