Family Holiday Advice

Family Holiday Advice

Family holidays are tricky at the best of times but never fear, we're on hand to dish out some travel advice for the brat packers out there...


We're taking our toddler away soon and I'm nervous about her crying on the plane. What can we do to avoid a midair meltdown?

We feel your pain. Forget Snakes on a Plane, babies on a plane can be far, far worse. We've all had the misfortune of sitting within range of a miserable little mite screaming uncontrollably, half sympathising with and half admonishing the poor beleaguered parents trying to calm him or her down. So to help you avoid this most awkward of parental moments, we've come up with some family holiday advice to keep babies and toddlers happy on a flight...

The main culprit is often pain caused by an inability to equalise the ears. Babies find it tricky to pop their ears on take-off and landing, so if you can time a feed to coincide with these times, it takes their mind off the pain and gets them to work their jaws and pop their ears. An alternative is to have a dummy in your bag, even if your baby doesn't normally use one, and give it a go on take-off and landing. Another technique is to get two plastic cups, put some tissue soaked in hot water (or warm tea bags) in the bottom of each and put the cups over each of your babies' ears for two minutes during take-off and landing. The heat from the tissue creates a small pressure vacuum that should unblock the ears. Although this does look a bit odd, it does work for some people! And if your older ones start chucking their metaphorical toys? Sorry, you're on your own there.... Joking! See the flights to New Zealand Question below. Tom


I'd love some advice on where you think would be best to take teenagers?

Ah, teenagers. Don't you just love 'em? Don't answer that. From our experience, if you want to avoid the immortal line 'it's not faaaair' then it's all about keeping them busy, and going somewhere they can meet other teenagers. Several of the best hotels in the Mediterranean have fab facilities for teens, with the Forte Village in Sardinia a particular winner. Alastair


My husband and I are exhausted and while we love our children dearly we want our holiday with them to be as relaxing for us as it is fun for them. Is this possible?

The obvious answer would be 'yes - go somewhere with a kids' club', but the right answer is actually 'yes - take one of our ""fun gurus""'. We have partnered with amazing party people Sharky & George who provide you with a Fun Guru; his or her sole purpose being to keep the kids entertained with games, a spontaneous bingo quiz in a dull immigration queue or an ingenious treasure hunt in a fascinating (read: 'boring' to children) ancient ruin. The Fun Gurus will come with Go-Pro video cameras for capturing action shots, first aid kits, ideas for games and a desire to find the fun in everything. Jules


I see on your site you recommend family holidays to New Zealand. Surely the flight is far too long for small children?

There is no denying that the flight is long, but we can suggest two ways to make the flight not only manageable, but comfortable. Our partnership with Sharky & George means we provide our families with a tailormade fun pack for each of your children including engaging activities, toys, creative ideas and other means to keep your children quiet and interested during the flight. Hopefully all the fun will tire them out, which will buy you a few more hours. Secondly, if you fly with Air New Zealand you can purchase their 'Sky Couches'. The geniuses in Air NZ's boffin department have created economy class seats which have moveable padded foot rests that slide up to the same level as the main seats, creating a foldaway bed complete with two large fluffy pillows and a proper duvet. You are also given a 'Cuddle belt', which means you can extend your seatbelt for a more comfortable sleep during the 'seatbelt signs on' moment during your flight. 'In economy class?' I hear you say... YES, in economy class. These beds work for combos of three small children, two adults and one child or two adults. I have tried and tested the ' Sky Couch' on my way to NZ recently and they are amazing. I slept the whole way to Los Angeles from London. Katie


Is India a good destination for children?

India is a great destination for children - there is so much variety and no day is ever the same, all the hotels offer continental food so there is no problem with the food being too spicy. There are so many things for children to do - kite flying, puppet making, block painting, painting/washing and riding elephants but best of all is seeing the animals from The Jungle Book come to life. Miranda


We are an active busy couple with a young family and have a day trip in mind for London. We are looking for ideas to keep everyone involved, entertained and ideally see the sights with an element of education and adventure (our children are aged 8, and 10

First things first, be realistic about what you would like to achieve during your day in the capital. It's easy to cram a day in the Big Smoke chock full and end up exhausted and fractious. And that's just the grown ups. Start with a visit to The Churchill War Rooms and have a behind the scenes tour before it is open to the public to make the most of this fabulous, interactive and educational museum. Following this, we'll arrange for a privately guided bike tour through London's wonderful parks and see sites such as Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park and round up arriving at Kensington Palace for lunch in The Orangery. After lunch a black cab is on hand for a Harry Potter themed scavenger hunt which gets everyone involved. As your aspiring wizards bend their minds to the task in hand you simultaneously drive by London's many well-known landmarks, learning as you go. For a final spot of culture, wind up at Tate Modern Gallery for a private Sketching session. So we've covered, history, active families, London's landmarks, Harry Potter antics and some contemporary Art. Not bad for a day in the smoke! Helen


Are there better or worse countries in terms of their attitude to children?

It might not instantly spring to mind, but Colombia is actually has a brilliant attitude to children, and everyone is very friendly towards them. Although none of the hotels are kids clubs type places, there is masses to do for children with great interaction - learning to farm coffee, taking a pirate ship around Cartagena, children's museums etc. It's a great place for adventurous families who want to travel with little ones but don't want to be confined to a resort in the Caribbean. Elsewhere, most cultures in the Middle East (Jordan, Oman, Egypt) and Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan) adore children. They will always be fussed and clucked over, fed sweets and given presents - they take centre stage in public! Steph


My children are obsessed with wildlife. When is the earliest they would appreciate an African safari?

I'd say 7 or 8 for them to appreciate it. Don't forget that getting up early is normal for parents with young kids so the safari routine of getting up early and resting in the middle of the day then later afternoon activity and early bed routine works really well for families. Also, there are lots of properties in Kenya and South Africa which welcome even younger children and make it really fun for them. For example, Jaci's Camp in South Africa is non-malarial and does amazing stuff for younger kids such as special game activities looking at wee beasties. I have known parents to feel envious of what their kids have been doing as it sounds so much fun! It also gives the parents a chance to have a game drive on their own away from kids. Sarah


Can you arrange educational trips for me and my children that they won't find boring?

Absolutely - my passion for the desert was first inspired by an educational trip to the Sinai desert as a child... I've since organised trips to Jordan and Oman for young families which offer a combination of culture, education, and history combined with adventure, fun, and renowned Arab hospitality. Amelia


We are travelling with our infant for the first time, and I am worried about forgetting the important things!

Sounds like you should go to the Almyra and Anassa hotels in Cyprus, which run a great 'Baby go lightly' service to take the stress out of travelling with babies. All you have to do is fill in a form before you travel, and pampers, bottle sterilisers, nappy changing mats, colouring books and more will be waiting for you on arrival. Alternatively, you can make the most of our partnership with The Little Concierge Company, a premium service delivering baby essentials; nappies, milk, food, toiletries and much more to holiday destinations all over the world. Original Travel enjoy a 10% discount. Flora