A family holiday with your little ones is what memories are made of but planning is essential if you want to get the most out of your time away. Our travel tips and packing lists will help
Holidaying with babies or toddlers is, on paper, great fun. But without your home comforts around you, and away from your daily routine, vacation-life can be, well, a bit inconvenient. Our guide to long haul travel will help you pack with precision and plan for every holiday eventuality.
Babies and toddlers under 2 don’t pay full-price airfares on most airlines because they don’t have their own seat. But as soon as your child reaches 2, that golden age of tantrums and tears, you’ll have to buy them a full-price ticket. For more on specific airline policies, head to our instant family guide to airlines. When you book your seats (usually after you’ve bought the ticket) ask for them to be together and choose one aisle seat, so you don’t disturb anyone else. Or, says Emma Barnett, co-director of luxury family holiday specialist Tots Too, “If two parents are travelling you might consider booking one seat separate from the others at check-in, allowing one adult to rest whilst the other manages the kids, swapping at half time of course!” The British Airways baggage allowance for children under 11 includes, “one fully collapsible pushchair (stroller) and one car seat” but check with your airline as it can vary. Very lightweight, compact buggies can go in the overhead lockers. Others may have go in the hold, although you could take them to the gate. Again, it’s worth checking with the airline, as the policy on this varies.With some airlines, you can take your baby in their car seat as it can be strapped onto the airline seat. This is a great way to encourage your baby to nod off and also means you don’t have to rely on a hire-car car seat on the other side.
A spokesperson for BA confirmed that, “no liquids over 100ml can be taken through security”. So taking cartons of formula (usually 200ml) is officially not an option, although mums say that as long as you’re prepared to taste what you’ve got (yes, really) you can usually take it on the plane. If your departure airport has a Boots chemist through security, you can pre-order formula milk and pick it up on the other side. A sealed tin of milk powder is fine to take onboard but not loose powder. Most airlines provide hot water and will warm up milk and food, as long as it’s sealed. “Ask in advance though”, suggest Emma Barnett, “as staff are often busy.” Alternatively take an empty flask and ask a coffee shop to fill it with water once you’re through security.Sterilising onboard isn’t easy so be prepared to compromise or, if you choose to use single-use sterilised bottles, practice beforehand so your baby is familiar with the teat.If you're breastfeeding on a plane, try and time feeds to coincide with take-off or landing, or both. It will help relieve the pain associated with ears ‘popping’.
Check that your hotel has a mini bar (for the fridge, not the boozy contents) in the room – it will come in handy to store your baby’s milk and food. Make sure there’s a kettle in the room and ask if there’s a microwave handy for guests.If you don’t want to rely on often-expensive in-house laundry services, take a tube of travel wash and get scrubbing! If you’re self-catering find out what the facilities are like – do you need a highchair? Is there a microwave? Is there a bath? What about a washing machine? How about a travel cot?Hotel cots are notoriously under par. Ask for the dimensions in advance, you don’t want to end up with a tiny crib rather than a full sized cot because the words got lost in translation.Ask if there’s an in-room listening service, or if you’re self catering check that your baby monitor has a long range – not being able to hear the crying isn’t always a good thing.A universal bath plug is a strange but don’t-be-without item that’s definitely worth buying for both hotel holidays and self-catered apartments.
If you’re only going for a week or two, you’ll be surprised at what you can survive on, especially if you’re prepared to wash whilst you’re away. And remember, nappies and wipes are sold outside of the UK! You might not get the brand that you’re used to but it saves carting nappies half way across the world.Look out for miniature samples of nappy cream, baby shampoo and so on, free with magazines or given away at baby groups. They’ll come in handy.One approach to the packing dilemma is to mentally break your holiday down into travelling, sleeping and daywear. That way you should cover all bases.
For ease, you can download and print the below long haul baby packing checklist and long haul toddler packing checklist for free, in a printer-friendly A4 format.
What to pack in your suitcase
This is your checked-in baggage, so it is not accessible while you’re travelling
What to pack in your hand luggage
This is your carry-on luggage, so should contain what you'll need once checked-in and while travelling in the aircraft
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