Hello everyone, my name is Kathleen and I work in the marketing team in Click&Go. I’m just back from my first ever family holiday with two little ones. We travelled to Lanzarote for ten nights in October and we had the best time. I was nervous about the trip as I had never travelled with kids before and I did not know where to start with the planning. We learnt a lot along the way and I wanted to share my experience and advice with you as I am sure there are others like my husband and I who are nervous about travelling with little ones for the first time. Here are my top 10 tips for travelling with young kids, from a mammy of two under two.
1. Book flights around nap and sleep times
My first top tip for parents with small children is to really think about the flight times you book and try and plan the journey to and from your holiday destination around nap or sleep times. For us, there was a brilliant selection of flights to choose from for Lanzarote and for the outbound we decided on a very early morning flight, around 7:30am. While this did mean a super early start from 4am, our little ones were tired for most of the journey, and this made the airport experience a little easier as they were happy to relax in the buggy. By the time we arrived in Lanzarote, they both had really good naps and had charmed all of the people around us!
Coming home, we booked an afternoon flight, which again aligned nicely with nap time, and they were happy to nod off after their lunch for part of the journey. The afternoon flight also meant we got home to our house just before bedtime. Ideal!
2. Book front row seats if possible
We flew Aer Lingus and decided we would pay extra to pre-book front row seats. This was probably one of the best decisions we made for our holiday. With a two-year-old and an 11-month-old, we needed all the space we could get! Our 11 month old, being under two was on our lap for the duration of the journey so we were delighted with the extra floor space the front row afforded us. They were also well entertained watching the cabin crew working.
3. Pack smartly, especially for the journey
The journey was what I feared most. I dreaded the tantrums and not having what we needed for such a long period of time from when we left our house to when we would arrive in our accommodation. Preparation was key for this and boy did it pay off! For the flight, we brought four bags as hand luggage and each of them served a very specific purpose.
- Backpack one had the nappy bag essentials such as nappies, wipes, bibs, medication etc. As well as drinks for both kiddies and two porridge pots which we made up on arrival to the airport after we got through security. These were really handy to have and I had peace of mind knowing they both would have a full tummy boarding the flight.
- Backpack two was the fun bag as we called it. It had a range of snacks and lots of new little toys they hadn’t seen before to entertain them on the flight. We also packed some books, colouring books and crayons in this one.
- One of us (me!), was also responsible for the important items such as our passports, travel documents and bank cards so I kept all of this in a very small cross body handbag so that they were easily accessed as we needed them on our journey without having to root around a backpack.
- Lastly, we brought a small cabin size suitcase on board which had spare clothes not only for the kids, but also us if we needed them. We also had our baby formula in here as well as some pouches of baby food just in case we were delayed and didn’t have access to food for the little ones.
4. Suction toys are fantastic entertainment
If you are travelling with small children toddler age and under, bringing a suction toy to stick to the window of the aircraft is a great way to entertainment your kiddies on the plane. You can purchase them on Amazon but they are also got in bath toy sets so we had a few of them at home that I just packed into our hand luggage and I was very glad I did! They were a hit!
5. Pack a multiple plug socket lead
If you are travelling with a couple of kids, chances are you will all have your own devices which will need to be charged each day. Instead of buying multiple adapters to use abroad, it is always a good idea to pack a multiple plug socket lead in your suitcase. Doing this will mean you only need one adapter to charge several devices at the same time.
6. Take help where its offered
Travelling with a double buggy, two under two, three suitcases and two backpacks was not easy and while it got a little easier with the two large suitcases checked in, we still struggled from time to time on our journey. It was important to take help when we were offered it. On our flight to Lanzarote, we had to enter the aircraft via steps as opposed to a tunnel and this was tricky for us as we had to leave our buggy at the bottom of the steps and try get two little ones up the steps along with a cabin suitcase and our backpacks. Thankfully a really nice man offered to carry our suitcase for us and this made such a difference. On this point, I recommend you use a sling or baby carrier perhaps in the airport, we didn’t and could have really done with one in this moment.
Then, when we arrived in our accommodation, our bungalow was a good bit away from the reception and a man who was on holidays overheard the receptionist giving us directions and he offered to help wheel a suitcase for us. We were so glad of the help and he knew exactly where he was going so after a long journey, we were really relieved and thankful for his kindness. Us Irish tend to be overpolite when someone offers help but my advice is take every bit you can get when you’re travelling with small children.
7. Book extra spacious accommodation if you can
We spent a lot of time thinking about where we were going to stay on our trip to Lanzarote before we went because there was a lot to consider for this trip. We needed to be on the flat, we needed wide footpaths that would accommodate a wide double buggy and we needed room within the apartment to let the kids roam around as we knew we would be spending a lot of time in there with nap schedules etc. We hit the jackpot with the Costa Sal Apartments in Matagorda Lanzarote where we stayed in a two bedroom bungalow. It was so spacious, and we had our own little garden outside with a private terrace and even some AstroTurf style grass. The kids had so much room and just adored the freedom and enjoyment that came from a bungalow. They settled in the very first day. We were also just around the corner from a gorgeous pool area and just steps from the beach. It was ideal for our young family.
8. Go with the flow
I am a routine girl, I like days to have routine and flow and I wasn’t sure what that would look like on a holiday with two under two. But what I learnt was, going with the flow of what made the transition of home to holidays easier for my little ones in that moment was best for me and best for us. Sometimes we couldn’t get out for dinner at night as we’d need an earlier bedtime and that was ok. Sometimes we had to offer a bribe of something nice from the shop we were in to stop a tantrum and that’s ok. Sometimes we had to turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at dinner and that’s ok too. Do what’s best for your family in that moment and all will fall into place.
In fairness to my little people, they adapted to being on holidays so easily and we had minimal tantrums of which we were blessed but I think going at their pace and trying to plan our days around them really helped this.
9. Make time for yourself every day
This was a tricky one for us with two under two but nevertheless, every day, we each took an hour or two to go and have some alone time. Having that time in the day to go for a swim or read a book in the glorious sunshine made the holiday also feel like our own as well because I will be honest and say it was hard to switch off and relax with two very small children. My daily alone time allowed me to have my moments of ‘aaah’ every day and I loved having that time to myself.
10. Nervous? Go somewhere you know well
When we booked Lanzarote as our first family holiday destination, so many people said we were crazy that we chose somewhere with a four hour flight for the first trip. But while this was a worry, we knew once we arrived we didn’t have to worry about anything else as we have both been to Lanzarote a lot. The familiarity was a godsend. We knew where the local supermarkets were, the best restaurants, great shopping etc. This peace of mind was exactly what we needed for our first family holiday and I am so glad that I went somewhere familiar for our first special holiday. It was perfect.
So there you have it, 10 tips for travelling with young kids from a mammy of two under two. While at times it was stressful and chaotic, it was also magical, entertaining, a dream and the perfect first family holiday. The good outweighed the hard by so much and if you are thinking of your first family holiday and you’re feeling a little nervous, my advice is just do it! It is worth every moment and the memories you make will last a life time.
To plan your family holiday, check out our website here, or why not call our travel experts seven days a week on 01-6995329. If you’d like to learn more about Lanzarote, check out our dedicated Lanzarote page here.