Before you fly, before you pack and before you even book your holiday, make sure your whole family has an up-to-date passport. Your own documents probably last for 10 years, but children’s passports need to be renewed every five years. Even babies need a valid passport to leave the country, so it’s better to make sure everyone has the right paperwork now instead of when you’re all standing at the airport.
10 tips for travelling with toddlers
From planning and packing to toys and tantrums – here’s everything you need to know about taking the stress out of family holidays.
A lot of airlines let children under 2 fly for free – but plenty will still charge you, even if you don’t need a seat. Some airlines offer a reduced price ticket for toddlers (usually 75%) but this won’t buy you a seat, so it’s sometimes worth spending a few pounds more for a bit of extra space on the plane (and an extra baggage allowance) especially if you are flying long-haul. Most airlines also offer to carry buggies and beds for free, so it’s always a good idea to check before you buy.
When it comes to packing toddler holiday essentials, you have to prepare for everything. Wet wipes, snacks, toys, games, a soft blanket and comfy clothes are all important, but one of the best things you can pack for a toddler is an iPad. Load it up with a few hours worth of songs, cartoons and Disney movies and you’ll know you’ll always have it at the ready if they start getting too noisy on the plane. Don’t forget teddy either!
Let your kids take their own luggage if they’re old enough to carry something – even if it’s only a teddy – so they’ll feel like they’re part of the family. Even better, invest in a Trunki, to give them somewhere to pack their clothes as well as something to sit and scoot around on when they get tired or bored. It’s also a good idea to swap your own hand-luggage wheelie for a backpack, to free up both of your hands for looking after the kids.
Always a good idea anyway, it’s even more important with toddlers. The sooner you check in for your flight, the more chance you’ve got of all sitting together (and even of asking nicely for a leg-room upgrade). Taking a bit of extra time to relax in the shops and cafes is also a good way of de-stressing the kids too – getting them ready for a nice sleep on the plane, and giving you enough time to buy some snacks and bottled water.
If possible, choose flights that coincide with your kid’s normal bedtime. If they’re already tired when they get on board, the chances are good that they’ll fall asleep as soon as you’re in the air. Some parents recommend handing out notes to other passengers to apologise for any tantrums before they start – whilst others argue that it’s not fair to expect complete silence from a baby.
At the airport, on the plane, in the hotel and on the beach – always know exactly where the nearest toilet is. The last thing you want to be doing is flicking through a Spanish phrasebook for “¿Dónde está el baño?” with a leaky toddler in your arms. You obviously need to keep children as hydrated as possible when travelling to hot countries, so a good escape plan is always essential.
All-inclusive holidays like Club Med offer a huge array of food for all ages, but we all know how fussy toddlers can be – and most adults moan about the food on planes. The change in temperature and time and place is enough to make most kids a bit grumpy, so it’s important to keep a supply of healthy snacks like fruit pouches and nibbles at hand to keep them happy.
They might look cuter in the funky new outfit you bought them, but toddlers only ever care about being comfortable. On the plane, that means a cosy set of joggers, and when they’re on the beach it means keeping them as cool as possible. You might like the heat, but your 2-year-old definitely won’t. Pack hats, cool, baggy clothes, a sun tent, armbands, earplugs (for the pool) and plenty of sun protection.
Taking a toddler on holiday is an amazing experience and you won’t want to forget a thing – so make sure you take plenty of pictures to show everyone else back home. What’s more, it’s also a good idea to give your kids their own (children’s) camera so they can join in too. Giving a toddler a toy camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and let you see what they’re really interested in looking at.
Discover the best family holidays in the world at Club Med – with a range of premium all-inclusive resorts to suit all ages.