The annual holiday is the highlight of any family’s year, but there are lots of mishaps, pitfalls and stresses that travelling with children can bring. Good planning can help to prevent some of them.
Before you go
Think well in advance about any necessary vaccinations you may need for your destination – but also ensure routine childhood vaccinations are up to date.
Long haul trips are sometimes arduous for very young children. So, too, can be trips to hot countries where diseases like malaria are rife. Aim for comfort more than adventure, and take your children to places where the atmosphere is as close as possible to what they are used to.
On the way
Driving? Make sure your car is stocked with some healthy snacks to keep hunger at bay and to prevent the kids getting loud and bothered.
Think about flight and journey times and how they will affect your children’s routine. if they always have lunch at noon, try to ensure they do the same while on the road. Check whether the flight has a meal, try to choose a holiday with sensible flight times and no changes. Think also about how far you have to go once you exit the airport.
Travel sickness can affect anyone. Take sickness medicines, which you can buy at the airport or on ferries.
Airlines restrict hand luggage by size as much as weight, so take only what you need in your hand, but try to keep everything your child will need on the trip in your hand luggage. This could include nappies and wipes, a feeding bottle, snack foods, colouring pencils and a pad.
Think about your location on the plane. Check in as early as possible and ask for seats that have leg room and that are close to a toilet – children often find the walk to the toilet a novelty, and it’s annoying to have to keep climbing over people and the food trolley.
For many children, travel is boring. They fidget and create stress for those around them. Take enough distractions with you to keep them occupied and take their mind off the journey. Don’t give them everything at once because they will then get bored quickly.
When you get there
Many countries don’t have health and safety rules we take for granted. Look out for accident hotspots or things that could cause your child harm.
Taking some child medicines from home is a good idea – Infacol, Calpol or paracetamol – and don’t forget waterproof plasters. If you or your children have a prescription, take it with you in case you need to get more supplies.
Don’t expect too much of your children. If you fancy going off and exploring every local attraction, your children may get bored and fed up. They may just want to run down to the beach or play in the pool. You will be more relaxed as a family if you don’t impose too many orders on the children.