Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Ten top tips for harmonious holidays: Making travelling with kids less painful

Ten top tips for harmonious family holidays and travelling and flying with kids

As readers of my blog will know, I recently returned from a very ill-fated family holiday.


Before I went, I had a post in mind about travelling with two small children. It was going to be something wise and profound which would have people nodding sagely and thinking 'I learned something today'. Obviously I got more than I bargained for and so, much like the plane on the return journey, my foray into travel blogging didn't quite take off as intended.

Still, no matter. It may not look as envisaged, but I present to you my guide to flying with a baby and a toddler.

1) Don't

Avoid it. Don't go and save your money. Relocating your family to a new destination which is a) hot, meaning you have to coat them in suncream before breakfast and b) devoid of all creature comforts (drinkable tap water, Peppa Pig on DVD, Pom Bears, Wifi) and where you can't go to the toilet and lock the door for five minutes because the hotel room is not toddler or baby-proof in the slightest is NOT relaxing.

Or, leave them to have a lovely holiday with the grandparents while you jet off somewhere exotic and child unfriendly.

If you are determined, however...

Before you go!

2) Do the packing when the kids are asleep
Packing with children around is the epitome of futile. In my experience, the younger one just unpacks everything as you go, the older one tries to 'help' by packing such much-needed items as a pillow, a Peppa Pig too big to fit in the suitcase, a Snow White costume and a bath mat (actually, the latter may have been useful...).

3) Talking of packing...

Never underestimate quite how many items of clothing a child can soil in a day (theirs and yours). Even discounting the vomit covered items, when dripping in suncream and eating ice cream and suspiciously florescent drinks (thanks to the grandparents, naturally), the outfit changes my toddler got through could rival Beyonce. Pack lots. Don't depress yourself by packing books. You will NEVER get to read them.

4) Tidy the house

Returning at 4am with poorly, ridiculously overtired children, a vomiting husband and a suitcase packed with a week's worth of washing* to a house which looks like it has been hastily abandoned in a drugs bust is the absolute pits. Make time to clean or be prepared to hate yourself.

For the plane...

5) Take snacks 
Lots of snacks. If you think you have slightly too many snacks, you probably don't have enough. Say the flight is two hours, and a packet of Pom Bears takes fifteen minutes to get through, that's another hour and three quarters (plus another hour for delays) that you need to account for.

6) Get a tablet

Download CBeebies in its entirety and a bunch of games for the flight to keep the toddler amused. Buy headphones so you don't have to listen to it.

7) Do NOT forget the charger

Only a real idiot would do that.

8) Present your child with a new and interesting toy
Make sure that it is out of the packaging, constructed and working prior to presenting them with this toy. Best not to get one with bits that drop off and you lose repeatedly like this extremely badly made mermaid. I mean, she loved it, but COME ON. I HATE YOU, ARIEL.

9) Drugs

Although I'm sure valium would have been helpful, a swift glass of wine (for you, not the kids, that's unethical) at the airport before you board the flight will definitely help you not to care so much when they are acting appallingly as small children in confined spaces are wont to do.

10) Earplugs

Ostensibly for potential hotel noise, also useful if you end up having to share a hotel room with your noisy children. Definitely take them with you on the flight. Your own children aren't the only unhappy ones on there.

And one final tip... Whilst on holiday, don't get food poisoning

It is the least fun thing I've ever done in my life.
*This didn't actually happen. Because my husband was somewhat compromised what with puking every half hour, and we had three large suitcases and two children to transport to the car park, my lovely wonderful parents volunteered to take the largest suitcases home with them and returned it to us several days later with the contents laundered. There are few things in the world that I am as grateful for as this.

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51 comments:

  1. We've recently come back from our first family holiday abroad.
    My tip is not to surprise the two year old that he will have to sit on his own seat with his seat belt fastened for taxi and take off. He assumed he would be sitting on Daddy's lap and it is a massive understatement to say he wasn't happy not to. My husband had to physically restrain him in the seat as he screamed until take off. I was sat across the aisle and couldn't watch as he pitifully cried for Mummy reaching out his little hands to me.
    He was OK after we were airborne and I could get the iPad out to distract him. Although he glared at me for the whole flight as I didn't help him in his hour of need!

    On the way back we had it sussed, iPad on (already to hand not in the cabin bag in the overhead bin!), snacks in hand, big game made out of doing up the seatbelt. Not a peep!

    I read your other blog about the food poisoning. Horrific. I hope you've had some form of compensation!

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    1. Thanks Rosie - no word yet, but you never know... maybe there's a letter in the post?? Haha.

      Oh your poor little guy. We were, fortunately, all sat together which was one thing I suppose! How on earth people used to travel without ipads I just don't know. Absolute lifesaver.

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    2. I felt awful for him at the time, plus the realization that we had become "those parents" with "that screaming child" and I imagined everyone praying for him to shut up! I have a lot more patience for parents of screaming kids now!

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    3. We were all screaming children once. Still, I know the 'please swallow me up, ground' feeling well.

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    4. This is pretty useful as we are flying with 2 kids in 2 weeks. We have already prepped the 'you can eat what you want and play with the ipad as long as you want' with the eldest...it's dangermouse I'm scared about!!
      Thanks for linking this with #coolmumclub
      PS Is it Okay to have that wine at 5.30am?

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    5. Er, of course it is Mrs G. If you're flying, you're on holiday. If you feel weird about it, have a Bloody Mary.

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  2. Still laughing at number 5! We basically had one bag full of snacks - still bought more for the journey home! x

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    1. Your trip was a *lot* more successful than mine it seems!

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  3. These are great tips on the run up to the holiday season. Especially the new toy, that could be a life saver on a long journey!

    #KCACOLS

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    1. As long as it's not cheap rubbish apparently...

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  4. I think you are very brave. I wouldn't take mine abroad until they were 6 and could swim. #KCACOLS

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    1. I will bear this in mind for next time ;)

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  5. I'm all over tidying before you go - it is the worst coming home to a messy house! Thanks so much for linking up to #KCACOLS hope to see you there again next week

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    1. Yea it really isn't something you should put yourself through.

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  6. This is all very helpful as we're taking Mini R to Australia in the summer! #KCACOLS

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    1. You are a very brave lady! Good luck :D

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  7. This is really helpful - we're taking our baby abroad for the first time this summer and I can't help but feel a bit daunted by it. Love your tip on wine and on the clean house - I hate coming home to a mess! Hope you're getting over your horrible experience now (I once had food poisoning on holiday and it was utterly rotten) #KCACOLS

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    1. Ugh I am sorry you have suffered it too. Bad times. I'm sure it'll be fine - sorry if I have scared you!

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  8. Urgh! Food poisoning on holiday sucks. I seem to always get something dodgy when we go abroad, but had it worst while we were on holiday in the Lake District of all places! Good tip about packing when the kids are asleep. I've just been trying to make a start on our suitcase during the days. Needless to say, clothes have been rolled in and thrown everywhere. I've given up!

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    1. Oh it's just pointless. POINTLESS. You should be a lot better at this than me though!

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  9. Traveling with small children-such an adventure. Lol.
    We went on holiday over Christmas, and I came home with cleaning to do. Needless to say, I was NOT a happy camper, and was really kicking past me in the butt. Sorry your trip had so many bumps x #KCACOLS

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    1. An 'adventure' - yes that is certainly one way of looking at it ;)

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  10. I knew it! I keep trying to tell my other half that going on holiday with his parents and our baby will be the opposite of a holiday for me. Now I have back up - and it made me laugh. #Chucklemums

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    1. Still go - it certainly makes for good blogging material...

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  11. We're off on holiday soon - off to Tesco tomorrow now to stock up on as many Pom Bears as I can get my hands on! #KCACOLS

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    1. Haha you'll thank me for it afterwards!

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  12. I still shudder when I read your tales about your holiday :-( Tip 5 very useful, never underestimate how many snacks we need. Our kids are human bins :-) #chucklemums

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    1. Hungry children are the pits and food on airlines is re-mortgage-your-house-expensive. It's worth being ultra prepared!

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  13. I love the first tip - don't! In spite of you having such a bad holiday and pulling your hair out with Thomson, I'm happy to see you're seeing the humourous side of things. I got a bit of a dodgy tummy when I went to Spain over a decade ago and it's not fun. I can't imagine what it's like having the whole family unwell at the same time. #chucklemums

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    1. Thanks for the sympathy - I've gone from being upset to just being angry now. But it's best to try and see the funny side :)

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  14. I believe that I may have just fallen in love with your parents!!! How freakin awesome! But did you really, REALLY forget the charger?? My absolute worst nightmare. Thanks for the #chucklemums

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    1. Bless them it was above and beyond the call of duty washing all the vomitty clothes!

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  15. These tips are fabulous, really helpful as we're off on our first big hols this summer to Italy (Mother is beyond excited). I am nervous however about how much stuff we'll take - we went away for one night at the weekend and the car was sagging with luggage. Mother would love your tip about the wine. Really good advice about packing when the kids are asleep - Mother did this on Friday night (also fuelled by wine which would explain some of the fashion faux pas). I really hope that you get the opportunity to pack up again for another break away to make up for the trip you had. It's great that you can still laugh (sort of) about it and how brilliant are your parents! :) x #chucklemums

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    1. Thank you - I hope you (and your parents) have a terrific holiday. Better than ours at any rate!

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  16. Great tips! ahaha.. I do enjoy going away with the kids but we do it a lot so I think our policies and procedures (that other people would find insane) have become oddly comforting and relaxing now. A holiday isn't a holiday if you aren't taking at least 3 different kitchen gadgets!

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    1. I love the idea of holiday policies and procedures. You sound like my kinda gal!

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  17. The first one amused me the most! Just don't! I'm strictly uk holiday ing for the foreseeable future. No planes here. #kcacols

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  18. Oh god this sounds awful...offers wine...But is written so well and had me in hysterics. Drug bust house! To be fair for the first time in 5 years I went on holiday but left the boy with nanny...Karma gave me an anxiety attack on the plane and food poising on the way back too...then I arrived home to a very spoilt child that was grumpy mummy had been away for 4 days and wouldn't sleep for a week. Parenting is hard. #KCACOLS

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    1. Having never left the kids (no one will bloody take them) I didn't think about that. Maybe just not bothering until they're old enough to go out on their own and leave you sunbathing! Haha.

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  19. Haha! Now I do 3 & 4 whenever we go away & my OH complains so much about them - I keep telling him both are necessary! & I am a big fan of number 1, to be honest - just don't! Too stressful! #coolmumclub

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    1. To be honest it's my husband who's hot on the tidying. I *might* moan a little at the time but I am full of awe when I return home to a made bed.

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  20. I like the first tip! The best one I think.

    #kcacols

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    1. It's certainly what I intend to live by from now on

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  21. These are great tips for any parent. Thank you so much for sharing. #KCACOLS

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  22. Hilarious...my favourite bit advice...the second point of number 1! Go alone!!!!! (mum promises once they are more independent she will! Boom! #KCACOLS xx

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  23. You really can never have enough snacks - not least because my daughter usually turns her nose up at the aeroplane meal AND the special kids aeroplane meal (except the KitKat, which I confiscated). Plus lots of CBeebies. And spare wetwipes. I'm always glad I've gone though (although food poisoning is never a holiday memory you want) #myfamilytraveltips

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  24. Worse nightmare being ill on holiday. Happened a few times to us. Not funny in the slightest. Agree with the snacks...always over pack the snacks as for some reason travel makes kids want to eat non stop..well with my two it does haha #myfamilytraveltips

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