In just under a week’s time we are flying to Spain, and I can’t wait for some decent weather, sunshine, beaches, delicious food and sangria. We’ll also be going with our toddler, and this will be our first holiday with our daughter now that she is no longer a baby, which I’m actually excited about as she’ll be able to do a lot more. I expect that most things about the holiday will be different to last year, including the flight now that she needs her own seat, and it will be different to flying with a one-year old.
In the run up to our holiday I’m going to be spending time preparing for this with our toddler, and here’s my top tips on how I’m doing it.
- When you’re flying with children it’s best to limit the amount of luggage you’re taking. This makes the trip to the airport, and the trip to the hotel or villa once you arrive so much easier. There’s less stuff to carry and think about, especially if you have a young child who is needing your attention. To avoid taking too much my husband and I will be taking two suitcases, and sharing the space with our daughter’s clothes. It also means that we haven’t got to purchase hold baggage for another person on our EasyJet flight.
- If you’re travelling for two weeks and wonder how to fit your clothes, your husband’s clothes and your child’s clothes into two suitcases, then think about taking travel wash with you, or see if your villa has a washing machine. This will mean you only need so many outfits, and you can wash a couple during the holiday. If you’re going somewhere hot the clothes will also dry really quickly in the sunshine.
- Whenever we travel in the UK I usually take a couple of toys and games with me to keep our daughter amused during the day. When flying space is at a premium, however that doesn’t mean you can’t take toys and games with you. Think about taking inflatable toys such as a ball and skittles, small games and small books. There’s also drawing which just involves a small paper pad and some pads. Keep it simple and hopefully you won’t need them, as they’ll be too busy splashing about in the pool.
- Think about what your toddler is going to sleep in whilst you are away. If they sleep in a gro-bag at home and you’re visiting a hot country, then consider getting a 1-tog gro-bag, or a higher tog rating if you’re visiting a cold country. If your toddler has a preferred cuddly toy or book to fall asleep to, then make sure you take it with you. I always find it best to mimic their sleep environment they have at home as much as possible.
- If you’re staying in a hotel or villa then check that they can offer you a travel cot or a small bed for your toddler to sleep in, this should be the same set-up as what they sleep in at home to minimise any sleep disruption to them (or to you). Most airlines will let you take a travel cot as part of a child’s baggage allowance, or there are companies where you can hire them, or large supermarkets like Carrefour where you can buy them.
- The same applies to a car seat which is essential and a priority if you are hiring a car abroad. Check with your car hire company when booking and before leaving that they can offer you a toddler car seat. Or some airlines will let you take your car seat as part of your toddler’s baggage allowance.
I think that this is the part of the holiday that as parents we most dread. Actually it’s not that bad, providing you prepare and plan well.
- Take enough toys, games and books to keep them entertained and occupied for the length of the flight. Keep in the back of your mind that they might not always sleep, even if you are flying during the night or during their nap time. A good tip a friend told me is to take a new toy for every hour of the flight, wrap it up, so that they unwrap it and get excited about it. Remember that each toy doesn’t need to be costly, one could be a book and another a small £2 game of snap.
- Take enough snacks for the entire length of the flight and your onward journey. This should help to keep them under control, and entertained for a while, it also means that you haven’t got to go searching for snacks the minute you land in an unfamiliar place. Now that my daughter is no longer classified as a baby, it means I can’t take baby food through security. However you can order in advance baby snacks or drinks that you toddler loves from Boots, and collect airside before getting onto your flight.
- Consider purchasing a Trunki for your toddler. They will love the designs and colours, and feel that they have own luggage to take onboard. Get them involved in packing the Trunki so they they have some ownership over it, and can really get involved in the process of going on holiday. Plus they are a great seat if you’re sat waiting around at the airport.
- If you’re flying with an airline that offers the option to pre-book your seats then do it. I’ve heard some horror stories of families being separated, which sounds like my worst nightmare especially if you’re travelling with young children. It also means that your toddler can sit between you, so you can help keep them calm during take off and landing, when they need to be sat in their seat. There’s also a site called Seat Guru that let’s you see the best seats on each aircraft by flight number and destination.
- Load up your iPad or phone with their favourite TV programmes to watch as this should help to keep them entertained and distracted for a while. This is one time when I thank the technology gods that these devices actually exist, and help make our lives as parents a little easier.
The list is endless for preparation once you arrived at your destination, so I’m focusing on my top 5 here.
- Treat them. Remember that it’s their holiday as much as yours. If you’re having ice cream then let them have ice cream. If you don’t you could end up with a toddler tantrum on your hands.
- When travelling to a hot country, keep them cool. They’ll need more water than they drink at home, and obviously wear less clothes too. You could purchase one of those mist sprays, so you can easily spray them with water if you think that they are getting a little too warm.
- Always use a SPF 50+ suntan lotion that has a UVA 5 star rating. There are so many children’s suntan lotions that are only 3 star, and some of these are some big name brands. My favourite is Boots Soltan as it’s so easy to apply, and comes in a range of different sized bottles and applicators.
- Tell your child where they are going to, and get them excited about a holiday away from home. This will really stimulate their sense of adventure and encourage them to learn about other countries and cultures.
- Travelling is a great way for everyone including your toddler to try new foods. We are travelling to Spain and most days will be eating tapas. This is a perfect opportunity to order lots of sharing plates, and share these with your toddler. You never know they might find something they’ve never had at home, and really love.
So those are my top tips for preparing to holiday with a toddler. Fingers crossed it will all go to plan, otherwise I’ll be drinking all the sangria.
Do you have any top tips for travelling with a toddler?