Family Holidays - What you really need to know before you go!
We have done the legwork and searched blogsphere to find the best advice and tips from fellow bloggers that have already had the pleasure of taking the little ones on holiday. Some of them had an enjoyable time too making their advice all the more valuable. Here’s our top 12!
Take it OR Buy It there (what to take)
Planning what to take is hard work and there is no escaping that you will need to take LOTS…
Nappies / Food / Formula etc This one is ‘horses for courses’. You’ll usually pay a premium for buying abroad and may need to forgo your brand of choice – BUT, unless you are planning on being miles away from civilisation the staple baby commodities are readily found everywhere. This obviously helps with the very precious luggage allowance too!
A compromise could be to order for pick up from the ‘Boots’ at your local airport. They provide an ‘Order and Collect’ service that you can carry on to the plane.
The final option being to take your own. This will likely save you money but requires more planning and weight.
Travel Cot / High Chair / Fridge
Best advice here is not to assume! We’ve nearly always had these provided but I’d hate to be relying on them to find they were not there…. Worth checking AND also worth requesting in advance (in case they are in short supply).
The buggy (stroller)
Often costing hundreds of pounds, this is commonly one of the higher cost purchases for parents. Now consider how your suitcases are handled at the airports and how often cases get damaged. This is your clue. Do NOT take your precious buggy away with you – instead purchase a low cost one so you don’t get emotional when the baggage handler abuses it or your little one spills his ice cream, dinner, drinks etc all over it.
TIP – buy second hand – Facebook is a good source eg local buying pages or mums groups, kids car boot sales etc. If you are feeling slightly more flush, supermarkets such as Asda and Aldi often have lightweight decent buggy’s at very decent prices.
Rather than trying to get little parasols (even though they look pretty in the photos…) and hoods that require constant adjustment we are going to share a top tip
TIP – get a mesh cover. The one in the picture is from Koo-Di (on Amazon) and blocks 93% of all UVA. I don’t have shares in them but have used one for years. They fit almost any buggy and work brilliantly – for me the great bit is that baby can see outwards through the mesh. Perfect!
Sunshine (you hope…)
Not to be feared – lots of people in hot countries have baby’s too – but to state the obvious, do take plenty of high factor creams and suitable clothes (incl hats!)
TIP – Children’s swimsuits are a great idea and cover much more of the otherwise exposed body!
If your baby is under 2 you get that dubious bonding experience of having your baby sat on your lap for the journey. You also get a complimentary guilt trip for failing to prevent said baby repeatedly kicking the seat in front for most of the journey and making it a nightmare for the unfortunate soul who’s only crime was to check in at the wrong time!
If child is over two then they get their own seat - which is easier (and more costly)
Meals on the plane and baby changing – both are difficult in the very cramped conditions. Definitely not a positive but not enough to abort. Chin up and remember – you’ve survived labour!
Apartments, or for the more well heeled two rooms
An absolute godsend to help preserve your sanity and give you and your partner some alone time once you’ve had your full quota of love from your kids (AKA they tired themselves out). If this is just cost prohibitive, fear not – that’s what balconies and bottles of wine are for!
Ok – so you’ve had years of “routine” being drilled into you and it will likely take some out of their comfort zones but it really is best to go with the flow (which may, or may not involve finding a holiday routine). Positively – people (including baby’s / kids) are biologically programmed to sleep when they are tired enough so try not to fret about a late sleep or missed nap.
Are they a cop out? For me it’s about balance. We have used holiday kids clubs in the past where the kids have had an amazing time. We’ve also had them say they didn’t want to go – which was also fine. Definitely worth showing them what’s on offer as they may get something very special out of it.
No ‘rules’ here and best to temper to your own family dynamics. If you are going to be phobic about being on a boat, or don’t like travelling on coaches on foreign roads then your options will be more limited and rather like being in the UK – find the things you like and are comfortable with.
TIP – DON’T forget the nappy bag – yes I know you wouldn’t, but we did ONCE and it made for a very unpleasant day out – with no need to elaborate here…
We take family games (small and easy to carry like playing cards and a Scategories die and timer). Then there are the obvious “Devices” and you won’t have to look very hard to find a raft of games eg we often play “20 Questions”, “Charades” etc. Very young children often like to draw (paper and crayons have saved many a meal for my wife and I…)
Keeping them occupied
The downside is that for the ‘young’ this will still likely require near constant attention. The upside is they are easy to occupy. Kids love pools & splashing; beaches & sand (though not great for babies – lots of hard work for little payback, unless you enjoy trying to scrape sand off little Johnny’s dummy and fretting about how much he swallowed…)
Prices and Older Children
Worth checking with the holiday companies. Discounted child places (free if you were very lucky) stop at different ages with the meanest holiday companies classifying 11 year olds as Adults (seriously!). Some do it from 12, 14 and 16.
TIP – obviously avoid being caught out with an unexpected hike BUT also turn it into an opportunity and try to plan in some more upmarket holidays before your holiday costs shoot up!
All that remains now is to have the most amazing time. You’ll get precious memories that will stay with you forever. Happy holidays folks!
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