Don't let the stress and the chaos of getting there ruin your much-anticipated family holiday. At Holiday Extras we've travelled with groups of all shapes and sizes, and these top family travel tips should help smooth your way this summer. You can also take a look at our holiday checklist to get super-organised, as well as our dedicated UK school holidays page, so you can pick the best time to go.
Before you go
- Once you've booked your holiday, make sure you sort any necessary passports, visas, vaccinations, airport parking and hotels, and insurance swiftly to avoid last-minute panics.
- Start writing your packing list a few weeks ahead of departure so you'll have plenty of time to get all the washing done and buy holiday essentials. Pack a select few toys from home in your hold baggage - these always come in handy.
- Load up your tablet with some of your kids' favourite games, music, TV shows and films - for lengthy journeys, early mornings and long restaurant waits on holiday.
- Plan your journey to the airport a few days in advance, and keep a check on travel updates and airport news.
- Let little ones have a go at packing their own hand luggage while you get the big bags sorted.
When you're away...
- Pack a bag of snacks, drinks and wipes for the drive and when you get to the airport.
- Make sure your little people each have a small backpack full of stuff - small toys, pads and pens, stickers, books, comforters or devices if appropriate - to keep them entertained during boring travel moments. These can be stashed in your hand luggage if necessary for the flight.
- Bring some secret treats to deal with any meltdowns (little ones and your own!).
- I-Spy, 'count the caravans', lorry competitions (pick a supermarket or high street chain and the one who spots the most wins), sing-alongs - these all still work on a long drive!
- When you've checked in and done the essential stuff, find a spot to watch the planes and other airport vehicles - endlessly fascinating for most children.
- Make sure you buy some snacks and water for when you've landed at your destination - you never know how long it will take to collect your hire car or get on your transfer bus.
- Herd everyone to the toilets shortly before boarding - on a short-haul flight you could avoid having to use the plane loos completely if you're lucky.
- If you're travelling with friends and their kids, they'll probably keep each other well entertained on the plane. If not, spread the grown-ups around and fully utilise any onboard entertainment as well as your own phones and tablets and more traditional activities packed in your hand luggage.
- If you're flying with a baby, try not to get stressed about disturbing other passengers - they'll only have to endure it for a few hours out of their lives. Do your best and focus on keeping your little bundle happy.
- Once the plane has landed, try waiting for the mad rush to pass before gathering your people and belongings - its much less stressful and you won't have to wait so long at the baggage hall.
- Allocate an adult or two (depending on the size of your family) to grab your bags from the carousel, while the others nab some trolleys and keep the troops entertained.
- Now get out of the airport and enjoy your holiday!