Travel with children can easily be a disaster. Without planning, experience and some flexibility, you can end up with a face full of haemorrhoid cream. But if you take just a little time to prepare and adapt, you’ll have lasting memories that are as pleasant as the holiday photos suggest. So check out these tips, hacks, suggestions and ideas for making travelling with kids a breeze.
Buy a bum bag
Fashionistas might tell you the much-maligned accessory is making a comeback, but the wise parent should not be bothered about that. Get one because you can keep all your passports, phone, dummies, local currency, hotel keys, wet wipes and even a pack of Pokémon cards with you (and easily accessible) at all times.
Get a wheeled suitcase, too
Trust us, it will change your travel strategy forever. Oh, don’t trust kids to pack for themselves, either. They won’t do a good job.
That means setting off early. Order taxis in advance, check in online, have mid-journey mealtimes planned. Winging it was fine before you had kids and will be fine when they’re older, but nothing is more likely to introduce stress to a travelling party including youngsters than last-minute panics.
Take only what you need
Disposable nappies are sold in most places in the world. By all means take a supply with you, but you can probably forgo shoving a crate of pull-up Pampers into a suitcase. The same goes for toys. You will need some for entertainment, but you don’t need to transport a full nursery with you. Seeing new things and experiencing another place should be thrilling enough. Just make sure you pack Teddy, though.
Have an overnight bag
We might have mentioned wet wipes already. Have some ready. As well as wiping sticky hands, faces and bottoms, they’re invaluable on long trips. They will be a bath, flannel, tissue, and much more, so, place them in your overnight bag. This essential holdall is your insurance against travel delays and emergencies. While the bum bag has trip essentials, this is where to keep a spare book, Teddy, change of clothes and snacks.
Most airlines have seats with bassinet attachments at the front of economy sections. These collapsible baby beds are usually free but have to be booked in advance. Do it.
Make it fun
Children need to be entertained. Classic travel activities such as I-Spy, drawing or a quiz can fill hours of journey time. With the order and routine of an airport or long journey it is important to remember the trip should be about having a good time together.
Keep a routine
We understand that holidays should be relaxing and it is good to break the shackles of a school-run and scheduled after-school activities. Sticking to some semblance of a routine, however, will keep important boundaries and give you guidelines within the holiday.
Apps are your friend
Allowing children to take a turn on your smartphone or tablet, however, can cut out boredom on long car journeys or while standing round in airports. A few simple apps like Audible can keep children entertained.
Have it and be covered. If you come back without having to make any claims then consider it money well spent and yourself lucky. You don’t want to be stuck with medical bills or lost luggage costs when you should be enjoying a well-deserved break.
Take a pushchair
Airlines transport them free of charge and a collapsible stroller has many functions you will appreciate while away. As well as giving a toddler a rest, it can be a makeshift bed, trolley, chair and even toy while you are out and about.
A day in a foreign country will probably teach your child more than a week in school. Foreign foods, different cultures, sights, sounds, smells, languages and experiences are all learning opportunities when experienced first-hand.
To friends, relatives, teachers or neighbours. It doesn’t matter who, they will appreciate the thought and it is a good evening activity to help kids wind down before bedtime. The same goes for a holiday journal or photo scrapbook – both great creative outlets.
Loads of attractions have discounts for advanced online bookings or family passes with reduced rates. Looking up local editions of Time Out might be helpful.
If we could offer you only one tip for the holidays, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of our advice has no basis more reliable than Time Out’s own meandering experience. Also – check it is not haemorrhoid cream before you smear it on your face.