With holiday season upon us and the kids excited about the summer holidays, you’re probably counting down the days until your holiday starts! There’s nothing better than arriving at your destination and leaving the stresses of work behind and spending quality time with your family. However, if you’re travelling with young children there can be a mountain of things to think about – but don’t panic, we have some helpful hints and ideas!
Be a savvy packer
It’s so easy to pack everything but the kitchen sink when you’re travelling as a family, often taking far too many clothes, many of which will return unworn. Remember that you are likely to be near some local amenities, so even if you do forget something, there’ll be somewhere you can buy it whilst you’re away!
For space saving ideas, try rolling clothes rather than folding – it also saves on creases! And rather than packing big beach towels, why not buy one when you get to your destination – this way, you will save quite a lot of room in your case.
Many airlines offer an additional baggage allowance or items for free such as a pushchair or car seat; remember to take advantage of this.
If you are flying, don’t forget that you are limited to the volume of liquids you can take through security so bear that in mind when packing your hand luggage. In the event of everyone’s worse nightmare; missing luggage, try to split people’s clothing between suitcases. For guidance on hand luggage restrictions at UK airports see GOV.UK’s overview
Keeping entertained on the journey
Deal with the inevitable ‘are we there yet?’ moans by planning ahead with:
- non sticky easy to hold snacks
- books and audio books
- portable DVD players
- colouring, sticker or puzzle books
Make sure you plan ahead for possible traffic or flight delays and pack extra nappies, formula, wipes, snacks, clothing etc.
If you’re travelling abroad, take out travel insurance – not only in case you fall ill, but in case you are unfortunate enough to lose your suitcase/wallet/valuables whilst away. Also be sure to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel. This ensures you receive state health care in other EEA countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. Register for your card at https://www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card.
A first aid kit is an essential when travelling as a family. You can buy ready-made kits or put together your own. The NHS Livewell website suggest the below items for a basic pack 1 :
- wound-cleaning gauze
- sterile dressings
- bandage tape
- sunburn treatment
- insect repellent
- insect bite treatment
- medication for pre-existing medical conditions
Sunscreen is a necessity whether you’re holidaying in the UK or abroad. When buying sunscreen, make sure it blocks both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. The sunscreen label should have the letters ‘UVA’ in a circle logo, at least 4-star UVA protection and at least SPF15 sunscreen to protect against UVB. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. NHS Livewell suggests the amount needed for the body of an average adult is around 35ml or 6 to 8 teaspoons of lotion per application. 2
Keep children safe in the sun by:
- Keeping babies out of direct sunlight
- Encouraging children to play in the shade
- Reapplying their sunscreen often throughout the day
- Getting them to wear a wide brimmed hat to protect their head and neck
To read more about staying safe in the sun check out our blog.
Activities for the kids once you have arrived
The beach is perfect for all kinds of activities and a basic bucket and spade can keep children amused for hours but if they begin to tire of filling buckets with sand, here are some great ideas of games you can play:
- Draw out a hopscotch board in the sand and search for a lovely pebble or shell to use as the thrower
- Have the kids bury Mum or Dad in the sand up to their necks or build some sand monsters together
- Search for pretty seashells that they can put in their buckets and take home as souvenirs of the holiday
- Give them their own camera to record their memories and get them to keep a holiday diary to keep and look back on
- Fly kites, again these can usually be purchased at beach shops and are a great activity when there is a breeze
- Snorkelling, if you packed the flippers and snorkels the kids can enjoy swimming around to see what they can find underwater
- Check the hotel pool activities, some hotels offer entertainment for children such as pool games or kids clubs which means you can relax by yourselves for a short while
- Excursions are another way to entertain the whole family. Take a boat trip to one of the neighbouring islands or to see the local wildlife
When you’re out and about be sure to pack plenty of water and juices to keep the whole family hydrated; a quick tip to keep the drinks cooler for longer is to take a cool bag to the beach or bury the drinks in the sand in the shade using a carrier bag.