Information & Advice
Our family days out interactive checklists can help you remember what to take with you so you can enjoy the best possible family day out.
Simply select your family day out destination from the list below and you'll find a checklist of things to take.
If you're going on a long journey, keep your child hydrated with milk, water and snacks such as rice cakes and raisins.
"Take food for the kids with you. Services may have a lot of fast food outlets which aren't ideal," say Emma and Deborah Barnett who run a family holiday specialist called Tots Too.
Handy snack-packs are a great idea, such as these Carrot Stix from Organix, these Organix Date and Banana Fruit Bars or these Pineapple Snacks from Kiddylicious. Or, if you want to make your own, these Boots Pop-Up Bowls will be available from July or try these TUMTUM Tiny Snackpots or these brightly-coloured Nuby Snack Catchers as a way of storing pasta salad, raisins and chopped fruit.
If your little one is younger, take a steriliser, such as the Boots Travel Steriliser (available from June 2012).
Emma and Deborah suggest hiding favourite toys around the car so they're a novelty once they appear during the drive.
"If you can, split the driving with another adult, such as your partner, so one of you can entertain the children. Swap halfway through."
If it's a sunny day, don't forget sun cream. Cover exposed areas of your child's skin with SPF50. Reapply every two to three hours and don't go out in the sun between 11am and 3pm. Remember, babies should not be exposed to the sun.
Keep clothing casual – depending on the weather, things could get messy. You may want to pack some spare clothes.
Mum-of-three Michelle Horne, from Yorkshire, says: "Be prepared for all weathers and any eventuality, such as your children falling in a big pile of mud. Always take a change of clothes and wet wipes."
Family days out with toddlers may seem daunting but, Michelle says, they can be very rewarding too. "They learn so quickly at this age that every day brings with it new rewards," she says. "So what better way to entertain a little one than with a great day out?"
Michelle suggests tucking a "distraction pack" into your bag to ward off any potential tantrums.
"Whatever you're doing have something in your bag that could work to keep a bored toddler amused. A toy car, a dinosaur, a doll, colourings, a small ball all work well and are small enough to not take up much room.
Take a very cheap digital camera wherever you go – all toddlers like taking pictures of each other, the world around them and they love to look at pictures of themselves! Always pack a picnic – even if you end up eating at the café – the children will need snacks and drinks throughout the day.
|We're having a day out at a farm/ zoo.|
Farms and zoos are a great way to engage kids of all ages.
"Farms make great days out for toddlers," says Emma and Deborah. "You can make the trip educational for them. Consider taking a pushchair as you may get tired carrying them."
"A spring visit to the farm is always extra special because all the babies are being born," says mum-of-three Michelle. She suggests allowing your child to dictate which animals you see next.
"Plan your day," she says. "We make a list of which animals we definitely want to see. Then, once we get there, we try to be the first person to spot their favourite animal. It's always good to make a game out of the experience." Another good game, suggests Michelle, is getting your children to do impressions of each animal.
Catherine Wakeman runs Down At The Farm in Tyne and Wear.
She says it's important to make your children aware of what to expect from the animals. "Kids have to approach animals carefully and understand animals can get upset if they're not nice. Some animals may want to rest or to hide. Get as much information as you can before you go about the animals you are going to see."
Things to consider taking to a farm/ zoo:
|We're having a day out at a theme park|
Theme parks provide a great experience for older children but, bear in mind, some of them may be expensive and, during weekends and holidays, they may also be busy. If you can, choose an inset day and look for money-off vouchers online.
"If you're at a fair where you pay for every ride, set a limit of the number of rides children can go on. It will keep the cost down," says Michelle.
"If there is a penny arcade, don't forget to take the copper jar." Always check the rides are suitable for your children – try to look at the website before you go.
"Dress your kids in bright clothing so they'll be easier to spot if they go astray in a crowd," say Emma and Deborah Barnett who run a family holiday company.
Things to consider taking to a theme park:
|We're having a day out at the beach|
A day at the seaside is the ultimate summer day out. There are loads of things you can do as a family.
Some of Michelle's favourites include games like "Let's Bury Dad"! "Other suggestions include building a sandcastle, then going on a walk to find things to decorate it with – shells, stones etc," she says.
"Build a line of sandcastles, then see who can squash them the fastest. Make sand angels by lying in the sand and waving your arms backwards and forwards. Or dig a shallow water pool for perfect splashing."
Things to consider taking to the beach:
|We're going for a walk and taking a picnic|
If you've got a young family, it's probably wise to choose a walking destination like a park, country park or the grounds of a stately home, where all the routes are clearly mapped out. Angelah Sparg of the Ramblers' Association says; "Don't take unnecessary risks by tackling overly long or difficult routes."
Take a mobile phone, bottles of water and enough food along with you. If you don't know the route, you may wish to take a map, compass and whistles for your family. "Take extra care when crossing fields with livestock," adds Angelah.
If you're heading to the park, Michelle suggests meeting with other mums. "Take scooters, a football, bikes or a Frisbee," she says.
"Organise a scavenger hunt for the walk include things like leaves, flowers, pebbles – anything you can think of really – but no more than 10." If there's a duck pond, you may want to take some stale bread along to feed them." She also suggests collecting pretty leaves and flowers to make a collage once you get home.
Things to consider taking on a walk:
|We're having a day out at the museum|
There are lots of child-friendly, interactive museums around, designed to excite and engage your family. "Remember toddlers understand the world around them by touching , so make sure you're going to a place where you won't have to constantly say 'no – don't touch,'" says Michelle.
"It needs to be family friendly." Talk to your child in advance about what you might see at the museum. "Once you get there, get the children to find exhibits – e.g. the first to find a suit of armour – and ask them about what they think of what they're seeing. Take stars to praise and reward lovely behaviour."
Things to consider taking to the museum:
Now you're all set for a great family day out. Why not read this feature to find great family days out across the UK, as recommended by other families?
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