- Road Trip
- Travel Tips
When we become parents, we accept that we’ll have to make a few changes to the things we love to do. Sunday lie-ins are replaced with early morning stomps around National Trust sites. Spontaneous trips to the cinema turned into carefully planned outings to watch the latest Disney offering. Brunch at the weekend is now a visit to a farm, downing a cup of tea while the kids are let loose in the soft play.
Having kids forces us to make changes to our tried and tested routines. And travelling with children is no different. Sure, care-free jaunts around the world may be a thing of the past — but travelling with the kids in tow can be the best kind of travel. And, like most things child-related, you’ll struggle to remember what travelling was like before they came along.
To help you handle effective trip planning with a family, we’ve put together a handy survival guide. Covering planning, packing essentials, where to go, how to get there and where to stay, here’s our rough guide to travelling with kids. Once you think you have it all in hand, discover magical places to visit with children before they grow up.
Long-haul flights aren’t out of the question, either. Most long-haul airlines have a bassinet by the bulkhead seats for passengers travelling with infants on a first-come-first-serve basis.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is temperature. Young babies don’t cope well in hot weather and you don’t want to spend your whole holiday worrying about whether they’re overheating.
If more adventurous options still call to you, child development experts reckon that once children turn five, travel can help them learn life skills that they won’t get at home. So don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone a bit, all in the name of giving your child a totally new life experience.
If you’re avoiding the package holiday scene, booking well in advance can pay off if you want to secure a particular child-friendly hotel or a city-centre location.
At the other end of the spectrum, last-minute places often go cheap as operators scramble to fill up empty places. So if you can bear to hold off booking until a couple of months before you want to travel, you could grab a bargain.
If you're planning a family trip – get in touch with us! Rough Guides can connect you with a team of travel experts to plan the ideal holiday for the whole family.
If travelling from the UK, the spring and autumn half terms and the Easter holidays often offer better value than the summer break.
Calpol and Nurofen come in sachets which are handy for taking out and about, while plasters, a thermometer, saline nasal drops and Sudocrem should get you through minor health mishaps.
Don’t forget to add your children to your travel insurance and get them their own European Health Insurance Card if you’re travelling in Europe.
A bonus of taking the car is that your children are very likely to fall asleep, especially if you feel up to driving through the night — worth it for not having to put up with hours of back-seat squabbles and car games.
If you do decide to fly, make your time at the airport as easy as possible: use the family lane at security (most UK airports have one); check whether there’s a children’s zone at Departures (usually a soft play-esque area complete with cartoons on the big screen); and, if you have a buggy, keep it with you until you get to the gate.
You can take enough baby milk, food and sterilised water for your journey in your hand luggage. There’s no legal limit, but each item will need to be screened as you go through security in the same way as liquids.
An obvious perk is that you’ll be able to book an apartment or house: putting the kids to bed in a different room and relaxing in the evening, rather than tiptoeing around a hotel room, is a definite plus.
Make sure you suss out whether your self-catering find is child-friendly before you commit. The owner may welcome children but it could still be full of things like glass tables or (shudder) white fabric dining room chairs.
There’s usually something to please even the fussiest of eaters at a breakfast buffet. Pop some Tupperware in your suitcase and you can stock up on snacks to keep your kids going all day.
If you’re travelling with a baby and want to enjoy a meal out, feed them at your accommodation. Then get them ready for bed as you normally would and pop them in the buggy. If the baby Gods are looking down on you, you’ll be blessed with a sleeping baby while you enjoy dinner in peace.
For wriggling toddlers, as many distractions and breadsticks as you can get your hands on are the order of the day. You might be surprised what your normally picky eater will chow down on holiday, away from the confines of their normal routine.
And who cares if they eat nothing but ham and cheese rolls from the breakfast buffet for a week? You’re on holiday! Relax and enjoy it. As someone really irritating once said: the days are long, but the years are short. Make the most of this precious time travelling with your family.
Top image: Walking through Candi Bentar gate near Bedugul, Bratan lake Bali, Indonesia © Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock