5 Tips for travelling with children under 5

Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotels and Resorts
Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotels and Resorts

Off-peak travelling season has officially started, and parents with young children can take advantage of the lower rates, great weather and of course, the opportunity to create lasting, magical memories with their loved ones at beautiful destinations around South Africa. Let’s face it though, it can be tough travelling with children under 5. In fact, research shows that 30% of parents regret going on a holiday with a toddler.

Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotels and Resorts (and father of two!) says that holidays with small children don’t need to be stressful and adds that key to making the experience more enjoyable is planning. “When it comes to going on holiday with your kids, careful planning can help you make the most of your time away.”

He offers these five tips for travelling with preschoolers:

1. Choose a destination with your children in mind: When choosing your holiday destination, choose a place close to home (no more than 2-3 hours away) in order to avoid lengthy travelling times. By skipping the dreaded airport experience or long hours in the car, you’re already eliminating a ton of stress! Furthermore, when researching resorts, look for properties that have ample activities to keep your child entertained (like a baby pool, jungle gym, pony rides or indoor play area).

2. Go for self-catering as opposed to a hotel room: The idea of a hotel room sounds fun in theory, but add a busy toddler, tantrums, midnight feeds and complaining guests, and all of a sudden, it’s much less appealing! A self-catering unit, however, offers your family the space, privacy and flexibility to enjoy your holiday without the added stress of worrying about those around you.

3. Lower your expectations: If you have been saving for a family trip, chances are that you are really excited to unwind, relax and have some fun with those closest to you. But the reality is that small children can be unpredictable, and even the best-behaved kids can find themselves overwhelmed in a new environment. Whilst careful planning can make things easier, it doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing will go wrong. As such, it’s important to lower your expectations. Lowered expectations don’t mean that you don’t want it to be an enjoyable holiday, or that you won’t work hard towards making it the best holiday yet, it simply means you won’t be focusing excessively on the outcome.

4. Be consistent and stick to a routine: If you follow a routine at home, you want to be sure to follow the same routine while you’re away. Your child will be in a different environment, with a different bed, different furniture and new people, and this can be unsettling. Where you can, maintain consistency — keep the time for play, eating and sleeping the same.

5. Take time out for yourself: The point of a holiday is to relax and unwind. Choose a resort that has child minders available so that you can also take some time off. When planning your itinerary, be sure to set time aside for you to have an ‘adult supper’ out, a spoil at the spa, or simply time to catch up on some much-needed sleep in your room.

“Holidaying with small children doesn’t have to be stressful. All it takes is careful planning and a little patience to create magical and lasting memories that you will all treasure forever,” Lamont concludes.