Kids can be a nightmare to travel longer distances with. With a bit of forward planning, travelling with children shouldn’t have to be a hassle and whilst it might make more work for parents, by taking everything into consideration you can focus on the holiday ahead and family bonding as opposed to trying to separate the fight in the seat behind you.
Below we’ve provided guidelines for each form of transport you could be taking to your chosen destination:
If you’re travelling by car:
- Do not let your children know if you are lost – it’s incredible how upset and distressed they get if they see you panicking, so pack a satnav, a spare map and study the route before you leave. Write out directions if you’re not fluent in reading maps, they can be easier to glance at rather than following a squiggly line when the car is moving.
- Start your journey by night or late evening, so that your children will sleep through the majority of the journey (hopefully) and the constant movement of the car will keep them drowsy, especially on motorways – so use these as often as you can. Pack blankets and cushions to help make them comfortable.
- Mobile technology is a great way of keeping kids entertained whilst you’re driving – the days of I-Spy are long gone and games and films which are readily available capture their attention for much longer. Portable DVD players can hook over the back of your seats, or mp3 players and iPods can be used with headphones freely in the back without you having to hear kid’s audiobooks on a loop.
- Take snacks, preferably the non-sticky kind. A hungry travelling child is a lot harder to travel with than a content one. Take a change of clothes too, just as a precaution. Spilt food is more likely to happen in a confined space which is more wobbly than your kitchen table.
- If your journey has a deadline, make sure you leave plenty of time for kids to blow off steam in between long periods of being strapped in and being bored. Take breaks at service stations which have plenty for kids to do and to re-stimulate their brains.
- Car sickness – If car sickness is severe, ask your GP or pharmacist for any medication that might help prevent or stop the feeling of nausea. As a general aid – keep your children looking in the direction of travel, as it lets the brain know what movement to expect. Play games which involve them looking at passing landscapes and traffic, and pack a few plastic bags, just in case.
If you’re travelling by plane:
- For a young child, flying experiences, especially for the first time, can be terrifying. Pick flights earlier on in the day as they are less likely to be delayed and you have less chance of distressing your child or having to endure them being bored, fed up, hungry or tired whilst waiting to board a delayed flight.
- It’s normally the two hour wait before check-in which is draining for both parent and child – so prepare.
- Get them to suck on a sweet or bottle throughout the ascent and descent of the flight
- Try and fly as close to their bedtime as possible – if they sleep through the majority of the journey, they’re much less likely to get upset. Also, don’t keep them up for the flight and disrupt their sleeping pattern – you’ll end up with an overtired but awake child who is a nightmare to travel with.
- Take plenty of toys. You could use all the normal distractions until their patience has almost run out, then bring out a new toy to keep them occupied for a long while after.
- Make sure your baby or child has had all of their jabs before you travel.
If you’re travelling by boat:
- Boats hold a fascination with children as they’re the object of many pirate and adventure stories, so letting kids wander round (supervised) without being strapped down like a car or a plane can be great for entertaining them on the journey.
- The novelty of being on a boat is also accompanied by other people to interact with, and other children to socialise or play with.
- Check the weather before you leave – sailing through gale force winds won’t make more it a fun journey for anyone, and sea sickness can set in.
- Sea sickness – Make sure you take any anti-sickness tablets before you leave land, and bear in mind that it’s generally better to be outside on the deck rather than enduring it sat down inside, or at the part of the boat with the least amount of movement. If that doesn’t work, lying down with your eyes closed helps your brain unscramble the mixed messages it’s receiving. Acupressure and salty snacks are also said to help with nausea at sea, but it tends to be dependent on the person.
Travelling with children means bringing a lot more things on holiday with you than you normally would, which also means a lot more things to forget about. InsuranceWith have created this family travel checklist to give you a helping hand:
- Research your location thoroughly – the destination and the place you are staying. Make sure it’s suitable for you and your family. For example, if there are 100 steps leading up to your hotel and you plan on leaving the hotel on a regular basis, it might not be ideal to carry pushchairs, buggies and bags up and down everyday.
- The key to family holiday organisation is to make lists – write an original one then update it every time you go away or think of something else, and keep it somewhere safe!
- Check the travel alerts from the FCDO of the country you intend on visiting. Follow @FCDOtravelGovUK on Twitter to get the latest travel updates and advice
- Find out where the nearest embassy will be
- Sort out travel insurance – insurancewith provide cover for customers with pre-existing medical conditions, allowing you to go on holiday without having to pay excessive premiums.
- If you’re travelling within the European Economic Area, from 1st January 2021 rules around travel to Europe have changed, visit the Government website for up to date information on passports, EHIC, healthcare and more. We’ll update this page with more information as and when the Government release it.
- Check with your doctor whether you or your family will need any vaccinations before you travel
- Make sure you’ve got the correct visas for the country you intend to visit
- Most importantly, check your and your family’s passport is valid at the time you intend to travel – it takes up to six weeks to apply for or renew a passport, so checking well in advance might save time later on. Please note: children are no longer included on their parent’s passports, so if necessary apply for a new individual one for your children.
- Tell friends and extended family where you’re travelling to and leave them your contact details, travel insurance policy details and your itinerary as this will make it easy for them in case of an emergency
- Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies
- If you intend on driving abroad, make sure your licence is current and valid. Make sure you’re aware of the driving laws in the country you intend on visiting.
- Sort out your hand luggage – packing any toys, books, snacks and drinks to prevent the kids from being bored, hungry or fed up whilst you’re travelling can make it a lot easier.
- Check with your airline for flight delays
- Keep all tickets, visas, foreign exchange and passports safely in a travel belt or bag and keep these with you at all times.
- Check your house is safe before you leave – check all switches are off, water is turned off to prevent pipes from freezing, and securely lock all windows and doors.
- Usually the later you book the more expensive the ticket. However, if you are flexible on where and when you travel, you may find a late booking bargain through a package holiday or Charter-flight company.
- The best time to book is roughly 8 weeks before flying. Guardian (UK)
- The best time of year to make your booking is either end of August/beginning of September or end of December/beginning of January. Time (US). This may not apply for flights within the Southern hemisphere where there may be different buying patterns and flying seasons.
- Mid-week flights tend to have the cheapest airfares.
- Airline tickets on less popular early morning/late night flights will often cost you less.
- Airport choice – you may find that it pays to choose a flight from/to a neighbouring airport.
Staying in a hotel can be a great way to feel looked after on your holiday. By having a break from your usual everyday routine, the moment you arrive at the hotel and things such as cooking, cleaning and tidying up is done for you, you automatically feel pampered.
Booking a hotel in advance
Booking a hotel way in advance has the obvious benefit of more options when it comes to available hotel rooms. It also offers peace of mind that you will have a room ready for you once you arrive at your destination, without having to see if one is available.
1.Be flexible with your arrival and departure dates. When you’re booking a hotel in advance, it is best to be as flexible as you can with your dates of arrival and departure, as hotel rates can vary greatly on different dates and days of the week.
2.Shop around for different rates. It is also very important to shop around when searching for hotel accommodations well in advance, as prices can also vary quite a bit on different sites, and of course from different hotels, as well.
Booking a hotel last minute
Booking a hotel at the last minute can definitely save you a lot of money, as hotels are keen to fill up their empty rooms. However, the fact that these left over rooms are the only ones left to fill means that your selection of available rooms will be a bit more limited, as some hotels may not have occupancy available at the time. If you’re not very picky on where you end up staying and are simply looking for an affordable rate, you may want to wait until the last minute to find a hotel to book for your stay.
1.Look for deals online. You can find huge discounts for booking a hotel the night of by searching on different hotel booking and comparison websites.
2.Search for a hotel upon your arrival. Another option for booking a hotel at the last minute is to search the area for hotels upon your arrival and check in with a few to see what their best rates are for checking in that night. However, this could be more hassle than you’re prepared for.
3.Try to negotiate. If you’ve waited until the last minute and aren’t shy to ask for a bargain, you may find that haggling with the hotel may get you an even better rate.
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