Stress-free family travel guide

21 things your mum never told you about travelling with children… but we will!


Remember the days when all you needed to pack for a holiday were clean knickers and a toothbrush? Not any more… Oh, no. 


1. Dictionary definition of a holiday: ‘a period in which a break is taken from work for rest, travel or recreation’. The parents’ definition? Less ‘getting away from it all’ and more ‘taking it all with you’.

2. It’s fairly tricky to travel light while still managing to pack everything on your list of essentials. Especially when the list is only slightly shorter than the telephone directory.

3. Don’t waste valuable suitcase space packing unnecessary stuff, such as a novel to read while lounging by the poolside on a sunbed. Your days of reading, lounging and sunbeds are over. For the next 21 years.

4. Pre-baby, you avoided anywhere labelled ‘child-friendly’ like the plague. Now the words ‘baby changing facilities’ bring the same twinkle to your eye as ‘luxury spa facilities’. Well, nearly.

5. Resist the urge to write ‘snotty nose’, ‘addiction to the Tweenies’ or ‘tendency to fart in public’ in the ‘distinguishing characteristics’ section of your child’s passport.

6. It’s the first holiday weekend of summer and you’re stuck in a massive motorway traffic jam. Try to ignore the double-takes from fellow drivers as you resort to breastfeeding your baby on the hard shoulder.

7. Want to guarantee a seat on a packed train? Pinch your baby’s rusk off him as he’s about to tuck in – guaranteed to set him off wailing.

8. Your child’s idea of in-flight entertainment involves serenading all your fellow passengers with ‘The wheels on the bus go round and round…’ The two-hour-long, non-stop version.

9. Meanwhile, your in-flight entertainment consists of retrieving bits of partially-chewed biscuit out of the hair of the passenger in the seat in front. You hope they don’t notice…

10 …crafting origami animals out of sick bags and safety instruction cards…

11 …forgoing reclining back with the latest bonkbuster and a glass of chilled white wine, for reading ‘Spot’s Busy Day’ with some cooled, boiled water to hand…

12 …and trying to stop your little darling calling the flight attendant
‘Poo poo bumface’ by bribing him with some duty-free chocolate. 

13. At baggage reclaim, keep your fingers crossed your suitcase has remained shut. Hopefully everyone will be spared the sight of 80 nappies, your nipple shields and Mr Rabbit chugging round the carousel.

14. You may chuckle at the odd bits of metal going around the luggage carousel – until you suddenly realise they used to be part of the stroller you handed over at the check-in desk.

15. Don’t worry if you don’t know the local lingo; you’ll find that whiffs of dirty nappies, burps and runny noses roughly translate the same across the world.

16. When you take a trip to the beach, be prepared for the fact that no matter how big it is, your children will scrap over the same patch of sand…

17 …and you can expect an almighty punch-up over who is the rightful owner of that dead crab you found in the rock pool.

18. When your child sneezes on the coach window, then draws in it, you can pretend this is a quaint but little-known British expression of  appreciation.

19. If you can’t apologise to your fellow passengers in their own language then sign language will probably do. In a crisis, just act as though your child belongs to someone else.

20. When it comes to going home, be positive! Your swimming lesson at the chilly local baths is just as much fun as splashing around in the plant-filled subtropical swimming complex at Center Parcs. No, really… And finally;


21. Travel gives you the opportunity to experience a new and exciting world through the eyes of your child, so keep calm and enjoy these precious adventures with them.

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