At the national museum in Oman
Feeding the elephants in Thailand
I have been extremely lucky to experience lots of different cultures and hope that I'm able to provide the same opportunities for my children. Although so far we have only holidayed in Scotland! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we manage a holiday abroad this year and I've been giving thought to some travel tips.
// Planning your trip
With smaller children it's all about the activities and the accommodation; the country doesn't matter so much. My recommendation would be to go for as large an apartment that you can afford. The more space you have the easier it will be; especially if the kids will be going to bed early it might be nice to have a separate bedroom or lounge for the grown-ups so you can have some time to yourselves ;)
When booking flights give plenty of consideration to the flight times. It might seem reasonable to wake the family up at 2am to save a tenner on flights but is it really worth it in the long run? Also make sure that you factor in plenty of time for any transfers as everything seems to take a million times longer with little kids.. the second the kids know you're in a rush they'll need to go to the toilet!
If you're going abroad, check passports and make sure they are still valid. I had to get an emergency passport the day before travelling to Thailand a few years back as I didn't have enough validity left on it and it was really stressful to say the least!
I think getting the kids involved in the packing can help. My daughter especially likes to help choose her clothes for whilst she's away and it avoids any holiday tantrums when she selected the outfits herself in advance (yes, she is only 4 years old!!). Despite the fact we're yet to go abroad I invested in little suitcases for the kids so they can be (partly) responsible for their own packing and I think they like to be involved in the process of getting ready for a holiday.
Be organised with sun cream, hats etc and take a small first aid kit. Also take some antibacterial hand washing stuff, it's fab for when travelling. It's important not to forget medication for family members. It's easy to get hold of a new toothbrush when in a foreign country but not so easy to get hold of prescription medication if you forget that!
// The Journey
When it comes to the journey, buy and wrap a small present for the plane/car in advance of the trip or a few little presents if you're on a long haul flight. This doesn't have to be something costly; think sticker books and pocket money toys from the pound shop. You could perhaps pack a special travel rucksack that your wee one could pack with their special teddy or blanket along with some new bits and pieces. My advice would be to not get anything noisy as this will disrupt other passengers or the car driver.
Take plenty snacks for the journey and my advice would be to steer clear of too many sweets. My littlest loves popcorn and rice cakes both of which are preferable to jelly beans and chocolate! For car journeys when I'm on my own with the kids I pack them each a lunch box of heathy snacks that they can open themselves (making sure there is no fiddly packaging or Tupperware boxes that they can't get into!) and in between them in the back seat I plonk a box of toys that they picked themselves for the trip.
// The Holiday
Start a travel journal... My mum encouraged my sister and I to start a travel journal when we moved to the Middle East and I'm so grateful she did as its a fantastic keepsake for us to look back on. On our first long haul flight we had our A4 book with us and we wrote & drew in this with details of our flight and what we had to eat. It also kept us occupied during our holidays as we collected ticket stubs, menus etc to record our adventures.
I dug my travel journal out of the loft to show you some of my entries!
I would absolutely love for you to vote for me in the Clickstay Mummy Blogger Awards. It takes 2 seconds and you can vote here up to once daily. I'm currently in third place, but I would be over the moon if I made it into the top spot as the prize is £1000 towards a villa in Portugal which would allow me to go with the kids on our first family holiday in the sun. Thanks so much for your ongoing support - it's much appreciated. Sarah x
When I was growing up I had a box collection (I know it seems a bit bizarre, but it's true! I even brought some of them into my old work for a laugh and they thought I was insane!!). Each country or city we visited I was allowed to pick a small ornamental box. I still have a lot of the boxes to this day and they are lovely memories of my family holidays. I also had a postcard collection. You could start a collection of your own and make it a new family tradition; let the kiddies pick a tacky souvenir or a fridge magnet as a holiday souvenir and each place you visit you can build on your collection.
// Homeward Bound
Once you get home, why not find a world map poster and start putting pins in the countries you've visited. Again, this is something that our mum encouraged us to do and it helped my geography. Not that you'd know it now; during a game of Articulate a few years back I was frantically trying to describe Buenos Aires as a South American airline...oops!!
This post is my entry into the Clickstay "10 Top Tips For Travelling with Children" competition.
You can vote for Glasgow Mummy here... many thanks for your support.