Travelling with children can be a bit like taking a herd of wild goats on holiday. Factoring a child’s needs into your travels involves a bit more planning. There are a number of family friendly beach hotel destination and resorts that take the stress out of family holidays and allow you the relaxation you deserve and experience you seek.
Here are a few helpful pointers, to help you enjoy your family beach holiday to the fullest:
- Time management: The greatest thing you can take is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don’t care for the time pressures of travel, so you’re more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the faffing, gawping, stalling, and toilet stops into your timeframe.
- Give them a camera: Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view.
- Be prepared for the climate: It’s simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain of the beach will be happier in the new sandy environment. Remember not to leave your toddler barefoot on a beach where sea urchins lurk, and apply plenty of sunblock!
- Techno-savvy parents: Thanks to toddler-friendly apps, there’s no need to cram a toy box into your hand luggage when travelling by plane. By all means take a book and a magic scribbler (crayons just get lost down the side of seats), but the most compact form of entertainment is a cell phone or tablet loaded with the apps and games that they love.
- Use public transport: Most toddlers love the novelty of travelling by train, bus and boat, so ditch the hire car and use public transport where possible.
- Invest in a child locator: Toddlers aren’t fans of reins, backpacks with a leash, or any infringement on their freedom. Keep tabs on them at airports, train stations and crowded attractions with a child locator. The child wears a small unit (strapped to a belt or shoe) and you keep the transmitter. If you lose your child set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.
- Keep bugs at bay: Whether you’re travelling to Zanzibar or Mozambique, you need to ensure that your child remains healthy. In areas where malaria is prevalent, consult your local GP in advance to keep your little one safe.
- Avoid sweets: Resist the temptation to keep them going on a long flight by feeding them sweets. Pack a mixture of savoury snacks like cheese cubes, breadsticks, fruit and bagels – anything to avoid arriving at a paradise destination with children in the middle of a sugar rush.
- Encourage them to keep a travel journal: Get your older kids drawing and listing things they’ve seen and interesting foods they’ve tried. Who knows, this might also encourage them to try different local foods.
- Check your passports: Children’s passports only last five years and they have a habit of going missing just when you need it. Allow at least four weeks to renew one. In South Africa, children travelling in and out of the country will be required to carry an unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport, under new regulations aimed at improving the safety of children. You can apply for an unabridged birth certificate at your nearest Home Affairs.
Planning a family holiday – especially with little ones – can take a bit of extra thought, but the end result of you and your family sitting on a gorgeous beach is worth it!