Well maybe everyone should get that tattooed on their forearms - "We are going on holiday to spend 'quality time' together and to relax and have fun!" Seems difficult to remember in the frenzy or preparing, packing and actually getting there. With our own forthcoming summer holiday adventures coming up fast I have been trying to glean as much helpful advice as I can, and here are the top tips which might help you too:
1. Pack as light as possible. A few changes of clothes - remember the old adage of lay out everything you think you'll need then halve it - plus a few books and toys will be enough. With all this quality time you're spending together, you and your surroundings will be your children's entertainment. There will be beaches/woodland/snow/puddles or whatever else their small hearts desire plus devoted parents to play in it with them, commercial toys will pale into insignificance!
2. If going abroad, check your passports well in advance, and make sure all your documents, tickets etc are organised and ready at least a week ahead of time. If flying, check-in online if you can, and then arrive as late as you can get away with at the airport. Airport lounges are of no interest to small children! Check if you can board separately too to make life easier. For the flight itself, make sure you have a fab activity bag packed for the flight too - a few brand new small toys, books, and colouring bits will be enough to entertain for a few hours. Order food options that will arrive early too if possible - being vegetarian helps!
3. Don't forget your family travel insurance. There are so many great deals around it really isn't worth risking not having it! If travelling within the EU, make sure everyone in the family has an up to date EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This entitles you to local healthcare at a reduced cost, or even for free. It covers all European Economic Area countries, including Switzerland.
4. When driving, plan your routes with military precision well in advance, and have a back-up plan just in case. You really don't want to be sat in a 20 mile tail back on whatever motorway with small people! If driving a long way, try to the bulk of it as early or late in the day as possible, so most of it can be slept through.
5. Make sure you have plentiful travel snacks and drinks ready ahead of time, and somewhere/thing for a crafty wee if needs be - especially for those not long out of nappies who really won't want, or be able, to 'hold it'. gen up on car games you can play as a family too, always a great time filler!
6. Don't make too many big day out plans during your 1/2/3 weeks. Have plenty of time for just being, maybe every other day can just be a beach day, where you do truly relax and have fun. Children don't need constant stimulation from whatever interesting/educational visitor attraction you found online. You plus some sand/mud/water/hills to roll down or whatever is fun enough! Look out for playgrounds and outdoor activity areas too.
7. Be relaxed about food and meal times. Eat when everyone is hungry, and don't stress too much about what does or doesn't get eaten. Trust your children to eat what their bodies need. One day that might be loads of carbs, the next loads of fruit. They'll be fine.
8. Treat every trip like an adventure, even if it's only an hour away from home. Small annoyances and mishaps needn't be a big drama - for big or small people - if you approach the whole thing like a big adventure. Just relax, have fun and make the most of all opportunities that present themselves. You got lost? So what, just think of the things you might not have seen if you hadn't!
9. Don't obsess about routines, behaviour and cleanliness too much. If kids are busy they behave well (usually); they are inevitably going to get messy; and routines can go out the window for a couple of weeks surely? Again, just relax and have FUN!! And if you are worried about clothes getting wrecked, don't pack the fancy stuff!
10. Let older children pack their own travel rucksack, but make sure you check the contents before you leave too! And finally, give everyone from age 2/3 up a camera to
I hope some of those ideas help you, enjoy your holidays wherever they take you!!