It’s that time of the year again where everyone goes on their summer holidays (we get the best weather of the year and they go to an even hotter could try for 7-14 days, madness I know). So here are some tips for UK travellers, because when you have kids, you need all the help you can get to remember things.
TIP: Don’t forget the important stuff.
These ones seem kind of obvious, but it would surprise you the number of people who forget them:
• Boarding Pass
• Hotel details
• Transfer pickup details
The not so obvious ones are:
• EHIC – if you are travelling within the EU this is essential if you fall ill to receive treatment faster (still valid for UK residents until we actually leave the EU) oh and it’s free – unless you’ve already got one and lost the card, then you need to pay for a replacement which is pain (especially since I think I threw ours out after the EU referendum!).
• Travel insurance documents – I always use the comparison tool for finding insurance through Topcashback as that way I get a good deal for the whole family and I earn cashback on it too, normally the email you the documentation right away and you can just print it off.
• Sun lotion – personally I need lots of this and as I don’t tan (unless scarlet is the new colour of a tan) I need a very high factor (usually 30+ but ideally 50). I squeeze all our sun lotion into 100ml bottles and label them with the factor, I spread these across the 3 carry on cases that we usually take on holiday and sometimes that even lasts us 90% of the week of a 7 day holiday.
(This tip is only relevant if you have a bag to check in)
TIP: Check it in if it’s over 100ml.
In the UK all liquids need to be under 100ml in your carry-on luggage, so if you wish to take larger than that, put them in your check in bag that goes under the plane as this is not subject to the same rules.
TIP: Get around having to pay for checked luggage.
The easiest way is to utilise the carry-on luggage allowance. This is something that every flyer in the UK (including children) with most airlines, will get, normally this is no weight limit set for this, but they do specify a size e.g. Easyjet maximum size for a carry on is 45x56x25cm although there is no weight limit, a good rule of thumb is you must be able to lift it into the overhead locker. Ryanair on e ther hand low you wo pieces of carryon luggage: the main piece of luggage cannot weigh more than 10kg or exceed the maximum dimensions 55x40x20cm. The second item, which can include a handbag, briefcase, laptop, camera, shop purchases/carrier bag, etc. needs to be smaller than 35x20x20cm. We make use of this as a family of four which saves us a bit of money and also means if we dont fly ith Ryanair we don’t have to worry about weighing our case prior to arriving at the airport.
Remember if your bag exceeds the allowance for your airline, you will have to check it in and if you have to do this at the airport when it’s not prepaid the airline hikes the price up for it. So it pays to check your allowance BEFORE you leave the house.
Be sure to check with whomever you book with don’t just assume children have the same allowance as adults.
Sometimes if all the overhead lockers are full, they offer to put your carry-on bag/case in the hold for free.
TIP: Straight to security.
If you have no case to check in, and you remembered to check yourself in online, you can arrive at the airport and head directly to the security area. This gives you time to buy your liquids over 100ml (water, juice, etc.) before you board your flight. It’s a good idea to buy resealable bottles as you won’t be allowed to drink or hold any open liquids during take-off.
TIP: Break up your journey.
This is a tip one of you guys emailed me and I think it’s a good one. If you have kids that get easily bored (you know the ones, constantly asking ‘Are we there yet?’), and it can be cheaper to fly indirectly. This lets the kids burn off some energy after sitting on a flight for a few hours. Some long haul flights a stopover is mandatory for refueling and granted other times it’s simply not possible. But it’s something to consider when booking. As a family with 2 kids under 11 our youngest gets bored easily always on the move and needing to fuel his imagination. We flew back from Barcelona one year via a 24 hour stopover in Madrid, he loved it (since Real Madrid is where Ronaldo plays) and it stopped his constant need for stimulation ruining everyone’s holiday (we all know it makes at least one if not both parents irritated when they do that). It’s almost like a little extra to your holiday. We took out our essentials from the cases and then put them in lockers at the airport so we didn’t look like lost tourists (being chaulk white in a hot country I’m used to looking like a tourist anyway). We did some free attractions before heading back to the airport and sleeping some in the departure lounge.
TIP: Divide and conquer.
As there are 4 of us and most flights have seats in groups of 3, I always book two groups of two seats, that way for a change of view the kids can always change seats. And if you’re kids are anything like mine they are good as gold when they’re apart but put them together and it’s like a tornado in a caravan park. So sitting one adult and one kid per group means if there are annoying kids on your flight, you can pride yourself on knowing they weren’t yours.
TIP: Bring you’re own QUIET entertainment.
Not all flights are long enough for proper in flight entertainment, so I always pack a tablet/iPad for each kid, packed with games they can play offline and since our tablet has an SD card slot I load that with movies. Oh and don’t forget to pack the headphones – while you might love watching Moana on repeat with the kids up full, the rest of the flight might not when they’re trying to sleep. I always pack my Kindle so if I can’t get to sleep I can read on the flight, that way I don’t have headphones in and can keep a better eye on my kid.
TIP: Survival is key.
If you’re on a longer flight and like me you have a kid who could entertain themselves for hours with a paperclip and one that jumps about like Jack-Jack from the Incredibles, the key to surviving the flight is rest. Sit beside the quiet kid for an hour and catch some zzzz’s, then switch the kids round and let your partner do the same. That way they can keep your noisy kid entertained while you nap and vice versa. You’ll both feel better when you get off the flight.
TIP: Lost and found kids.
Our eldest is 10, but if she got lost she would breakdown in floods of tears and panic if she lost us in the airport. So we always write a mobile number on the back of her hand and spray it with see through liquid plaster, so if she got lost to us but found by authorities they have a way of contacting us. Luckily we only have 2 airports nearby that we fly from and are familiar with the layout. But any new airports we familiarise ourselves with where lost and found/Police or Security desks are and the thing our kids find most important, the toilets.
TIP: Cheapest day to fly.
Its crazy to think there are cheaper days to fly, it the 3 days that are cheaper are Tuesday, then Wednesday, followed by a Saturday, so consider that next time you’re booking your holiday.
TIP: Cheapest time to fly.
The cheapest time of day to fly is 6pm – midnight, as most people like to get to their destinations before dinner time, both going and coming home.
TIP: Cheapest time to book.
The cheapest time to book your flight is roughly 50 days before you fly.
TIP: Choose a holdall over wheeled case.
Ditching the case for a wheely bag you’ll find you can fit much more in especially if you’re doing the next tip as well.
TIP: Roll your clothes.
If you roll your clothes when packing it will save you time from needing to iron them on holiday, especially if there are no irons available in your room and if you opt for our last tip of the holdall, it will save space in your bag. Also the rolled clothes help protect my Kindle and the tablets if I put them in the very centre of the bag/case.
TIP: Tumble dryer sheets aren’t just for tumble dryers.
Stick a tumble dryer sheet in your packed bag to keep your clothes smelling good. Especially if like me, you don’t unpack your clothes when you’re on holiday (something about the furniture in a hotel that gives me the shivers, I’ll put my bag or case into the wardrobe but not my actual clothes).
TIP: Go to destinations that aren’t as popular.
While obviously you wouldn’t drag the kids into a war torn country, you still have to be careful with remote locations in the safe countries.
TIP: Research is always good.
Once you’ve decided on your location, read up on some of the most common laws that foreigners break in that country and how to avoid them. I find the www.gov.uk website has quite a lot of good information about travelling to most countries, inside and outside the EU. It will also tell you if you require more than just your passport to enter that country (like visas, health questionnaires, etc.) and when you should apply for them.