Tips for Travelling with Kids

Travelling is one of the main items on everyones bucket list, but for those of us with children the thought can be daunting. With a bit of preparation and knowledge it needn’t be as difficult as expected.

Planning and Before you go

The first step is to plan your trip, our advice would be pre-booking accommodation, but if this is your first one as a family take your time. Most people will want to see as much of a place as possible but our first tip is ‘be realistic’. Its difficult to cover lots of attractions and walk miles when you have little ones with you. Also if you are travelling to more than one location you’ll have the problem of packing and re-packing adding to your stress.
If you are travelling with another family, or adults, before you go, discuss what each person wants to do on their holiday, agree how to split tasks or take turns minding the children, and talk about the balance of spending time together and apart.
When looking at booking your holiday look into special offers for families including ‘kid free places’. All inclusive is a great idea for your first holiday as children can be picky eaters and this gives them the option to choose what they prefer without costing a lot.
Supervised childcare such as a kids’ club sounds good, but can mean little more than a bunch of children lumped together in front of a TV while an attendant keeps an eye on them. Ask how many children are cared for, minders qualifications, whether groups are split according to age, and what specific activities might be – and be prepared to check it out yourself when you arrive.
Remember to research the area in regards to vaccinations and the side affects that this can have on your child; maybe even ask your travel represenative. Children under 18 months won’t be given any travel-related jabs. Medical advice should always be sought from your GP.
Before you start your amazing journey get the kids excited by exploring the destination with them, look at maps and talk to them about what you have planned; even learning a bit of the language. Consider a travel journal, where kids can write and draw their experiences and reflect on them at a later date. You could even give them a camera so that they can capture memories and add them to their journal.
Research should be completed into the average temperatures for your destination so that you can prepare appropriate clothing. Remember loose fitting clothing in warm temperatures will assist in fewer temper tantrums.

On the Move

When you’re on the move and you’re travelling through busy, crowded airports or transport hubs, write your mobile number on your child’s arm in biro in case they get lost.

Also entertainment is the key for kids of all ages, especially when there are delays in flights etc. The easier the better so hand held game stations are always a favourite for travelling parents.

Even if all your children are long out of nappies, don’t forget the baby wipes. They’re useful for washing hands, cleaning toilet seats, and wiping down restaurant tables. In the same spirit, little bottles of hand cleanser can be a lifesaver in some countries, but check the travel regulations for liquids well in advance.

A pram or buggy can be useful on holiday even if your child is walking, serving as a place for them to rest during day trips, a makeshift bed when out in restaurants and something to help with carrying the bags. If your destination is unlikely to have paved paths, it may be worth investing in an all-terrain version.

In each new place, don’t forget to designate a meeting point in case anyone gets separated from the group. If it’s likely you’ll be in really dense crowds, promising a reward for staying together works as a good incentive.

If your child is on bottles, bring what you need to make up fresh ones along the way; to save space, fill spare bottles with water, then add milk powder and top up with boiling water when you need them.

Check the latest restrictions on hand luggage before travelling. The more stringent regulations relate to carrying liquids, gels and creams, which includes baby foods, drinks and nappy cream. The standard instructions are not to carry over 100ml of any single item, although exceptions are usually made for essential medicines or supplies for children under two. You can also get away with more (up to 400ml) in the way of milk and drinks so long as these are decanted into bottles and no-spill cups; if you carry the same in the original cartons or bottles, you’ll be asked to leave them behind. There are also discretionary limits for baby food – these are generally kept vague, but as long as you don’t have more than what security staff deem to be a reasonable amount for the flight, you’ll usually be fine.

The best way around the restrictions is to decant creams into small bottles, and bring just powdered milk; you can get hot water to make feeds on most flights, and as soon as you pass security, you can buy bottled water too.

Some airlines let you check in online, which allows you to book preferred seats from home and cuts out queuing. When you get to the airport, you usually join a fast-track queue to hand over your checked luggage. Some airlines allow you to check in luggage in advance, sometimes as much as a day before you fly. Though you have to make an advance trip to the airport to do this, the advantages are that you get to turn up a little later than usual on the day, and will have your hands free to tend to your children.


When there

If the tap water isn’t safe to drink, you’ll need to boil, filter or sterilise your own, or buy bottled water. If you plan to use bottled water to make up formula feeds, aim to get the lowest mineral content you can. Make sure the children don’t drink from taps, including when brushing teeth. Keeping a bottle of drinking water by the sink is a helpful reminder.

When eating out in countries with poor standards of sanitation and hygiene, always eat at busy places where the turnover of food will be fast, and avoid buffets: they’re notorious for harbouring the bugs that cause diarrhoea.

When eating in restaurants, if the crockery or cutlery is wet, giving it a dry wipe with a clean tissue will lower any potential dose of bugs. Check that bottles and cans are unopened before handing these to the children (and use straws or clean the can or bottle before they drink), and get them to avoid ice and salads.

For other tips please see the NHS Choices site which you can access by clicking here.