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Read some of our great articles on a range of parenting topics from sleeping to teething. We publish new blog posts regularly and feature a number of baby sleep experts and their top tips

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Going away with babies and toddlers at Christmas

As December approaches, families up and down the country are starting to plan for the festive season and Christmas preparations are beginning. The main subject of debate for many families is where to spend the big day and sadly, this can also be the source of many arguments. 

Have you ever wished you could just get away on holiday for Christmas? Approximately 2.5 million UK residents get away each year for Christmas, opting for a change of scenery and of course, warmer weather.

Read more ... Seven tips for mastering your baby's sleep routine over Christmas

Christmas can be exhausting, so why not enjoy it, put your feet up fand let others do the cooking for a change? If you are hoping to get away with your baby this Christmas or if you have more than one child, here are some great tips to help you make the most of your festive

The practicalities

  • Travel insurance! Please don't forget this, especially with the difficulties of travel plans and border restrictions changing for Covid. Lots of people travel at Christmas because they want to see friends and family and so airports are very busy. Delays can happen due to bad weather and, sadly, holidays are also more expensive at Christmas. Make sure you're insured against anything untoward and do check all the terms and conditions; many policies pay out for delays on the way out but not for the way back, which may have knock-on effects.
  • Passports, Make sure your passports are up to date and that you apply in good time for a new baby’s passport. Passport offices are very busy at this time of year and the last thing you want is to miss your holiday because your passports have expired! They usually need to have six months until they expire to be valid for travel in some areas. It’s also worth noting that if you are travelling with kids on your own and they have a different surname, you need to make sure you have their birth certificates or a letter from their father / mother who is not travelling.
  • Check medications. If you or your family takes any medication, make sure you have enough for your trip, plus extra in case of delays. Pack lots of sachets of infant paracetamol liquid too, perfect for travelling, in case your child has an illness or is teething.
  • Car seats. Make sure you have booked car seats at your destinations, perhaps through your car hire company. Alternatively, take yours with you for very small babies. Don’t forget to check with your airline what’s allowed.
  • Phone numbers! If you're away for Christmas Day, family members will be delighted to hear your voice at the end of a phone, so make sure you take all those important contact details with you in your phone. Take a paper backup too, in case of phone problems while you’re away.
  • Security. Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your home while you're away and leave a spare key with someone trusted too.
  • Pack well. Take enough nappies, wipes and baby milk or food for the journey, plus extra for delays. Try to see what’s available in the place you are travelling to in case they don’t have your trusted brands. Ask your holiday company or hotel if they can provide baby supplies to save you going shopping right after a tiring journey. Take a mini first aid kit, plus a change of clothes for all those travelling in your hand luggage in case of little accidents or luggage delays.

The magical details 

Being away at Christmas will require some extra effort on your part to make it magical for the children. Being away from all things familiar, their usual television shows, friends and their own Christmas tree may be unsettling. Here are some tips for sprinkling a little Christmas magic while you're away:

  • Santa. Sit down with your kids to write a letter to Santa before you leave on your trip, telling him where you will be and for how long. This will ease any fears that he won't be able to find you. Let the children help you to write the letter, and to pack their stockings in their suitcases too. Explain that Santa knows where all the children are and that they will not be forgotten!
  • Presents. Small gifts can be taken with you but if you can’t take all the presents with you, tell Santa when you’ll be back for the rest of your presents and have another special day after you return home. If you buy online, you could arrange to send gifts straight to your holiday destination but remember that you will need to bring them home again, so leave room in your luggage! Make sure the children understand what will happen – a stocking on holiday and the rest of their gifts on their return perhaps. This will help them look forward to going home. Do make sure there are some presents on the day, as the children will expect to open something.
  • Sellotape and wrapping paper. If you haven't already wrapped your presents for the kids, or if you intend to buy gifts while you're away, DON'T FORGET SELLOTAPE AND WRAPPING PAPER! Pack lots - there might not be any where you're going!
  • Take a small piece of home with you. Some children find being away from home harder than others and if you usually spend Christmas surrounded by family, it might be harder than ever. Take a small reminder of home with you - perhaps a small Christmas tree (if you can!) or one or two favourite decorations from your tree at home. Advent calendars are also easy to slip into suitcases and it goes without saying to bring a familiar blanket, comforter or  toy too – though not one that is irreplaceable and pack your SnoozeShade for travel cots to create a cosy sleeping space for your baby.
  • Plan some festive activities. Before you travel, investigate what festive parties, festivals and activities are happening at your destination. Your hotel or resort may organise special Christmas parties and activities for kids, so book early. If there isn't much going on, have a few ideas up your sleeve: take some unbreakable Christmas decorations for a festive treasure hunt; some Christmas books to enjoy at bedtime, some Christmas music and films on your tablet or phone and some tinsel to decorate their room.
  • Mark a map. This is something you can do each time you travel with your children. Mark your home location and your holiday destination on a map to show them how far you travelled. You can also explain how far Santa travels too!
  • Christmas dinner. Check beforehand what the meal arrangements are for Christmas Day and make sure there are options your children will eat. It doesn't have to be a traditional meal - but take paper hats with you, pop on some Christmas music and make sure there is a festive film for afterwards!

Still need convincing?

Being away at Christmas does take a lot of planning but there is a real potential for making some long-lasting, happy memories too. Being away from home can encourage parents to put away the laptop and phone and to relax. Being in a sunny climate can help you feel happier too, at what is usually a grey and cold time of year.

If you choose a holiday cottage or villa, you can make it your own during your stay and keep the festive spirit alive. If you're staying in a hotel, the chances are high that seasonal activities have been well planned too.

Being away from the 'hype' at home might be just what you need to enjoy a relaxing and memorable break with the kids.

 

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