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Planning a family holiday can be daunting, whether you’re travelling with an irritable newborn or an irritable pre-teen, you have to ensure that you get the right balance between family fun and relaxation. To help anyone planning a family holiday this summer, we’ve put together some top tips to help you achieve the perfect trip.
Involve your kids in the planning and decision making stages and they will feel more excited and connected to the trip right from the beginning. Start by doing research based on your budget and then ask the kids their opinions on your short-listed accommodation or destination ideas.
The trick to a truly perfect family holiday is happy kids AND happy parents. You need to ensure you do plenty of research into places that will offer something for everyone, not just one or two people on the trip. Find a happy medium between kids clubs and activities, relaxing days out and nice meals. Make sure you choose between a short haul or long haul destination carefully and get any necessary jabs.
Now that you’ve done your research, you need to ensure you and your family can actually travel. In the past, children were simply added to their mother’s passports, however, now children are required to have their own passport – even babies. (If your child is on your passport and under 16, you should be fine). Make sure you apply in plenty of time to allow for delays. Whilst you’re at it, make sure you have quality family travel insurance.
For some parents, the idea of taking their child to the airport or on a plane is enough to ground them in the UK until their child has turned 18. However, there really is nothing to be afraid of, as long as you prepare. Pre-pack snacks, toys and games to keep them interested until you touchdown. Depending on your child’s attention span, you could plan different games for every half an hour, including spotting ‘landmarks’ like the right ticket desk or the first aeroplane.
One of the biggest nightmares for parents is that their child will get lost on holiday. Nip this fear in the bud immediately by discussing a plan with your kids. If they have a mobile phone, add your number and the number for the hotel. You can also invest in some wristbands or notes to put inside their bag with your details and the hotel’s details in case they find someone who can help them. Agree on a meeting point at the start of each day, just in case you get separated.
Travelling abroad may present new dangers for children, for example, a hotter climate, strong tides and swimming pools. Remember to keep your child hydrated, covered in a high-factor sunscreen, and under close watch when around water. Remember, children should be kept in the shade when at all possible, especially young babies – remember not to cover their cot with a blanket to create shade, as this will just make them hot.
Parents know how important it is to always be prepared. In case of illness, it is always worth carrying some calpol, or child-friendly sickness medicine with you, plus a small first aid kit for cuts and scrapes. In case of emergencies, ensure you know how to contact emergency services in your chosen destination, and where the closest A&E department is. Remember, if your child is suffering from a small bug or slight complaint, chemists can usually give really good advice.
One of the important parts of travelling abroad is to experience the unique culture of the destination, and many parents can become upset if their kids don’t soak up the local atmosphere. The best thing to do is not try to force cultural experiences on them, but instead, try to make them fun. Try taking them to some great historical sites, or perhaps some local dancing, and even offer them some local cuisine.
Offering the kids a movie or game on the tablet can be very tempting, especially if you want to check your emails, but technology can sometimes be a barrier to family unity. Try to disconnect from technology to allow you time to reconnect as a family, or use technology to have fun together.
Most parents will know that kids need structure or they can go wild. There is a fine line between being spontaneous and having 7 days stretching ahead of you with nothing planned. Try to give your kids structure with a rough idea of plans for every day. It could be as simple as two days around the pool and then one outing, then repeat – make sure you find a balance between relaxation and fun for both you and your kids.
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