A little birdy told us that Cheryl, a fellow Warwickshire mumma and all round wonderful human, is off yet again to one of her enviable travels with her family! I couldn’t resist bringing you along on this journey - so I’ve brought you the some of the nuggets she’s shared with us below about travelling with young children. Hop on over to her Instagram and follow along to live vicariously through her as well!
“Before we embarked on our first family holiday with my daughter – then aged one - I was a bag of nerves. But my fears about travelling with a baby were soon squashed and our memories of that week in Corfu are nothing but magical.
We have since holidayed abroad six more times as a family, the last four with our little boy in tow too. Along the way I have picked up a few holiday hacks to ensure our holiday kicks off as stress-free as possible.
Choose your destination wisely
Do your research before you commit to a booking. While our kids are young, we have found resorts with everything on site tend to work best. Choosing an all-inclusive hotel ensures ice-creams, drinks and snacks are available and more importantly, already paid for, otherwise it can soon add up. But if you prefer to venture out to enjoy the local cuisine, check the location of the hotel first. Is the route to nearby amenities pushchair friendly? Can you readily get a taxi? As well as the board type, consideration needs to be given to the facilities onsite. Does the hotel cater for children? Think entertainment, kids’ clubs, splash pools. It’s also worth noting whether there are any shops nearby for emergency nappies, suncream, formula. Lastly, give thought to the hotel room. Does it have a separate area to the bedroom so that you’re not having to sit in the dark when the kids are in bed. Does it have a bath? Can they provide a cot? These are things that your travel agent can assist with but best to check ahead with the hotel if booking directly and take a look a trusted review sites.
Prep to mitigate panic
Having a plan before you embark on your holiday is vital to ensure a smooth and stress-free time away. Make a list of everything you need to take well in advance – this master list can be reused and added to for each trip you go on. Doing this a few weeks before will allow you time to make any purchases needed in plenty of time. The evening before you travel is time to ensure all your devices are charged. There’ll likely be no Wi-Fi while in the air so download your little one’s favourite games and shows on Netflix in advance. Delays are never good news but can cause added stress when kids are involved. Do you have enough snacks, drinks, nappies, and toys to keep them entertained? Prepare for all scenarios. Take a change of clothes in case of spilt drinks or nappy leakages.
It can be tempting to take everything, and it’ll take a few trips before you refine what you must pack. The following works for us: Instead of throwing all clothes in together, I make-up the outfits in advance, fold them together or pop into sandwich bags with plenty of spares. If we’re going on a night flight, I pack PJs and thick socks, it helps the little ones get into the mindset that it’s bedtime but also ensures a more seamless transition to bed if it’s still night-time when we arrive at the hotel. A pushchair might seem like an extra thing to worry about, but it doubles up as a great trolley for your hand luggage and will stop little feet from wandering in busier areas such as the queue for airport security. Most airlines will allow you to take your buggy all the way to boarding gate and pup-up strollers like the Babyzen Yoyo can be taken on as hand luggage. Trunkies are also a great way to transport tired children. Ours love that they have own case to pack too. We also never leave without headphones, a small pillow and blanket and teddy each. For when we arrive goggles, inflatables and pool toys are a must. If you are travelling with a baby, a sunshade is a vital so that naps aren’t confined to your room.
The thought of taking a small person on even a short haul flight can be daunting. But I can assure you it will never be as bad as you imagine. All the same no-one wants to be responsible for a tantruming toddler. Ensure you have their favourite snacks and a few treats to hand – though not too much sugar as that will be counteractive. Take two-three favourite toys and teddies to offer some comfort. Nothing too small as they’ll inevitably get lost. Plus a few new toys and games (one for every hour of the flight) – this can be kept simple and cheap such as a small colouring book, new crayons, a sheet of stickers, a book, or a game of top trumps – basically enough to keep them entertained.
Remember it’s supposed to be a holiday – for all of you! It won’t be possible to mimic the routine you have at home completely, so you’ll need to be flexible and go with the flow at times. Some places, especially in Europe, dine a lot later, so mealtimes may be later than you are all used to. So far, our fail-safe method when travelling east is to keep the kids on British time so that bedtime remains 7.30pm Greenwich Mean Time. This can mean bedtime is 9.30pm, 10.30pm wherever we are. It ensures we get an evening together, but the children don’t get tired as they’re still on the time zone that they’re used to. They naturally wake at around 6.30-7am British time, which can be 8.30-9am over there, giving us either a lay-in or a quieter start to the morning, chance to shower and pack beach bags while they snooze. If you can plan flight times around nap and bedtimes too, even better, but bear in mind that while the kids might sleep, you might not – and that’s not a good start, a mistake we’ve had to learn from.
Cheryl is a small business owner – The Buggy Valet; an independent travel agent - @ourtravelsecretsshared; and mum to two: Lissia aged five and Jesse aged three. Through her travel business she helps families to save on their family holidays.
If you’re looking for holiday inspiration, want a trusted agent to make a travel booking on your behalf, or simply want to find out more about how to reduce the price of your trip, go to @ourtravelsecretsshared. And when you return, book your suncream stained and sandy buggy in for a clean at thebuggyvalet.co.uk.”