Family travel tips

Organisation and planning are the keys to a happy and successful family break.

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Whether you’re pregnant or a new mum, going on holiday will be a different experience from those carefree days of old. But with a bit of basic planning, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a relaxing break this summer.

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Having a baby can be one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life, so it’s probably when you’ll most feel in need of a holiday. However, many mums worry that taking a baby abroad may be more trouble than it’s worth. Admittedly, you won’t have the same holiday as in your pre-children life, but with a bit of planning it can still be fun.

If you’re flying with a small baby, some airlines will let you reserve one of the roomy seats at the front of the plane. Others will also provide you with a bassinet, or cot, to make the journey more comfortable for all of you.

If you’re driving somewhere, night journeys mean that your children will probably be able to snatch a few hours’ sleep in the car so the journey will seem a bit shorter to them. Playing nursery rhyme or story tapes during the journey and making frequent stops will also help keep boredom at bay. Small snacks and drinks will keep them busy, too.

If you’re thinking of travelling by train or coach, they might not be ideal for mums with very small babies, as trying to change nappies, breastfeed or even walk up and down can prove difficult. If you do have to travel by train, try to sit at a table near the buffet car. But remember that trains and coaches have a tendency towards sudden movements, so get your children to sit down and, if possible, strap them in. Taking some toilet paper is always a good idea.

Aside from travelling, you may be concerned about the effect of a change of routine on your baby. However, Dr Mike Townend, a GP, lecturer and writer on travel health, says that parents shouldn’t worry about changing their routine.

‘Small children are remarkably adaptable and they won’t be too affected by a brief change,’ he explains.

Another concern shared by parents is the risk of illness while they are on holiday.

‘The most common complaint suffered by children when abroad is a stomach upset,’ says Dr Townend. ‘But if you’re breastfeeding your baby, the risk of this is extremely low for your baby.’

There are steps you can take to help prevent infections if you’re not breastfeeding. ‘Make sure the water you use for formula is purified or boiled, and use bottled water to clean his teeth,’ says Dr Townend.

Stomach upsets aren’t the only illnesses to affect children when abroad – colds and breathing difficulties are also surprisingly common. ‘Your child will come into contact with a lot of other people while on holiday and the air quality of the country may be different,’ explains Dr Townend.

He advises talking to your GP about anti-malarial tablets and insect repellent if you’re travelling to a country where there is a high risk of malaria,’ he says, ‘So you’ll have to decide with your GP’s help whether the country you are travelling to is high risk.’

Making sure you choose the right destination, whether you’re pregnant or travelling with your children, will help keep your stress levels to a minimum.

Before you choose a holiday, check how hot it’s likely to be and find out if the apartment or hotel has any features unsuitable for small children, such as an open staircase or unsafe balcony. Check if gates or high chairs are provided and ask what is just outside to ensure you won’t be by a busy main road.

It’s also worth finding out if the pool is within toddling distance and if there are babysitters and children’s entertainers so that you can spend some time relaxing on your own.

After all this careful planning, you should be able to relax and enjoy yourself when you reach your destination.

Keep them busy
Provide toys to keep your children occupied and the journey will pass more quickly for them.

Keep them happy
A drive time mobile will entertain small babies.

In flight-entertainment
Books are ideal for long flights

Don’t forget
After age two, children have their own luggage allowance, but since you’ll still have to carry it, follow these suggestions to keep your luggage to a minimum:

Take with you:

  • Passport – all babies need to have their own passport so arrange it in good time
  • Bottles and formula – check indiviudual airline and aripoprt rules on whether you can take liquids on board with you
  • A favourite toy
  • Changing bag
  • Nappies – for the journey, as most resorts will sell them
  • High protection factor sun cream and sun hat
  • Baby equipment – keep all your vital equipment close at hand in a separate bag when travelling and always carry mop-up cloths, bibs, wet wipes and other cleaning apparatus.
  • Warm clothing – you may be going to a hot country, but air-conditioning on aeroplanes and in hotels and the night air con can make you feel cold, so pack cardigans for your baby and a jumper or jacket for yourself.

Luggage limits by airline 

Provided by TravelSupermarket

Provider

Free hand luggage weight allowance

Hand baggage size

Jet2

10kg in one bag

56 x 45 x 25 cm

Ryanair

10kg in one bag plus one small bag no bigger than 35 x 20 x 20cm

56 x 40 x 26 cm

easyJet

No limit but must be able to lift into overhead locker unaided. One bag allowed.

Maximum size of 56 x 45 x 25cm including handles and wheels – it may have to go in the hold if the flight is busy

FlyBe

10kg across two small bags

55 x 35 x 20 cm

British Airways

One bag up to 23kg plus either a personal handbag or laptop

56 x 45 x 25cm for your main bag and 40 x 30 x 15cm for the personal bag

Monarch

EITHER 10kg bag in one bag or 10kg across two  bags with a combined size no bigger that 56cm x 40cm x 25 cm, plus a small duty free bag

56 x 46 x 25 cm 

Thomson (flight only)

5kg in one small bag

55 x 40 x 20 cm 

Thomas Cook (flight only)

 5kg in one bag plus a laptop or small handbag and duty free purchases

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55 x 40 x 20 cm 

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