Holidays With Babies & Toddlers: Magic Moments or Mostly Mayhem? The Things Iv Learned..
We travelled a lot pre-kids aged 23 to 33. A typical year was a 3 Week Long Haul at Christmas plus 2 sun holidays a year as well as european city breaks in between. We had the life of it. Then Marriage and Kids came (but not until we were ready to stop the travelling) so we’ve had to scale back on the
- numbers of annual trips
- interesting destinations
- distance to said place
- exoticness and be grateful to have knock airport, the canaries and portugal to go to.
Since I began my parenting journey I have taken 15 foreign trips (imagine 30 flights!) with one or 2 babies in tow at aged 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 23, 28, 32 months aswell as at 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5 years of age. I even ventured to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with a 10 week old baby and a 23 month old toddler to visit my siblings (before my toddler turned 2 and his bum on a seat would have cost us €1000). It has been soo challenging at times but iv learnt soo much. As with everything in life if you put the work in and try many times, you will get the perfect holiday.
There are some stages that are definitely easier to travel with than others. The younger the better. They are much more work after they are 8 months. 18 months to 23 months being very difficult as they are big and heavy and walking and want to be down in the aisle all the time, bothering people. I leverage in my head 4 hours of torture of an infant jumping on my lap is worth 2 weeks of Sun though.
I have 2 small children under 5 so I speak from what works for us. Holidays to me arent really holidays. It’s just a change of scene. We rear our children in a new outdoor environment for a couple of weeks. There wasn’t much time off when they were small. But when you get them to 2 and 4 years of age and maybe you get 2 hours of a reprieve when you find a hotel with a baby or mini club that they will stay in when they are old enough to-they you have a bit of a holiday ;).
We all want the perfect instagrammable holiday. But to get a holiday like that you need to do a helluva lot of work to make it happen.
A)You need to put in MANY HOURS of HARD WORK RESEARCHING it online first.
B) You need to prep and pack for it for weeks before and be prepared to be in recovery mode and be washing clothes and cleaning up for a week after you get back.
C) Aswell as more than lightly make mistakes and book the imperfect places for a while in order to learn what ye need to make the perfect baby toddler friendly holiday for your family dynamic.
NOW FOR THE TIPS. Things I find critical.
1) You need to BE IN THE KNOW of a good place to book from someone who has been there RECENTLY & WHO IS at the EXACT SAME AGE AND STAGE as you are at with your children. A brilliant place to ask other mums is a Facebook group called “Mums on The Run (With or Without the Little ones)”. Lots of Mums online there only too happy to give out advice.
2) The Accomodation Has to Be Right is Every Respect for your needs in order for the Holiday to Be a Holiday for You. It needs to be at least as nice as where you live. Read and rely on recent Trip Advisor reviews too.
- 3) Go to a hotel resort especially if you have 2
under 2/3. There will be someone on hand at reception to help with your every need. In the 4 Stars there will be a decent kids club, and kids pool slides.
- 4) Check what age the mini club is suitable for before you book. You dont want to land thinking you can drop off your infant for a couple of hours if it is only suitable for the 4 years plus! See hotels below which have baby clubs.
- 5) You need maid service DAILY. One or all of you are bound to get sick/soil/wet sheets once or multiple times. You need the comfort of this service that renting apartments privately might not have.
- 6) Once you have a second baby with you, you need a 2nd room. Either a 1/2 bed apartment or a suite that has a seperate wall so toddler can sleep in the lounge. Otherwise one baby will be guaranteed to wake the other during the night.
- 7) Ask for a large outdoor terrace-Does the apartment or hotel have some?
- 8) Ideally Ground Floor Terrace. They are Larger. Request This.
- 9) Request a Terrace With Afternoon Sun and Sun Loungers. Infants get hours of fun going inside and outside while you get bits done provided you have a terrace they are safe and fenced in. Being by the pool is not an option for the under 22 months as they just wander and you end up running after them, slip hazards all over the place. Best bet to get a terrace so you can sit in the sun, watch them potter and actually read a few pages of a book (when they do eventually nap).
- 10) Request an apartment directly over the pool, so that the baby monitors
might work and when they are having their big long nap you and your partner might actually get to go and sit by pool and still listen out for them.
- 11) Ask for apartment as close to the restaurant and childrens facilities as possible. Lugging a buggy, changing bags etc is always extra work so making it as short of a distance as possible to everything is worthwhile.
- 12) Is the beach on site walking distance? This is Critical. Babies seem to sit and not wander when on sand and have bucket and spade in tow.
Where to go?
It depends on your budget. Hotel Resorts tend to be the most comfortable as everything is to hand-kids club-restaurants-pools-beach. Day and night activities for
all the family but you need to go 4 star or 4 star plus to get really good quality food in the all-inclusive restaurants and mini club options.
Hotels get expensive once number 2 comes along. Also half board dinner times with 2 tend to be difficult to navigate so self catering your own meals at 5/6pm tends to be the best option for 2.4 plus families if you have babies and toddlers.
13) Hotels with 2 bedroom family suites are a good option if you want a hotel type of holiday.
Best Iv Stayed in for €100-€130 per night (Excl food) Are:
Alfagar 2 in The Algarve Portugal 4*+.
Costa Sal, Lanzarote 4*.
H10 Hotels across Lanzarote- especially H10 Lanzarote Gardens 4*+ (has baby club 1-3years)
H10 Rubicon Palace 5* (has an amazing baby club 1-3years). H10 Princess also good. Mini Club from 4 years.
Aqua Mirage, Marrakesh, Morocco. Mini Club from 4 years. Would getaway with putting in a 3 year old that looks 4.
Homiva Pinta Beachfront Hotel Tenerife. Mini Club from 4 years.
AirBnB for Self Catering but only if you get a recommendation from someone. Iv found the reviews may not cover many aspects which you need to think about as a parent and you may find steep stairs to the apartment or lack of baby high chairs etc that may not have been listed in the rental property info.
KID & Coe https://www.kidandcoe.com/ Is a holiday parent and child friendly website offering home rental for families all over the world. Or try home swapping. Worth a goo once you have a few kids!
14) Pack as lightly as possible
- Were now at the stage we can travel with hand luggage only.
- 4 sports bags tucked into the buggy! Dont bring hair dryers, leave in rollers, jewellry, accessories, sandals, and 3 outfits for each day. You wont have time to do any of that with kids.
- If you like to be groomed get waxing and nails, eyelash extensions, spray tan, and brows done all before you go to avoid the extra weight of bringing makeup bags and lots of toiletries and to save you time, you wont have while away. I am now grooming before I go. Then i simply moose and tie up my hair on holidays.
What to Pack for Yourself-I learnt after holiday no 3!
- one pair of long shorts
- one pair of ¾ lengths pants
- one pair of leggins
- 2 casual shirt dresses
- one pair of casual flip flops
- one pair of dressy flip flops and a pair of runners and some socks
- and a few tshirts
What to Pack for Children
- Minimum 5 x long sleeves or tshirts and 5 leggins.
- A couple of Sun Hats. These keep them hidden from rays and also a couple of vests to keep them warm if you are going from Oct-March when it could be cooler some days.
- Dresses are a lovely dream holiday item but not suitable if its windy or they are crawling around the floor. They are lovely on a 3 year old plus when they are on their feet. In my opinion dresses always have to be worn with sleeves and leggins, so thats extra bulk to carry. I bring a couple for photos (to satisfy my cute baby holiday pic memoirs).
- Medicine Bag. Again this is an item I never included until my eldest child turned 4. And how I got through all those trips without needing one before still amazes me. (Someone is looking after us from above). But when I found myself going around the baby pool searching for a thermometer and calpol for my son who had a sky high 40 degree temp one day in lanzarote last November I realised I needed to be, better equipped for travelling with smallies. This covers the most important items
- Calpol-Sachets are v handy
- Fucidin cream (for those heat related rashes)
- Antihistmine oral solution for them (ask GP prescription only) (for those heat related rashes or bites)
- Cetrezine or Zirtek anti histamine tabs (for those heat related rashes or bites etc)
- Betnovate (any ezcema breakouts)
- Hydromol or thick oily moisturiser for v dry skin post days in the chlorinated pools. I always decant this into a 100ml tub as it’s too large to bring container from chemist.
- Digital thermometer
- Motilium for you
- Paracetamol for you
- Paracetamol pessaries
15) If toddlers bring some of their favorite bath toys -for baby pool or bath and playtoys for
hours of distraction.
16) Bring a small amount washing powder and vanish soap aswell as wash up liquid and a scrubbing brush for handwashing clothes and bottles. So you dont have to bring 10 outfits per child…
17) Bag formula in zip lock bags rather than bringing the tins.
18) Bring at least 5 adapter plugs. Remember you will probably have
- the chromecast to plug into the back of the hotel tv to watch Netflix/Youtube
- 2 phones
- at least one tablet
- 2 baby monitors
- maybe a breast pump
that all need charging/using when you are in the apartment for that one hour rest during the midday heat. They are cheap and save you time in the long run.
19) Bring A Great BUGGY We have always used our main home buggy the UPPA BABY VISTA
https://uppababy.com/ie/ for travelling as we’ve always needed space for 2 Tots in it. Plenty of people buy light Strollers too depending on the age and stage of your children. We love ours because
- It folds up fine and in 2 parts for the plane.
- It has a big shopping basket for beach bags and towels.
- It has a sun visor built in.
- Most important it can carry 2 babies or 2 toddlers so you can walk for hours along the prom.
It reclines so they can nap while you walk.
20) What to Pack for the Flight
Even a screen device didn’t pacified my toddlers until they were 23months as they didn’t have
attention span for TV till then. And toys, books or any other paraphernalia did not work until they were around 3 years old.
The most important items:
- The most recent discovery was the incredible asset of having “2 slim “crossover the body” hand bags” with several zip compartments on my person at all times. That way you are hands free for the babies demands at all times.
2. Memorise. Know where each item is cause you don’t want to be searching when you have a screamer, with strangers in close proximity.
3. Lollypops for ascending, to avoid screamers with ear problems. A soother will also work for some babies. I hate giving my kids lollies but hey it’s saved my sanity on a few occasions and I really wish I’d know about them when they were small (bad parenting moments I’m OK with in return for foreign travels)
4. Bottle of Dozol (paracetamol with sedative) again this has saved my sanity with sick tired cranky toddlers wish someone had told me about this before. I choose this over calpol for the flight.
5. Baby wipes
6. Tissues (you never know when you meet a paperless loo on your travels)
7. Changes of clothes or just bottoms, if possible toilet training accident imminent.
8. Small colouring books and crayons and markers
9. Sticker books. Deals do nice small ones
10. Device with kids shows downloaded on, from Netflix
(We use our old smart phones for this purpose)
11. Several story books
12. A biro and notebook or postits
13. Sunglasses for everyone
14. Its unlikely you will get a minute to read a book! But include a small book for yourself.
15. Chocolate, M&Ms, Smarties (whatever you have to resort to if it becomes that bad)
Lastly while your there write down in a note on your phone all the items you forgot and all the items you brought but didn’t need. Save it and look at it when for packing for your next holiday.
Hope you get something from this and have a great family holiday!
Love Fee x
Always at Your Disposal for Mammy Related Beauty, Skin or Parenting Crisis!
Fiona Brady, BSc, CIDESCO, ITEC, DIP NUIT – Owner & Founder of Polished.ie – 0868439979