Travelling with small children can sometimes require the planning of a military campaign. As a mother, private concierge and frequent traveller who divides her time between London and Scotland, spending summers across Europe, Tamara Whitson, writer for Tatler’s Good Schools Guide, shares a few tips on how to navigate your family holiday in style.
We have lift-off
On that first flight with a newborn, between the nappy bag, the buggy and the baby, it can feel like you've packed enough for a year’s holiday. Take a full change of clothes for your baby, advises Tamara. At the babes-in-arms stage, packing onesies rather than clothes for your baby will make your life so much easier.
Keeping a baby bottle and a flask of sterilised water in your hand luggage, or a pacifier, will help unblock your baby’s ears, on take-off and landing. Once they reach one year or older, magically produce a lollipop on landing. Not only will it help their ears but they’ll also be so delighted to be given an illicit sweet, they won’t even notice the drop in altitude or a bumpy landing.
Keeping active toddlers happy within the confines of an aeroplane and a small seat can be a challenge. Face it head on with a simple roll of sellotape, says Tamara. Where they stick it or what they do with it doesn’t matter. Sticky tape equals hours of entertainment and unbridled fun for your under fives. The same goes for a ball of elastic bands, twist them, ping them, plait them, loop them, it’s amazing how versatile those stretchy strings can be in the hands of your fidgety toddler but do watch out for overly zealous target practice.
Don’t lose your child
Comfortably settled into your holiday surroundings, you’ll want to set off on a family adventure but before you do, arrange a meet-up place if you get separated. With young kids, make sure to write your telephone number on your child’s arm. Tamara recalls doing this when her children were small and, as an added bonus, they still remember her number now that they’re teenagers.
Very important advice
If your child has a Very Important Toy, this is one very important piece of advice, learned the hard way – bring a backup. Inseparable from Ellie the elephant, your child will be inconsolable when the stuffed toy is forgotten or lost. For the sake of everyone’s sleep, and to avoid having to call on a courier to collect the cuddly toy, pack a replacement. Staying at Rocco Forte Hotels, your child will meet a new favourite cuddly companion, ready to greet them on arrival in their room.
Entertainment for kids
As chief entertainer, keeping your young audience enthralled is your top priority. Why not arrange an outing themed around their favourite character? In Brussels, follow Tintin’s trail from Hotel Amigo to his very own cartoon museum.
Treat Harry Potter fans to a magical trip to Scotland and they could stay in the very room where JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – in room 552 of The Balmoral. At Paddington Station, share marmalade sandwiches with a very loveable bear, before your young explorers snuggle down in your Family Room at Brown’s.
Travelling with teens
Wanting to spread their wings, teenagers may insist on carrying their own bag and taking responsibility for their own passports. To ease your mind, Tamara’s advice is to take photographs of your family’s passports, medical insurance, visas and all your important travel documents.
Supplementing school lessons
Turning history books into technicolour, teens will see their lessons in an engaging light when they’re immersed in the culture of their host country. Pack the plasters for their explorations through Italy where they’ll meet the ancient Greeks and majestic remnants of Rome. On a walking tour of Berlin, they’ll access a deeper understanding of the city’s divided past so remember chargers, adapters and back-up battery packs for all the photographs they’ll want to take.
Planning your next great adventure with kids, visit Rocco Forte Hotels and ask about our special programmes and amenities including babysitting and sports clubs for teens.