of the Month
Mauritius, Indian Oceanview hotel details
The exotic spice island of Zanzibar is a wonderful laid back beach option for families with older children
When? Where? How?
1. Where can you go and where will suite you
Our first recommendation is do call us and we can help you find the ideal holiday for you. As we have found travelling with children is a minefield of problems but so long as you have the right advice and the right holiday for your family it doesn’t need to be stressful.
Every family and child differs an so only you can know your and your children's tolerance to flying and the time you can bear to spend on a plane. For infants who are happy to spend the flight in the sky cot or bassinet then the flight time really isn’t an issue. In fact a longer flight time, especially overnight, means that they will still get a good nights rest. For older children who want to run up and down the plane it really just depends on how happy you are to follow them around and keep them entertained. It is worth noting that airlines are no longer allowed to let children sleep on the floor! The tricky age for travelling comes when they grow out of the sky cot (about the age they start to crawl) and aren’t yet old enough for their own seat (2yrs+). This means they will have to fly on your lap and a 14 hour flight is really too much for most people. If you can then this is the time to fly business class as an infant only pays 10% of the air fare. Otherwise you may decide to purchase your child its own seat - you can purchase a seat for an infant at a child fare rate (however please note you must speak to the airline to do this as they have to know an infant is on board and the infant will still need to be on your lap for takeoff and landing) Shortest flight times are obviously Europe, Dubai & Oman (7 hrs), Caribbean (8 hrs). Maldives is a relatively easy flight (10 hrs).
3. Child under 1 yr - then travel as much as you can
They can sleep on long flights in Sky Cots and you don’t need to get them their own seat. They can also handle the jet lag. The moment they get older or you have more children you will realise what a breeze it was with just one. Also try and find destinations which are reached with a direct flight, taking connecting flights can be a nightmare especially if you have two or more children.
Again this depends on your child but we found with small infants it doesn’t hugely effect them. We took Bea (aged five months) to Hong Kong and Inca (aged 11 months) to Malaysia and neither had any problems or kept us awake all night. Day flights are ideal for slightly older children as you then don’t have to worry if your over excited brood decide not to sleep! Jet lag tends to be more of an issue with older children. Africa, Europe, the Seychelles, Mauritius & Dubai are the ideal destinations for minimal jet lag.
This of course depends on what you want for your holiday. Mauritius, although it is a long flight, is great value for money and has everything you want for children including kids clubs and complimentary water sports. South Africa has some of the cheapest eating out options, the Seychelles is an easy 8 hour flight with little jetlag and Europe is very easy to get too. Antigua and Barbados are very easy flight times and have the benefit of being day flights out so you don’t need to worry about your children watching films all the way and not sleeping. The Maldives probably offer the best options for a long haul beach holiday with beautiful soft sand beaches gently shelving into clear blue sea, good snorkelling and hotels to suit any family. For older children bored of Kids Clubs and just sitting on the beach then nothing beats Africa. This is a great place for both parents and children to really spend a wonderful time together seeing incredible game and being enthralled by the stories of the safari guides whilst learning about the bush and everything that lives in it.
You know what you need and what your children need to keep them (and you) happy. Infants are the easiest as a rattle and play-mat is their ideal of heaven. So if you are just travelling with an infant then there is really nowhere that you can’t go. For these little gems and for parents with children who don’t need Kids Clubs etc and want to escape being surrounded by families we have wonderful hotels, camps and lodges around the world which are basically just for adults but will accept children and will provide the basics. All our hotels have cots and many can provide extras such as sterilisers, bottle warmers and baby food. If they don’t we will let you know and tell you what you need to pack to take with you. For toddlers and young children we have hotels with crèches and baby sitters and for older children Kids Clubs and Kids menus. We have hotels where you won’t feel embarrassed if your little angel is a cup throwing champion in the restaurant and you won’t be the only person pushing a buggy up and down. We have noticed that if you take a small child to hotels which don’t normally have lots of families staying the staff tend to be incredibly helpful as it is something of a novelty.
Children and very hot weather don’t typically mix well. Southern Europe in August, the Seychelles in November and all the other long haul destinations in the middle of their summers are often too hot for children. Children get burnt, can’t sleep in the hot nights, and can’t play on the beach in the middle of the day. We would always suggest going when the temperature is a more bearable heat for the young. Sunsuits and suncream keeps the rays at bay but if it is sweltering they will often be miserable. The benefit to this is that you can go to hotels when they aren’t charging peak rates. Try and stick to places which have the sort of weather you get in Europe in May, June and September. Places such as Mauritius and the Maldives out of season will still give you a chance to sunbath but will be a better overall temperature for the young. Where possible we try to use beach hotels with good shade for the young to play in on the beach but this isn’t always possible.
8. Flying whilst pregnant
Airlines have different rules regarding the upper limit beyond which they would not allow a pregnant woman to fly. As a general guide, almost all airlines decline to fly women beyond 36 weeks of gestation and for some it is 34 weeks. In the phase between 28 and 36 weeks, most airlines will demand that you bring a doctor’s letter stating that you are fit to fly and that you are unlikely to go into labour within 36 hours. Low Cost airlines tend to have a stricter policy than the main airlines. In theory, flying, especially long-haul, may be a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) because of the associated enforced prolonged sitting down. This in some cases might be associated with reduced fluid intake leading to dehydration which is an independent risk factor for DVT. Some experts therefore argue that a flier would negate any perceived increased risk of thrombosis associated with flying by avoiding those two issues. This is why it is advocated for all passengers (not only the pregnant) to make regular stretching exercises and walk about in the cabin and ensure regular fluid intake. For pregnant women, pressure stockings may also aid circulation in the lower limbs. It is essential that you have a chat to your doctor before you decide to fly so they can give you the best advice on traveling whilst pregnant.
1. Airport Hotel
This is well worth considering booking a night at an airport hotel the day before your flight to help start the holiday on the right foot especially for early flights. A few departure terminals have hotels attached to them so in the morning you just wander through to the Departure desks. It means there are no traumatic early starts and you won’t be late. Running through an airport with a child under each arm and dragging your bags is the best way to ruin a good holiday.
2. Business Class
If your child is under 2 yrs old they only have to pay 10% of the ticket price so this may be the last chance you get to enjoy your flying as a family before you have to start travelling separately (you in business and them in economy!) I tried to persuade Lucy that she could look after the children in economy whilst I hid in business. She thought this was a wonderful idea but it should be me with the children, so I quickly changed my tune and said how nice it would be for us all to travel together in economy.
All long haul planes have bulkhead bassinets or sky cots for children. When we book your flights we pre-book these for you if you have an infant (subject to availability).
We will send you a full list of everything you need to pack, the best gadgets and the best bags. Together with tips on how to keep your children happy on the flights and on holiday.
5. The hotel
We will send you all the details you need to know about the hotel you are going to but it is a good idea to send us you passports details etc so that we can pass these onto the hotel to make your check in faster when you arrive. There is nothing worse then arriving feeling a bit frazzled with hungry and tired children and having to wait whilst they process your check-in details. Where ever possible we get the hotels to complete any necessary check-in formalities in your room. It is worth noting that all hotels have check in and check out times. If you arrive before check-in we will always do our best to get you an early check in but the only way to guarantee this is by booking the night before so you can go straight into your room (this is worth it if you arrive very early in the morning). Some hotels will also let you have a day-room for late check outs so you can bath the children or let them have a sleep in the afternoon before you go.
Most hotels can do their own transfers and can provide car seats. For some you will need to take your car seat with you. In the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbados) most hotels don’t do their own transfers and use local taxis instead. These often only have the waist strap style seat belt rather than the waist and shoulder strap we use. This may make fitting your car seat difficult. Please ask about this if you are worried about your car seat working.
Africa, in particular, is a malaria area. If you want to go to Africa we recommend talking to your GP to find out what age your children can take anti-malarial drugs from. There are also a number of other diseases they will need to be vaccinated against for many tropical countries so you need to bear this in mind when choosing your holiday. Parts of South Africa are malaria free so if you have younger children these are the places to go to.
8. Kids Clubs, Crèches and Baby Sitters
Many of the more family oriented hotels we use have wonderful kids clubs for varying ages of children and at varying costs. For many parents these are a great option so that you can have an hour or two to yourselves whilst someone else entertains your children. Alternatively for younger children Kids Clubs are a great place for you to take your child to and have plenty to play with. Often they have a minimum age for children to be left, if they are younger than this you can still go in and stay or book a babysitter to stay with your child. This is a very good idea otherwise, children being children, the older ones can get all the attention and the quiet little ones get left out. You don’t have to leave your children there all day (unless you really want to) but some of the clubs are so good that as an adult you find yourself feeling a tinsy bit jealous at times. We recommend taking your little one in on the first day and staying with them whilst they get used to it and see whether you think they will feel comfortable there. With the crèche and infants it is slightly easier as they are happy with a playmate and someone smiling at them all morning. Do ask us if you want to know about a Kid’s Club or Creches staffing level, staff qualifications and activities on offer. Baby Sitters are normally hotel staff and will often have to be booked in advance. A top tip if you have an infant that still sleeps regularly during the day is to get a baby sitter during the day so she can watch your baby sleeping whilst you have a break.
9. Dining out
A top tip for any first time parents is to make sure you take a lie flat buggy with you when you go on holiday. We found that when Inca had gone to sleep in the evening we could put her in the flat bed and take her in her buggy to any restaurant (so long as it is buggy pushing distance)
10. European Health Insurance Card
If you are travelling in Europe then this is an essential bit of kit. It doesn’t cost a penny and allows you to access state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries including Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. If you are a UK resident then this is a must have item and always remember to carry it with you when travelling.
Apply online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers or by calling 08456062030