The thought of holidaying with a wee one can inspire dreams of a stunningly restful family vacation bathed in glorious sunshine and endless frivolity. It can also conjure feelings of pure dread. Travelling with a small child involves a lot of planning, packing, and patience, whether you’re merely popping down the High Street for some nappies, or jetting off to the Bahamas. Family breaks away from the stress of everyday life offer a welcome respite, and the chance to create special memories.
Remember when you didn’t have kids and used to grumble about how loud small tyrants could be in confined spaces? Now that you have your own offspring, it’s a different story. You begin to understand the effort required in containing a little being, and how it’s not as easy as you may have assumed. But while the journey may be fraught, what lies ahead is the best motivation to keep it all together – the promise of a new and exciting destination.
Pick a family-friendly location
Decide on where you’d like to go and if documents such as passports need to be organised in advance. Take into account any age restrictions but rest assured many airlines will allow babies to fly from two days old. All-inclusive resorts are a popular choice (no cooking!) but bear in mind that it’s handy to have your own kitchen. Camping can be a great experience, especially in groups, and a caravan is a fun option as it’s mobile and you don’t have to check out before moving on to the next stop. Just remember to factor in plenty of breaks for a road trip.
Pack wisely – success is in the planning
It’s a good idea to carry plenty of snacks, spare clothes and activities to keep kids occupied. Tablets are often criticised in the media, but easy-to-access diversions in such a small package can be a lifesaver when travelling. Think about what you might need on arrival and make sure your destination provides it, such as a high chair or non-breakable crockery. Items that have more than one use are also a smart choice. For example, pack a combined body wash and shampoo that’s suitable for everyone, and re-purpose muslin wraps as towels or sun shades. And of course, don’t forget the first-aid kit.
Other things to think about include the potential impact of time zone changes, and not over-stimulating children, especially in an unfamiliar environment. Also, have reasonable expectations. Put yourself in the tiny shoes of a child and consider their perspective. What’s enjoyable for an adult may not be for a kid, and everybody in the family suffers if the smallest members aren’t happy. But most importantly, value your time together and have fun.