We went on our one and only family holiday a couple of years ago. Although we had a great time once we were there, the journeys there and back are probably the main reason we haven’t been on one since! We encountered problems with massively delayed flights, temper tantrums and the kind of scatological episode that is hilarious in films but not in real life.
It taught us much about travelling with young children and we will be much better prepared next time – if, indeed, there is a next time! Here are five things to consider when travelling as a family…
Be irritatingly organised
You may have mastered the school run and shopping trips, but international travel is a completely different proposition. Book absolutely everything in advance and check in online for flights as soon as permitted. Also, make sure you have all your documents in a sensible place. This way, if you encounter unexpected delays, you’re better equipped to think on your feet and keep the kids quiet.
Allow extra time
Children are rivalled only by professional footballers with the ‘ball by the corner flag’ trick when it comes to time wasting. You may be in a rush, but they’ll love the experience of doing something different and are guaranteed to want to visit every toilet on the way. Allow plenty of extra time – particularly if your journey includes trains. Five minutes is never enough for a connection, so always go for the one before!
Keep them ‘appy’
Kids can get bored very quickly – particularly while travelling. Make sure you have a tablet loaded with kid-friendly apps and games. To avoid the wrath of other holidaymakers, bring headphones or choose things that don’t require sound. Also, remember the charger and adaptor plug – there’s a return journey to consider after all!
Pack emergency rations
Our chaotic journey to France taught us to always have emergency rations to hand. As a result of an air traffic control strike, we spent more than two hours on the tarmac at Gatwick with only a bag of sweets between four of us. Not a nutritious meal! Pack healthy snacks and drinks and ensure you have baby wipes and a change of clothes for each child.
Plan some ‘you time’
With all the planning that goes into keeping the children happy, it can be easy to forget about yourselves. If possible, choose somewhere with a kids’ club so you can relax now and then too. If you’re planning on a cruise, for example, Cruise1st.co.uk has created a handy guide. Among other useful tips, it includes a detailed list of the childcare options on the world’s best-loved cruise lines.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.