How to plan your family travel like a pro

Going on holiday with young children needn’t be stressful. If you want to inject some once-in-a-lifetime magic into your break, why not borrow from the professionals, and plan your family travel using a tried and tested fomula, beloved of wedding planners and traditionalists?

A family holiday is always one of the highlights of the year. Regardless of whether you go once or all the time, ensure you have the family Travel Insurance spread you need. When you are travelling with children, you will want the extra peace of mind that comes with knowing your family is fully covered if anything goes wrong.

Here’s our guide to the Old, New, Borrowed and Blue of family travel.

Something old

A break from the routine can be refreshing for grown-ups, but unsettling for young children. Make sure you pack a few familiar items to make them feel at home in their new surroundings. A comforting soft toy is the obvious thing. But why not slip in, say, their favourite, dinosaur-patterned pillowcase? Or that sippy cup with the trucks on that they love so much?

children's bedroom in mobile home. Teddies in bed.

old friends accompanied us on a recent family holiday

You might feel as though you’re kitting yourselves out with excess baggage, but you can make space by ditching extra nappies and wipes, which should be readily available at your destination (unless you’re off trekking in the Andes, that is).

Something new

Nobody wants to step out of their freshly serviced, immaculate hotel room in holey old pants and a top whose spaghetti straps have gone soggy with age. If you take a few new outfits on your break, not only will you get the double whammy of treating yourself with a holiday AND new clothes: after your vacation is over, those garments are likely to conjure up that holiday mood whenever you take them out of the wardrobe.

girl making sandcastles on beach in France

Something borrowed

The best travel tip I could give, is to borrow the wisdom of other people with kids. Ask around, to see what’s worked and what hasn’t. Sticker books; giftwrapped ‘stocking-filler’-type toys that can be unwrapped to make a long-haul flight more fun; and Roald Dahl audio books have all been welcome travel suggestions from my friends. And you never know; if your friend tells you about their new gadget that’s guaranteed to keep the little ones happy in the car or on a plane, they may well go the whole hog and loan it to you, too.

Something blue

Or red. Or neon pink. Or fluorescent yellow. Just anything to make you child stand out from the crowd.

And that’s not just in the sartorial sense. A packed beach, heaving playground or a bustling theme park can be joyously exciting. But if it’s so busy that your little one mingles into the crowd as soon as they leave your side, the day could soon turn into a misery-inducing search for a lost child. So don’t pack too many of those tasteful outfits in neutral shades. The brighter, the better. That goes for you just as much as them; it always helps to be able to see Mummy or Daddy. And, if you have more than one child to keep an eye on, it could help to dress them in matching shades…..

Two children lying on a rug with red circles on it

And finally……

If your child is young enough, consider taking their buggy with you onto the flight. Most airlines allow you to do this. Not only does it mean that your little ‘un can nap through any waits at the airport; it also means people are more likely to be kind (have you notice how many more people stop at zebra crossings when you’re pushing a buggy?). Whenever we’ve travelled with a pushchair, we’ve been zoomed to the front of the queue; the flight attendants let us keep the buggy right up until the last minute; and it was the first thing to pop out on the conveyor belt when we went to collect our luggage at the other side.

Baby sitting on father's lap on a plane. She is smiling.

Do you have any family travel tips?

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  • Plutonium Sox
    December 14, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Ah I love how you’ve done this, you’re married to family travel haha! Some great tips too. I never used a buggy, always found baby carriers to be much easier, especially when we were travelling.

    • Nell
      December 19, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Thanks! Baby carriers do have their benefits too. x

  • Wandermust mummy
    February 1, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    What great tips from a travel pro! Good tips about the buggy – I tend to be a pram over carrier person too

    thanks for linking up to #fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      February 2, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      And thank you for hosting!

  • Jonny (Daisy the bus)
    February 1, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    These are great tips! “Borrowing” wisdom from friends and fellow travellers is, indeed, a must, and we´ nearly always dress the kids in identically-coloured t-shirts (normally red) when visiting busy places in summer, for exactly the reasons that you pointed out. I love the photo of the stripes and spiral, by the way! #FearlessFamTrav

    • Nell
      February 2, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you!

  • Coral-Way too much luggage
    February 2, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Great tips, learning from the wisdom of others who have done it before you is always a great one! It can be really stressful the first time you travel with a little one other parents tips are always a help!

    Love the red and white T-shirt and Carpet photo!! 🙂

    • Nell
      February 3, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Thank you!

  • Ian
    February 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Put me in the camp for carriers over strollers. We have twins and an 8 year old and need all the hands we can get to pull luggage. Plus with carries you don’t always need to find a lift or carry the stroller. Love the post though…basically like you said in the borrowed section, it’s great to get others opinions about what worked for them.

    • Nell
      February 3, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Yes, our son always refused to go into a carrier so it was never an option. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Allison
    February 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    These are great tips and we use all of them when we travel. We always gate check our stroller. It makes navigating the airport with two kids so much easier. We also bring the baby carrier and I wear my son because it makes getting through security easier. But that clears up a spot in the stroller for bags or coats or something so we have less bags to carry. #fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      February 6, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      Yes – strollers are great for transporting things other than babies, aren’t they?

  • Travelling With Our Kids
    February 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Great tips. Taking a pram can come in handy. We usually take a carrier too. #fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      February 6, 2017 at 10:03 pm

      Yes it’s good to do both.

  • Love Arts Berlin
    February 6, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Some great tips here…we are off to Bali in April for a wedding and so these are going to come in useful. Our son is only going to be 21 months and the big question is stroller / carrier / neither / both?? My instinct is a super small travel stroller and the carrier for back carries when we are there. Fingers crossed! #Fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      February 6, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      Oh how exciting!


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