It may be your first time taking your toddler on holiday, so how do you have a successful trip away? Whether you’re going abroad or having a UK-based holiday, here are SnoozeShade’s 10 top tips for a wonderful break.
- The best piece of advice we have when travelling with a toddler is to manage your expectations. There may be tantrums – in fact there probably will be. You probably won’t get much time alone as a couple and you may not be able to lounge all day on the beach. However, this precious time passes so quickly and your little one will soon be headed off to school, so make sure you enjoy this moment.
- Make sure you have plenty of forms of entertainment for your little one, so that those boring times like waiting in the airport lounge or long drives don’t get too much for them – or you! Pack a few old favourite books and games, then have some small items to get out when your little one starts to get fractious. Have some notebooks and pens or crayons of different colours, some stickers, some pipe cleaners and penne pasta to create shapes, small pom poms to post into an empty water bottle – you’ll find lots of cheap and cheerful ideas online. You may also want to take a tablet and headphones so that your toddler can watch a favourite show without annoying fellow travellers.
- Keep your toddler’s sleep on track. Nothing is as grumpy as an over-tired toddler – unless it’s their parents, so make sure you try to establish your little one’s usual sleep routine on holiday as well as you do at home. Make sure that there is a suitable cot or travel cot at your destination (or take your own) and take a sheet from home and their usual sleeping bag or nightwear so that it all feels and smells familiar to them. Pack SnoozeShade for cots or travel cots to make their sleep space dark and distraction-free and to combat early morning wake-ups if the sun rises earlier than it does at home. You might want to include a pop-up blind for the window in case there are no curtains or blinds. For daytime naps, SnoozeShade for pushchairs helps keep sleep schedules on track when your little one is having a sleep in their stroller. It also protects them from biting insects and prevents people from distracting your child just as they are dozing off – invaluable!
- Snacks are your friend. Make sure that you pack plenty of tasty and filling treats for your little one (and for you) in case of delays at the airport, port or station. When you have reached your destination, take some time on day one to stock up for trips out. You never know when you might have longer to wait for a café table, or your little one won’t eat what there is. Familiar foods will help your little one stay calm and relaxed and keeping their tummy fairly full will prevent meltdowns.
- Plan your travel carefully. Those 6am flights might be cheaper but think about the disruption to your toddler to have to get up at 3am. If you can at all manage it, try to travel either at times when your little one will be awake, such as the trip to the airport or station and then they will be more likely to sleep on the train or plane. Take advantage of early check-ins and airport lounges so that your toddler can have some space to run around before being restricted to a seat. If you’re driving, make sure you have plenty of stops scheduled where your child can get out of the car.
- Choose your holiday accommodation wisely. That rustic shack homestay in Thailand might have been attractive when you were childless, or you might long for the smart, five-star city hotel. Trust us though, once you have a child, your holiday needs will change. Think about going to a dedicated child-friendly resort, where everyone will be in the same boat and nobody will stare if your child throws cereal across the table. Alternatively, think about a self-catering holiday home where you can eat and sleep at times that suit you as a family.
- Do your homework. Before leaving home, make sure you know what’s at your holiday destination. If you are going to a hotel, villa or B&B, does it have a cot, highchair, child-friendly garden, safety equipment and cooking facilities? Is it close to some of the things you might want such as attractions, beaches, bus stops and train stations? Make a list of the area’s restaurants and shops so that you know what you’ll be able to get and check out their websites to see what’s on offer. If you have preferred brands for nappies, wipes and food, make sure that you can get them. Check out if there is a local delivery service that covers the area, such as Deliveroo, Just Eat or similar. Ask if your self-catering apartment’s hosts can have some groceries available to you on arrival. This way, you can pack a little lighter as you won’t need to take so much with you. See our suggestions for a successful self-catering holiday here [LINK]
- Make sure you make a packing list that includes all you need for each family member. Then add a small first aid kit to the list and some other helpful items such as a torch, spare batteries, blister plasters, plus headache and stomach upset tablets for the grown-ups. You can see our suggestions for packing for a family holiday here [LINK]. Then make sure you stick to it – you don’t want to be searching for Calpol at 3am in a strange country. Have a smaller version of your first aid essentials in your hand luggage, too.
- Don’t worry about your child’s eating habits when you’re on holiday. They probably won’t want to try something new (squid, darling?) but don’t stress if they don’t want their usual food, either. It’s a holiday, they are out of their routine and home environment and it may manifest itself by their suddenly becoming a picky eater. Your child will not suffer if they eat pasta with tomato sauce, or just bread for a couple of days. However, do try to make sure you all eat as a family, as that’s often the time when kids will try new things as they see adults eating it.
- And finally - slow it all down. Though you might want to do everything that your holiday destination has to offer, remember that with a child in tow, you will need to take things more slowly. Toddlers need naps and although many of those can successfully be negotiated in the pushchair with SnoozeShade, there will be days when your little one is more tired than usual (especially if there is jetlag to contend with) and just needs some down-time in their cot or travel cot – again, SnoozeShade can help you keep nap times dark, calm and refreshing. Rather than seeing this as a problem, embrace it! Have a nap yourself (so self-indulgent), or read that book you have always wanted to start, take up a new hobby or pastime – or just watch a good film. You won’t be able to pack as much in as you could if there were just the two of you on holiday, so plan your days around a couple of outings, morning and afternoon, rather than full day activities.
This time with your toddler is precious and you will get so much out of just sitting with them looking at the rock pool, building a sand castle or trying local delicacies. Embrace this time – it passes so quickly!