taking toddlers on holiday for the first time

In June this year, my partner and I booked a last-minute holiday to sunny Spain. It was booked through Thomas cook as they had some good deals on at the time. Both of our children were under four so they both attended nursery. It was our last year of freedom before the school run. This meant no more holidays unless we wanted to pay the school fine.

What time should you leave for your flight?

Making sure you get the most out of your first family holiday, you want to get an early flight to get your money’s worth. Book a time that means your children have had a good 5-6 hours sleep beforehand. If they go to bed at 7pm book a flight that leaves in the middle of the night or even very early morning. Allow time for check-in especially with youngsters they will be so excited that you may need to allow extra time.

When travelling with young ones I would recommend a buggy for the airport. This is because personally, I like to hang any hand luggage on the buggy. And if your toddler decides to have a tantrum randomly you don’t have to drag them through a whole airport. If your flight is at 6am, allow around 3 hours to get to the airport, check-in, then enjoy some duty-free, get some breakfast, just make it a fun first time for you all!

Things to bring on the flight

child on plane

Bring colouring books, your child’s favourite teddy, a few toys, and definitely lots of snacks and drinks for the waiting around and the flight. In-flight meals can be costly so make sure you pack extras! Staying hydrated and using the toilet plenty before flying also makes it an easy ride. If your child drinks too much they will be in and out of their seat on the plane from the word ‘GO’.

Bring safe sucking sweets for taking off and landing. It is good for both you and your children as your ears may pop and this can be distressing for children. Booking an early flight normally means that your child will be tired by the time they get on the plane. If your child doesn’t like to sleep on planes, bring a phone or tablet with downloaded films and series for them to sit back and watch together.

Checking in to the airport

After your safe landing, you will arrive at a completely different airport, this can be stressful as there are more people lined up to get through airport security and to top it off your at the back with two toddlers who want to go on holiday! Keep them distracted with toys, games, and food. Once you arrive at your hotel its time to relax right?

Not always the case, you might all be in need of a rest but your children are over-excited about being in a new place! Get yourself a coffee or cocktail (however you like to holiday) and sit back while the kids run around in their new home.

All-inclusive or self-catering?

all inclusive food on holiday

As we went as a family of four with two young children, we found all-inclusive was helpful. It was good for, on tap alcohol, juices, ice cream for the kids and your main meals prepared. We did find that all-inclusive foods were not exactly authentic. They cooked chips, pizza, baked beans, spaghetti, and chicken nuggets every night. They did do specials such as Spanish paella, Chinese style night, Italian night, etc. But we didn’t get a real taste of Spain.

If you chose to go self-catering you can choose where you eat, the price of the holiday may be considerably lower in cost. This is because you can shop in the local markets, cook in your own kitchen and you’re not paying for hotel costs, there is less risk of food contamination as well. For young families who just want a break with their children and are not in too worried about eating the same dishes every night then choose all-inclusive. But if you are a couple or a family who wants to experience cultural foods more, and cook your own food then choose self-catering. We are going to try a self-catering holiday next to see how it compares in price and experience.

Should parents be fined for taking a family holiday?

Should parents be fined for taking a family holiday? I don’t think so. But let’s look at the facts.

Why a family holiday could be more beneficial than school?

Holidays are amazing, and most families look forward to going on these trips. As a parent, I must say that it is completely unfair to be fined for going on a holiday together as a family. A vacation is fun for everyone involved, and most of the time it is educational. It teaches children and adults alike about other cultures, foods, and historical monuments. It’s likely that your child on one of these holidays would learn much more than what they could possibly learn from school.

Why are parents fined for school absence?

Yet, the argument for, and the reason they dish out fines is that it ‘disrupts the child’s learning’. It’s something that I simply don’t understand, in the UK we have freedom of speech which is a part of the human rights act. It’s supposedly there to protect us all, to treat us ‘fair, with dignity and respect.’ Yet, we are not free. We are trapped, and even taking a spontaneous trip is controlled. If you go ahead and go on holiday during school time, this will affect your child’s attendance and you can face a high fine or as a parent, you can even end up getting sentenced to prison. On what planet is that supposed to be fair?

What if you respect the rules?

Ok, so it’s the law which means we must respect it? Not exactly. Looking back at history. Many laws that were in place were frowned upon and were changed after activists fought for what they believed in. For example, Nelson Mandela was a civil rights leader that lead against racial inequality which kept races separate. Because of his work, it changed the world massively for the better. This is the perfect example that just because something is the law, it does not make it correct. We must stand up as a united nation and fight for what we believe in, and I believe that we deserve freedom.

Possible solutions to this problem

Education is of course really important for our children, and it is vital if they are to become civilized members of society who contribute to a better world. The best result that we could get would be if we were allowed to take our children on three holidays per year as long as we provided proof of evidence of booking documents etc.

If we were to remove the fines what is the reality?  We would likely end up with a high crime rate and have anti-social teenagers running around. A great solution would be if the school holidays could be changed to vary between schools. Doing this would combat travel companies putting prices up. Overall it would make it more affordable for parents to go during term time. Without it being too hectic abroad with all of the other families. If the rules became fairer and people still chose to ignore the rules then perhaps parents should be fined for taking a holiday.

How to apply for a child passport

There are many things that you need to know about taking your kids on holiday before you go. Like Applying for a child passport. One of the most important things, is to get them a passport, If they have not had a passport before, you will need to fill in the passport forms, these can be picked up usually from your local post office, or you can fill in the information online, passports are not cheap. What are the benefits of doing it online compared to filling in the actual forms?

It will cost you £49 for an under 16’s passport if you do the forms online, if you do the forms via paper it will cost £58.50. You should pay extra for check and send, this is because if the forms are filled in, incorrectly. Your application will be denied and you will lose £49. Short on money? See our 15 ways to save money. Post offices offer check and send for paper forms and this service costs £9.75 and does not include the cost of getting the photos taken, if doing it online it will cost £15.40 for digital check and send. If you qualify for a free passport, you will also qualify for a free check and send. If you need your passport earlier than 3 weeks you will have to pay to fast track it, this can be done in three ways:

1. Paper premium

Usually, you will get your passport four hours after your appointment, this can also be used for updating a current passport through a change of name due to marriage, or to renew an adult passport that has expired.

2. Online premium

Same as above, however, you will need to apply online. Online is quick and easy and they will guide you through it as and when it is needed.

3. One-week fast track

This fast track service means that your passport will be delivered to you within 1 week of your appointment. Someone will need to sign the document. The above options are suitable for first-time kids and adult passports, and renewal. Sometimes it doesn’t go as smoothly and you may have to attend a meeting in a specific place to confirm your identity.

This is standard procedure and is nothing to worry about. You will simply be asked a series of questions relating to your mother, father, yourself, birthplaces, etc, and you may need to bring along documents confirming. For full photo requirements or for more information on passport fees. You can follow the above link, and if you’d like you can use it as a guide to creating your own photos. However, for children, this is extremely difficult even for the novice photographer.

If you have lost your passport, it was stolen, or is damaged you must attend an interview. It costs £75.50 to replace your passport. If you apply online or £85 if you fill out a paper form. You must renew out of date passports before you can travel. It can only be renewed if it is no more than 5 years out of date. If it is longer than that you may have to have an interview and apply for a brand new one.

I hope you found this guide useful and that it has simplified the process of applying for a child passport.

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