Travelling can be challenging at the best of times, but when children are involved it can be extra stressful. The key to having a really good time is to plan ahead as much as possible. Here are some tips to help you plan a safe and enjoyable trip with your family.
Find out as much as possible about your holiday destination before you leave, so you can avoid disappointments when you get there. Be sure to choose a destination where all ages are catered for and where your kids can be occupied and do their own thing in a safe environment. It also pays to involve children in the planning stages of the trip; if they've helped work out where you will be going, they'll be much more excited when they get there.
Where possible, book self-contained apartments rather than hotels. They're cheaper and more comfortable. Two-bedroom units often provide a separate lounge/TV area, giving parents some separation. They also allow you to cook and eat in, which will be less disruptive to your child's usual routine.
When you have children to consider, packing for a holiday is no longer as easy as throwing a few T-shirts and a pair of swimmers into a bag at the last minute. The best idea is to create a list well before you go to ensure you don't forget anything. The must-have items to pack will vary depending on the age of your child. But the following are best kept close by while travelling: food, drink, wet wipes, changes of clothes, toys, games and books and a simple medical kit. As for bigger items such as prams, strollers, cots and high chairs, hire them when you get to your destination rather than lugging them with you.
If travelling by plane, ask for seats near an exit to give your child space to play on the floor. Bring a complete change of clothes for yourself and the children in your hand luggage in case of accidents. Check with your paediatrician about airsickness medication. If you're travelling by road, keep plenty of snacks and drinks close at hand and keep kids entertained with games or children's music.
Stick to your routine
It might not be possible to stick to your children's routine while travelling, but try to get it going once you have reached your destination. Try to stick to their usual bedtime routine. After a busy and exciting day, it may be hard for them to wind down, so give them an activity such as colouring in to help them relax or read to them. Strange places can upset small children, so be sure to bring something that reminds them of home, like a cuddly toy or blanket.
Don't overdo the itinerary
Remember that children have short attention spans and get worn-out very quickly. Complicated trips requiring lots of travelling, jam-packed itineraries or too many visits to adult-oriented attractions like churches and museums can be hard on children. Don't drag the kids around doing things they don't want to do. Try balancing your activities if you visit the Louvre in the morning, follow it with an afternoon at a local circus or puppet theatre.
Take time out
It is always wise to give yourself a break from your children, even more so when you are on holidays. So make use of any babysitting facilities at your hotel and enjoy a little time out the kids will probably need it as much as you!