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Top tips for travelling with kids

Heading on holiday with the little ones doesn't have to be so stressful. Here are some tips to get your family holiday off to a flying start.

1. Involve them in the planning

Getting kids enthusiastic about a trip starts with involving them in the plans. Find out what they want to do and where they want to go. If they've had a say in the holiday, they're much more likely to join in and engage with the trip.

You can usually involve them in the packing too. Make sure they have plenty of things to keep them entertained on the journey – let them pick a toy, book, comfort blanket or teddy for the trip, but also make sure you've packed changes of clothes, waterproofs, snacks and gadgets to pass the time.

2. Pick the right destination

It all starts with the right destination. Some cities like Copenhagen are renowned for being safe for kids to wander around, and family-holiday favourites like theme parks are purposely child-friendly and safe, bounded by walls, well-staffed and full of landmarks.

Some hotels are set up for children, with kids' clubs, babysitters, family rooms and children's menus. Some are really intended for adults and will put up with kids. Work out what sort of place you're booking – if you want the kids to hang around with other kids their age, eat something they enjoy and leave you in peace for a few hours a day pick accommodation accordingly.

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Child-friendly travel

3. Getting to the airport

If you're travelling as a family, it's often cheaper to drive to the airport than shell out for public transport. Book your airport parking as soon as possible and you'll save money on the gate rate.

Even better, make the trip to the airport an adventure by booking an airport hotel the night before you fly. Instead of rattling the kids out of bed early for a flight and spending the morning in traffic, you can park up the night before, enjoy a good night's sleep and roll the family onto the plane after breakfast without worrying about missing your flight.

Family meal at Beefy's Restaurant in the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

4. Keep it simple

Solo travellers can spend months trekking in the rainforest. Kids usually prefer lots of downtime, meals they recognise and the chance to explore in their own time. You don't need to pack three activities into every day you're on holiday – one or two things, with a nap and the chance to potter around the beach for a few hours, is often plenty for younger kids.

And exotic cuisine isn't for everyone. Young children especially will appreciate familiar meals or something simple.

5. Timing

Until they're at school full-time, you can miss the expensive school holidays by taking them away off-peak. Don't miss the chance for a holiday or two while it's still relatively easy and affordable.

Going on holiday during the school holidays is expensive. You can miss the price hikes by checking your school calendar for the odd weeks that you're on holiday but most other schools are not. Many schools now flex their holiday calendar just enough to add the odd week to October half term or take Easter early – so look at next year's calendar, find the week you're off but most schools aren't and book the big trip then when it's cheaper.

Kids on a beach in Spain putting up an umbrella.

6. Admin

Kids' passports run out after five, not ten years. Remember you'll need to renew them more often than yours.

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7. Staying safe

If you're going somewhere crowded, put your kids in distinctive tops or hats so you can spot them in a crowd. Take a photo of them in today's outfit before you go out – then if you do lose sight of them you've got a photo to show people that helps identify them.

Technology can be your friend too. If your child has a mobile phone with their location shared they can ring you if they lose sight of you and you can find them if they get lost. If they're too young to have their own phone, you can still give them a record of your number to call in an emergency.

8. Take it slow

Let the kids dictate the pace of your trip. Some days they'll want to hop around and see the elephants, some days they'll just want to lounge about. It's their holiday too and you'll all have a better time if you're not dashing from activity to activity every day.