Our Editor Emily has camped, taken package holidays and even travelled through Australia with her young son in tow. She knows that travelling with babies and toddlers can be stressful, but if planned carefully, it can be a wonderful, unforgettable experience. In this special feature, Emily tells us why now is the ideal time for young families to get away, lets us in on three of her favourite family hotels and shares her favourite essential items to pack when travelling with babies and small children. You could also win an amazing prize of over £400 worth of travel must-haves plus £200 towards your next holiday with Hays Travel.
Why Go Now?
Autumn is the perfect season for young families to take a foreign beach holiday; escape the blustery British weather and avoid the rowdy crowds, scorching temperatures and hiked-up prices of high summer. If you have a child under the age of two, take them away before you have to buy them a seat on the plane. Many Mediterranean resorts close down completely for the winter, so there are some great end-of-season deals to be had, but avoid the last week of October, which is the expensive school half term. Resorts like Cyprus, the Canaries and The Algarve stay open year-round, so they’re great if you don’t want to travel too far, or head to Egypt or the Caribbean for some winter rays.
Where to Stay?
Choosing the right accommodation for a holiday with small children is crucial. Self-catering is often the first choice for young families, but it can work out costly when apartments or villas aren’t filled to their full capacity so consider a hotel instead. There are many factors to consider: you don’t want anywhere too far from the main sights, nor do you want to be right in the throng of the resort. You might like to stay somewhere geared specifically towards families, or maybe you’d prefer something a little more low-key. Find a good, knowledgeable travel agent who listens and understands exactly what you’re looking for. Hays Travel are the UK’s largest independently-owned travel agency and have been established for 30 years. Their independence means they are not tied to any particular operator or airline and can find holidays to suit every budget. Their experience and expertise means they will help you find your perfect family getaway. Search their easy-to-use website, give them a call on 0800 408 4131 or visit one of their high street branches to discuss your needs.
Three of the Best…
It would be impossible to give an exhaustive list of the world’s best family-friendly hotels, but here are three of my favourites, along with some great reader deals from Hays Travel. I’ve tried to cover every budget and taste: one near, one a little further away and one totally tropical escape:
- Protur Bonaire, Cala Bona, Majorca: Award-winning, spotless 4* apartments in a top location with a wonderful reputation. Perfect for a short haul autumn getaway. Splash pool, soft play area, Mothercare equipment for hire. 7 nights self catering for 2 adults, 1 child and an infant from £579. Click here or call 0800 408 4131.
- Sultan Gardens Resort, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt: One of the best out of a baffling choice of hundreds of
all-inclusive resorts lining the beautiful Red Sea Coast. This year’s Tripadvisor Family Choice award-winner. True 5* luxury, great value-for money. 7 nights all-inclusive for 2 adults & 1 child from £1195. Infants travel from £30. Click here or call 0800 408 4131.
- Beaches Negril, Negril, Jamaica: Right on the soft, pristine sands of Seven Mile Beach. This is the family brand from Sandals: On-site water park, qualified nannies, generous ‘luxury included’ package and entertainment from Sesame Street. Late November / early December pre-festive holidays to the Caribbean are often among the most affordable on the travel calendar. 7 nights all-inclusive for 2 adults and 1 infant from £2999* through Hays Travel. Click here or call 0800 408 4131.
Hays Travel have access to thousands of great family deals on everything from UK breaks to Disney holidays, cruises, city breaks, ski, flight-only, villas and long haul adventures. Visit their website or call their experts on 0800 408 4131.
What to pack?
Some parents shy away from travelling completely because they are worried about the logistics of a trip, which is a real shame. The market for family-friendly travel must-haves is burgeoning fast. Many of these products are designed by innovative parents who have encountered difficulties travelling with children and want to create a clever solution. Here are my savvy traveller parent essentials – including a few new products that I wish had been around when my son was a baby!
With Baby in Tow…
Whether you’re travelling by train, plane or automobile, it pays to have a good changing bag. Check with your airline, but most do allow an extra piece of hand luggage when you’re travelling with an infant. I love the Ju Ju Be All from Jelly Bean. Featuring AgION anti-bacterial coating, 3M Thinsulate insulated pockets, a memory foam changing matt and crumb drains, it’s no wonder this great-looking bag scooped Gold at last year’s Mother and Baby Awards. Always take extra supplies and changes of clothes in case your luggage gets lost! And find out when you can check in your pushchair: most airlines will let you take it to the aircraft door, enabling you to easily transport your baby right up to the moment you board.
Before you fly, check the latest liquid rules with your airport. Currently, you can’t take anything over 100ml in your hand luggage so it’s probably best to buy Calpol, for example, when you have been through security. If you’re bottle-feeding, buy ready-made cartons of formula in the airport, or take formula feed. If your baby insists on a warm bottle, bear in mind that many airlines won’t heat them on health and safety grounds. I wish the ingenious Yoomi self-heating bottle had been around when mine was smaller! Invented by parents, it has a rechargable warmer, meaning you can heat milk to the perfect temperature in just 60 seconds and it stays that way for an hour.
It might seem obvious, but a thermometer is essential when you’re travelling with a baby: hot climates can mean stuffy hotel rooms, but air conditioning can quickly turn things too chilly. My favourite thermometer for home and away is another parent invention and Mother and Baby award winner : the brilliant Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer. Reliable and easy-to-use, the Brother Max checks ear, forehead and room temperature and comes in a handy travel case. The changing temperature throughout your journey doesn’t need to mean disturbing your baby though. I love the Baby Hoody from Morrck. This beautiful fleece travel wrap is designed to fit standard car seats and pushchairs, so whether you’re in a cool air-conditioned cabin or arriving in a warm destination, you can ensure your baby is comfortable. The Baby Hoody is available in a variety of sizes - right up to toddler age.
When you’re staying in sunnier climes, it’s crucial to make sure your child is kept well protected from the sun with plenty of high-factor sun cream and a hat – but what about when they’re in their pushchair and in need of that all-important nap? I can remember draping a bed sheet over my son’s buggy in Australia (and it falling off and getting caught in the wheels!) Thank goodness, then for the Snooze Shade, UK’s first blackout blind for prams and pushchairs. Created by a clever Mum, it’s the perfect way to ensure that baby’s sleep routine doesn’t go out the window on holiday. It has UPF50+ so protects from the sun and is small and compact enough weighing just 225g to fold into its own bag and be kept in a handbag. No wonder it scooped a Gold Award or innovation at the Prima Baby awards!
A pushchair can be a portable bed for your baby, so I would never recommend travel ling without one, but if you are looking for a convenient, hands-free way to get around your destination, invest in a good carrier. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are just for small babies- I loved my BabyBjörn carrier when my son was younger and the classic carrier experts have just launched the beautiful new ergonomic BabyBjörn Comfort Carrier , which provides optimum support when carrying children up to 2 (or 14kg.) Machine washable and made of organic cotton, it perfectly marries comfort, style and functionality.
When They Get a Little Older…
Time whizzes by and before you know it, your baby will be two and have to have their own seat on aircraft, but is the regular lap belt enough? No one wants to carry a cumbersome car seat with them. The CARES system is an FAA-approved, award-winning child restraint for children weighing 22-44lbs. I love CARES because as well as keeping your child safe, it makes wriggly children stay in one place, like they would if they were strapped in the car!
Once they are sitting comfortably, children need to be kept occupied (not all aeroplanes have sophisticated in-flight entertainment!) My son loves his GoVinci from Trunki: A backpack and drawing board in one, which kids can customise by slotting their own work into the clear panel on the front. Stuff the GoVinci with pens, stckers, crayons, card
games and pads. Pack a book crammed with activities as a real treat for creative minds. I adore Bubbles Before Bedtime, a beautiful, vintage-looking book from the gorgeous Belle and Boo range that’s full of things to do. This timeless, precious book is sure to become an unforgettable holiday keepsake. For older children, pack books that tell them about the place they are going to visit – what can they expect to see? What is different about the wildlife, customs, scenery? Keep them entertained and get them excited about their destination!
When Y ou Arrive…
Research how suitable for children your accommodation is. Request a ground floor room and ensure that any balconies are guarded by child-proof doors. Most hotels provide cots for infants, but what happens when your child is too big for a cot? I recently found myself creating a crash-mat out of spare bedd ing in the middle of the night after my son rolled off a high hotel bed and on to the tiled floor! I wish I had known about Dream Tubes. These innovative, inflatable tubes fold into a neat flat pack and create a portable g uard f or single beds, giving your child a comfortable place to sleep and you total peace of mind. It’s also worth remembering that a lot of accommodation will have a shower instead of a bath – I rememb er battling to bath my son in a hard ceramic hotel sink when he was a baby. I wish the amazing FlexiBath had been invented back then! Suitable for
children up to the age of four and perfect for home and away, this bright idea fits into a suitcase and allows you to bath your baby or toddler virtually anywhere. When it comes to dining with a baby or toddler, remember that while any family-friendly hotel worth booking will provide high chairs in the restaurant, you might not get the same facilities if you’re eating out and about. I highly recommend the Totseat. Developed with safety experts, this award-winning device is machine washable, packs away neatly and is the only travel highchair that adapts to fit any adult dining chair.
Travelling with children can be stressful, but thanks to savvy parent inventors, it can run smoothly too!
If you have specific questions about travelling with children, from logistics to where to stay, email email@example.com . For a expert advice and a quote on your next family holiday, call Hays Travel on 0800 408 4131.
Win a £200 Hays Travel voucher to spend on your next family holiday, as well as huge bundle of my travelling with children must-haves worth a total of over £400**! This brilliant prize is perfect for a young family and will last through babyhood, the toddler years and beyond! The Ultimate Travelling with Kids Kit comprises:
One Hays Travel voucher for £200 (see terms and conditions) – One BabyBjorn Comfort Carrier in anthracite - One Ju-Ju Be All changing bag in Perky Perennials – One Flexi Bath – One Yoomi self-heating bottle and spare warmer – One striped Morrck Baby Hoody (Size 2: 5-18 months) – One Snooze Shade – One Dream Tubes set – One CARES harness – One GoVinci – One copy of – ‘Bubbles Before Bed’ – One Totseat in Choc Chip
To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, just answer the following question. Entries close at midnight on Monday 11th October 2010 . By entering this competition, you automatically agree to the terms and conditions at the bottom of this post, so do read them:
* Holiday prices are correct at the time of publication but subject to availability and change. Example departure airports, durations and dates and party sizes are given, call Hays Travel on 0800 408 4131 or visit their website for a quote to suit your requirements.
** Based on current RRPs.
Terms and Conditions:
The Hays Travel voucher may be redeemed at any of Hays Travel’s high street branches. If you don’t live near to one of these, you may book your holiday over the telephone and tell your consultant at the time of booking that you have a voucher. Your voucher may not be used to pay a deposit on a holiday, but it can then be used towards any remaining balance. If your holiday departs within 12 weeks of booking, full payment will be required at the time of reservation. In this instance, you must inform your travel consultant of the voucher and £200 will be refunded to you upon receipt of the voucher at head office.
Vouchers are valid for 12 months after the date of issue for any travel arrangements (package holidays, accommodation or flights) for the person specified on the voucher. Vouchers are not transferable for cash, travellers’ cheques or currency and cannot be used as part of a deposit.
In the event of the holiday and insurance costing less than the value of the vouchers, the balance will not be redeemable in cash. All holidays are governed by the terms and conditions of the relevant brochure.
There is no cash alternative for the voucher or the travelling with kids kit prize. Competition is only open to UK and Eire entrants over the age of 18. All entries must be received by midnight on Monday 11th October 2010. The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entrants and notified by email after the closing date. Competition is not open to employees of Hays Travel or brands associated with this competition, or their families. By entering this competition, you are giving us permission to share your name and town of residence with our readers when we announce the winner.