We have all heard horror stories about holidays with children. The fact is, that children are a variable, which means that, when it comes to family travel, there are more things that can go wrong. However, there are also infinite opportunities for fun, happiness and laughter. The best bit? Children’s memories are wonderful things; they are unlikely to remember the 3-hour tantrum, but will forever treasure memories of long, warm days making sandcastles on the beach. The trick to successful family travel is to be prepared, yet embrace flexibility. Let your children go to bed later, but factor in lie-ins or siesta time; ease up on the sugar ban, but stock up on fresh fruit too; embrace dining out as a family, but bring a stash of toys and games to entertain the children. With this in mind, check out our family travel packing tips to help your holiday go smoothly.
When it comes to packing, try to travel as light as possible. You really don’t need as much as you think. Pick lightweight clothes that dry quickly so you can do a quick hand wash if needed. If you have a baby or toddler, buy more nappies than you need for a few days; the last thing you want to do as soon as you touch down is traipse around looking for nappies! Your packing list will depend on the climate of your holiday destination. Just try to be sensible and keep your luggage to a minimum. If you are a family of four, you may be able to take four cases, but don’t be tempted to use your entire luggage allowance; lugging cases while trying to keep track of overexcited or tired children can be a nightmare. If possible, pack in two cases, three at the most – one less suitcase means one extra hand to restrain the children!
Where possible, cross-pack, so that each case has at least one outfit and swimming things for each member of the family, in case your luggage gets lost. Pack the basics – three to four outfits each, swimming things and a warm jumper, plus: sarongs or lightweight towels for the beach and poolside; a torch or night-light, which can come in handy if your child is used to going to sleep with a light on; and blackout blinds – if your child is used to going to sleep in the dark, these could just save your holiday…
Ah, those halcyon holidays free from the constrains of technology! You may want to have a total tech ban, but don’t beat yourself up for letting the children have an hour or so of technology – it could, after all, buy you an hour of complete peace! Holidays are, however, perfect for reconnecting with your family, free from the stresses of everyday life. So, try to restrict solo pursuits, such as phones and tablets, and encourage group activities that you can engage in together. Card games, colouring and small games are perfect for deploying at the dinner table; they are not too noisy, will keep the kids (and adults) entertained, and will help to distract hungry children (and adults!). Pack a few of the following:
- A set of playing cards and other card-based games (Uno, Top Trumps, Snap).
- Compact games – we love Yahtzee and Pass the Pigs!
- Colouring books and pens, stickers, etc.
- Inflatables- inflatable balls hardly take up any space and are great fun in the pool or on the beach. If you don’t have one, invest in one when you are there.
- Bat & ball – likewise, bat and ball (or something similar, depending on your children’s ability) can provide hours of low-maintenance outdoor entertainment.
Get each family member to pack their own hand luggage (but don’t forget to check it for forbidden or impractical objects!). Let children choose a book and toy for the plane, packed in their own backpack – even younger children are capable of carrying their own, lightweight bag. Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes and plenty of snacks! Choose your hand luggage bags wisely, and opt for bags that can also be used on holiday, for shopping and days out.
Parents. You know what we mean. THAT food. The food your child cannot possibly exist without. Unless you are going seriously off the beaten track, most shops across the world now stock a pretty extensive range of international food, so you will probably find staples such as cornflakes or baked beans (if you don’t mind paying a fortune for them). If your child has a food or condiment that they simply insist on having, try going prepared – hoard sachets of tomato sauce or vinegar, pack a couple of jars of pesto, freeze a couple of blocks of cheddar and pack it wrapped in a towel, or squeeze in a few multipacks of cereal. It’s not ideal, and you might really want your child to try something a little different but, for the sake of your sanity, bring an emergency stash.
First Aid Kit
Most parents travel with a basic first aid kit containing the usual: antihistamines, painkillers, plasters and antiseptic. But if your child is prone to infections, such as ear infections or tonsillitis, it is worth asking your GP to prescribe some antibiotics, just in case. If you have ever tried to get antibiotics in a foreign country, you know what we mean; if you haven’t, you can thank us later! Pack a cool pack, too; you can buy travel ones that you can snap to make them cool. These are great for bumps and bruises, and can help to cool your child down if they get too hot.
With luck, our family tips will help to make your family holiday go without a hitch. Do you have any family travel packing tips, favourite games or holiday faux pas to share? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+