Keep your cool this vacation

Holidays are all about quality family time, but that's not to say that travelling with young children isn't exhausting.

Here are our top tips to help you steer around the tantrums, tears and times when you wish you hadn't booked the trip in the first place.

1. Health first

Put together a simple first aid kit that can cope with the day-to-day trips and slips. It's amazing how quickly a little "magic" cream will mend a scraped knee. Include

  • plasters of various sizes (or a strip of cut-to-size plasters and scissors as long as you remember not to pack it in your hand luggage if you're flying)
  • antiseptic cream
  • hand sanitiser
  • wet wipes
  • a triangular bandage (which has many uses)
  • child-strength paracetamol
  • thermometer
  • anti-sting cream
  • travel sickness tablets
  • teething remedies(depending on the age of your child)

And if your child is asthmatic, always carry an inhaler in your carry-on bag in case of an attack on-board.

2. Destination, destination, destination

If your child is very young consider your holiday destination carefully. Research the immunisations and medication recommended, as well as how easy it will be to get nappies or the right baby milk formula. And if your child has food allergies, it always pays to know the safe places to dine. That doesn't mean you can't be adventurous, but you also don't want to make life too difficult.

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3. Getting the packing right

If you're flying, pack a day sack for your children full of activities to keep them happy. Go one step further and wrap each activity in colourful paper or newspaper. Just unwrapping a "present" will keep them occupied for hours. Before you leave home, take a photo of the contents of your bag, so you can keep tabs on what you've got with you. Consider loading a few child-friendly games and apps onto an iPad. An iPod Touch is ideal for older children: choose a few educational games, a few films and let them record their holiday using the camera. Just make sure you pack some headphones: there are only so many times an adult should be made to listen to your child’s favourite soundtrack.

4. Snack attack

Pack a few snacks. Raisins and dry cereal are great not only because they are healthy, but because they are fiddly and time-consuming to eat, keeping the little ones busy for a while. If you need to pack baby food, choose pouches rather than jars, as they are lighter and less likely to break. No-one wants to start a holiday with a handbag full of banana puree.

5. Ditch the buggy

If you're planning an activity holiday, think about trading the buggy in for a sturdy baby carrier. If you're visiting an old city with cobbles, ancient ruins or planning a rural escape, a buggy is just inconvenient. There are some great baby backpacks on the market that double as day sacks.

6. Take the buggy

If you're staying at a resort or a villa then having a buggy that reclines will make it easier for you to stay by the pool or go out for dinner, as your child is able to nap comfortably. Strollers are also allowed right up to the flight gate so you don’t have to carry your child around. Just remember not to load it up with too much stuff – you will be asked to empty and collapse it at security.

Travelling with young children can be stressful, but with a little planning some of the pitfalls can be avoided. Just remember that all the little hiccups make great holiday memories in the end.

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