Top tips for holidaying abroad with primary school aged children

Holidays & staycations

We are still undecided about whether our summer holiday will be another UK staycation (I’m a fan!) or whether we’ll finally brave a holiday abroad with our two children who, by the summer holidays, will be 4 and 5.

Obviously there are some things outside of our control (aka Brexit, sigh) which means that now probably isn’t the best time to be booking, but we can still consider our options!

I’ve written a post about holidaying with toddlers but since our last family holiday abroad (which was an unmitigated disaster!) my children are now older; and so I thought I’d look at tips for a holiday with primary school aged children.

Here are some tips holidaying abroad with primary school aged children aged 4-7.

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1) Get them involved!

OK, kids have a tiny amount of patience, so I wouldn’t advise letting them know you’re going on holiday when you book it months in advance, but in the week or so leading up to the holiday a fun countdown can’t hurt!

They can use the time to decide what they’d like to pack, and learn a little of the local language. 

Teach them how to say a few words in the language; hello, thank you, my name is…. Locals and waiters etc really appreciate it and hopefully they will engage back with the children. Emma from Emma and 3

2) Check out the children’s clubs

Once your children reach primary school age, a lot of holiday resorts offer clubs which will take kids for a few hours so you can have a well deserved relax. They will probably love it, make loads of friends and you will get a chance to actually switch off and recharge your batteries so it’s a huge win-win.

If the thought worries you, then it’s worth researching before you book. Here are some well rated European resorts with kids clubs.

3) Make the flight as smooth as possible

They might be older now and less prone to screaming outbursts (hurrah!) but they still need entertaining on a flight; sitting still for several hours is totally boring.

Bring toys, books and games you can play to keep them entertained.

Here are some tips holidaying abroad with primary school aged children aged 4-7. Child in airplane. Kids sit in air plane window seat.

Download the airline app before you go. Whilst some airlines provide great Inflight entertainment, others require you to download the airline app first to use, which is not ideal if you can’t access WiFi at 30,000 ft! Carrie from Flying With a Baby

Go to Poundland and get loads of little activity books and pens to keep them happy on the plane. Lianne from Ankle Bites Adventures

And snacks! Definitely do not forget about the snacks.

4) Take your tablet!

A tablet is pretty much a must-have item for entertaining children on a flight.

Make sure you take a charging block to charge up their tablets for the flight and download a couple of movies for them. Time will go so much quicker. Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders.

Even once you’re on holiday, there is nothing wrong with some home comforts when the sun is too hot or you just want to chill out with Netflix or iPlayer.

You can pre-download you children’s favourite CBeebies/CBBC programmes, or if you have access to WiFi you can use a VPN that’s perfect for BBC iPlayer which means you can access iPlayer from wherever you are in the world. It also means that when the kids are asleep you can binge-watch Killing Eve (do it!).

5) Think about food

Before kids, eating out on holiday was one of the more important things; I could spend hours wandering, picking the perfect place to eat. However even now, the idea of going out for a family meal is often a triumph of hope over experience. Unless your children are used to it, let them eat early so they don’t get cranky.

If it’s an all-inclusive resort, check out when restaurants are open because when the routine goes out of the window, particularly if you’re in a different time zone, it can be easy to miss out and then you’re screwed. Popping to the local shop to get in some snacks in would be a high priority for me! 

Make sure food is readily available especially if the usual routine is knocked out. And don’t stress if it’s not all healthy. Emma from Bubba Blue and Me 

It is only a week or two, after all.

Here are some tips holidaying abroad with primary school aged children aged 4-7.

6) Planning is key…

Of course a holiday is supposed to be relaxing, and planning everything to within an inch of your life will just leave you stressed out, but a bit of forward planning never hurt anyone.

Organise a balanced itinerary – for us that means too much sightseeing will give us bored whiny kids but too much playing in the pool will give us bored whiny parents! Make sure there is something for everyone. If you have a busy day only doing grown up stuff but they know they’re getting a whole day at a playground the next day they’re more likely to be OK with it. Emma from Wanderlust and Wetwipes

7) …But be realistic

The children may be slightly older now, but you still need to be realistic about how much you can do. 

Don’t cram too much into the day. New places and cultures can be a sensory overload for little minds. Allow at least 2 hours down time each day, either napping or dozing (very beneficial for parents too!). Jenny from Travelynn Family

The kids can benefit from pyjama days while you’re on holiday, or a pool day, movie day, etc. Seeing new sights is brilliant, but the brain needs rest and play to sort it out! Helena from Babyfoote.

8) Be prepared for illness

You hope with everything you have that it won’t happen but I’m afraid it’s Sod’s Law that kids will get sick on holiday. Something to do with air circulation on planes or something, and then there’s the new food and basically it’s a perfect storm for runny noses and upset tummies.

Make sure you can deal with it quickly and effectively by being prepared so it doesn’t ruin your holiday!

Research where you’re going so you can easily find all the essentials when you get there [or know where to head in case of an emergency]. You don’t want to be wandering around a country you don’t know (or even speak the language of) with grumpy, tired  or sick kids. Alice from Living With a Jude

Remember to pack their favourite teddies and Calpol. There’s nothing worse than having to source medicine in a strange country in the middle of the night. Clare from This Mummy’s Always Write

Want to read more? Here is a list of helpful holiday essentials!

***This post contains sponsored links. For more information, please see my disclosures page.***

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