It took us two and a half years to find the courage to take Caterpillar abroad for the first time. When he was a baby we took him away in the UK a couple of times as we figured in a car it was only us who had to listen to the crying! Plus, the sheer volume of stuff a young baby requires meant we couldn’t face the packing challenge of travelling abroad either. But five months after his second birthday, off formula and newly out of nappies, we decided to brave air travel and play it safe with a short-haul trip to Ibiza.
I’d been very nervous. Caterpillar’s hand luggage was twice the size of my own and stuffed to the brim with snacks, comforters, Calpol and every possible toy and activity book you can think of. And then he fell asleep from the moment we took off and didn’t wake until we landed, likewise on the flight home. We were pleasantly shocked!
Since the trip went so well we decided to go back to the same resort and hotel this year too, here’s what I’ve learnt from both trips.
Choose your resort carefully
I know lots of people who take their kids longer haul, either off the beaten track or to less child-friendly destinations but for us, the hotel is key. We’ve used a Thomson Family Life resort in Port des Torrent for the last two years and the facilities for children are truly fantastic. From a built-in splash park to kid-friendly entertainment, there is so much to keep Caterpillar happy which helps make it more relaxing for us too.
If you decide to travel to a destination that’s usually snowy and cold, then there are other considerations to make. You want to make sure that the resort you choose is child-friendly and as cosy as possible. It would also help to get a list of things you need for your toddler – like toddler mittens and the best winter coats available. The resort you choose will make a big difference to your experience, whether in a snowy location or a sun-drenched hot spot. The colder locations still have activities and on-site entertainment, there may be less of the splash parks, though!
Pick night flights
Most people thought we were mad when we mentioned our flight times (8pm going out and 12.30am on the return), truth be told we’d only picked those times to be cost-effective but it’s worked out so well. Last year Caterpillar slept through both flights, this year only on the return since he’s a little older but even on the outbound he was in wind-down mode which was handy.
Pay to pre-book your seats
It’s a first world problem & pet hate of mine that you are expected to choose your seats and check-in online way in advance of your holiday nowadays. Truth be told I don’t really get it – surely the point of checking in is to let the airport know you’re actually there? But anyway, these are the times we live in and if you want to ensure you’re able to sit together as a family and share the load of flying with little ones then I recommend the small cost of early online seat selection. Alternatively, if you’d like to intentionally sit apart so you can tag team looking after the little ones then that works too!
Snacks snacks snacks
This isn’t just a tip for travelling but a tip for surviving with toddlers and preschoolers in general. If all else fails, give your little one a snack and it will keep the peace for as long as required – lollypops are especially efficient at this as they can last for a while.
Water is your friend
Our hotel has it’s own built-in waterpark, access to which is included in the All Inclusive package. I was so worried that first year about how we could possibly keep Caterpillar entertained for seven whole days when he was too little for the Kids Club activities but I needn’t have been because the little splash park and slides kept him happy all day every day.
Stop caring what people think
I don’t drive so I already have lots of experience dealing with a screaming baby and then a whining toddler on public transport. I had to force myself long ago to accept that if your child is making a racket there is always going to be someone giving you a snooty look – and maybe four years ago that someone would have even been me! At the end of the day we were all children once and, as long as you are actually doing something to try to calm your child, I don’t see why anyone should get unreasonably upset.
Take a break where you can
To quote my best friend – “it’s your holiday too.” I’m a big fan of kids clubs. We didn’t use them every day but Caterpillar had three two-hour sessions over the course of the week which gave Hubs and I miraculous opportunity to truly relax with a book at the new adult-only infinity pool. Bliss! And Caterpillar had a lot of fun too which eased our guilt.
Manage your expectations
I’ve spoken a lot before about expectations and how my shock at the drastic change parenthood brought to my life may well have contributed to PND. These days I’m happiest when I let go of my pre-Caterpillar life completely and embrace the wonderful, terrifying madness that is life as a parent, and there’s perhaps no time when the difference between pre- and post-kids life is more obvious than when you’re on holiday. But if you completely forget holidays past and throw yourself headfirst into this new way of holidaying it’s much more fun.
61 comments on “Eight Tips For Travelling Abroad With Toddlers”
We always take night flights and take the boy to the airport in his PJs. It’s a risky strategy because if he doesn’t sleep things would be seriously awkward but so far it’s worked out.
Definitely a risk but so far it’s worked for us too. Thanks for reading, lovely x
It is ALL about managing expectations! Yours, the kids’ and other travellers! We just got back to Australia after a month long trip around the UK – with a 24 hour flight on each end! My 2 and 4 year olds handled it much better than I expected them to :).
That’s amazing – well done to them! You’re a brave woman 🙂 I would love to go to Australia but not sure I could handle the flight without a sedative 😉 Thanks for commenting x
Brilliant tips – we so nearly plucked up the courage to go on holiday abroad with our toddler this year. That was until we realised we didn’t have a passport for her and that it wouldn’t come in time! #BloggerClubUK
Passports are SUCH a pain, aren’t they? And so expensive. Thanks for reading x
Snacks. ALways have snacks…haha.
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Next year is the first time I’m taking my little one away and I have been stressing so much. I’m really glad we have night flights now! This has been such a helpful post for sure. #coolmumclub
Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk
I remember the feeling well! Try to relax though, won’t be as stressful as you’re imagining xxx
I’m glad your holiday worked out for you! Our daughter is coming up two and we’ve not braved a holiday abroad yet either… Some great ideas here though. Maybe next year! X
Ah, it’s so nice to see some piccies of you!
Looks like you had a wonderful holiday – we just returned from our first one abroad as a four piece and it was wonderful. You are so right – family holidays are a new chapter when it comes to travelling, but happy kids = happy parents.
Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub
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great to read this! I haven’t taken mine over seas yet, being from Australia it is a little further to places, but hopefully next year!!! #Thelist
Very useful. I can remember thinking – ah, so now we have kids, this is no longer a holiday, but a change of scene… Glad you had a good time.
My friend calls it Childcare Abroad but yeah we still had fun 😀 Thanks for reading x
Great tips. When I find myself getting irritated about kids crying on flights, I try to imagine what it must be like for them. If I’m restless and bored and my ears hurt, imagine how much worse that is for a kid! I must say I’ve never gotten to the point where I give the parents dirty looks. It’s not helpful and it’s hardly like they are making the kids cry on purpose
Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
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That’s a really good point. I personally hate to fly – I get bloated, tired, bad ear pain and irritable. Plus I’m quite phobic about flying! So it does help to keep in mind how hard it can be for a little one xxx Thanks for reading x
Great tips here! I felt the same about our first flight with our toddler, but like you I was pleasantly surprised – he dropped off as soon as the engines started both ways! Our trip this year wasn’t quite as smooth, but we kept him amused with plenty of sticker books and the ipad and he was really good. Holidays change so much once you put kids into the mix don’t they? Less relaxing, but more about exploring a new place and having fun. All the kids club facilities sound amazing though – I’m normally a villa girl, but this could tempt me in future years! Thanks so much for linking up to us at #SharingtheBlogLove – I really hope you’ll be back next week!
Thanks for reading 🙂 And yes, absolutely. Things change so much and everyone feels happier when you just roll with the punches x
Great post and exactly what I need to read pre our holiday in a month time. We are going to Spain. I have chosen our holiday based on the flight times if I am honest. I didn’t want to leave at crazy O’Clock in the morning and crazy O’Clock at night. Both my kids aren’t big sleeper anymore so it seems the easiest for us.
They are both still a bit small for the kids club but I am going to attend some of them with my eldest who will be be nearly 4. It will get easier once he is 5. Because most clubs are from 4 or 5 years of age. #thelist
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Yeah we were really lucky that our place has a 3-5 years kids club, and a crèche which we used twice last year too. I hope you have an amazing time! xxx
Lovely tips and I think makes so much sense! My fave in the list is the last one about expectations. I think when you really just have real expectations you will have a happier trip =) #pocolo
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Absolutely. That’s the most important I think. Thanks so much for commenting x
We travel with our kids a lot and have done since the eldest was 3 months old – you definitely have to learn to go with the flow! And you are so right about the night flights – I tell everyone to do this because we’ve also found it to be so much easier! Hope you keep enjoying your adventures, it;s so amazing to see the world through a little person’s eyes! x
The flights were such a pleasant surprise, plus night flights tend to be cheaper as an added bonus. Thanks for reading x
Helpful tips here Laura. Travelling with kids is always nerve wracking, but those nerves need not be the reason we stop doing it. Hope you enjoyed Ibiza
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Exactly! Sometimes you just have to get on with things. Thanks for reading x
Totally echo everything you said. I just came back from two weeks in Portugal with my three year old and the flights were nowhere near as bad as I expected. In fact my advice is if you expect the worst – it won’t be that bad at all! #PoCoLo
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That’s awesome advice! Thanks for reading x
Totally with you on all of these – a great list of tips 🙂 Thankfully I have never had to experience a long flight with a small child. #PoCoLo
This is so helpful and the pictures are ace! We’re taking our two year old to Australia to visit friends in 3.5 weeks. I’m anxious about the plane bit and hoping he will sleep a lot of it because it will be nighttime to him. Fingers crossed! #KCACOLS
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Wishing you luck! Sure it will go fine xxx
Fantastic tips! Definately agree with times and snacks are a lifesaver for every parent and child X#thelist
These are so true! I took my parents with us on the last 3 holidays we had with my daughter from 9 months to 2 years as well. This really helps. We have done long haul and it is hard with jet lag and the flight. I think the best thing is to try not to worry and above all have a bit of you time if you can!! Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x
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Absolutely, big fan of the me time if it’s at all possible. Thanks x
Fab Tips! We travelled abroad when Alice was 12 months old and it was fairly pain free and then this year we brave d it with both our girls and I was worried, but they were amazing and actually entertained each other a lot. I agree completely with not worrying about what other people think, once you get to this point a lot of the stress disappears. Thank you for linking up to #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x
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Absolutely! Thanks for reading x
I like that, “it’s your holiday too.” These are excellent tips for travelling parents. I haven’t done this yet, Bear is still only 6 months old but were most likely going to Spain in September so will be using some of these tips. I hadn’t thought about booking a certain time but if we did do it after 8pm then you’re right Bear could be asleep for the whole trip, magical! The water park at the hotel sounds fantastic, I definitely need to find one of these. Thanks for much for the advice and sharing with #StayClassyMama!
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The water park was definitely a must for us. If you fancy Ibiza our hotel is the Sirenis Club Aura in Port des Torrent. Can’t recommend highly enough. I’ll be posting a full review soon xx Thanks for reading xx
These are some AWESOME tips! We went flying with my son when he was around 9 months old, and night flights are the BEST. Our first flight was in the middle of the day, and keeping him busy and calm was definitely a challenge. Our flight on the way home was a red eye and he slept the. entire. way. It was soooo nice! I really like tip 5 as well. Once I stopped worrying about the staring eyes and the judging glances, the trip got so much easier! Thanks so much for sharing <3 #MarvMondays
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I think tip 5 can be applied to life with kids in general actually, thinking about it lol! Thanks so much for reading and commenting x
Some great tips! Thanks for sharing them and joining us for #marvmondays
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I’m guessing that even though you went to Ibiza there probably wasn’t much time for clubbing?! We took our little one to Kos last year and stayed in a First Choice Holiday Village and it was so much better than expected. Lots to do for little one and we used the creche a couple of times too so we could have an hour or two by the pool without fear of him running off / falling in! #MarvMondays
There was a holiday village just up the road from us that also looked great. Takes some of the pressure off doesn’t it? Thanks for reading 🙂
Great post! We went abroad to Lisbon in May with our then 16mo; My sister arranged it as a surprise birthday / Christmas present for our Dad who was widowed in 2014. My daughter was 8mo when we booked and I figured it would be fine and didn’t want to be a spoil sport. But it was a really draining experience. The EasyJet planes are cramped when you have a large toddler on you. Lisbon airport is NOT buggy friendly (god forbid you need a wheelchair) and Lisbon old town is narrow pavements, cobbles and no dropped-kirbs (not good for a stroller!). To top it off, my daughter was ill the whole time. It has put us off travelling with her for at least a year and we were thinking of package holidays when we do. Based on your advice and experiences, sounds like that is DEFINITELY the way forward! #MarvMondays
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Oh no that sounds v stressful! 🙁 Yes, I think a city break or more adult holiday would be pretty tricky as this age. Family hotels may be a little corny but they are fab for kids Thanks for reading x
Brilliant advice here! We have just wussed out and cancelled our proposed holiday to Majorca this Sept in favour of another UK holiday, purely because we have visions of our littlest one screaming throughout the entire flight. We’re hoping to try next year though by which time he will be around 2 1/2 as you mention with your little one. The kind of place you have found sounds perfect and I hadn’t thought about a night flight actually being a potential blessing? Great tips. Thanks for sharing with #fartglitter xx
Aww, that’s a shame. We stayed at a Thomson Family Life hotel and it was great x
We went to this hotel last year?! The Aura? Archie loved the the Splash Park – and it’s so fantastic that it’s free too. We also loved the Tepenyaki restaurant and the fire show at the beach. Lovely memories. Arch loved the entertainment too, especially Thomson the Dog! You’re right, the hotel is so important. Being at a family resort means you don’t have to worry when they’re having a tantrum either. We’re off on holiday tomorrow and have been discussing the kids club…Arch doesn’t seem keen, but I think he’d like it once he was there! #thelist
Oh how funny! It’s fab there, isn’t it? This was our second year. T was in love with Thomson and the splash park. The Tepenyaki is now included in the All Inclusive (one meal per week) and there is a brand new Taverna opposite since last year which is also included 🙂
Enjoy your hols xxx
Youre right to put in to not worry what people think. I used to be so concerned with what people might say or think that it impacted a bit on me. Not now…luckily I got past it and I guess I know more people in the same situation and realise that people are normally pretty supportive.
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Exactly. And those that aren’t just aren’t worth concerning ourselves with x Thanks for reading x
These are really great tips hun! Holidaying with children is a new challenge to face that’s for sure! We have done a few long haul holidays with two out of the three monkey’s but I think for the next couple of years at least we need to be focusing our choices on what it has for the children. All I need is heat and a sunbed, their needs however are far greater! Thanks so much for linking up to #KCACOLS Hope you come back again on Sunday xx
Exactly, that’s what we figured too. Thanks for reading and commenting x
Snacks is just a must have for me anyway 🙂 These are some really great tips sure to help those holidaying with little ones! 🙂 #kcacols
Ha ha – and me! x
There’s definately a lot to find out about this topic.
I like all the points you have made. http://Www.Yahoo.net/
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What a great list of tips. I remember taking BP on holiday when he was very young, we went to Florida! It was a tough flight (I hate flying) and very stressful but we made it. You’re right though, you really need to forget about the past holidays and enjoy the time now. 🙂
Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo. xx
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Wow, that was brave! Thanks for reading xxx
Great post. We are due to go on holiday to turkey in June with my then will be 18 month old and 3 month old baby and I’m terrified!! Luckily we are also travelling with the in laws for extra pairs of hands. Thanks for the tips, I will definitely take these on board!
This is gold and probably the most useful post that I have read in a while. I am not shutting my pants about travelling back to Ireland with my twins nectar month. They will be 6 months. The night time flights and pre ordered seats is such an top tip.
Thanks for this amazingly helpful post.