Do you remember the excitement of a family holiday when you were a kid? Packing all your holiday clothes, the busy airport, the flight and then being somewhere totally new.
Now, think about how you feel about holidays as a parent… The excitement is all mixed up with the choices of airlines and hotels, the tediousness of packing, and, of course, the worry of how to keep your family safe and healthy. This can be a real pain, but with the right preparation and insurance you shouldn’t have to worry at all. Here are our tips for making holidays as stress-free as possible.
A Pre-Holiday Trip to the Doctor
Before you head out on your holidays, you should visit your GP or travel clinic to find out about any required vaccinations. Asking on an online forum is never a bad idea, but really a physician will know best. You can also check the Smartraveller website for any international health warnings or required vaccinations.
If anyone in the family has any pre-existing conditions, you’ll need to declare these when you’re buying travel insurance to determine whether or not they can be covered.
If you need to take any medicine with you, ensure it is in its original packaging, and bring your prescription note from your doctor, as well as a letter explaining why you need the medication, to avoid any trouble with customs. Some prescription drugs that you purchased at home could be illegal at your destination.
Allergies can also be an issue when traveling. If someone in the family has a serious allergy, carrying an EpiPen is a must and a card from your doctor with the details of the allergy translated into the language of your destination is very useful.
If your child has special needs or a specific condition, they should wear a special identity bracelet with the details of their condition and treatment. Your doctor can give you advice about where to get one.
Packing the Family Bags
Luggage can be a real pain, especially if you’re traveling with small children. You might want to take a car seat or stroller with you, but luggage rules can differ greatly between airlines and airports. Make sure to check with your airline about any luggage restrictions before you travel. Another option is to look into baby equipment hire companies at your destination.
Some airlines will allow you to take your stroller all the way to the departure gate, which is a godsend. You know how heavy kids can be to carry, especially if you are tired and trying to carry other bags.
You may also want to check what your insurance covers when it comes to lost or damaged luggage. Arriving at your destination without your luggage can be one of the worst letdowns, but if you know your insurance covers everything it is at least comforting. You also don’t need to worry about the money spent replacing things you need.
What to Carry-On
When you travel with kids, it can be fun to pack exciting bags for them. You’ll need to carry essentials like a favourite toy, some snacks, and a change of clothes, as well as plenty of things to do.
Older kids are easy to please with an iPad or game console, but babies can be more difficult. Make sure you have plenty of comforts from home, like a blanket, pillow and favorite stuffed animal.
Adding a couple of new toys, sticker books or activity books can go a long way to relieve boredom and make the trip more exciting.
Once you’re on the plane you’ll want to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable. No one wants to get sick on the plane, but with so many people in close confines you should do everything you can to keep everyone’s hands as clean as possible.
Baby wipes and hand sanitiser are essential for you and the kids, as we all know little hands are constantly grabbing things.
Little ears can also be very sensitive to the pressure, so make sure you are prepared for this. Babies can either be breast or bottle fed during take off and landing, and kids can be given a lollipop to suck on. They’ll love this treat and it really does work.
Food on the plane isn’t always to kids’ liking, so taking plenty of snacks with you is a must. Try to keep the sugar content low as you don’t want them bouncing off the walls, but biscuits, crackers, granola bars and sliced fruit are great to pack up and take on board.
At Your Destination
When you arrive you’ll probably be ready to relax and enjoy your holiday, but you might also be a little out of your comfort zone when it comes to the kids. You will have new foods, situations, and environmental factors to deal with.
When you arrive at your accommodation, check for anything that might be dangerous for little ones, for example stairs, balconies or slippery floors. If anything seems particularly worrying tell the staff immediately.
Also, be very aware of kids around pools, just as you would be at home. We all know toddlers that have no fear will head straight for the pool the second your back is turned, and not all hotel pools have lifeguards on duty.
Other problems you might face in a foreign country are stomach upsets that lead to dehydration. Try to eat at clean restaurants with a high turnover. You can also prepare by taking a travel probiotic before you leave to help strengthen good gut bacteria.
Southern Cross Travel Insurance has a comprehensive TravelCare insurance policy to put your mind at ease when booking a foreign holiday. Travel doesn’t always go to plan and accidents do happen. The most important thing is being covered by a solid insurance plan when the unexpected happens overseas.
Getting the best healthcare possible for your family should be your number one priority, and once you know you will be covered in the event of an emergency, you can relax and enjoy your holiday.
Other Useful Tips
- Know basic first aid, and take a basic first aid kit with you. Insect bites, choking, and falls can happen anywhere.
- Be very clear to communicate between adults about who is responsible for watching children, particularly around water or heights.
- Reinforce pedestrian road safety – particularly if cars drive on the other side of the road.
- Research where the closest clinics/hospitals are to your accommodation.