In this post written in collaboration with Tots To Travel I'm sharing some top tips for travelling with young children. Tots To Travel are family holiday specialists who handpick the best family-friendly villas and cottages in the UK and around the world.
With four children aged between 9 and 2, and another due next spring, family holidays can sometimes feel like they need more planning than a military operation! Really though, you just need to factor in a few things and everything should go smoothly so that everyone can enjoy the perfect family holiday.
1. Do your research
Make sure where you're planning to stay is family-friendly. I always look at the facilities online to make sure there is either plenty to do on site, or plenty to do within easy reach of where we're staying.
2. Make a list of what you need to pack
I never start packing without making a list first as I'm guaranteed to forget something, especially with children bouncing off the walls with holiday excitement! I make lists of what I need and what the children each need, and tick them off as I go. Ian sorts himself out, but he always writes a list, too!
3. Make sure you have all your travel documents
As well as passports, in some cases, such as with adopted children or if you're the only parent travelling (especially if your surnames are different like mine and the boys' names currently are) you might need to take additional documents. Check ahead as to what the requirements are.
4. Keep them busy
Get each child their own little rucksack and let them choose a couple of books and favourite toys to take. Also pack some puzzles, colouring books, Play-Doh and stickers to keep them amused during the journey whether you're travelling by car or by plane.
5. Allow extra time for the journey...
Whether it be the time that you're planning to leave the house to start your travels, the amount of time you think your journey will take, how many loo stops you'll need on the way - plan for more time than you think. Particularly when you've got more than one child in tow, because they inevitably won't need to pee at the same time...
6. ... and for when you're there
You may want to see all of the sights but when travelling with children it's likely that you won't be able to pack as much into each day as you could when you holidayed without little ones. Make a list of the things and places you'd like to see, and put them in order of the ones you'd like to see most. Visit those ones first, but don't be disappointed if you don't get to see everything on your list.
7. Pack snacks aplenty
Stopping at service stations or buying food in airport lounges can work out to be an expensive way of doing things, especially if you have fussy eaters, and that's before you've even reached your destination! Pack a lunch and plenty of snacks and drinks for the journey and do the same for any day trips you go on whilst you're on your holiday. Using a bento box is a great idea as they can just help themselves!
8. Take a mini first aid kit
You can buy travel first aid kits, but even just taking a few plasters, anti-septic wipes, a thermometer , anti-histamine and some travel sachets of paracetamol is a great idea as you never know when they might come in useful.
9. Encourage budding photographers
I have given Little N an old compact camera of mine and he takes the most amazing photos with it. Sure, a lot of them are of his knees or his shoes, but it is lovely to have some photos captured from their perspective. If you haven't got an old camera to hand or don't trust your child with one, you can still get disposable cameras which are a great inexpensive way to do it!
10. Consider taking a stroller
If you're travelling with a baby or toddler, an umbrella stroller is a much better option than a pram or pushchair, as they're much lighter and less bulky. Even if your child is of walking age it might be worth considering taking a stroller if they're likely to get tired on excursions.
What are your top tips for travelling with young children?
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