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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12 Comments

  1. September 26, 2018 / 8:30 am

    Great checklist Wendy! Super useful if you haven’t been abroad with children before!

  2. September 26, 2018 / 9:38 am

    Oo so many helpful tips! We have been abroad with our first daughter, but we are now a family of four and to be honest the idea scares me. However we are looking at going next year, so I’ll be referring back to these tips then, thank you 🙂
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  3. September 26, 2018 / 10:02 am

    Thats one of most helpful lists – traveling abroad with the little ones can be so stressful , and to have a list to tick off of things you need – its a God send

  4. September 26, 2018 / 10:07 am

    You seem to have this down to a fine art! I love travelling with the kids, but there’s no denying the prep can be stressful. Thanks for this list – I’m going to bookmark for future reference!

  5. September 26, 2018 / 11:13 am

    It has been such a long time since we’ve been abroad. 10 years! So this is very helpful. My girls were babies at the time my son is 6 and would love to go on holiday soon.

  6. September 26, 2018 / 5:16 pm

    Oh the heatwave feels so long ago now! Great list here. It’s always great to be prepared when travelling with kids.

  7. September 26, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    I remember our first flights with the kids and the craziness around what we should not forget etc.
    These tips are very useful as some preparation is definitely needed when traveling with young kids.

  8. September 27, 2018 / 2:43 pm

    We have yet to have a family holiday, let alone go abroad. I have never thought about what I would need to do, your check list is so thorough…if yet a little daunting haha!

  9. September 28, 2018 / 8:30 am

    Our kids were quite young when they had their first trip abroad, I think my eldest was 5 months and I can’t remember how old my youngest was. We have family living across two countries, so travelling between the two pretty much all their lives.

  10. October 1, 2018 / 8:57 am

    I found the hardest part was picking where to go! My kids are 4 and 1 and we didn’t want to spend loads, but needed to make sure that they were entertained and kept safe. We ended up going for an apartment with loads of toys, bedrooms for each of the boys and a pool for them to play in! They had the best time!!

  11. October 18, 2018 / 6:38 am

    Next year will be our first family abroad trip, and I’m quite scared. Thanks for the checklist and tips!

  12. October 19, 2018 / 3:00 am

    The preparation was so stressful, but it was fun when you can see your kids are enjoying! Haven’t thought of making a checklist before, so thanks for making our lives easy!

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