Tips for travelling with children

Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder of boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith and family-friendly off-shoot, shares her tips for plain-sailing trips with the kids


Tips for travelling with children

Teach through travel

Take time before you travel to get the children excited about the destination – even the most reluctant of pupils is happy to learn through going on holiday! We have a map at home where we plot our trips: we talk about how long the flight is going to be, and read stories about where we’re going. For example, our eight-year-old son is really into history and loves hearing if a country fought in World War II, or was invaded by the Romans.

It’s your holiday too

Remember it’s a break for you, as well as the children. Nowadays you don’t have to compromise on style in favour of a baby-listening service – there are plenty of hotels that do a great job with both. Do book ahead, though… it pays to be organised, especially if you’re travelling in peak season, which is hard to avoid if you have school-age offspring.

Charm your neighbours

If you’re flying, make friends with the people sitting next to you as soon as you get to your seats. Even if your children are normally angels, travelling can be turbulent, both literally and metaphorically. A friendly face or sympathetic extra pair of hands can come in very handy in the confined space of a cabin.

Try something new

Try to combine a great place to stay with new experiences, for you as well as the little ones. At the end of last year we stayed in the fantastic Treehotel in northern Sweden, which has six incredible dens perched up in the trees, including a mirrored cube and a UFO. We went ice-fishing, ate reindeer over a campfire and zip-lined through the tree canopy – it was probably as much fun for us as it was for the children!

Pack the essentials

Your favourite nappies and baby food can be hard to find abroad. If you’re loyal to a specific brand, make sure you pack plenty. A portable black-out blind is really useful, too: there’s a great brand called Gro Anywhere that makes foldaway blinds to attach to any window.

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Photograph: Milton Brown/Westend61/Corbis

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