Taking a trip by yourself or with your partner can be stressful enough, but when you add children into the mix, travel can become a whole new monster.
But don’t let the thought of potential chaos stop you from booking an enjoyable family holiday. With a little careful planning, vacations with your kids can be some of the most memorable moments you share with them.
Travelling internationally usually involves flights and unlike a simple road trip, you can’t simply threaten to turn the plane back around if your kids aren’t behaving.
If you’re pondering a family getaway, here are some top tips for making your holiday as stress-free as possible. Follow these helpful suggestions to give you and your family the best chance to survive your next holiday together.
International Travel with Kids: Top Tips and How to Survive
International travel may involve long flights, though something to consider might be breaking up your journey to create smaller flights with quick stopovers if your kids don’t do well with long journeys.
If you do wish to take a long flight, try booking overnight flights which should make it easier for your kids to fall asleep for the majority of the time in the air.
Selecting a family friendly airline which offers individual entertainment systems will help to keep everyone happy during the flight, and most offer a good selection of kid’s movies, shows, and games.
Remember to reserve an infant bassinet if needed, as they are usually limited and not automatically supplied. You must also request a kid’s meals and mention any allergies.
If your child is a picky eater or has a very restrictive diet, it may be wiser to simply bring your own meals and snacks aboard the flight and not rely on the airline.
The change in altitude that occurs on flights can be hard on young ears. Try having your kids sip on a drink during takeoff and landing or if travelling with a baby, ask a flight attendant if it is safe to breastfeed during these times.
Family Friendly Locations & Accommodation
Booking the right location is crucial for an enjoyable family vacation, especially when it comes to international travel. When it comes to international destinations that are safe for family travel, you will find a wide variety of choices throughout Europe.
The travel experts at Mark Warner have been creating tailored made European family holidays for over 35 years, and are the perfect option whether you’re planning some beach time bliss in the Mediterranean or want to tackle the snow in the Alps.
When it comes to choosing your accommodation, look into hotels or resorts that offer childcare services so you can enjoy some quality alone time with your partner. Select somewhere that offers a good range of activities for children or even a children’s club.
Make sure you select a hotel room that comfortably accommodates your family and maybe look into adjoining rooms if your kids are old enough to allow you a bit of private space with your partner.
Remember to request cots if you need them and inquire as to whether the hotel may have prams available for use during your stay to avoid having to travel with one.
Planning an Itinerary
Don’t try to pack too many destinations into one trip. The most stressful times during travel are the checking in and out of hotels, transportation, and packing/unpacking.
It is often better to focus on a single destination when travelling with younger children, where you stay in a single hotel or resort. This allows you to unpack once and set yourself up for the entire duration of your holiday.
A condensed travel itinerary also allows you to get in a routine and makes it easier to adjust to the local time zone. The less accommodation and travel you have to organise, the less stressful and easier to manage your family holiday will be.
Again, it’s all about minimising your travel plans. Sometimes less is more and keep in mind that kids often tire far more quickly than adults.
A good rule of thumb is to plan out what you would do if you weren’t travelling with kids, and then cut the number of scheduled activities for that day in half.
Kids will often get bored with too many attractions that focus on museums or historical landmarks. It is all about finding that right balance between creating a fun holiday for you and your kids.
Try alternating who your activities are geared for every other day and remember to get your kids involved with selecting activities they may wish to experience.
Plan for breaks each day and avoid booking attractions or events with strict deadlines. Remember that your holiday is supposed to be relaxing, and you don’t want to be stressed trying to be everywhere at certain times.
Plan on a few early activities as well as some late afternoon ones, and maybe return to the hotel for a bit of lunch and relaxation during the midday.
Resorts with all you can eat buffets or meal plans can be a great option to know exactly what you need to budget for meals. Often eating out at different restaurants in a city can get expensive and end up costing more than your accommodation.
Choosing to eat all your meals at a family friendly resort also means you don’t have to worry about choosing a restaurant that may no be suitable for bringing kids.
If you are on a tight budget, it may pay to look into selecting accommodation which offers self-catering. This will allow you to save quite a bit of money along with making sure your family eats healthy with self prepared meals.
If going this route, choose accommodation that is close to the local grocery store and research if your self-catering kitchen is fully equipped or simply a kitchenette with basic appliances.
Always make sure to inquire as to whether a resort caters to dietary restrictions and it may pay to research what products may be available in the grocery stores you are travelling to ahead of time to save you time during your travels.
Packing for Families
Get your kids involved with their packing. Purchasing a kid’s sized travel bag is a great way to not only have them carry their weight so to speak, but it gets them excited about travel and possibly more critical about what they pack.
Remember to pack any necessary medication and plan on bringing double of things you know your kids can’t live without, in case those things get lost or misplaced.
A favourite toy can help younger kids feel more at home and things like colouring books or small games can keep them occupied during down times.
Look into bringing along a cheap point and shoot camera for your kids to capture memories of their own or simply let them carefully use your own.
Remember to also allow room in your luggage for any souvenirs you may purchase … if they’ve behaved of course!
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