Travelling to long haul destinations are incredibly positive experiences for children of all ages. Eye-watering sights, smells & foods, not to mention the obvious benefits of proper, good quality family time are all reasons you should be taking children to experience all corners of our big wide world at each and every opportunity
But, no one can deny (not even us) that travelling long haul with children can be demanding. Unpredictable airlines, long queues, fussy eaters… So with that in mind, here are our 8 top tips to make travelling the world as easy and stress-free as possible.
Make sure you’re well equiped for your long haul flight with children. Pack plenty of their favourite snacks, games and electronics with you (oh, and a spare set of clothes!). Try and space out the time between handing out favourite toys or games. There are some great activity packs available that start with ‘eye spy’ in the airport. We have always left electronics until the very last opportunity (once everything else is exhausted). Experience has taught us this is a great tactic when travelling long haul with children!
If at all possible, getting an overnight flight can be a life saver when travelling long haul with young children. Try and stick to their bedtime routine as much as possible; PJs on, teeth brushed, bedtime story etc. If you’re travelling with a baby, quite often we can book bulk-head seats with the basinet. Baby can get a really good night sleep as can mum and dad. If you’re travelling long haul on a daytime flight, be mindful of the time you arrive at your destination, depending on where you’re travelling to you might need to add an extra hour or so to get through passport control.
We cannot say this enough – if you’ve booked the trip yourself and not used a travel expert make sure you research the property. Quite often hotels will call themselves ‘family friendly’ when in truth they are far from it. There are some fantastic hotels out there, some offer a ‘providing for baby’ service which means everything you’ll need is provided by the hotel (think bottle warmers, bouncy chairs, toys, nappies etc). Some hotels have fully shaded pools so no need to worry about incessive applying of sunscreen! We know which hotels genuinely cater for children versus the ones that put some chicken nuggets and sausages on their menu as an afterthought.
Part of travelling long-haul is accepting things may go wrong. If your car isn’t there to pick you up or if your room isn’t quite ready try not to get stressed. Kids will learn so much from seeing your reaction and learning that sometimes things don’t always go to plan and that somethings are worth waiting for!
We weave activities into itineraries quite ‘lightly’ for younger children. We include rest-stops, time to stop off at play areas and we always try to keep mealtimes on track – no one wants to be around a ‘hangry’ child! Things will inevitably take longer so when planning activities make sure you give your family enough time, you definitely don’t want to be rushed.
Get children excited about the trip before you leave. If you’re visiting South Africa, talk to them about Nelson Mandela, if you’re heading to the Galapagos, sit down and watch a David Attenborough documentary. As part of our ‘Booking to Boarding’ process, we send out book, TV, Netflix & podcast recommendations for your family
We’re not adversed to a kids club here and there (if they meet our strict guidelines!). They can be a great way for children to meet other kids and give mum and dad some adult time. If you plan on using the childcare on offer at your hotel do your research. Ask for recommendations, “Kid Clubs” can sometimes be little more than a couple of adults in a room with some toys.
Taking your family on a long haul holiday is an investment. Make sure each member of the family get’s their ‘hero’ moment – the thing they would most like to do. Chat through each family member’s wishlist before you go and have a rough plan of how you’ll keep everyone happy. We can help with suggestions on itineraries catering for multi-generational families, keeping everyone from granny to little ‘threenagers’ happy.
Like any experience we organise, our team focus entirely on the ages and interests of your children. Get in touch if you’d like to speak to our team about your next family adventure.