Tuesday, 26 July 2016


…and the holidays are happening. Here’s how to keep the children engaged on your trip away (and consequently, how to keep the whole family happy).

Want to make the most of your family holiday and enjoy the chance of all being together? Planning not pressure is key. From travelling with tots to finding a break that will suit all the family, the holidays ought to be fun for everyone. Follow this helpful guide to make your break away, the best it can be…

Suitably planned
Whether you’re currently searching for the best ethical place abroad for dolphin and whale watching with your children, or you’re planning a UK family festival break, thinking about everyone’s needs in the planning stages, will go along way to making it a happy holiday.

Travelling with children
Factor in the extra time that small children need. When you think about their usual daily routine, you think about how toddlers like to explore everything, eat lots of snacks, have frequent toilet stops, and generally need time to be themselves. If you equate this to travelling, then you will do well to plan your journey around them i.e. factor in more time.

Safety first
Regardless of the regulations in your destination, always use children's car seats whenever driving with your kids. Take an up to date first aid kit and use sun hats plus a good sun protection factor.

You will need to be prepared and have activities and things to do on the way to hand, to keep your child occupied. You will do well to find things that capture their imagination, stimulate creativity and hold their attention. You will also need to pack countless snacks and drinks – plus extras in case you get delayed.

Dress your baby appropriately for the climate and conditions of your destination. If you are heading somewhere hot, sun protection is essential. When travelling, they need to be comfortable; sleepsuits are perfect. If you are flying, giving them a baby bottle of cool boiled water or a dummy (pacifier) at take off and landing, this can help them with changes in cabin pressure.

Consistency is all-important to even the curious of toddlers; so take familiar things on holiday. Favourite toys, clothes and even food will bring them security, although a new environment will alert their senses and be an exciting experience all the same.

3-7 years
This age group makes friends quickly wherever they are – even language doesn’t seem to be a barrier. Bring a ball to the beach and they will create their own fun joining in with other children. When there is no one else around for them to play with, use the time to play with them yourselves. You’ll be pleased you did.

8-12 years
Children this age appreciate independent activities, but also appreciate cultural activities too, especially those that bring their studies alive. Tie in a visit to a castle if they are learning about historic battles. Let them take charge of the camera too.

Ground rules and grown up things to do will help this age group. Encourage them to keep a journal, to write about and draw the unusual things they see and find, to list the weird things they eat etc. Stick in maps, postcards, ticket stubs and the like. It will be a great way of preserving the time spent away together. When encountering a different language, encourage your teen to converse, perhaps to order the food.

Don’t do everything yourself – share the load. That way you can enjoy the build up to your break without feeling overwhelmed. When planning, ask everyone for ideas and then compare them together, giving the whole family time to decide what you all want out of your break away. The children will feel involved from the start and that it is also their holiday too.

You all may have very different ideas of what you’d like, in which case compromise before setting off. Agree to balance the holiday and to be flexible. You all want to enjoy yourselves.

Don’t do too much

Don’t over plan. Keep some days free. Spontaneity is so refreshing and you don’t want to be heading off on one day trip to the next without a break at all. You will return home in need of a holiday. After all, the idea is that you relax while you are away!

This post first appeared here