Everything you need to make your first holiday a breeze
There’s nothing more exciting than going on holiday. Who doesn’t love a walk along the beach, a dip in the pool and the sun beaming down on you?
In recent years, due to COVID-19, travel has been restricted and wow have we missed it! So if you’re looking to holiday with a new addition to your family for the first time, we know it can be exciting and overwhelming in equal measure.
But fear not because we’ve put together everything you need to know to ensure your holiday is as stress-free and fun-filled as possible.
Questions to consider
Like most of us when we’re planning a holiday, there are so many questions we ask ourselves, whether it’s what outfits to take or what factor sunscreen you need.
However, if you’re taking your little one on holiday for the first time, there are often more things to consider, especially when it comes to weaning and food. Toddler mum, Louise Stetson says, “Would a hotel be able to provide places to warm up food? Can you buy baby food in supermarkets over there? Do they have toddler menus?” It’s worth thinking about the questions that are important to you so you can determine which is the best destination or accommodation type for you.
Choosing your destination
With the world finally opening its doors to travel again, how do you choose your ideal destination? There are so many factors to consider (and that’s just the sunscreen). During lockdown, you might have been dreaming of blue skies, white sandy beaches and unlimited food and drink, but for those who now have a little one, there are more things to think about.
The general rule of thumb when travelling with a baby is choosing somewhere with no extreme temperatures – so try to avoid very hot countries or a very cold, snowy destination. Alternatively, you can visit hotter countries during off-peak seasons to make the most of the warmer climate.
How to manage the heat
If you do jet off to a warm location, keeping your baby calm and cool is a must! “I’d recommend naps in the shade and moving them around accordingly with lots of time in the pool,” says Carlene Brown, mum of one. “Get a sunhat that ties underneath so they don’t keep pulling them off!”
A secret holy grail for parents is a cool water spray. Not only does it keep your little one cool, but Louise says, “It caused lots of giggles and we made it into a little game.” She also recommends “going back to the room between 11am and 3pm for a nap and a play.”
Disclaimer: Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. Infants and children should be well protected at all times. Use sunscreen properly. All people should avoid sun exposure between 11am and 3pm when the sun is typically stronger.
Shorter journeys are your friend
For your first holiday as a family, the shorter your journey the better. A destination that is anywhere between two-to-four hours is a good start – the likes of Spain and its surrounding islands, Portugal, Greece, and Cyprus are all beautiful countries not too far from home.
Take time difference into consideration
Much like the distance of your journey, choosing a holiday where jetlag won’t play havoc with your baby is a smart move. A one-to-two-hour time difference can allow you to adjust your baby’s routine without disrupting them too much.
Is the destination safe?
Safety should be high up on your list of priorities when it comes to choosing a destination. Opt for safer countries and be sure to find the contact details of a local doctor, should you need one. It’s always helpful to check the Government website for travel safety advice for your specific destination, too.
Travel health advice
As with any holiday, it’s always good to get covered with travel insurance before you fly in case the unexpected happens. Likewise, you should consider the travel health advice from your chosen destination so you can determine whether any vaccines or antimalarial medicine should be considered prior to your trip. If you are travelling with a baby, it’s advised to avoid malarious areas but seek advice from your GP or pharmacist before travelling.
Car ride top tips
If you decide to embark on a UK trip, mum of two, Sarah Jackson, has done her share of staycations and recommends planning your stops in advance and allowing plenty of time for packing. “Take spare clothes for each of you in a reachable place – not with the rest of the luggage buried in the boot. If there’s any car sickness or other messy incidents, you need to be able to get to them.”
Consider your accommodation
So, you’ve found your dream destination – but where should you stay? From hotels to apartments and villas, deciding what’s best for you can make all the difference on your holiday, so let’s consider your options.
Renting a villa or apartment has its perks. Having your own space is a great benefit as you can create a home from home and build a familiar environment for your little one.
If self-catering isn’t for you, hotels are your best bet. “All inclusive meant my son could try as much as he wanted and there was always something he enjoyed,” says Carlene.
What’s more, hotels often have great facilities, especially if you choose a family-friendly hotel. They can have baby and child pool areas with plenty of activities, so you can start that all-important break knowing your little one can be entertained.
Finding your flights
Flight times are important
We can’t stress this enough, but flight times need to be considered for a smoother journey. “We tried to pick ones that coincided with naps,” says Carlene. “We found early morning flights or night-time ones are ideal to keep within their existing routines.”
Selecting your seats
With a baby, distractions are welcome (essential, in fact). So, why not choose a window seat so they can look out at the clouds?
If you’re travelling with a baby, you can buy an infant ticket where they’ll be required to sit on your lap for the duration of the flight. Generally, infant tickets are for babies up to two years old. If your little one is older, you can buy a child ticket and there is an option to bring along a car seat to keep them supported. But double check with your airline on their requirements before booking.
Long haul lifesaver
If you’re braving long haul, it’s best to go for a night flight so your baby can stay within their routine.
Top tips for your flight transfer
Once you’ve completed the flight, the last thing you want is a trek to your accommodation. “Try to find flights to and from a nearby airport so you’re not adding to an already long journey,” says Louise.
Planning your transport from the airport to your accommodation is a step you don’t want to miss either. Whether it’s a pre-booked coach, taxi or hire car, take a look at your options and see what will work best for you and your family so your arrival is as smooth as possible.
If your child requires a car seat, it’s worth considering if these come with your chosen transport or if they can be hired. If not, you may need to take one with you.
Preparing for the airport
Don’t forget your documents
It goes without saying that you’ll need boarding passes, passports and potentially other documents depending on the COVID-19 requirements in your chosen destination. “If digital documents are allowed, put as much on your phone as possible in terms of boarding passes and COVID-19 records to reduce all the paper,” says Carlene.
Save yourself some precious time and check-in online before you’re due to fly. Most airlines allow this in the weeks or months leading up to your departure, but this can vary between airlines. If you have pushchairs, car seats or travel cots to take with you, most airlines allow one to be checked in with your normal luggage at no extra cost but check this with your chosen airline prior to booking. If you need your pushchair around the airport – don’t worry - there’s an option to check this in at the boarding gate too.
Take advantage of pre-boarding perks
Most airlines offer family pre-boarding – make your life easier by doing this! With a baby, everything takes twice as long so being one of the first on the plane will help you get settled and organised without disrupting other passengers. Especially if you’re taking a car seat, getting this sorted before everyone starts to board will make things much less stressful.
What you need to take
It’s chaotic enough when you’re packing up your entire wardrobe just for you, let alone packing everything for a little one (oh, the outfit choices). From bottles and blankets to toys and sunscreen, we’ve got everything you might need.
Hand luggage essentials
Packing hand luggage can be tricky with liquid restrictions and space, as each airline has their own bag sizes. But it’s nothing to worry about, in fact, we’ve got a handy checklist of all the essentials you need.
“My son was still on formula at that time, so we actually pre-ordered a lot of our toiletries, snacks and follow-on formula to the airport Boots through Click & Collect and then just had a few bottles of ready-made to take on the plane,” says Carlene. “It took the pressure off worrying about liquid restrictions and also not having to fit it in valuable packing space.”
If your chosen airport doesn’t have Boots Click & Collect available, pack these essentials in advance but be sure to check the airline information on liquid restrictions first.
For the flight
Make the flight as seamless as possible by packing some key favourites from home such as books and toys. If your child has a favourite TV show, why not download a few to keep them distracted? Sarah says, “A playlist of something fun for them is great (however awful it is for the grown-ups).”
One thing that can cause discomfort for your baby is the change in air pressure. “Ear defenders for take-off and landing were a huge help,” says Carlene. Another tip is to feed during this time, “It really helped keep my little one calm,” says Louise.
Aside from the usual packing essentials, there are some holiday must-haves that will make all the difference to your trip.
• Sunscreen – Carlene swears by Soltan Kids Sunstick. “It’s a god send, especially when you’re on the move.” Louise says, “I’d highly recommend it for toddlers who are extra wriggly.”
• Sunglasses – keep that sun out of their delicate eyes and protect them from those UV rays with their own pair of sunglasses.
• Towelled robe – “Perfect for getting out of the pool are towelled robes,” says Carlene.
• Sleeping bags – although this might seem odd given the warmer weather, Carlene says, “sleeping bags are a real benefit with air con in rooms.”
• Swimsuits – another key staple of your baby’s summer wardrobe is a small handful of swimsuits! An absolute must for your holiday.
• Swimming nappies – you can’t go on holiday without these swimming nappies. Let your baby splash around and keep cool in the pool.
• Food and drink – Sarah recommends “food from home such as snacks, especially if they’re fussy.” While Louise advises “drinks in a non-spill cup.”
• Cooling spray – going one step further to manage the heat are the cooling sprays. Just a must-have if you ask us (and the mums, too!)
• Sun parasol – whether you’re attaching one to your pushchair or you just want to keep your baby covered on the beach, parasols are great for that extra protection.
• First aid – it’s always good to be prepared in case of any minor bumps or cuts, so it’s worth taking a first aid kit.
And…relax. It’s time to get organised, book that holiday and most of all, have fun!