Travelling with the kids is always going to be a bit of a challenge no matter their age – and we’re not going to lie to you, it doesn’t always get easier as they get older. Still, that doesn’t mean that a family holiday isn’t worth doing. In fact, it’s one of the most rewarding and memorable things you and the kids can do together. To make things a bit easier, we’ve got in touch with some of the UK’s top travel and parenting bloggers to share their secrets of happy family getaways, and once you’ve absorbed all their wisdom why not check out our range of family-friendly villas so you can find the perfect place to stay?
Mary, Over 40 and Mum to One
Tip: Be organised, take lots of snacks, small toys, travel games and comics with you. I always have ‘surprises’ to share with my little boy at regular intervals during flights to avoid the ‘Mummy I’m bored’ and ‘are we nearly there yet?’ meltdowns.
Dave, The Dadventurer
Tip: Where possible, try to keep your little one’s routine – naps, meals, bedtime etc – the same as when you’re at home. This isn’t always possible if you’ve crossed time zones or find yourself miles away from your hotel, but doing so will mean that your little one is less impacted by the holiday and allows you to schedule your daily plans around a routine that you already understand. For instance, we’ve found that covering the pushchair with a blackout cover allows our baby to nap at her usual time when we’re out during the day, whilst putting the travel cot into our hotel room’s bathroom (yes, really!) replicates her being in her own room at home and allows us all to sleep better.
Tanya, Mummy Barrow
Tip: Travelling with teens can be a challenge but actually it can be great fun too. Here are some of my top tips for a stress-free holiday:
Make sure you treat them like adults and that their opinion does count. Our best journeys (even the really awful ones) have been when we’ve discussed when we should stop, which route we should take (tricky one that, because you can only have one driver, so invite opinions but make a decision).
There are a couple of specific things I would suggest to show you’re listening. Take it in turns to have each other’s music on, then sport (if you like that sort of thing). Sooner or later people will drift off to their iPods anyway, but just putting your stuff on at the start will make it a grumpy retreat into iPod-land, rather than a “had my half hour, want to carry on, but I ‘get it’ ” retreat.
Ask if anyone wants to “stop and stretch their legs”, not “do you need a wee” at every service station – but give everyone a one-mile warning.
Pick a hotel or holiday cottage that has wifi. As much as we all think we use it too much and want to have a holiday where we become the Waltons or Swiss Family Robinson, in reality, that’s not going happen. Wifi IS a part of our lives and to go away for two weeks and not have it will cause all sorts of issues, even if it is just to find out where the nearest supermarket is on Google.
Ask your teens what they want to do tomorrow – or what they don’t want to do. We have a system where there are some things that we say “look we have come all this way and would love you to come and visit this” but then there are others where we let it go and leave the teens by the pool and head off for a couple of hours on our own. Equally, if they want to go rollerblading, we do it. After all, it’s their holiday too.
We have found that the more we treat the teens like adults, the more they act like them and then we all enjoy our time away!
Tip: My top tip for travelling with a baby or toddler is to be prepared. Take a change of clothes and non-messy activities for them to play with. My toddler loves to play with stickers or flash cards, and a colouring book and pencil always go down well. One or two of his favourite books are good to keep him occupied too!
We did download a couple of episodes of his favourite TV programme when we were flying to Turkey and it helped keep him calm and still for a good half an hour which was a welcome break for myself and my husband.
Tanya, Cracked Nails and Split Ends
Tip: Get yourself and your kids well prepared – it is very important your kids know what to expect, i.e. the long journey. We always pack pillows and blankets so they can snuggle up and hopefully nap. We also pack lots of crayons and paper, a few books, and a couple of toys.
Nichola, Globalmouse Travels
Tip: Go for it! So many people get in touch with us looking for advice for that first trip away and how to make it easier but really the best thing you can do is to start travelling because it only gets better from there as you learn your own tips and routines. Travelling with kids is such a rewarding, life-enriching experience and once you take that first leap you won’t want to stop!