While it’s true that family holidays are the stuff that lifelong memories are made of, no parent is going to pretend that travelling with small children doesn’t involve a certain amount of stress. Thankfully there are a variety of precautions you can take to make sure your time away with your young children is everything you (and they) hoped for.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
You may be one of those people who spent your twenties backpacking around the globe, making up your route as you went, but you’re a parent now and, believe me, the best way to have a laid back time with young kids is to plan in advance.
From searching online for cheap family travel insurance to booking flights which won’t disturb your little ones’ routines too adversely, it’s worth starting your planning at least a couple of months before you travel.
Research pays so spend some time on the internet in the run up to your holiday looking into the various services you’re likely to be using. Check out the child-friendly credentials of your accommodation (they may claim to welcome kids but is there a games room, babysitting service, play equipment?), find out what your airline’s policy is on buggies and car seats, and what the weather is likely to be like when you’re there.
Insurance is important whenever you’re on holiday but even more so when you’re travelling with children. We’re used to the NHS if things go wrong at home but when you’re abroad you’ll want to know that you and your family are covered in the unlikely event of illness or accident. Remember, cover doesn’t need to be expensive to protect you and your little ones – just do some research to find the best cheap family travel insurance you can.
Tips for a Calm Journey
Okay so you’ve done all your preparation, you’ve booked a flight at a reasonable time, found good, cheap family travel insurance and booked a family room in a hotel with lots of things for the kids to do. Now you just have to get them there.
Plenty of parents dread travelling with little ones but the key is to see the situation from their point of view. Why would they enjoy a day in which their parents are stressed and snappy, they are constantly being rushed from one place to another and eventually sat down and told to go to sleep?
Now try looking at it this way: a day in which mum and dad are excited, they get to see an airport full of new sights and sounds which they’re allowed to explore and finally they sit down and are given a bag bursting with fun things to do. What I’m saying is, try to think of the journey as an adventure rather than a chore and your child will too.
The key to this is building in plenty of time. If you leave the house in good time and arrive at the airport/station/port with time to spare, then your little ones will pick up on your relaxed mood and enjoy themselves and you’ll be able to indulge their desire to explore.
Whether you’re flying long haul or taking a long car journey, kids can easily get bored. Make them feel involved by asking them what they’d like to take with them to do on the journey (you could even let them pack their own hand luggage).
One of the tricks I always use is to pack a ‘surprise’ bag of goodies for them which I don’t let them see until we board the flight or set off in the car. Include things like sticker books, colouring pads and pens, magazines featuring their favourite characters and a few little toys for them to discover.
Of course the one thing likely to entertain them longest is a smart device, so load up your phone or tablet with new games, movies and TV shows, but don’t let them play with them until the day you leave.
Hunger is the Enemy of Calm
My final piece of advice is to pack plenty of snacks. You know what your child likes and it may not be possible to buy it on the road so have a little tuck box in your bag which you can dip into if you see any signs of hunger tantrums. Another good idea is to schedule regular stops at cafes and restaurants throughout your journey so that they can sit and have a quiet time while they have something to eat.