January and February … the months of cold, grey skies and biting winds… when the celebrations of the festive season are over and we are all suffering the financial and physical hangover of December’s excess.
This is the time when we all yearn for some blue skies and freedom to do what we want… this is the time of year when we book our holidays! Now BMH (Before Mini Hurricane) this was an easy thing to do. It consisted of a brief conversation about when we could get time off work, what we fancied doing (e.g. hot climate, cold climate, chilling or adventuring) and then we would pick a place, book time off and go. However, when you have a little one(s) with you it becomes vastly more complex!
You suddenly find yourself looking at a whole different set of holiday criteria…. like… does it have a child friendly swimming pool? How far is your accommodation from the beach/pool? Is there child friendly entertainment? How hot or cold does it get there? Are there creepy crawlies that could cause hysteria? Does the restaurant serve the mandatory ton of ice cream and ice lollies per day to enable a happy child and therefore a happy holiday??? You get the idea!
All of that is before you even deal with the airport/train station/coach station! Places full of wonderment and joy for most children… the opportunities to run off are endless and how they love the sound of their name being called on the tannoy, as they watch you frantically run all over the place lugging the half a ton of hand luggage you have to bring now you have little ones! On the upside, having a little one does sometimes mean that you have priority boarding and exiting, which is a bonus as one thing children don’t tend to love is queuing…
An absolute must! Load your tablet full of music, films and games (bonus if they are educational – Reading Egg and Mathletics are both good and for younger children the Cebeebies app includes games, stories and colouring). Download them from the App Store if you have iPhones/Ipads
or Google Play if you have Android
Colouring books and pencils are always a good option. Older children might enjoy scrap booking about their holiday and airlines normally have some great items they can include in their scrap books.
Always a little tricky if travelling by air as airport security don’t tend to like liquids going past their security checks. They much prefer you to buy everything in over priced shops on the other side of the barriers. Be sure to check what you can and can’t take through security via this handy link https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions
Generally speaking we try and have a good meal prior to travelling and then stock up on portable foods such as sandwiches, pringles/crisps and some sweets to suck that help your ears pop on the plane once we make it through security. We also make sure we have plenty of bottles of water, as it is all to easy to dehydrate when travelling. Snacks and water may be quite pricy with certain airlines and ferry or train companies, so stock up before hand if you can. It may also be worth considering ‘bribery food’ for your child, for that tricky period of time during travel, when they have had enough of being on a plane or boat and start demanding to leave mid Atlantic.
Dress everyone in comfortable, non constricting clothes and ALWAYS bring spare clothes for you and your little ones. It is pretty much guaranteed someone will spill a drink or throw up mid flight and sometimes those little paper bags in the front seat pocket just don’t cut it! This applies to all forms of transportation, as it is just as likely to happen in the back of the car as on a plane. Goes without saying that 20 million packs of wipes are also a must have for all trips! If travelling with a baby bring more than one set of spare clothes. Also more nappies and muslins than you would ever imagine needing… I guarantee you will use them all.
It is also worth bringing medicine for common complaints such as allergies, colds and coughs, as you can never tell when your little one may come down with a bug or have a reaction. Do consider travel sickness when using any mode of transport. I always like to have a chat with my pharmacist before travelling to make sure I am stocked up on age appropriate travel medicines. The NHS also gives some handy tips here for helping motion sickness:
Top tip for longer trips – bring pyjamas. Discovered this little gem when travelling back from Florida on an over night flight with our then 14 month old. Best flight ever and it went like this:
Got on plane
Cabin staff cooed over our offspring and announced we could have a row of seats for one parent and child and a row for another parent, so one of us could stretch out and relax whilst the other one was sprawled over by said 14 month old. Guess which option I got…
Vomit free take off…. bonus
Drinks and food went down drama free
Son had a little flirt with the 18 month old girl in the row behind, v. cute!
Popped child in pjs, cuddled and off he went to sleep.
Child very grumpy at being woken 9 hours later when we landed at Heathrow – slept the whole flight through!
This handy little pj trick works for any long travels and children will sleep just as well in their pjs in the back of the car as a plane.
Many airlines offer discounted travel for children under the age of 2, plus free baggage allowance for push chairs and car seats. This handy guide gives you an idea of charges and what you can take with you as free baggage allowance with some of the popular airlines. However, it is always worth double checking with your airline before travelling.
Lastly, remember to enjoy yourselves. Pace your holiday with plenty of chill out time in between adventures, as little ones need time to process all the things they are experiencing on their holidays and can get tired quickly. Enjoy the little things like afternoon naps together, eating ice cream, playing in the sea and games of cards and i spy! Take lots of photos and print some out when you get home. Let your child choose some to stick on the walls of their bedrooms. It not only brings a smile to their faces when they remember their best times with you, but also helps them to understand they are part of something bigger… family. Family memories are the bond that glues us together and they need to be seen and remembered every day.