1. Package holidays aren’t always the way to go
If you time it right (and by right we mean about 3 months in advance) you can get some great deals on flights through comparison companies like Skyscanner. The same goes for accommodation – you can hire an entire home on Airbnb for the price of one night in some hotels – and that’s what it is a home as opposed to a hotel room. Live like a local and you’ll see a whole different side to the country you’re in!
2. Making the best of your flight
If you can book a night flight – do it! You have a much better chance of your kid sleeping through most of it – if it’s long haul check if your airline provides bassinets for kids under 2 years. If you can’t book a night flight why not book one with a long stop over? A day in another country on the way to your final destination, not only means you get more out of your holiday, it means you and your kids get a break and it makes the flights either side shorter and easier to deal with!
Pack your bag full of surprises – whether it’s a lollipop or a magazine or a kinder egg – you can pull one out if your kid is getting bored and it will distract them for a while and it makes great bribery material!
If your kid won’t sleep or is having a tantrum – don’t worry about it! The stigma of screaming babies on a plane, is just that – most people have been there and will sympathise! If you want to butter them up beforehand though why not leave a chocolate and a little note on their seat before take-off?
3. Don’t make any plans for your first day
Kids are very flexible and will bounce back and adjust to different time zones in no time – that being said it’s better to err on the side of caution and not plan anything for your first day – it gives them and you time to recover and means nobody is disappointed if the first days activities don’t go to plan!
4. Do your research
No, we don’t mean plan every second of your holiday meticulously because things don’t always go to plan. However, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick google search and see what facilities there are for kids at the airport you’re flying from – if there’s a play area it’ll keep them entertained and let them burn off steam before boarding your flight. Also have a quick look to see what there is to do with kids at your chosen destination – chances are they are not going to want to trail around museums and may be too young for any extreme sports!
5. You don’t need to pack everything except the kitchen sink!
We travel for months at a time with our two sons and only ever take 2 backpacks with us – so clothes wise we stick to one to wear, one spare and one for the wash! You can always pick up anything else you need on the way.
If you’re travelling with young children take enough nappies, wipes and milk etc. for the first few days but don’t feel you have to weigh yourself down with enough for the whole trip. Even third world countries have baby supplies – if we can find what we need on a Philippine island that is only accessible by what was essentially a big canoe…so can you! If you’re still not sure – pack a few re-usable nappies just in case.
**DID YOU KNOW: If you smile nicely enough and ask politely enough most airports will usher you the front of all queues when you’re travelling with children so you don’t have to keep them entertained while standing in line!
I have recently been away to Italy with my 5month old and I received some amazing advice from other mothers which helped to make it the holiday of a lifetime. I am conscious the holiday season is upon us, so I wanted to share the words of wisdom…
1. Buy a few cotbed mozzie nets. They are great for putting over beds and buggys, but were also great for putting over windows at night if you need to air the room.
2. Take your room thermometer and a selection of sleeping bags with different togs.
3. Take your own brand washing liquid if you LO has excema issues.e.g suncare
4. Try and time a feed for take off (bottle or boob). We started to feed my LO at taxing to the runway. The swallowing meant his ears were fine for the flight. For landing – in hindsight, we should have fed him some water as his ears were hurting 🙁 Bless him)
5. We flew from Manchester and there is a special (free) fast track lane through security for families – a god send and so much quicker than queuing. Saying that – we needed the full 2 hours to get to the gate, so don’t be tempted to get to the airport late.
6. You can take liquids and bottles through security. We had lots of bottled formula and others were taking through water in bottles. They have special trays for you to put them in.
7. We took our own car seat and buggy – and were allowed to keep both until we boarded the plane. I took some large bin bags and sellotape to wrap around the car seat to protect the covers.
8. We flew Monarch and they were amazing with my LO. They upgraded us for free so we could have extra leg room, and on the way back they moved other passengers to allow us to have 3 seats to ourselves so the LO could lie down.
9. When booking flights – look carefully at baggage allowance with children. On Monarch we paid £20 for the LO ticket, plus got 10kg free baggage allowance and 2 extra pieces of free luggage (car seat and buggy).
10. Patch test suncream before you go so you know if you LO will have a reaction. It also gets them use to it being applied daily.
11. Get your LO used to wearing hats before they go away. Makes your life much easier. Mothercare ones have chin straps to help keep them on.
12. We took all our formula with us. For UHT formula, many places have restrictions on what you can buy – so we bulk ordered from Mothercare online in advance.
13. Read NHS guidance for the water to use for LOs – for formula and drinking water. Especially if they are under 6 months.
14. We found an inflatable swim seat a godsend for the outdoor pool. Our LO loved the independence of floating in it. A couple of bath toys kept him amused for up to 30 mins in the pool!
15. We bought a cheap Chicco Echo buggy in the sale at Mothercare as we did not want to lumber a heavy and bulky (and expensive) buggy with us on holiday. This was a godsend as it allowed the baby to lie totally flat – so it meant we had a changing table ready made wherever we were. Very useful given that we did not see one baby change facility outside the airports.
16. I swapped my usual baby changing bag with a small rucksack – which I found to be so much more portable for hols.
17. I bought one of those old fashioned string buggy bags for £6 from Boyes – this went on the back of the buggy and was sooo useful for throwing in toys, hats, glasses etc
18. I got my LO used to wearing sunglasses before we went away. Mothercare sell a fabulous range – and Jo Jo sell a strap that can help to keep them on the head.
19. Let dad handle the explosive bum at 30,000 feet 🙂
20. Take your own bedsheets so their bed smells of home
21. Beach towels act as great black out blinds. Take pegs to attach them to blinds or curtains
22. I hate changing bums on hard tiled floors so used a folded bathmat, topped with a piece of thin foam and a huggies swimming mat as a changing mat
23. On arrival in manchester there is a family lane at customs but it was not open when we landed. You will need to ask to get in it. Again, no queues
24. We went self catering in an apartment in a 300 year old farmhouse. It was really important to us that we had some opportunity for quality adult time when the LO was asleep. We got a ground floor apartment with immediate access to a huge common area where we could bbq and enjoy wine every evening. The walls of the old farmhouse were so thick the LO could not hear anything. It was lovely to have some quality time as a couple. We felt a little balcony in a hotel would constrain us and we did not want to have to spend evenings in the bathroom 😉
25. Practice sun safety in the UK when the weather is nice and get your LO used to the heat
26. I was dubious about a buggy parasol, but it worked a treat. £10 from toys r us. It worked so well that our LO told us when it needed repositioning (ie when the sun hit him)
27. A damp cold muslin is great in the buggy for hot days
28. If your LO travels well, enjoy day trips whilst they are so portable. However, I would not advice Venice with a buggy! 😉
30. Take your own baby monitor so you can relax in the evening
‘We just took a couple of well loved toys that could be attached to the outside of hand luggage to minimise rooting around on the flight. Good for days trips too as they attach to buggy and car seat
Above all – have fun. I found it to be one of the best holidays of our life. MY LO adored having his daddy with him, and grinned from ear to ear from the 3:30am flight wake up until we landed back home. I was really reticent about the flight, but it was fine. 2 hours is not long at all, and the air hostesses were great at letting me walk around and stand in their galley area to rock the wee one to sleep. Plus -a cute baby is entertainment for everyone on the flight. You will have at least 12 babysitters immediately around you to pull faces and entertain them 🙂
Hope this helps. Happy holidays everyone.’
EL March 2017
‘Spread your clothes out between however many cases you are taking just in case any go missing.Trip to pound shop for cheapy toys for flight’
AW March 2017
‘Chances are the 6 month old will sleep the whole flight, my youngest did when we took her at 8 months old. We packed colours, colouring books and mini travel board games for my eldest who was 2 when we first took her away. She’s 6 now and my youngest is 3, we take their hudls aswell as colours, colouring books and barbies! They entertain the whole holiday as the only time they use them is when it’s nap time in the afternoon.’
MS March 2017
‘Get the baby to suck a dummy or drink from their bottle during take off and landing it stops their ears popping .’
SG March 2017
‘I got told to bottle or boob feed baby as aeroplane is taking off so they are swallowing and ears will pop and not go funny. I took some lollies and juice for my toddler to for same reason. I took my toddlers favourite snacks in suitcase too to eat by the pool as she wasn’t keen on the food.
RM March 2017
‘I can’t help with the 2 year old but we took our 8 month away last month. Zeta Vrooom is a great buggy to take! Spacious, light, sturdy and has an extra long canopy for the sunny snoozes. We took a few toys but tbh on the 3 hour flight there was little playing. There’s so much distractions and you’ll be surprised at how exciting the trays are to a small human. If you’re on a beach then baby powder is great for getting sand off without all the itching and scratching. Maybe practice your contortions in advance.. you’ve not changed a nappy until you’ve changed one in an aeroplane bathroom!
KD March 2017
‘A kindle/iPad with loads downloaded from CBeebies in advance. Comics at the airport, stickers, colouring in books, a billion snacks
I would also pack: Calpol, emergency cereal in case he won’t eat anything else! straws, so that you can drink from glasses/bottles more easily when you’re on the move.’
VC March 2017