Your First Holiday Abroad with the Kids
Feeling daunted? There’s no need to! All of us have to take that first step at some point and gather the new family together for a foreign adventure. Your first holiday abroad with the kids! Right, the decision is made, you’re doing it, now for the practicalities of taking children abroad for the first time.
Let’s be honest, it’s the flight you’re dreading most, isn’t it? So let’s get that bit out of the way first.
Taking your Baby on a Flight for the First Time
It’s all in the planning, but having said that, you need to keep an element of flexibility because your best-laid plans are almost certain to be messed up by somebody during your journey!
You know better than anyone what you need to keep handy, so we won’t patronise you by giving you a list of baby equipment that you know off-by-heart. What you might not have thought of though is exactly which sections of which bags to put everything in. When you’re cramped into a Ryanair seat, where elbow room is rather limited, you’ll feel rather smug that you thought it all through in advance. It’s no good having the milk powder with you if the bottles are in the overhead locker and the fasten seatbelt sign is on!
Our final little piece of advice here is this – acceptance. Accepting that a few people will tut and stare (because they will) and accepting that a few things will go wrong (because they might) is half of the battle won. Plan for different eventualities and often a flight will pass with barely a hitch.
In our experience, airport security can be one of the most stressful parts of the journey. If you have milk cartons with you, they may well ask you to open at least one of them, rendering it useless, so be ready for this! Expect this part to take some time, be ready to have nappies and wipes flying in all directions, and you’ll get through it ok.
With our children, we always wanted to have a bottle of baby milk ready for take-off, but you can be pretty much certain that the actual event (rather than the endless taxiing to the runway) will happen long after your baby has guzzled the last of the milk… hold off for as long as you can!
Another tip – take the most lightweight pushchair/pram you can. Your all-singing heavyweight model may well be fantastic in Woking but a cheap lightweight version might just save the day on holiday.
Car Hire, Child Seats and All That
The great thing about writing a blog is that you can say whatever you like, so we will! Car hire companies are good at hiring cars, but they are generally very bad at offering and fitting baby or child seats. In fact, we have found that their seats are often of poor quality and you will have to fit them yourself.
When you arrive at a foreign airport late at night, this is the last thing you want to be dealing with, but the only other option is to take your own baby seat. For very young children, this is your best option. Cumbersome? Yes. But at least you know you have the proper equipment and you know how to fit it into the car. Remember though, not all cars have Isofix so you may need to train yourself in attaching your child seat using the seatbelts!
Don’t bother asking the staff at the car hire office to help you, as they almost certainly won’t – they say that their insurance insists that customers fit their own car seats.
For older children, it’s well worth taking your own booster seat with you as the car hire companies charge an absolute fortune (much more than the cost of the actual seat in fact) to hire them.
Also take a look at our other tips on hiring a car in France.
What if we need Medical Help?
This is another big worry for first-time abroaders, but there are two points to make here:
- It probably won’t happen
- If it does, foreign countries have pharmacies, doctors and hospitals, just like at home!
It goes without saying that you should have good quality travel insurance before you set off. Pick a reputable, decent company – not the cheapest deal you can get. Believe us, that little saving will do you no favours should you need to claim.
Take any prescription medicines (plus the prescriptions if you can) with you, plus basic paracetamol, nappy rash creams and so on – there is no point having to hunt for a pharmacy on arrival if you don’t need to.
If you do need a pharmacy though, you can normally find one. In France, they exist even if fairly small villages, and a small town might have three or four. They are clean, modern, with extremely highly-trained staff, so you really don’t need to worry.
And should you require a hospital visit, France has one of the most advanced health systems in the world. Queueing times are less than in many other countries and the service is second to none. You can also call out private doctors to your hotel or resort – ask your local representative for help.
Shall I Pack Enough for a Trip to the Moon?
At Imagine Roussillon, we are used to seeing our guests arriving with enormous amounts of stuff! And the most important thing is that you feel confident – we want you to look forward to your holiday, not be apprehensive.
Having said that, at Imagine Roussillon we supply you with all the baby equipment you need, as well as another fantastic baby-friendly gadget – a washing machine. You can get by quite happily with very few clothes when you can put on a 30 minute wash and then dry things quickly in the sun.
In terms of nappies, wipes and so on, make sure you have more than enough for your journey and the first day or so, then you could always stock up in the local shops. Be open to trying new brands though as your favourite UK ones could be very expensive.
Ask for Help if you Need It
This sounds obvious, but we often forget to do it. Many people around you will be (or will have been) in the same situation as you and will be sympathetic. Need some help grabbing items off the airport luggage belt? Need some directions because you’re hopelessly lost? Just ask someone. Even if you don’t speak the language, most people will try to help, and it can really break the tension if you all have a bit of a laugh trying to understand each other.
Talking of asking for help, please do get in touch with us here at Imagine Roussillon if you have any questions. We are here to help, and it is our job to help you have a great holiday.
See you soon!