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?
Here’s our guide to the Old, New, Borrowed and Blue of family travel.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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…..
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.
Do you have any family travel tips?
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I’m linking this post up with Fearless Family Travel at Wandermust Family.