No matter how old your children are I think it’s really important to travel with them. I do think kids learn a lot through their travel experiences but it’s more than that. Holidays are one of the only times when parents dedicate 100% of their time to relaxing and having fun. There’s no work, no chores, no shopping, no life admin, no phone calls, no visitors and no plans. It’s pure bliss. This means parents are super relaxed and spend all their time just relaxing and having fun with their kids. But not just fun with their kids but fun with their partners too and I think that’s just as important. Happy parents = happy kids!
I try to be one of those parents who is always ‘in the moment’ and never distracted by my never ending to-do list! But realistically, the only time I really forget about all that boring adulting stuff is when I’m on holiday and that’s my main reason for taking as many holidays as I possibly can!
Let’s be honest, travelling with kids is hard! Sometimes it’s so hard I wonder if it’s even worth it. When you’re half way through a long flight and one kid is crying and the other is dangerously close to puking into a flimsy airline sick bag and you’ve still got 3 hours left to go and all you really want is a G&T and to watch the inflight movies like you did in the ‘good old days’ you really will wonder what the hell you’re doing. Staying at home and camping in the garden would have been so much easier!
But then there are so many little moments during a family holiday that make you realise that it is worth it after all. That moment when your little boy jumps in the swimming pool for the first time or the first time you baby feels sad under his toes. It’s when you go to a restaurant and everyone coos over how cute your kids are and you’re so proud you might actually burst. It’s when your kids go to bed and you sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine as the sunsets and talk about what an amazing day you’ve had.
And it’s also five years after your holiday when you’ve forgotten about all the bad moments and just remember the good! It’s when you look back through your bulging photo albums and tell your kids stories of when they were babies and you laugh at the photos of their chubby legs and baldy baby heads.
Today I want to talk about some of the hardest things about travelling with kids and the ways you can overcome these…. let’s call them ‘challenges’. I’ve teamed up with Thomson and My Voucher Codes to share some tips on how you can overcome the challenges of travelling with kids!
Challenge 1: The flight
Flying with little kids is tough because most of them have an attention span of approximately 45 seconds and they’ll get bored and restless very quickly.
I have ‘active’ kids. And by this I mean they don’t sit still for anything more than 4 seconds! I see other kids sat on the plane in a sleepy, relaxed state as they watch films on their iPads or cuddle up and go to sleep. Then I look back at my own two and they’re climbing up the walls!
So here are my quick tips for flying with kids:
- Choose seats at the back of the plane – there always seem to be more kids at the back as it’s more acceptable to make a noise. They’ll also keep each other entertained by endless games of peekaboo
- Tire them out as much as possible in the airport –find a quiet spot and let them run wild before boarding the plane!
- Don’t even think about flying without an iPad
- Or endless snacks
- Or endless games and colouring books and activity packs
- Have surprises in your bag for when they get REALLY bored
- Don’t worry what anyone else thinks – almost every parent on the plane will be kind and sympathetic!
- Take some lollies – they’re good if your kid’s ears hurt and they keep them quiet for a long time
Read more: What to take on a plane for a toddler
Challenge 2: The hotel sleeping arrangements
It might seem like a good idea to squeeze the whole family into a standard hotel room. It’s usually free to add an extra cot and a camp bed or sofa bed and squish everyone in but after a couple of nights this becomes a logistical nightmare.
There’s no space for all your stuff and you’ll be confined to your room once your kids go to bed (meaning evenings are long and boring). If one child wakes up in the night then the whole family is awake and you end up with an overtired, grumpy family.
I recommend splashing out and booking a family suite or connecting family rooms. Everyone will sleep better and you won’t need to tiptoe around the bedroom. Whenever possible, get a room with a veranda or balcony so you can put the kids to bed and then sit outside.
Challenge 3: No time for mum and dad
It’s lovely to spend time together as a family, but do you know what’s ever lovelier? Spending time alone without the kids every once in a while!
Get your kids into a kid’s club so you can have some grown-up time and they can have fun with other kids. They’ll love it too and it’s a great way for them to make new friends on holiday.
Challenge 4: Entertaining babies
Now that George is two we’re actually finding it pretty easy to travel with him. He loves to run around, go swimming and go exploring. He eats whatever we eat and will sit at the table with no problems. But Joseph, who is now 7 months, is harder to entertain.
At home we have bouncers and rockers and Jumperoos, mountains of toys, play mats and baby-friendly floors for him to roll around on. If you don’t have these things on holiday then Baby will end up sat in their pushchair a lot of the time and it can be difficult to put them down as hotels and villas often have hard, tiled floors.
I recommend making ‘DIY baby friendly play areas’ with all your towels, pillows and blankets and look into hotels that have baby equipment.
Challenge 5: Eating out
We usually find that casual lunches with the kids are great but the more formal evening meals are more difficult. You could stay in a villa where you make all your own meals, go for casual evening meals or eat really early before restaurants get that romantic vibe!
This is when going on holiday with other families is great because you can take it in turns to have a date night while the other couple stay in with the kids.
It’s also worth considering an all-inclusive resort for hassle-free meal times. Before kids I wasn’t really a fan of all-inclusive resorts but now that I’m being eaten out of house and home by two little boys I can’t think of anything better than a self-serve buffet!
Challenge 6: The cost
I don’t want to breeze over the fact that one of the biggest challenges when taking the whole family on holiday is the cost. Once the kids are over the age of two you’ll need to pay full whack for their flight and those room upgrades and extra mouths to feed are going to cost you.
My top tip would be to get things booked a long way in advance so you can pay a little bit at a time. Book your flights one month and then your hotel. Then the following months you can start booking your activities and extras. Then just before your holiday you only need to worry about spending money and maybe a few new outfits. If you’re booking with one holiday company then look out for low deposits to get it booked in. Once it’s booked you can always pay it off but saving the money to pay it all in one lump sum is always harder!
Do you have any more tips for travelling with kids?