With the world, and travel, beginning to open up again, you may have decided that now is the time to book that much-needed family getaway. Let’s face it, it’s either been a while since you travelled with the children or its your first time taking them away – and if you’re being completely honest, there’s a little bit of dread building up inside of you. But, try to not panic too much! We have put together our 8 top tips for planning a family holiday below to help you get the ball rolling.
Look out for ‘kids go free’ breaks:
Once you have decided on a location it is a good idea to shop around for a travel agent or booking provider. Coming into the summer months, a lot of travel companies, including those here in the UK, tend to offer ‘kids go free’ breaks and a quick search on the internet could mean you bag yourself a little bargain.
Check passports and travel documents:
If you are planning to travel abroad, make sure you check the dates on everyone’s passports. The last thing you want is to be halted at check-in because of an expiry date. Children’s passports only last for five years and most countries will stipulate that you need to have at least six months left on your passport from the date of travel. If you need to apply for a passport, this can either be done online or at the post office.
It is also important to check if you are required to apply for a visa or have any vaccinations before travelling. Some countries will allow you to buy a visa at the airport, but not all, and arriving without the correct entry requirements means you will be turned away at border control. The same goes for PCR tests and COVID vaccines – although most countries are relaxing rules, it’s important to check before the requirement’s before travelling.
Information for specific entry requirements can be found on the Travel Advice website.
IMPORTANT ADVICE: You will not be able to claim on your travel insurance policy if you are refused entry to a country for not having the correct documentation or vaccinations.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks:
Long haul, short haul, road trips or setting sail are all pretty daunting when you’re travelling with little ones, but snacks will be your best friend. Make sure you pack plenty of snacks to keep them going during the journey – things like dried fruit, rice cakes, snack bars, veggie crisps are great!
It is also a good idea to download their favourite programme or film onto a device. New games and toys, as well as their old favourites, will also help to keep them entertained.
Order nappies, wipes, milk etc and pick it up from the airport:
Rather than taking up space in your luggage you can order essentials such as nappies, wipes and formula from Boots and collect it at the airport – just remember to click the ‘after gate’ option for collection.
Book activities in advance where possible:
During peak season, tourist attractions and holiday hot spots tend to get incredibly busy so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment. Most places will offer a discount for booking online too!
Although having an itinerary for your family break may take some planning it’ll save a lot of stress whilst you’re away and ensure you are able to see and do all the things on your list.
Allow for things to go wrong:
Having said the above, sometimes things do go wrong – and if this does happen, just go with the flow. It can be super stressful when plans fall though, your child needs to go to the loo and you miss your excursion coach, or their favourite toy gets left at the restaurant, but take a breath and remember, travel is an adventure and sometimes these things happen.
Give your children a contact information card:
Pop a little card in their pocket or backpack with your contact information on, just in case. It’s a good idea to include their name, your name, a mobile number, your email address and the name and number for the accommodation you are staying in.
Strategically plan travel times:
This is a biggy. You’ve spent the past however long getting your little ones into a good bedtime routine, only for it to fall apart on your family break. But you can use your hard work to your advantage.
Book flights or plan journeys to fit around your child’s sleep patterns – having them settled for a chunk of the travel time will be a huge help. It may also mean they don’t end up super grumpy on the first few days of the holiday due to their routine change.
A little extra tip, from us:
It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t include a travel insurance top tip! Once you have booked your holiday, you will need to get your travel insurance sorted. It is a good idea to have everyone travelling on one policy, that way if you need to cancel (say, due to someone’s medical condition which is declared on the policy) you will be able to claim your money back – if you are on separate policies this will not be possible.
There are also some travel insurance providers that cover children for free, so this is definitely something to keep your eye out for. More information on family travel insurance can be found here.