Flying with a little one made easy… or should I say, easier!

The thought of flying with a little one is scary so here are our tips on making it a little easier.

We’ve asked families with kids of varying ages for their tips and tricks:
* Georgia took her first flight at 3 weeks old and has been to South Africa, Turks & Caicos, Spain and France a couple of times.
* Martha’s parents have definitely not let having a baby stop her travelling, they travelled long haul numerous times in her first year. Bali, West Coast of USA and Malaysia just to name a few.
* Freddie is now 9 and a seasoned flyer having been to both East and West Coast of USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and all over Europe.

For mums (and some dads), the holiday starts long before even getting to the airport. Packing…. What to take, and how to get it all in a suitcase. A few tips on packing. Make sure you are aware of your luggage allowance, some airlines include 20kgs while others 23kgs. Some airlines like Emirates offer a very generous 30kgs. If you know how much you have its easier to be ruthless and only pack what is needed. Do research and find out what you can buy in destination. Do they sell the same brand of nappies / formula etc where you’re going as those are the things that take up a lot of space / weight and if they can be purchased abroad, its one less thing you need to worry about. Dont forget to pack a few for the arrival day (or if you’re delayed) to make things less stressful on arrival.

This may sound silly but start making a list as soon as you think of something and add to it whenever you think of something else. This way when you finally start packing you wont forget anything. Have your kids carry some of their own things. Freddie loved his Skiphop wheelie with his toys in. There are also other great options like Trunki, Bed Box etc, depending on your little ones age.

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For your hand luggage, make sure you have a bag for the overhead storage with toys, change of clothes etc but keep a small carry bag under the seat in front of you with essentials so that you don’t have to keep getting your bag down. We recently reviewed the StorkSak cabin carry-on.  It’s large, on wheels and has a removable organiser that can be hung up and used without unpacking ! Genius.

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Ok, so you’re packed… now its time to get to the airport. The thought of being at the airport with loads of time to spare is daunting as you are just adding time onto your journey. It is recommended to get to the airpot 3 hours prior to departure and in my experience when travelling with a baby, get there 3 hours before. Airport meet and greet parking is definitely helpful as you just drive up, hand your keys over and they park and keep your car for your return. Dont forget to take your car seat out if you’ll be using it on the other end.

You’re now at the airport and have checked in your bags, car seat, buggy etc. Dont forget a luggage protector for your car seat/buggy if you’re checking it in. Whilst we’re on the topic of buggy’s – have you seen the new collapsable strollers that can be taken on board? We reviewed the Babyzen Yoyo and the Mountain Buggy Nano a while back and they are excellent. There are a few different options in the market now ranging between £130 and £350.

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Another great option is a baby carrier / sling. If you want to check your buggy / stroller in, this option is perfect. One of the main benefits of a carrier is you have your hands free. You will still have to remove your baby and sling before going through security.

Getting through security is the bit that will hold you up.  You are allowed to take any amount of baby food/milk needed for the journey which can often be above the 100ml liquid allowance. This means it all needs to be searched and scanned separately.  For older kids this can be  quite a fun time as they enjoy seeing their bag on the x-ray machine and having to walk through the scanner. Some airports will allow you to fast track if you are travelling with a little one, so its always worth asking.

Once you’re through security, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You’re almost there.

Now to find something to keep your little one busy until boarding. Some airports have dedicated Family Facilities which are worth looking into before you travel. Heathrow airport have stay and play areas which are great for tiring your little ones out before boarding. Airport lounges are also a good idea to get out of the busy terminal and relax with a complimentary drink and snack. Giving your little one a good meal before the flight is a great idea, just incase they dont like what they’re serving on board.

Its finally time to board ! Yay, for toddlers and older kids, this is exciting – the time has finally come. If you’re travelling with babies / toddlers you are able to board the plane first to give you time to get settled.

If you are travelling with a baby, you can reserve the bulk head seats which are at the front of the cabin and have a bassinet if your baby is still small and light enough. Each airline has different weight limits so check before booking. This is great as you dont have to keep your little one on your lap for the entire flight. I would recommend reserving these seats at the time of booking as they are subject to availability.

Please remember that during turbulence (or any time the seatbelt sign is illuminated), you have to put your little ones back on your lap and secure the infant seatbelt. This normally happens just as they’ve finally fallen asleep too! If they aren’t using the bassinet you also have extra legroom which is definitely needed.

For older children that have their own seat, there are some great products out there that extend the seat and make flying a bit more comfortable for them. If you’re on a day flight, try and reserve them a window seat so that they have something to distract them, even if its only for 5 minutes. Dont forget to pre order your children a special kids meal. This can be done upto 48 hours prior to departure directly with your airline / travel agent or online.

There is a debate between the mums i’ve asked regaring what they feel is better, a day flight or a night flight. I think it depends on your children, their ages and sleeping patterns. I personally would recomment night flights all the way as Georgia sleeps well on the plane, even when lying on me. A friend who has a 5 and 7 year old swears by day flights. You know your child and what is going to work best for them.

Toys, Activities, Games and Books – the more the merrier! Kids get bored quickly so having a few new toys / activities that you can introduce when they start getting bored is great. Sticker books are a great idea too. We tried out the Keep ’em Quiet travel pack which is excellent. If they are old enough to use headphones a fully loaded tablet with their favourite films on is a winner ! Most airlines have a childrens section but if not, you can buy a case for your tablet with a valcro strap that fits perfectly over the tray table. It also works around the headrest in the car ! I got mine from Amazon.

Take off and landing can be a stressful for parents because we’re worried about our little ones ears. Breast feeding or drinking out of a bottle / sucking on a dummy can help babies whilst sucking on or chewing a sweet can help with older ones. If your little one uses a dummy – definitely get a dummy clip, and pack a spare incase it goes missing. Its amazing how things can just disappear down the side of the seats on a plane.

The best advice I can give you, is to make flying an adventure – the older your children get the more they will love flying and having a baby shouldn’t mean you need to stop travelling. We live in a day and age where there are SO many gadgets out there that make flying and travelling with a little one easy, enjoy it and your little one will too.

Now sit back, relax and remember, once the flight is over, you have this to look forward to….

Spring to West Sussex for a short family break

West Sussex is perfect for a short spring break with the family as it is located less than two hours’ drive from London and an easy train ride , just. 1 hr 10 from Victoria  to Shoreham-in-Sea.

Boasting beautiful countryside and coastal scenery, West Sussex is also officially the sunniest country in the United Kingdom according to the Met Office records.

There are plenty of child-friendly beaches here, perfect for a brisk walk in wellies wrapped up with scarf and hat on a fresh spring morning. As the weather warms the layers of clothing can disappear and the kids can rummage in the rock pools looking for interesting sea creatures and build sand castles too!

 

West Wittering beach

West Wittering beach has been a family favourite of ours for years. Boasting Blue Flag status, West Wittering offers high quality water, shallow lagoons when the tide is out, and plenty of sand for castle building, all making it perfect for toddlers and young children as well as older members of the family. There is ample parking, especially during the spring, and a dog-friendly section too. During the winter the beach café is generally open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays ( do check before you head off if this important to you).

littlehampton beach

Littlehampton beaches in West Sussex offer an alternative family vibe to West Wittering. Littlehampton itself is a bustling seaside town with award-winning architecture, stage by the sea, award-winning beaches and a seasonal miniature railway. If you are looking for family-friendly events they seem to kick off in April. The Littlehampton beach is a mixture of sand and shingle and there are plenty of amusements for all ages.

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West Sussex is also home to some beautiful and historical market towns, villages and stately homes. Steyning village stands out as possibly one of the prettiest towns in West Sussex with lots of charm and full of independent retailers. The children will love browsing through the interesting shops looking for a gift for a friend or family member back home.

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Arundel Castle is a popular  family-friendly day out, the castle and gardens open on 1st April

Late summer evening shadows on the Downs near Goodwood

The South Downs National Park is perfect for a family adventure. It offers 1,600km2 of amazing views, rolling hills, ancient woodland, market towns and villages, lowland heaths, country pubs, rivers and attractions for everyone.

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Springtime in the South Downs National Park is such a beautiful time to visit with plenty of bluebells to be found!

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Why not get the kids involved in the John Muir awards. Children and adults of all ages are encouraged to explore and create their very own National Park. There are lots of missions your family can take part in. For details visit the John Muir Mission Explorer page of the South Downs National Park website.

Child-friendly holiday cottages in West Sussex

If you are looking for a child-friendly holiday cottage for a short spring family break to West Sussex look no further. These two child-friendly cottages are located within walking distance to this area of the South Downs National park and the River Adur with its woodland trails and miles of beautiful countryside and only 10 minutes’ drive from Shoreham-on-Sea.

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There are two cottages both of which are ideal for families of up to four. They can also be rented together to offer accommodation for up to eight as the interlocking door can be unlocked to create a four bedroom holiday cottage. Within the gardens there are toys, swing, animals to feed and there is also a tea barn and artisan bake house open at various times throughout the year (and swimming pool open May to September)

https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/211-cottage-shared-facilities-in-nr-steyning/

Steyning is located just 5 minutes from here and the owners also have a lovely cottage in the heart of Steyning itself. It has two bedrooms and is ideal for a family of six guests who are welcome to use the facilities at the main house.

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The owners can offer babysitting and beauty treatments in any of their cottages. All the cottages are baby and toddler friendly with stairgates, cots, highchairs, baby bath, monitors, toys etc.

Child-friendly holiday cottage in Steyning, West Sussex

More family days out in West Sussex…

Here are some more ideas for a fab family day out during Spring (or any time of year) in West Sussex, all are close to the holiday cottages above:

 

Lambing at Coombes farm

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Stans Bike shack is fun for a pit stop before a lovely walk or cycle along the downs link.

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The wetlands centre in Arundel is a great day out, with family friendly events throughout the year including Puddle Jumping Championships – spring half term 2017!

Petworth Park has wild deer and the house is national trust and always runs great fun events in school holidays and also nearby Knepp Castle has wildlife safaris which are great fun, they do dawn/dusk/bees and other animals. The owners of the cottages went on a deer rut safari there in Oct and say it was great fun!

West Sussex is beautiful any time of year. Springtime here is just as stunning as other seasons, you can just feel everything waking after its long winter sleep, buds on the trees, bluebells in the woods and spring lambs popping up in the fields and maybe some puddles to splash in too!

What are you waiting for!

 

 

Family holiday review – child-friendly holiday complex in the Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France

In a region dotted with tiny hamlets, lakes and beautiful countryside you will find these wonderful family-friendly holiday cottages. Each cottage is baby and toddler friendly and there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained within the grounds.The Tilbury family headed off for their summer holiday earlier this year and below is what they thought. You can view the cottages they stayed in by visiting the Holiday Tots website here: holiday cottages

Tilbury family: mum, dad, Ben age 7 and Maya age 5.

144308566178815_largeAfter finishing school that week, the family were looking for a chilled holiday somewhere we could let the kids run free and enjoy themselves, come and go as we please and just enjoy some peace and quiet ourselves too!

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Time for a chat and a few roasted marshmallows

Stansted to Limoges is a dead easy flight, nice and quick and no hassle. The car hire at Limoges is ridiculously easy too – we literally stepped out of the airport and there was the car hire centre, collecting the car took about 10 minutes which was great when you just want to get going.

The holiday complex is only 40 minutes from the airport and it’s a fairly easy drive too. We arrived at the cottage complex to a warm welcome from Paula and some lovely French bread, cheese and a bottle of rose – fab! Paula showed us around and let us explore in our own time, the kids had other ideas though and were desperate to get into the pool, so whilst they raided the suitcases for swim kit, we sat outside and enjoyed the first bit of glorious sunshine…

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Sunset from the Jacuzzi

The accommodation is ideal. We stayed in PM4S and the size was perfect for the four of us. Our little courtyard was great for some al fresco dining and the kids were able to run in and out to the gardens and come as they please. (There are 4 cottages in total, suitable for a variety of party configurations and you could hire the whole place – for up to 26 people… that’s our next step!) The grounds are awesome! So much room to play and lots of different areas to explore. The pool was a huge hit, and the hot tub! But they also enjoyed the barn, little play areas and indoor games room as they all provided some relief from the mid-day sun. What really surprised me was the peacefulness, it is so quiet here. It’s gorgeous, you can really sit back and relax, read a good book and have a great nights sleep!

Local Boulangerie

Local Boulangerie

My husband took on the role as croissant and fresh bread collector each morning (a 5 minute drive to the village) and we enjoyed lunch every day outside the cottage.

We did venture out to a few places, Parc Bellvue –  http://www.parc-bellevue.fr/page/accueil  (fairly expensive for what it is – a bit tired and in need of some modernisation in my opinion) and trips to Roucherchourt (lovely to walk around, enjoy the chateau and some local boule watching) La Guerlie beach is only a mile down the road and has a café, restaurant, water sports, beach, playground etc… but to be honest, our home for the week was so good for all of our needs and wants – we stayed here most of the time!

Toddler play area

Toddler play area

If you are after a chilled family friendly break away with a warm welcome and very helpful hosts (Paula booked a restaurant for us and also gave us tips on places to visit and things to do, information on the beauty treatments – which are amazing, according to our neighbours for the week!) this is the place to come. I kept saying to myself all week, “This place just works.” They have thought of everything. There is plenty of baby/toddler equipment and anything you need, just ask.

f66e4b3115It is so safe and quiet, we could let the kids roam and know that they were fine. There are toys and games dotted around the cottage, the grounds are full of things to do, there is no chance of boredom here. The week we stayed, two out of the four cottages were occupied so we had pretty much everything to ourselves. I think the kids would have preferred some others to play with, however the following week 13 kids were booked in – so it was an unusually quiet week for the owners.

maya-hammockWe will definitely return and come back with friends and family, they will love the place.  The kids miss the hot tub and the lovely cats, my husband misses his early morning coffee on the bench overlooking the whole grounds and I really miss that hammock (when I could get a look in! – can’t quite beat it!

A big thank you to Paula, Richard and their girls. A lovely stay, can’t wait to return!

For more details on the four cottages and facilities visit Holiday Tots 

Beach Cottage is possibly in one of the best locations you could ask for in Norfolk.

Beach Cottage is a child-friendly holiday cottage located in the small seaside village of Mundesley in Norfolk. Its location is very special, directly overlooking the beautiful sandy beach and we were lucky enough to be invited to stay…

FullSizeRenderWe visited Beach Cottage in March 2015. Our party consisted of four adults and three children (aged 6, 5 and 4). We headed off from Hertfordshire, straight from school at 3.15, and arrived before 6 O’clock. The kids were very well behaved on the journey and devoured fish and chips when we arrived- the timing was perfect. Bath then bed for them while the four adults sat down to a fish and chip supper with wine. How civilised! Point to note: the fish and chip shop in the village offers the largest portions imaginable!

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The cottage enjoys an idyllic spot with magnificent sea views from the fully-enclosed toddler friendly garden and fun look out.

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There is a fab play shed with lots of different toys and games for children of all ages.

Outside on our first night it was really chilly but the cottage was very cosy and warm. The front room was large enough to accommodate us four adults and the settee was really comfortable.

There is a small table in the kitchen and the main dining table is at the bottom of the stairs which then feeds through to the lounge that has French doors opening onto the garden.

Upstairs the main bedroom has brilliant views over the garden, beach and sea. This was my favourite view from the window…

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There is another double bedroom on this floor and a small bunk room. If you have a cot or blow up bed you could fit it in this room by moving the chest of drawers. The main bedroom has ample space for a cot, blow up bed or both. The family bathroom with WC, bath and over bath shower is at the end of the hall. All of the beds had lovely linen and were really comfy. Just remember your bath towels!

Outside the front door there is space for two cars behind a private gated area and across this area is a fourth bedroom (in an annex) which has a double bed and shower en-suite – we didn’t sleep here but found it handy as a spare bathroom.

8The following day we visited BeWILDerwood (review to come) and had a smashing day and it was all topped off with a fab last night at the cottage.

We enjoyed nuts and a little champagne before heading off to the Ship Inn, Mundesley for dinner. Literally a 2 minute walk! http://www.mundesley-ship.co.uk/

 

 

 

Once the kids were tucked up in bed we headed out to the lookout at the end of the garden. This is such a cool space overlooking the sea, the log burner kept us warm while we enjoyed some red wine and chocolate! (make sure you remember a baby monitor or mention to Angela that you would like one and she might be able to source)

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The next morning we woke early to lovely sunshine and headed off to the beach which is literally on the doorstep. You can see Beach Cottage in the pic here, white cottage on to the right of the pic and the lookout is the nearer building to the left of the cottage.

Mundesley is as if time has stood still, it reminded me of being a child in the 70s even with a small post office at the back of the corner shop. It is full of character and is an ideal spot for visiting the rest of Norfolk and its lovely countryside and coast.

All in all, Beach Cottage in Mundelsey offers a fab holiday home for families with babies, toddlers and children of all ages. The location is perfect and the lookout extremely cool! Mundesley beach has soft white sand, ideal for sand castle building the gentle sloping sand is perfect for toddlers to paddle.  Owner, Angela, is so helpful she is willing to take on recommendations and action them and the guest book is full of glowing feedback for the cottage and Angela herself.

Take a look at our video and visit Holiday Tots for more information on this fab child-friendly holiday cottage in Norfolk by the sea!

 

Glamping with Lantern and Larks at Sweffling Hall Farm in Suffolk

I love camping.

Our six year old loves it

My husband now tolerates it

Our older kids have no interest unless it is at a festival…

A typical front room

A typical front room

When we were invited to visit Lantern and Larks in Suffolk I jumped at the chance, (older kids dipped out but hubby was happy to come). It was our first glamping experience and so with two excited six year olds in tow we took off to the country…

The drive was pretty straight forward, less than two hours from East Hertfordshire so easily accessible. When we arrived the sun was shining but it was a little windy. Laura, lady of the farm, mum to one, keeper of land and lots and lots of chickens, welcomed us.

Before I continue, it’s worth mentioning  Laura because she really made us feel welcome. She is very helpful and knowledgeable of the local area and nothing was too much trouble, she is a gem and made our stay more memorable, thank you Laura 🙂

IMG_6236And so to the luxury glamping ‘tents’

The tents are not accessible by car, they are situated around the edge of a field with lovely views and the best way to transport stuff is by wheelbarrow.

Laura gave us ice packs for our fridges: in fact these are a tale in their own right-  hot water bottles filled with water and frozen, pure genius and ours lasted all weekend (not sure if that is because it was ccccooooolllllddd or that they actually work really well).

 

IMG_6173The tents are beautifully kitted out, with a corner sofa (which was very comfortable), double bedroom with double bed and white linen, duvet and throw, two further bedrooms with twin beds and bunk beds, all with the same quality linen and fluffy white towels.

It’s all a little confusing as the furnishings are so lovely and in-keeping with staying in a house that you expect to be warm but we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in a tent and it actually wasn’t warm, it was more like camping, so we needed a few more layers in bed, even with the duvet! Something that probably won’t be a problem during the warmer months but in April be prepared!

The main area of each tent has an AGA, and this was an absolute god send! Our first night was really cold but by the second night we had worked out what we needed to do to keep the whole tent a little warmer.

Don’t let the talk of ‘cold’ put you off as we would definitely go back. The field that the tents are located in is very safe for children to play, there is plenty of space for ball games and running free and the woods are ideal for foraging for kindle.

DSC_0099The log store has an unlimited supply of logs that you can use for the AGA or fire pit or both! The kids enjoyed fetching our fire wood in the wheelbarrows, and each other!

FullSizeRender1The honesty shop has basic items for your stay like kindling, matches etc. plus fabulous tasting eggs. Just remember to bring perishable items like milk, etc. or order a breakfast box. Our box had everything needed for our first morning. It was packed with local produce; eggs, bacon, sausages, bread, juice and marmalade plus cereal, milk, butter, tea bags and sugar.

 

 

 

On our first night we lit the AGA and then headed off to visit the local pub, about 15 minutes’ walk, this pub has to be one of the best pubs we have ever had the pleasure of drinking in, full description here, but it is a must for anyone visiting the area even if you are not staying at Lantern and Larks, Sweffling Hall.

We headed back to the tent at dusk, re-lit the AGA and lit the fire-pit. The kids played in the tent with their Hex Bugs until we were ready to sit round the fire cooking sausages – I think if it had been warmer they would have played in the field for a lot longer.

We all slept like babies even though we had more layers of clothing on than usual. As dawn approached I was woken by bird song, it was actually so relaxing and beautiful, the bedroom was filled with song, a little like playing a bird song CD, not that I have ever had one, but I imagine. My husband missed all that as he slept with ear plugs and eye mask!

The ingredients in our breakfast basket were divine, the kids wolfed down bangers, bacon, local bread, beans and eggs and then headed off to play… If you are staying in the area you should visit Sweffling Hall Farm as Laura’s eggs are sooo tasty and ridiculously cheap!

We spent the day visiting the coast, you can read about our family trip to Suffolk here. Back at camp the boys made the most of the space and didn’t stop until bed time.

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At first light after fueling their bellies they were up and out playing a variety of games.

Even the trip back to the car on departure was fun!

All in all these luxury tents are exactly what they are trying to be and offer a fab place to stay in the heart of the countryside in Suffolk. Should you want to go further afield they are perfectly located for beaches and attractions. IMG_6174

 

 

Thank you Emma, Lantern and Larks and Laura for a lovely family holiday and adding to our happy pool of family memories, we laughed a lot!  🙂 xxxx

 

 

 

 

Lantern and Larks have glamping sites in three locations in the UK. You can visit their website directly or read about them on the Holiday Tots website

Lantern and Larks Suffolk

Rutland glamping

Lancashire glamping