26 May 30 Family Travel Tips to avoid meltdowns on holiday
Got kids? Travelling abroad with young ones isn’t always easy. While I don’t have a family of my own yet, I recognise how tricky it must be to go on holiday with the young ones AND keep everyone happy. Whenever I go on a long-haul flight and see a parent trying to calm their screaming baby, or stop their child having a temper tantrum at the baggage carousel, I have a sense of respect and appreciation for what my parents must have had to go through for me.
Fortunately though there are some great tips out there that can help you travel better as a family. This month MyVoucherCodes.co.uk and Thomson have teamed up to share some ultimate travel tips to make travelling with kids much easier on your summer holiday. I’ve also thrown in some extra tips from friends and parents to help make your trip a much more enjoyable one:
1. Choose your destination wisely. You’ll want to pick somewhere that has enough to keep your children happy and entertained, but it’s just as important to think about your own needs and what destination will interest you.
2. If you have older children, get them involved in the planning process. Have them look up places to visit and help you plan fun activities to do while you’re there.
3. Most major holiday destinations will have some fun activities, such as water parks, theme parks and family-friendly attractions. To save money, check out for offers and any free family days at museums, historical sites and parks.
4. Some parents tend to avoid travelling to long-haul destinations because of the extended flight time, but don’t let this put you off. There are still some great long-haul destinations that aren’t too far from home, such as the Dominican Republic or Cape Verde.
5. That being said, when you’re travelling with push chairs, lots of luggage and your kids in tow, you’ll probably want to minimise travel time getting to and from the airport, as it can be exhausting. Try to book direct flights and organise transfers before you go to make your life much easier.
6. If you’re flying with children then you’ll want to keep them occupied on the plane. Check out what movies, games and TV shows are on the in-flight entertainment system before you set off. If you don’t think there’s enough to keep them interested, you can always download their favourite TV shows to an iPad or tablet before you go.
7. The change of altitude can cause your children’s ears to pop, so it’s a good idea to bring a bottle for toddlers and some sweets to suck on for the kids. The sucking action will help to soothe them and minimise their discomfort as the plane begins to descend.
8. If you’re worried about your child annoying other travellers on the plane, you could follow this idea and hand out goodie bags to your fellow passengers on the plane, or at least talk to your neighbouring passengers and develop a rapport with them. Not long ago I was flying from Austin to Seattle and I happened to be sitting next to a single parent with a toddler. He apologised in advance for any noise his daughter would make, although actually I thought she was very well behaved.
9. Arrive at the airport early so you’re not rushing through the airport. Your children will have plenty of space to run around in the terminal, but not so much on the plane. By taking your time you can help them get used to the new environment. If you’re calm, they’ll be calm.
10. Lots of UK airports have child-friendly lounges where you can buy day passes, and you may be able to get a family pass if you’re travelling together. By relaxing in the lounge you can keep them relaxed in a calmer environment, away from the noise of the main terminal.
11. Airports like Heathrow also have play areas and child-friendly restaurants with high-chairs. Many of the restaurants take part in a Kids Eat Free meal deal to help keep little tummies full while you wait for your flight. Gatwick Airport is a Family Friendly accredited airport, offering baby-changing facilities, kids zones, family security lanes and complimentary pushchairs to make your journey a smooth one.
12. If your kids are a bit nervous about flying then you can keep them occupied with an air travel a game. Encourage your child to be a pilot or a flight attendant and role play during the flight to keep them distracted from getting overwhelmed.
13. Create a budget before you go and try to stick to it, even if you’re on an all-inclusive holiday where food and drinks are included. Have a little extra cash set aside just in case of an emergency.
14. Getting your travel money last-minute at the airport will usually incur hefty fees, so it’s usually best to order your Euros or cash in advance before you go. One of the cheapest ways to spend abroad is by signing up for a travel credit card that has no foreign transaction fees, as current accounts can often charge you a fee per transaction. I usually look to MoneySavingExpert.com to pick out the best travel credit cards.
15. Pre-book your transfers before you go, to avoid getting stung by the cost of airport taxis. If you can’t book transfers, download apps like Uber or Lyft to save on the cost of your fare.
16. Give your children some spending money for the trip and have them keep a budget for souvenirs and treats. It’s a great way to teach them skills when it comes to budgeting and handling money.
17. Every country has a different tipping policy so learn what the typical percentage is before you go. I often use an app called World Mate, which has an integrated tipping calculator so I can easily calculate the cost after a meal.
18. Always make sure you have adequate travel insurance before you set off, to cover you for things like cancellations, delays, lost luggage and medical expenses. While it would suck to fall ill on holiday, it’s always best to be prepared.
19. Choosing a hotel that’s well-located close to nearby towns and attractions means you’ll spend less time on buses or in taxis.
20. If you’ve booked an all-inclusive package holiday, check what’s included so you don’t miss out. You might find there’s more included than you think.
21. Contact the hotel or your travel rep before you go to see if the hotel provides complimentary fun packs for children; such as toys, books or games or even pool floats.
22. Take time to discover what children’s facilities are available and what entertainment is on offer. Hotels often put on group activities throughout the day as well as entertainment in the evenings.
23. When packing your suitcase, throw in some home comforts such as their favourite favourite teddies or blankets. Sometimes they can feel homesick in a new living space, so it helps to have something familiar around to soothe them.
Food and drink
24. If the hotel has resort restaurants on-site, you may want to book them before you go, as they can often fill up. It can be incredibly frustrating to get to the restaurant, only to realise it’s fully booked. If you’re staying at a family hotel then earlier times tend to get busy, as people want to eat before the children’s entertainment starts.
25. Take advantage of the wide selection of foods at the hotel buffet. It can be tempting for children to stick to familiar foods like chicken nuggets or chips, but the buffet presents an opportunity for them to try a little bit of everything.
26. If you’re heading out for the day, ask your hotel if they provide picnics as part of your package. If they don’t, you can always grab some food from the breakfast buffet and pack your own.
Things to Do
27. Get the whole family involved in deciding what to do each day so its a joint effort. Your kids will definitely feel happier if you’ve included them in the decision-making process. However, while it’s good to have a plan, it’s good to allow for some spontaneity.
28. Encourage older children to keep a travel diary to document the trip, using photos, mementos and souvenirs. Get your younger children to create a scrap book, collecting ticket stubs and knickknacks. If your kids enjoy taking photos or using a camera, bring one and let them be in charge of the family snaps.
29. Travel is a great way for your kids to experience new cultures, destinations and traditions. Interact with the locals and take them to cultural attractions so they can learn new things.
30. Even though it’s tempting to rely on Facebook or Instagram for sharing your holiday with family and friends, it’s still nice to send postcards, and it gives your little ones a chance to practice writing.