Tips and Advice for Preparing for Your Next Family Holiday
Holiday season is now upon us, we will now start to see the many holiday adverts popping up all over the TV and the Internet, but although the travel companies can often tell you where you can get the best deals for 2019 holidays they may often forget some other important parts of planning a family holiday, well we are here to help with some informative tips and advice for preparing for your next holiday with the family.
Preparing Before Travelling With Children
Keeping Them Busy
This can often be the hardest part of a long journey with the kids, as they often get restless ten times faster than us adults and seem to also have twice the energy as well, so here’s a few things you can plan ahead to make the travelling less of a headache:
Activity Books, this is a good way to keep them busy for most of the journey, however the usual colouring books or reading books can sometimes not last long especially if they are too excited or nervous for the travel. Amazon offer a great selection of Travel Activity Books these can be a much better idea as they include a whole collection of different pen-and-paper puzzles or sticker games they can play this should then hopefully keep them busy for longer.
Tablets are also a great way to keep children occupied but as we well know they can happily spend hours on them at home and sometimes they can often be getting too much screen time and this can be another reason not to bring them with you on holiday. However no one can deny it is sometimes a lifesaver when you need to calm them down or distract them for a short period. When travelling with a tablet however this can be difficult as there is often no access to wi-fi or mobile internet for them to watch their favourite YouTube videos. That said there are some apps out there that will allow you to download specific content or movies to your tablet for use offline.
One such example is the DisneyLife app that allows your children to watch their favourite Disney films and play songs or CBeebies Playtime App, which can all be downloaded to use when there is no internet access. You can then attempt to be a super parent and hide the tablet for the rest of your holiday and pretend to find it again on the trip home.
Another great idea is to create an activity involving their friends or family, which can sometimes depend on the time of year. For example get them to write Christmas cards or Easter cards to all their friends or make a list of all the friends they want to invite to their next birthday party and the party food you need to buy. This kind of activity again will keep them engaged and distracted more than traditional colouring or the dreaded eye spy games, loathed by parents worldwide I’m sure.
Don’t Leave It Too Late
The most important factor when thinking about child passports is to remember that HM Passport Office have certain rules when it comes to children surrounding child abduction rules and various other factors that mean applying for or renewing a child’s passport can take slightly longer than adult passports.
This means if you find yourself panicking last minute due to the fact that you’ve checked the passports a few days prior to your trip, then you could be in for a shock, even if you need the passport urgently, the quickest way to obtain a new or renew an existing child passport is with the 7 day fast track passport service. A friend of mine who works for the Passport Office confirms that he often get calls from customers who are unable to go on that special family holiday due to the time constraints on child passports, therefore if you do not want to end up having to explain to your child that you will not be going on the amazing family holiday you’ve been looking forward to, then please ensure that you check the following at least 2-3 weeks prior to your departure date:
That your child’s passport is in date.
That your child’s passport has more than 6 months worth of validity if travelling outside of the EU.
That your child’s passport is not damaged beyond wear and tear.
Infants & Passports
When applying for a first time child passport many of us just assume that we will get our sons or daughters passports done in future, but there may come a time possibly a special occasion when it may be required for us to travel with an infant or very young child. When applying for a passport for a infant many of the same rules apply, you will need the same paperwork, the same birth certificate and of course they will need photos, now this is where it can become tricky.
For those of you that have ever attempted to get a photo of an infant child you may understand, however this can become even more of an impossible task when you are given a specific set of rules to adhere to as follows:
The child must be facing forward with eyes open.
There must not be any other people in the photo, this includes hands or arms from parents holding the child.
You are not able to cover the child’s face with any items such as dummies or toys in order to keep them calm.
Now you see how difficult this can become, however if you are faced with this situation there is a simple trick you can use to ensure that the above are not an issue.
Simply lay the child on a clear white or grey sheet looking directly up at the camera, this will ensure that both the child stays still, looks directly into the camera and there is nothing else restricting the view or holding the child in place. The only downside to this approach is that you will need to get your photos printed to the correct size, however many photo printing shops can adjust these and get these printed for you at the correct size requirements, or see this guide which has helpful videos.
Staycation or Vacation?
Its often something to consider when planning a holiday with the kids, do you put them through all the stress that comes with long distance travel in order to experience something like Disney World or Tropical Sandy Beaches or do you prefer to break up the travel with exciting destinations along the way with a trip in the UK. Each of these has its pros and cons and we aim to try and help you make the right choice this year.
Staycation (UK Holiday)
Flexibility: More options to plan your trip and save, when in the UK the markets for both travel, hotels and dining are now so competitive that simply having more choice on where to go and what to eat allows you to plan your journey to either cater for your families interests or to save on costs. You will not often get this level of flexibility abroad as you can be limited by the resorts and package deals you have chosen when booking.
No Need For Extras: Going on holiday in the UK can be more relaxing in terms of the fact that you wont need travel insurance you wont need car hire or apps/books to help you learn the local language and traditions. So if your the sort of person that finds travel to foreign countries stressful or causes you anxiety due to always worrying about what you will need and if your covered, then deciding on a UK holiday can reduce the burden on planning your holiday and the stress it can bring simply from being abroad
Bad Weather: UK weather conditions can make or break your holiday even if you have planned your trip in the summer months the UK can often give you a lovely wet and windy surprise.
Often Too Familiar: Sometimes you wont really feel like your on holiday with the familiar shops and supermarkets it can often bring a feeling of being just around the corner from home and can make it hard to truly relax and escape your daily life.
Vacation (Holiday Abroad)
It’s Exciting & Something Different: Going abroad can be much more of an adventure for both you and your family and can give them a sense of something exciting and different to the normal UK based attractions and dining, its hard to find a decent beach in the UK and you also can’t really compare our theme parks to what’s on offer in Disney World or Wet & Wild parks abroad, therefore the wow factor of something they will only get to experience elsewhere can be a big factor in your decision to go abroad.
Great Weather: Nice weather is what draws many of us abroad, many destinations popular with tourists nearer the equator will often have lovely weather conditions 90% of the time, with the exception of rainy seasons etc, however sometimes there is nothing better than a few days in the sun on a white sandy beach with not a UK beach stone in sight.
Long-haul Travel: Longer more stressful travel to your destination can often be a problem especially when travelling with younger children.
Higher Costs: Prices for holidays abroad can often be more expensive, however you can sometimes get great all inclusive deals if you choose a family friendly location or resort, which means you wont have to worry about venturing out too far from your resort for meals or activities, but this can often be down to checking the reviews or luck as to whether the resort you choose has it all.
Travel Extras: When travelling abroad it is often pushed upon us that we must get medical cover, breakdown cover and ensure that our documents are safe and that we must take a travel kit, take cash in case your cards are stolen, the list can be endless. Which can sometimes cause more stress when planning to go abroad, however we would advise to speak to your travel agent when booking as they will often be able to provide additional information to make you feel more at ease, such as the location of any British Embassy and/or Banks (in case you lose your passport/cards etc) and exactly what kind of cover you’ll need depending on the destination you are travelling to, the www.fco.gov.uk can also help you with all this.
We hope that this article has provided some helpful advice before you decide to take the plunge and book in your next summer holiday, at least if you take on board some of the advice given you will hopefully be able to keep the kids busy enough to get there on time and have all your travel documents in order well ahead of time.