6 most common travel mistakes parents need to avoid
As parents, when we are planning a family holiday we sometimes spend so much time thinking about all the wonderful things we want to do that we forget to plan ahead for the potential issues we might encounter.
Travelling with little ones, as most mums and dads know, is very different to travelling on your own, so we’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes most parents make during family holidays so you can make sure you avoid them this summer:
1. Not pre-booking seats on the plane
Not booking seats together on your flight can cause havoc. You can’t always rely on the airline to group family bookings together, especially at peak travel times when planes are full, so you could end up being seated in separate areas, which isn’t ideal if you have very young children or children prone to separation anxiety. Booking your seats ahead of travel is always a good call and will save you a very big headache. We don’t think that we’ve ever been on a plane and not witnessed at least 3 or 4 families separated and the cabin crew asking single people if they can re-arrange seating so that families with children can sit together.
The calm before the ‘sitting together with kids’ storm!
2. Flying empty-handed
We know that packing and checking luggage can be rushed and time consuming before you head to the airport, but try and make time to be prepared for what you might need on the journey. Bored, hungry children and long flights (and waiting times) don’t mix, so travelling without a good supply of activities and snacks is a mistake to be avoided. Simple things like colouring books, crayons and dolls can help keep your little ones occupied between naps, and pre-packed snacks can help fight any sudden hunger pangs that can lead to a grouchy child. Take a look at our post on the top 10 food items to take on a plane if you’re looking for some inspiration. Toys and sweets can be expensive at the airport and on board so try and take some extra time to find some small toys and snacks ahead of travelling. Now that our children are older they love to unwrap and build lego mini figures on board and we also get them small toys from the £1 shop or other discount stores to play with, as new toys are always fantastic for keeping them occupied.
3. Booking just one room at your accommodation
Unless you’re planning to go to sleep at the same time as your children every evening, booking just one room for the entire family is a bad idea. The evening is when you can have some time to yourselves and watch a movie, read a book or shock horror, have a conversation, and this isn’t easy to do if your children are trying to fall asleep in the same room. Book a suite or apartment with at least two rooms to ensure you all get the quiet time and space you deserve. We’ve often put our children to bed in the one bedroom, only to move them onto the pull-out bed when we are ready to turn in, but this is not ideal!
This room would be a nightmare if you were a couple, never mind a family!
4. Catering to the children all the time
While ensuring your holiday consists of plenty of child-friendly activities such as water parks, playgrounds and eating pizza (and the dreaded nuggets) is a good thing, it also doesn’t hurt to get the kids involved in something new and a little more challenging every once in a while. Experiencing good quality restaurants and visiting cultural attractions, exploring quaint villages and going on more adventurous nature trails provide great learning opportunities and create lots of new memories.
Our kids are frequently dragged around cultural attractions!
5. Trying to do too much in one day
When travelling with children we’d recommend not trying to cram too many activities into one day. Trying to rush round doing as much as possible will only stress you all out and create more chance of disappointment, tiredness and possibly even a tantrum or two. We’d advise making a rough list of things you want to do at the start of your break, and then take each day as it comes in depending on how all the family members are feeling that day. We find that planning a big adventure or activity for the morning and then spending some quiet time in the afternoon (plus a splash in the pool) is the perfect balance and helps set realistic expectations for the day. Doing activities between 10am-2pm (ish) is also great because if you are going somewhere with a warm climate, the sun is very hot between 11am-3pm so after 3pm is an ideal time to enjoy the pool for a few hours then you can all take a much needed nap!
Make sure you and the little ones have time to actually have fun in the sun!
6. Choosing a remote accommodation
True, accommodation further away from central attractions may be cheaper, but when travelling with the family you’ll find that transport to and from central areas gets can be expensive and will drain your holiday spends. It also means you have less time to actually enjoy your planned activities what with the train, bus or taxi rides sapping your precious hours together. Less transport means more fun, so book somewhere more central if you can. Other than that, we’d recommend hiring a car, especially if you are staying with Eurocamp or Al Fresco. If you are self catering at a villa up a mountain, it can be very difficult (and expensive) sourcing groceries with little or no transport.
Absolutely avoid booking this accommodation if you have young children!
Other things that might help you:
- Don’t forget to take mosquito repellant, a first aid kit including calpol, and fly net.
- Take spare clothes on the plane in case of accidents. Oh, and baby wipes, no matter how old your kids are.
- Find a reputable baby sitter!
What kinds of family travel mistakes have you made in the past? Let us know in the comments below.