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Travelling with Children In Europe

Travelling with Children

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Having children doesn’t mean you’re confined to the great British summer until they turn 18! With the right destination and preparation, a holiday can be enjoyable and even relaxing, regardless of your children’s ages. Here’s how to make the most of travelling with children.

Choosing the Right Destination

Opting for destinations that are relatively close and don’t have a significant time difference can make your first international trip with children much more manageable. Shorter flights reduce the chances of mid-air meltdowns, and minimal time changes help maintain your children’s sleep and eating schedules. Choosing a location that’s a short plane ride away, when travelling with children can make the entire experience less daunting and more enjoyable for everyone involved. For example, a two-hour flight to a nearby European country can be a great start, ensuring your children aren’t too exhausted by the time you arrive. This way, you can spend more time enjoying your destination and less time recovering from the journey.

The Flight When Travelling with Children

A well-prepared journey is a more relaxed journey. Knowing what the airline provides and planning for worst-case scenarios can make all the difference. For instance, pack extra clothes, not just for your little one but for yourself too. Imagine dealing with a leaky nappy incident without a change of clothes – it could make for an uncomfortable and fragrant journey. Additionally, bring extra food, bottles, nappies, and all the necessities to avoid any unpleasant surprises. For older children, ensure you have plenty of entertainment options like books, games, and electronic devices. Having their favourite snacks on hand can also keep them content and occupied during the flight.

Sleep Considerations While Travelling with Children

When it comes to sleep on the flight be flexible. Ideally, you would book flights around your child’s sleep schedule, but that’s often not possible. On the plane, all sleep rules can be set aside. Let your baby or child sleep whenever they can. For short flights, this might not be an issue, but for longer flights, allow for naps and rest periods. Keeping your child well-rested can help avoid crankiness and ensure a smoother journey for everyone. Bringing comfort items like a favourite blanket or stuffed animal can also help your child feel more at ease and encourage sleep during the flight.

Managing Time Differences

If your destination has a small time difference, such as one or two hours, consider keeping your children on UK time. This can prevent issues upon your return and helps navigate later dining times in many European countries. By maintaining a familiar schedule, you can avoid the disruption of routines and ensure your children get the rest they need. This strategy can also make it easier to enjoy local activities without your children feeling overly tired or out of sync. However, be prepared for some flexibility in your plans, as local dining and activity times may differ from what your children are used to.

Adjusting to Local Time

In destinations like Spain, where dinner and entertainment often start later, you’ll need to adjust your schedule accordingly. For example, dinner at 6:30 pm followed by a children’s disco can push bedtime, so be prepared for some flexibility and patience. It’s important to manage expectations and have a plan in place for dealing with tired children. Having a relaxed attitude and going with the flow can make a significant difference. Consider planning quieter, low-key activities for the evenings to help your children wind down. This can make the transition smoother and ensure everyone enjoys the holiday.

Bedtime Routines on Holiday

Stick to your usual bedtime routine to help your child feel secure. Make sure they are comfortable and check on them as you would at home. Initially, your child may take longer to settle, but consistency is key. Within a few nights, they should adapt and return to their usual sleep patterns. Bring familiar items like their favourite blanket or bedtime story to create a sense of normalcy and comfort in the new environment.

Creating Private Spaces

For babies older than eight months, creating a private sleeping space can be beneficial. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, having a separate area can prevent them from getting overly excited and thinking it’s playtime if they can see you. Consider using a travel cot with a cover or a portable room divider to create a cosy, private sleeping area. If possible, opt for accommodations with multiple bedrooms, like a two-bedroom villa. This setup allows for separate sleeping spaces, reducing the likelihood of disturbances and ensuring everyone gets a good night’s sleep.

Sibling Room Sharing

If your children are sharing a room, the first night or two might be filled with excitement and boundary testing. This is normal, and with a consistent bedtime routine, they will soon settle into their new environment. Encourage quiet activities like reading or storytelling to help them wind down before sleep. Setting clear expectations and maintaining consistency will help them adjust and start sleeping soundly.

Naps on Holiday

While occasional naps on the go won’t disrupt your child’s sleep habits, try not to rely too much on motion-induced sleep. Ensure they have plenty of cot naps to maintain their usual sleep patterns. Cot naps also provide a break from the day’s activities and a chance to recharge. Scheduling regular cot naps can help prevent your child from becoming overtired and cranky, making the holiday more enjoyable for everyone.

Adapting to Holiday Schedules

On-the-go naps can be a part of your holiday experience. For example, a stroller nap while exploring a new city or a quick nap in the car on the way to an attraction can be convenient. However, balance these with regular cot naps to ensure your child remains well-rested. Being mindful of your child’s sleep needs will help them stay happy and engaged throughout your holiday.

Enjoy this special time together and create lasting memories. Focus on the positives and embrace the adventure of travelling with children. Be flexible and patient, and remember that it’s okay to have a relaxed schedule. The key is to enjoy the experience and make the most of the time you have together.

If you encounter sleep issues with your little ones, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free 15-minute consultation. I’m here to help! Little Dreams Birmingham’s goal is to ensure that your holiday is as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, providing you with the support and guidance you need.

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