Family holidays are a time to relax and spend quality time with your nearest and dearest. They’re a time to make memories and have fun together without rushing off to do the chores or preparing for a meeting at work. Imagine lazy days in the sunshine, splashing about in the sea, family meals filled with laughter and adventures in new places.
Well, that’s the idea anyway…
Anyone who has travelled with young children will know that family holidays can be hard work. Keeping kids entertained in an unfamiliar place is far from relaxing. You don’t want to return from your holiday feeling stressed and exhausted.
To avoid an unhappy holiday, we asked Monica from The Travel Hack to put together some top tips for a stress-free family holiday.
Allow plenty of time for EVERYTHING
It’s a well-known fact in parenthood that everything takes twice as long when you’ve got children with you. Whether you’re having a bite to eat, packing a suitcase or driving to the airport, allow plenty of time. There’s nothing more stressful than sitting in traffic on the way to the airport as you count down the minutes until your flight takes off.
I used to pride myself on being able to pack a suitcase in 10 minutes or speed to the airport with seconds to spare. With a baby, I give myself hours to do anything.
Bring the grandparents
I’ll admit it, 10 years ago a holiday with my parents would have been my worst nightmare. But these days I can see the advantages of a multigenerational family holiday.
The grandparents get to spend some quality time with their grandchildren while the parents get a few evenings off and some time to themselves. The kids benefit too as there is always someone around to keep an eye on them and applaud their handstands in the pool.
Keep to your kid’s routines
Keeping to routines is particularly important when travelling with babies and young children. As far as possible, keep to their feeding, napping and bedtime routines or you’ll end up with hungry and overtired kids.
Plan your activities around their naps and avoid late nights. It can be easy to say, ‘Oh, but we’re on holiday!’ and relax the routines but after a couple of late nights you’ll have naggy kids and you soon realise it isn’t worth it.
Choose a hotel with extra space
Opt for a hotel with family rooms, a suite or connecting bedrooms. Even with just one child you’ll be cramped and uncomfortable and it’s unlikely anyone will sleep well.
It’s worth paying a little bit more for the extra space, especially when it comes to the evening. Once the little ones have gone to sleep you’ll need somewhere to relax without fear of waking them up.
Look for child-friendly hotels
This might seem like an obvious one but some hotels are much more child-friendly than others. Reviews are a good place to look and see if they really are child-friendly.
Most hotels provide cots but you’ll find some that have everything from bottle sterilizers to baby bouncers, monitors, cot mobiles and babysitting services. They’ll also have baby swimming pools and allow inflatable toys in certain pools.
Click here to check out the best child-friendly hotels in London.
Consider a crèche, babysitter or kid’s club
Don’t feel guilty about using the crèche or kid’s club. Kids usually love these services and the club will be their favourite thing about their holiday. It also gives mum and dad the chance to relax so you’ve got much more energy when the kids come back.
Do your research and plan ahead
Holidays are all about relaxing and, for most of us, that means doing very little. But when you’ve got kids in tow, having nothing to do can be very stressful! Keep the kids entertained by planning ahead and choosing the activities you’d like to do. Some things will require booking in advance or a little research on how to get there. Let the children decide on some plans to give them something extra special to look forward to.
Don’t try to do too much
Having mentioned doing lots of activities, I should also say that doing too much can be equally stressful. When travelling with a baby, I find that half-day activities are best. We usually relax in the morning and get out and about in the afternoon.
Use your luggage allowance
I usually suggest packing light, but if you’ve got children with you, pack as much as you can! Don’t waste space with too many clothes as these can be easily washed while you’re away. Save the space for toys and things that will keep the little ones entertained. I’ve been known to carry a baby’s jungle gym in my suitcase before. You can also leave the nappies at home and pick them up in your destination.
Make time for yourself
Remember that this is your holiday too so make some time to do exactly what you want to do. Whether that’s going to a fancy restaurant, an afternoon in the spa, going scuba diving or hiking or simply sitting by the pool without any disturbances. Use the babysitting services or take it in turns to have a couple of hours to yourself.
Do you have any other tips on keeping your family stress-free on holiday?
Let us know below!
Hi, I’m Monica, otherwise known as The Travel Hack. The Travel Hack is a blog about affordable luxury, weekend escapes and finding the best deals when you travel. It’s more recently become about travelling with a baby and proving adventures don’t need to stop when little ones arrive!
I began the blog back in 2009 when I travelled around Australia and Asia for two years. I’m now a full time travel blogger and The Travel Hack is listed as one of the top 10 travel blogs in the UK.