Travel tips for a majestic holiday

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Jammy breakfast, fit for a queen.

Everyone deserves to have a rip-roaring royal time when they’re on holiday, right?

Or, at least, to experience something out of the ordinary. A break from the humdrum, which makes you feel as though you’re floating above the dreariness of everyday life in some kind of regal cloud.

So: how to achieve that special, out-of-the-ordinary experience, with children in tow? Based on previous breaks that we’ve taken, both in this country and overseas, I would say it helps to see every holiday as a once-in-a-lifetime, special occasion, and to plan accordingly.

So, to try and inject some fairytale magic into your family travels, why not use that traditional formula usually reserved for weddings?

Something old

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Austin’s ‘Chum’, packed in tight to his travel tin.

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 always ditch those extra nappies and wipes to make some more space. They should be readily available at your destination (unless you’re off trekking in the Andes, that is). Just don’t forget to pack plenty of sunscreen. We’ve come a-cropper before, by running out and then only being able to find factor 2 coconut oil in the local shops….

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And here is Chum, enjoying snacks with Austin on the terrace of our Spanish villa last year.

 Something new

More a tip for the grown-ups, this one, although it could apply to the children, too.

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 conjour up that holiday mood whenever you take them out of the wardrobe.

Charity shop finds are just as good as new pieces. Even better, in fact: if you spend less on thrifty bargains, then you’ll have more cash to spend in those swanky restaurants – the perfect setting to show off your pizzazzy outfits.

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Stylish Gwen, on the beach in Wales

Something borrowed

The best travel tip, in my view, is to borrow the wisdom of your friends. If, like me, you’ve amassed a set of buddies with children of broadly similar ages to yours, you can ask them for tips, first-hand and bang-up-to-date. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to travel with a four-year-old when your travel plans involve trying to keep two galumphing teenagers happy. So, listen to those who are at a similar stage to you.

Stickers; small, cheap toys giftwrapped especially to be unwrapped along the way; and car headrest DVD players have all been welcome suggestions from my friends, when I asked about the best things to take on journeys. And if your friend tells you about their natty 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, or scenery 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 sand- or forest green-coloured kids’ outfits. The brighter, the better. And, if you have more than one child to keep an eye on, it could help to dress them in matching shades…..

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Bright, matching clothes can make your children stand out, and stop them getting lost in the crowd. Unless they’re camouflaged on a rug, that is.

And finally……

If your child is young enough, consider taking their buggy with you onto the flight. Most airlines allow you to do this (for short-haul flights, at least). Not only does it mean that your little ‘un can nap through any waits at the airport; it also ensures you’re more likely to be given the same buggy-deference you get at home. When I’m wheeling our puschair round these parts (i.e. good old London taaahn) I’m usually showered with smiles and nods. Even the occasional bus has been known to stop to let me cross the road in front of it.

And, when we travelled to Spain with Austin and Gwen just over a year ago, people were similarly accommodating. We were zoomed to the front of the queue (it was a budget airline; the waiting time was loooong); the flight attendants only took our buggy away from us at 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.

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It won’t exactly guarantee royal treatment. But a comfy buggy will allow one of you, at least, to sail along, regally, as you set off on your majestic travels.

Do you have any family travel tips?

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21 Comments

  1. April 7, 2014 / 8:27 am

    Some great tips and ideas! I particularly like the thrifty way to save money on holiday clothes so you can spend more when away! x #blogclub

  2. April 7, 2014 / 11:08 am

    Greta tips missus – and so good to take something familiar on holiday to help keep kids feeling settled with something familiar – especially at bed time!

  3. April 7, 2014 / 6:27 pm

    Great tips, I just need to be brave and book a holiday!

  4. April 7, 2014 / 8:21 pm

    Great tips, I will definitely check back when we book a holiday x

  5. April 7, 2014 / 11:07 pm

    Loving your tips – especially the dressing the kids in bright colours! We have teddies that definitely have to come on every holiday with us!

  6. April 8, 2014 / 9:56 am

    Happy kids on holiday equals happy parents too! All fabulous advice.

  7. April 8, 2014 / 8:11 pm

    Great range of advice – the brightly coloured clothing is particularly helpful.

    Why on Earth is it that you can’t find the suncream when you need it most?!?

  8. Jo @ 3 Kids and a Gluestick
    April 8, 2014 / 10:23 pm

    Great tips 🙂 We always pack the kids bedtime toys and you are right about buying new clothes before you go.. I usually end up doing it right at the last minute but it gives me an excuse to escape the packing for a short while!

  9. April 8, 2014 / 11:55 pm

    What fantastic ideas!! I absolutely love the one about dressing your children in something you will remember and be able to spot. Holidays should be happy for all the family, so anything that makes is fun for everyone is cool beans in my book 🙂

  10. Helen @ Peakle Pie
    April 9, 2014 / 10:43 am

    Some brilliant ideas here! I would add taking a little backpack which has stickers, crayons, a new book and a colouring in pad can help, also keep some toys/books for later in the journey for when they get bored with the ones they have. Also don’t pack too many t shirts etc if you are going somewhere that has a market or shops – we would just buy lots of cheap ones at the local market! #blogclub

  11. Alice Hassall
    April 10, 2014 / 2:07 pm

    I love how you’ve set this post out. The wedding type theme is brilliant. Something old IS defo a must and something new will be the memories they take as their something old as they grow.

    We are buying a Holiday Bear this year, that is going to be our something old that comes with us every time we travel and will have a scrap book of adventures just like us.

    Great post, Good Luck with the comp, fingers crossed xx

  12. April 13, 2014 / 2:39 am

    Excellent tips here. We always remember the something old. You can buy most things, but a well-loved cuddly toy is irreplaceable. And well done on the comp 🙂

  13. June 14, 2015 / 7:08 pm

    we avoided flying with the kids as we have 5 of them and had long drives to France, I love the tip for making your child stand out in a crowd, we have lost one or more of our kids on holidays and days out and I’ve been hard pressed to remember what they’ve been wearing

  14. June 14, 2015 / 8:50 pm

    What a great list! I love the ideas you have given here and I was nodding my head as I was reading it.

  15. June 15, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    I’m totally going to invest in new outfits for my next holiday – you’re so right, I feel so rubbish in saggy old shorts! Time to make more effort

  16. June 16, 2015 / 7:58 am

    A lovely post, and some great tips! I agree with the one about dressing your child in bright clothing, both my children wore the same red coat for a few years and it was brilliant, I could always see them out of the corner of my eye! Also agree with taking the buggy with you as far as you can, much easier when you can keep them in one place and gives them somewhere to sit.

    My tip for family travel would be to always be led by your child. We’ve done a few city breaks and busy/theme park holidays and they get tired so easily. We’ve spent quite a bit of time chilling out in hotel rooms with iPads and Duplo, which sometimes seems like a bit of a waste of time when you are on holiday, but it makes the times that you are out and about doing things so much more fun if you’re not dragging overtired, grumpy children about! Visiting via #timetraveller

  17. June 16, 2015 / 12:01 pm

    Some great tips! We have a 10 day old so am going to pin this for future reference 🙂

  18. June 17, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    Chum looks so familiar to me – I think we had his brother, but he was unimaginatively called monkey! We used to take a big dog on holiday with us – a vital member of the family, and never to be forgotten (until his owner grew a bit too big 🙁
    Lovely tips and advice #timetraveller

    • June 18, 2015 / 8:12 pm

      Ah I’d love a big dog to take along! Sounds as though lovely memories were made, despite the little one’s forgetting.

  19. June 25, 2015 / 2:22 pm

    Some excellent tips for family travel here, I liked the kids wearing bright clothes so they don’t get lost in a crowd.
    Thanks for linking up to #TimeTraveller

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