Mother and Baby

Family Holiday Survival Guide: Brilliant Tips For Travelling With Children

Section: Family travel
A looming holiday can be a daunting prospect when you’ve got young children travelling with you – especially when you’ve heard horror stories of babies crying non-stop on an eight hour flight or toddlers not liking the food at their resort. But with a little extra planning and preparation there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have as good a time as you would pre-baby – if not better!
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Book ahead

There’s less room for spontaneity when you’ve got little ones travelling with you. They crave routine and structure – which trying to find a place to stay for the night on the day doesn’t offer. Book well in advance and you’ll also probably save money with the great family deals available. [Corbis]
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Take advantage of modern technology

While palming your tot off with an iPad at home may not be brilliant parenting, it’s fine to do on holiday. An iPad is a fantastic holiday accompaniment with hours of entertainment built into one easy-to-carry around device – leaving you some down-time to chill out and read that Jackie Collins book you’ve been dying to finish. Just be sure to not exceed 30 minute bursts. [Corbis]
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Pre-book your baby milk cartons

Some UK airports allow you to pre-order baby milk – which is a godsend if you formula or mix feed and you’re worried about security restrictions on liquids, luggage and food. [Corbis]
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Take an inflatable car seat

Volvo have designed an inflatable car seat, which deflates small enough to fit in your holdall – making it ideal for using in taxis, coaches and other vehicles abroad.
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Take a backseat

If you’ve got a long car journey ahead and just one child, spend some of the trip sat in the back alongside your tot while your partner takes the wheel. You can watch a film together, play a game or read a story – just as if you’re at home. [Corbis]
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Help make your tot feel comfortable

Taking your toddler’s own bowl and spoon from home can make him feel more comfortable while away – and more likely to finish his food.
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Pack piddle pads

If you’re potty training your toddler and about to embark on a long car journey, pack some piddle pads. The waterproof seat liner is a great protector for car seats and buggies and will absorb any en-route accidents.
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Be realistic

‘Don't have unrealistic expectations of how far you can drive in one day,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. Take it little by little and it will go far smoother! [Corbis]
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Pack goody bags

Pack each child their own bag of goodies. ‘They can unwrap and enjoy these on the journey and new toys, fun things to read, doodle on or eat are all useful,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. [Corbis]
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Plan your stops

On car journeys, schedule a stop every two hours. ‘But don’t stop when your little ones are sleeping,’ advises parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. ‘Just drive on through the scheduled stop!’ [Corbis]
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Take the essentials

Don't forget all your usual medication, wet wipes, nappies and favourite food. ‘Pack double of what you normally need,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. ‘There is nothing worse than a teething toddler, snuffly babe or headachy little one and no pharmacy to be found.’ Cathy Winston from adds, 'Always plan for the worst!' [Corbis]
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Plan when you leave

If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, consider what time you aim to leave at. ‘Try leaving at breakfast time, so that the children eat their first meal in the car and you miss the worst of the traffic,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. [Corbis]
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Bring your baby carrier

‘It’s indispensable to be hands free at the airport, particularly if you're chasing after other kids,’ says Nicola from Jet Lag and Mayhem. ‘And it’s a great way to jiggle your baby to sleep on the plane. You also never know how far the walk might be from aircraft door to picking up your buggy.’ [Corbis]
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Book a meet and greet

A meet and greet service can be a huge help when you’ve got young children with you. ‘If you’re parking at the airport, a meet and greet service saves time and hassle and is often cheaper than standard airport parking charges,’ says Gretta Schifano from Mums Do Travel. ‘You drive to the terminal, hand your car over to a driver and walk to the check-in desk. The driver meets you with your car when you arrive back.’ [Corbis]
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Don’t skimp on treats

While at home you may be careful with how many snacks you give your kids, you can loosen up your rules on holiday. ‘Pack snacks! A hungry child is a grumpy child, so snacks are critical,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. ‘I recommend packing small boxes of raisins, oat bars, and some “bribe/reward” items like small sweet treats. Also, consider sweets that can be sucked for older children, to reduce pressure on ears at take off and landing.’ [Corbis]
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Avoid making enemies

Unless you’re travelling by car, your journey will involve lots of other people – and as you’re spending a fair few hours with them it’s best not to annoy them if possible! ‘Remember the more you tell children not to press the attendant call button the more they will do it,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. ‘Respect the comfort of other passengers by dealing firmly with unacceptable behaviour, such as kicking the seat, but be prepared for some passengers to give you the “raised eyebrow” treatment merely at the sight of your little darlings.’ [Corbis]
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Plan activities

If you’re children are old enough, sit and plan some ideas of what you can do each day you’re away with them. This will make them feel really involved and make them look forward to the holiday more. Even if you’re just visiting relatives for a few days, you can plan a trip to the local park or a woodland walk. [Corbis]
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Give your tot a backpack

Make your toddler feel more grown up and independent with his own backpack. Little Life daysacks are brilliant as you can attach a safety rein to it for extra piece of mind. Fill it with some snacks and a few toys – but make sure it isn’t too heavy. [Little Life]
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Splurge for comfort

If you’re travelling by train, you might want to shell out to make sure your family’s journey is more comfortable. ‘See if you can get discounts on first class by booking ahead – if travelling out of peak hours these tickets can be very reasonable and will give you guaranteed seats,’ says parenting expert Sigrid Daniel. ‘Once again you may not be popular with fellow travellers so make sure you encourage good behaviour. If travelling overnight, reserve a sleeping car if possible. Children love it! Overnight train trips make for a rough ride, so being able to lay down with the children instead of sitting up all night is a blessing.’ [Corbis]
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Take a travel carbon monoxide alarm

Here’s one item you might not have thought about packing, but going on holiday doesn’t mean carbon monoxide - known as the ‘silent killer’ - isn’t something to think about. Fire Angel’s CO-9X 7 year portable CO alarm will alert you and your family to CO emissions from boilers, cookers, BBQs and other fuel-burning appliances. It’s about the size of a bar of soap so is handy for holidays at home and abroad. £24.99,
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