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How To Travel With Family

Family Travellers

Every child knows that the summer holidays come but once a year - and every adult knows that family holidays can sometimes bring tears as well as laughter. Get it right and you've got memories to last a lifetime, get it wrong... and you'll need another holiday to recover.

The time running up to any trip is always hectic, what with making sure you've got everything you'll need while you're away - and for when you come back again. But being prepared before you go can make all the difference.

Here are our top ten tips for making sure you and your family get to your destination in one piece - and that you're all still talking to each other when you get there.

  • Do

    1. Allow yourself enough time. It sounds obvious, but set an alarm for 30 mins before you need to leave, check road reports; consider paying extra to park closer to airport and/or stay in an airport hotel (often same price as just the airport parking).

    2. Get your partner to drop you and kids off at the airport before parking the car, or make use of valet services which will do the parking it for you. It doesn't sound like a big deal but getting your family from the car park to check in can be the most stressful part of your trip.

    3. Pack a change of clothes, overnight toiletries, meds, nappies etc... as hand luggage. Lost luggage is fact of life, and insurance is often no consolation for inconvenience.

    4. Stick to regular meal times, even if it's a little inconvenient. If you allow kids to get hungry, their tempers will fray - and so will yours.

    5. Pack plenty of healthy snacks - raisins, rice cakes, bread sticks etc - to take with you. Much of the food on sale at airports or at garages is packed with e-numbers, and this isn't the time to have to deal with hyper children. If you're going abroad don't forget to check whether you're allowed to take food stuffs into the country you're going to.

    6. Let your child create their own 'distraction pack' - have them make an ipod compilation of their favourite stories and songs; pick out an 'eager to read' book for the flight; pack/rent a play station/dvd (but don't forget the headphones!). Also encourage them to research the place you're visiting so they know a little bit about the history, food etc.

    7. Make sure that your children have the name and address and telephone number of where you are staying - and your mobile number - with them at all times. Write it on a piece of card and put it in several of their pockets, bags - anywhere you can.

    8. Carry a photo of your child with you at all times so if they do get lost you can help people to help you find them.

    9. Accept that you aren't always going to want to do the same things - and split up. Make sure that there are plenty of options for physical activity included in your holiday to allow teenagers to burn off steam, and if you're going sightseeing or to museums, go for quality, not quantity.

  • Don't

    1. Forget batteries and/or conversion plugs for your baby monitors - there's no guarantee you'll be able to buy the right ones abroad, and you don't want to spend your whole holiday with your ear glued to the bedroom door.

Last Updated: September 2008