Holidaying abroad with your toddler

Sun, sea and sand. These may be the things we look forward to on holiday but what your toddler is likely to enjoy most is having a new place to explore and being with their favourite people all week long. Holidays can do wonders for their development while creating happy family memories that will last forever. The best way to make it enjoyable for everyone is to plan well and pack wisely.

Where to go

Exotic destinations may sound tempting, but when you factor in the long journey times, jetlag and potential jabs, they can start to lose their appeal. Easier options are warm European countries or islands that have lots of family-friendly activities and accommodation. Mallorca is a great family destination for your first holiday abroad with your toddler. Or for somewhere closer to home, Cornwall has some fantastic family-focussed campsites.

Most toddlers are fascinated by the beach, so a seaside holiday is usually a good choice. Sand and gentle waves for paddling can keep them happy for hours on end.

Flying with your toddler

Curious toddlers don’t always want to sleep on flights, even if you’ve cleverly managed to coincide take off with naptime. Have a good supply of toys and books with you. And make use of the exciting new ‘toys’ on the plane – the safety card can be surprisingly entertaining, as can a few ice cubes in a plastic cup from the drinks trolley.

As well as essentials like nappies, wipes and spare clothes, be sure to take plenty of your toddler’s favourite snacks. It’s always wise to pack more baby food than you think you’ll need for the journey, in case of delays and to cover extra travel time after you’ve landed.

Sucking or drinking from a bottle during take-off and landing can help your toddler’s ears adjust to the pressure changes more easily. And if you’re travelling at night, be prepared with warmer clothes for everyone. The air conditioning on planes can often be quite chilly!

Staying safe in the sun

Toddlers have sensitive skin so using plenty of sunscreen is a must. A wide-brimmed hat, umbrella for the push chair and long-sleeved swimwear will help protect them even more. Avoid full sun during the hottest part of the day, usually between 11am and 5pm. And make sure they drink lots of water to stay well hydrated.

A great benefit of all that sunshine is the vitamin D boost you’ll all be getting. Toddlers need lots of this vital nutrient, which comes from sun exposure as well as some foods, and is essential for healthy bones and growth in general. A few minutes outside without sunscreen is recommended for everyone, whether on holiday or not. If you’re somewhere hot, choose a time when it’s bright but cool, such as early morning.

Most toddlers love splashing about in water and always need close supervision, whether in a pool or at the beach. Remember to reapply sunscreen after drying them off – even if they want to go straight back to splashing again! Applying sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun is a good idea too.

Food and drink

Your toddler might already be eating many of the foods you enjoy. But it’s still a good idea to take lots of familiar cereals, pouches and healthy toddler snacks just in case they take a dislike to the local cuisine. Bottled water is the safest option for drinks. It usually has some kind of seal on or around the lid so that you can tell it’s safe. Our rule is: if in doubt, throw it out.


What to take

Apart from the obvious things like a passport, sunscreen, clothes and a hat, there are other essentials that we never go on holiday without:

• Nappies, changing mat and wipes

• Snacks, cereals, bowls, spoons and beakers

• A basic first aid kit

• A blanket and cot sheet

• A stroller with an umbrella if you are going somewhere hot

• Toys, including any favourite teddies

Simple games to save the day

Your resort or destination may be the most exciting place your toddler has ever been, but sometimes a cosy game with mum and dad is all the fun they need. Having a few old favourites up your sleeve, like peekaboo, action rhymes and silly songs can save the day when all else fails!

Our Playtime Planner has plenty of ideas to keep you busy, wherever you are.
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