Preparing for your first family holiday abroad – the ultimate checklist for parents

Preparing for your first family holiday abroad – the ultimate checklist for parents

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Hey, who remembers the heat wave? Oh how I miss that big hot summer sun shining down every day, it’s only the end of September and I’m already wrapping up in woolly jumpers and switching the heating on more than I probably should. With summer now gone for another year, the best way to get through the impending colder months is by planning your next holiday abroad, right? When you have kids, the thought of traveling to a different country can be terrifying, I mean, think of all the things you have to pack for the kids when you’re just going on a day trip! In the five years I’ve been a mum, we have travelled abroad with the kids three times and had lots of UK based holidays too, I feel like I’ve learnt a thing or two about traveling as a family in this time. If the end of summer has got you thinking about preparing for your first family holiday abroad, here is my checklist for all the things you need to remember before you jet off on your holibobs (I’ll be referring back to this before our holiday to Cyprus next Easter!).

Preparing for your first family holiday abroad – the ultimate checklist for parents.

1. Choose a family friendly destination – While backpacking around Asia or doing a road trip through America may have been perfect holiday destinations before kids came along, when you become a parent things like family friendly entertainment and a pool with slides rank higher than how many nightclubs there are for you to drink in along the strip. Holidays with kids are totally different to holidays without them and this is worth keeping in mind when choosing your destination. Think less Ibiza or Magaluf and more Disney Land Paris or all inclusive hotels with a kids club.

2. Decide your accommodation – I will always recommend self catering accommodation when traveling with kids. In a villa, apartment or holiday home you have the benefits of more space than a hotel room, something that you will be grateful for when the kids go to bed at 7pm and you want to stay up later, sitting on the balcony drinking and playing cards or just curling up and relaxing on the sofa. Hotel holidays have their advantages too so it is worth really thinking about what you want from your family holiday before you choose where to stay. Want a home away from home in a sunnier climate? Go for a self catered holiday. Looking for children’s entertainers, all you can eat food and the opportunity to make new friends at a kids club? An all inclusive hotel holiday is probably the best option for you.

3. Get the kids passports – When I was a kid in the 90s I didn’t have my own passport, my mum just had all my details on hers. Things are totally different now and every member of the family will need a passport of their own. Check the expiry date on your own passport and apply for one for your children well in advance of your holiday. There are lots of tips online on getting a suitable passport photo of your baby and GOV.UK offers details on how to apply for your child’s passport. Unfortunately passports don’t come cheap so keep this expense in mind when saving for your holiday.

first family holiday

4. Purchase travel insurance– Don’t risk travelling without proper travel insurance for you and your family. When someone gets ill or something bad happens at home it can be really stressful, this stress is multiplied by a million when you are abroad and something goes wrong. Search around, use comparison websites or choose reputable companies like Bupa Global for a travel insurance quote. Don’t risk travelling without proper travel insurance for the whole family, it’s just not worth it.

5. Pack – It can be easy to over pack when going on holiday with kids but it’s important to not over do it, you don’t want to end up having to pay charges for going over your luggage allowance. Think of all the things you really need and pack them first, does your toddler really need a fresh pair of shorts every day for a week? Do you really need to take ten dresses for a seven night holiday? Mums on the move has a fantastic packing checklist for you to follow when packing for your first family holiday.

There are a few important things that can be easily forgotten in the chaos of packing for a whole family , make sure you remember to pack
– travel adapter
– high factor suncream
– after sun
– any inhalers/medicines your child needs
– passports
– flight tickets
– travel insurance documents
– a separate changing bag for the flight
– a few home comforts for the kids

6. Get your EU health insurance card – To easily access healthcare and necessary medical treatment in the EU you will need a valid EU health insurance card. These can easily be applied for online and all members of the family will need one.

7. Book your flights – You can save money on flights by booking early, being flexible with dates and where you are willing to fly from.

8. Preparing for the flight – When flying with a baby, many airlines will allow you to bring them right up to the gate in their buggy and many also allow families to board first. Remember to check how many liquids you can bring in your hand luggage too. With babies and toddlers you are likely to need things like nappy rash cream, bottles of milk and pouches of baby food etc, be sure to check the airport/airlines policy on this before you travel (you can find useful information about what to pack when travelling with a baby from Baby Centre here). I would also recommend bringing a sling and babywearing in the airport, having your baby in a carrier makes navigating busy spaces much easier and can help to keep them calm in an unfamiliar environment.
Here is a useful resource from Tots To Travel about baby items you can bring on a flight with you –

first family holiday

Finally, here’s some tips for your first flight with kids…
A long flight with a toddler or baby can be daunting and the duration of your travel is something you should consider before you book your holiday. The furthest we have flown since having kids was to Italy, the flight was just under three hours long and both boys (then 3 and 5months) managed to stay fairly calm for the whole journey.

I would say pack lots of story books, a sticker book or colouring book, download lots of CBeebies onto your phone/tablet and have a familiar comforter with you, like their favourite teddy or blanket. Sucking on a dummy or drinking from a bottle can help ease any pain in your baby’s ears during take off and landing and if you are lucky they might just sleep the whole way!

first family holiday

Phew, there is quite a lot to plan and organise when you are preparing for your first family holiday abroad but before you know it the hard part will be over and you’ll be off on your first even holiday as a family, making loads of wonderful memories. Enjoy!

If you have found this post useful, I’d love for you to share it with anyone you know who’s considering travelling abroad with their children for the first time. If you are an expert at traveling with kids, what’s your top tip for new parents? It would be great if you could share your advice in the comments.

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Preapring for your first family holiday abroad

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read..
The advantages and disadvantages of a self catering holiday
Our first family holiday in Majorca
Our camping holiday in Somerset
A trip to Centre Parcs

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5 reasons I would love to celebrate Christmas abroad

5 reasons I would love to celebrate Christmas abroad

*collaborative post*

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas and I don’t mean white with snow. I’m dreaming of white sand between my toes, sitting on a beach looking out at a beautiful clear blue ocean with the hot sun beating down on me. Christmas in the UK is a bit meh when it comes to the weather isn’t it? It’s very rarely cold enough for us to wake up on Christmas morning with snow outside as well as presents under the tree, more often than not it’s just raining and cold. Of course, taking my boys to Lapland is on the ultimate Christmas bucket list, I would love for them to experience snow for the first time and have a truly authentic Christmas experience: sleigh rides, snow ball fights and visiting Santa in his grotto – the works. BUT celebrating Christmas abroad, somewhere hot, is also something I would like to do at least once as a family. Last April we were meant to go on a big family holiday to Mauritius, for lots of different reasons it didn’t happen and we spent 10 days in Italy instead. While our Italia holiday was amazing, I was disappointed we didn’t get to go relax on the beautiful beaches of Mauritius. So, if I could have my once in a lifetime Christmas Day in the sun, Mauritius would be my dream destination. Need convincing that celebrating Christmas abroad would be a great idea? Here are 5 reasons I would love to spend a Christmas Day in the sun. View Post

Looking back on the summer holidays

Looking back on the summer holidays

It has finally arrived..the start of school! My baby boy is off to big school on Monday. His uniform is bought, washed, ironed and his name is stuck to everything. We are prepared but I don’t know if we are exactly ready, well not mentally anyway. I have no idea what tomorrow morning will bring, I am sure the rush to get out the house will be nothing but stressful and we will both have nervous butterflies in our tummies as we make our way to the school. Will there be tears? Will he cling to me, afraid of what waits in the classroom? More than likely Leo will be over excited to see his play school friends after a long summer apart and will rush off without me, ready to start this new adventure together. There is no knowing how tomorrow is going to go, all I can do is tell Leo it will all be fine, hold his hand as we go in and promise him I will be there waiting for him at the end of the day.

With the start of school just one sleep away, I thought I would take some time to reflect on the past 8 weeks. When play school ended way back in July I was kind of dreading the holidays, how the hell was I going to keep 2 children happy for 8 whole weeks? I am not going to pretend the holidays have been perfect, there have been days where I have shouted too much, Leo has cried too much and we have all got on each others nerves. I really wanted to make these holidays special though, to not turn to the TV babysitter too often and instead get out and go on lots of fun adventures with the boys. Once Leo starts school our weekdays are going to be forced back into a routine, a schedule stricter than any we have known before, all I wanted from our last 8 weeks was to have lots of fun and make loads of happy memoires. So, while there have been times I have been pulling my hair out and Leo has moaned about being boooored , I think I have succeeded and we have all had a lovely time together. Here is what we have got up to, I am sure I will be holding on to these beautiful days together forever.

Looking back on the summer holidays

Soft play party –

On the very last day of term Leo had an early birthday party. We booked the local soft play and Leo loved running around with his play school friends and having a Batman themed party. It was a great way to kick start the summer holidays.

SandyBalls holiday –

At the very beginning of the summer holidays the kids and I went and stayed with my parents for a few nights at Sandballs Holiday Village in the New Forest. We had such a lovely time together, there was swimming in the pool, beach days, bbqs and lots of exploring. It was really special to have some time with my parents and Leo had a fantastic time.

Holiday in Wales –

Oli took some annual leave in August and we went and stayed in my parents caravan for a few nights at the beginning of August, It was actually really fun staying in the caravan just the four of us and we spent lots of time playing on the beaches I used to visit regularly as a child. Leo had his first ever experience of flying a kite and Alex enjoyed playing in the sand. We made so many beautiful memories from just a very simple holiday. While in Wales we also visited mine and Oli’s home town and spent some time with our parents. My mother in law and I took the boys to Borth Animalarium one day and Leo loved it – he even kissed a snake!

National Trust –

We have really made the most of our National Trust passes this summer and have visited Mottisfont (our local) almost every week. They were running a Gruffalo trail all over the summer and showcasing the work of Axel Scheffler in the gallery. Leo loved seeing all the illustrations from his favourite books and the trail was really fun, there were props and characters to find from lots of Julia Donaldson’s books all over the grounds. We visited just the four of us but have also been up there with family and their children too so it has been lots of fun. (Don’t have a national trust pass? Here are 5 reasons why you need one).

Peppa Pig World –

At the beginning of August my friend from back home came to stay with her little girl and her sister. We took the kids on a day trip to Peppa Pig World and they loved it. Leo has been to Peppa Pig World before (here’s our tips if you’re planning a visit) but this time he was a whole year older so he was a bit braver on all the rides. It did pour it down with rain though but we just bought some ponchos and did lots of jumping in muddy puddles.

Birthday party –

On the 15th August Leo turned 4 years old! We had a little tea party for him at home with his cousins, grandparents and some of his Uncles too. It was lovely and Batman themed again! There were games of pass the parcel and musical statues and lots of cake. It was nice to have something a bit more low key after the crazy soft play he had with his friends at the start of the summer.

Marwell Zoo –

For Leo’s birthday we went to Marwell Zoo. We met up with one of his pre school friends and it was lovely to see how happy the boys were to see each other. I don’t feel like we saw that many animals as the zoo were hosting a Lego trail of animals made of Lego bricks and the boys were much more interested in that than the actual animals.

Durdle door –

There was a day where Oli had to travel to Dorset for a work meeting. The boys and I decided to tag along and after Oli’s work was done we decided to spend the afternoon on the beach. We headed to Durdle Door and I was blown away with how beautiful it was. Leo had so much fun playing in the sea and I sat watching him play and soaking up the sunshine. It was one of those perfect days that I hope I never forget.

Corfe Castle –

On the bank holiday weekend we visited Dorset again but this time we headed to Corfe Castle. It was a gloriously sunny day and we had lots of fun exploring the castle grounds before visiting another beautiful Dorset beach in the afternoon.

Winchester Science Museum –

Last weekend we visited Winchester Science Museum. It is only 20 minutes from our house so I have no idea why we have never been before – it was so cool! Leo really enjoyed looking at all the different exhibits and everything is really interactive, Alex had a great time too. We watched a short animation film in the planetarium and it was so amazing, I wish every cinema was like that.

Play dates and playgrounds –

Amongst all the big days out there have also been lots of trips to the play ground, some toddler groups, the library and meeting up with some friends. We have really embraced ‘the playdate’ this summer holidays and it has been lovely for both Leo and me to meet up and chat to other people.

The ordinary moments –

We have had lots of days at home this holiday, days where we have just watched TV all day and just spent quality time together. We have played imagination games with Lego, baked biscuits, danced around to the Lego Batman soundtrack and just had fun at home. These days have also been a bit testing as it can be hard to not start getting on each others nerves when we don’t leave the house all day. It has been hard at times, the relentless noise and need for attention, but I am going to miss having my little shadow around when he goes to school.

I feel all emotional after writing this post. We really have had an amazing summer, an amazing 4 years and I am sad to be sending my baby off to school tomorrow. I know he is going to have a fantastic time though and it is the start of his next big adventure. You go get ’em Leo boy, Mummy and Daddy are so very proud of you already.

Has your baby just started school this September too? Have you found the end of the summer holidays emotional as well? I hope everyone’s little ones settle in to school life ok and that you parents out there don’t sob into your hot-for-once cuppa for too long!

Cycling in the New Forest – Our child free weekend

Cycling in the New Forest – Our child free weekend

On the weekend Oli and I had our first night away since Alex was born last October. Obviously, we have had nights away from home since becoming a family of four but the kids have always been with us. Last Saturday was the first time we have had a whole night child free since our babymoon in Reading last June and it was so needed. If you read my blog regularly you may have seen my post the other week about how I have been desperate for a break from parenting these last couple of months. To make the most of our freedom, Oli and I decided to do something we are nowhere near brave enough to do with our 3 year old and baby – we spent the day cycling in the New Forest and decided to drag out our child free time even more by camping just half an hour from our house. View Post

24 hours in Rome with a toddler and a baby – 11 things to see and do

24 hours in Rome with a toddler and a baby – 11 things to see and do

Last month we went on holiday to Italy and I think it is safe to say whilst there I discovered my new favourite city. Rome is the capital of Italy (also now my new favourite country)  and it is an amazing place to visit. I really felt like everywhere I looked there was a famous landmark to admire, a piece of history to get lost in or a building that looked almost as old as time itself. I am in love with Rome, I already want to go back and explore some more and delve even further into the ancient city’s history. We spent 10 days in Umbria in Italy and for our last day we travelled over 2 hours to Rome, there was no way we could go to Italy and not explore it’s famous capital – the home of the actual Romans none the less. Now, 24 hours is not a very long time at all, especially when about 10 of those was spent sleeping/getting up in the hotel, but we managed to cram quite a lot in to our day trip to Rome and that was with a 3 year old and a baby in tow. So, if you ever find yourself with 24 hours to spare whilst on a family holiday in Italy, here are 11 things to see and do when in Rome (sorry, couldn’t resist) View Post

Center Parcs Longleat Forest – Our photo diary

Center Parcs Longleat Forest – Our photo diary

In my family it has become a sort of tradition for us to visit Center Parcs every September for my Mum’s birthday. Each year various family members all make their way to Longleat Forest and we spend a long weekend together surrounded by beautiful trees, riding bikes and relaxing in the spa. We decided to spend a week there this year instead and we all had a lovely time. Oli, Leo and I really tried to make the most of it as it was the last time we would be going away before we become a family of 4 in just a few weeks time. Instead of writing all about our trip (as there would be enough words for about 6 posts!), I have decided to share our holiday with you in this photo diary. I hope you enjoy looking at our holiday snaps and if you’ve not been to Center Parcs before then I really can’t recommend it enough as a great UK family holiday.

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Our camping holiday in Somerset

Our camping holiday in Somerset

It has become a kind of family tradition for Oli and I to go on a summer holiday with my parents every year. Last June we went on holiday to Majorca without them, whilst I had a great time with Oli and Leo I did miss having my Mum and Dad there. When it came to booking a holiday for this year we all decided a UK break was the best option and we booked 5 nights camping in beautiful Cheddar, Somerset. View Post

5 advantages and disadvantages of a self catering holiday

5 advantages and disadvantages of a self catering holiday

We have been home from holiday for nearly 2 weeks and I have got the serious holiday blues! I have spent a lot of time looking through all our holiday snaps and reflecting on our week in Majorca.

As soon as we decided we were going on holiday, Oli and I immediately agreed we didn’t want to stay in a hotel and we wanted to go self catering. We wanted to have the evenings to ourselves and have lots of space so we decided to rent an appartment for the week. We had an amazing week (read all about it here) and I definitely feel we made the right decision but there were a few moments where I wished we  were in a hotel, only a few though!

self catering holiday

5 advantages and disadvantages to a self catering appartment holiday.

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How to plan your family summer holiday

How to plan your family summer holiday

It is only a matter of days before we jet off to sunny Majorca on our first family holiday, yay! I am so excited but also very stressed, I can’t stop worrying about taking Leo on a plane. As far as the whole holiday planning goes though, I have found it all pretty easy and much less stressful than I was expecting.

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