Is Santorini really worth the hype?

Santorini is regularly voted one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It has all the qualities you dream of when you picture the perfect Greek island: whitewashed houses, towering cliffs and spectacular sunsets.

But Santorini is made that bit more special by its extraordinary location. Thousands of years ago, a massive volcanic eruption caused the centre of the island to collapse, leaving a caldera or crater, with towering cliffs along one side of the island.

Santorini’s sunsets are indeed spectacular, particularly from Oia, the village perched at the top of the island. But how spectacular an experience can it be if you’re struggling to watch it behind a large crowd of people all holding up their phones to take a picture?

Is Santorini really worth all that hype? The trouble with places on the ‘Most Beautiful’ lists is that they tend to be very popular and Santorini is no different. Two million tourists visit the island every year and there can be as many as 57 flights a day in the summer. When you consider that Santorini is a relatively small island with an area of approximately 28 square miles you can get an idea of how busy the island can get – and that doesn’t even count the people coming off the cruise ships that dock from March to December, adding as many as 25,000 people a day to the island’s congestion.

Nobody could argue that the views over the caldera aren’t stunning. It’s definitely a wow moment when you see it for the first time. There’s an ethereal quality to the light here. Shades of blue appear to merge into each other, from deepest indigo to the palest turquoise. The mists in the sky melt into a sea that looks like velvety ink.

I first visited Santorini with a girlfriend before I had children. We walked to the top of the volcano, we visited the archaeological site of Akrotiri where you can see the remains of the Minoan city destroyed by the volcanic eruption and we sunbathed on a black sandy beach.

This summer I went back with my family. We flew into Santorini on our way to the smaller island of Folegandros, also part of the Cyclades. Due to the difference between our flight and ferry times I’d worked out that we had three hours spare on each leg for a mini tour of the island.

On the way out, we’d get a taxi to Imerovigli, the village at the highest point of the caldera’s edge and on the way back, we’d visit Oia, the village at the top of the island famous for its blue domed churches and incredible sunsets.

But things don’t always work out as you’ve planned when you’re travelling, do they? Our flying trip to Imerovigli was a good idea – it was relatively quiet and we had enough time to admire the views before heading to the port to catch our ferry. But on the way back, our ferry was an hour late. I assumed this would still give us enough time to visit Oia but we abandoned our plans when our taxi driver told us that the relatively short 11.8 mile journey from the port would take an hour and a half because the roads were so clogged up with all the tourist traffic.

So we went instead to Fira, the main town, which was much closer to the airport. It was a huge disappointment. The narrow lanes were packed with tourists and lined with tacky souvenir shops. The view over the caldera was spoiled by the masses of restaurants and hotels huddled together on the hillside.

Our couple of hours in Santorini came at the end of a two-week-long holiday on the tiny island of Folegandros and all we could think about was how lucky we were to have chosen to stay there rather than here, no matter how good the views. The food was more expensive, the streets were a lot busier and there were so many more tourists. It was a long way from being the Greek island of my dreams.

I wouldn’t say it’s not worth going to Santorini – it is certainly beautiful and perhaps it is one of those places you should see in a lifetime, but if you’re looking for a more traditional, easygoing Greece then you’re not going to find it.

If you’ve got the chance, see Santorini at its best outside of the main tourist season. As a family with school-age children we’re restricted to travelling during the school holidays. It’s always going to be busier over the summer so consider going in the spring or the autumn. If, like us, you have to visit in the summer think about a short stop at Santorini before heading to a quieter island.

I’ll be writing shortly in more detail about the perfect Greek island we found but in the meantime take a A Photo Tour of Beautiful Folegandros.

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Linking up with: Wanderful Wednesday


Try It For Free! GPS-Guided Travel Articles

Have you ever found yourself exploring a new city, guidebook in one hand, map in the other, and still been unable to work out exactly where you are or how to get to that amazing sounding restaurant you’ve just read about?

Or perhaps you saw a great blog post with lots of ideas on the best things to do in a particular city but now you’re here, you don’t have free internet access so you can’t look at it.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Fortunately there’s now a solution to this problem. GPSMyCity has come up with the brilliant idea of producing GPS-guided travel articles. These are travel articles or blog posts that have GPS coordinates embedded into them, together with a map of the route. You use the GPS tracking to chart where you are and make sure you don’t get lost. It comes up with a detailed route map, with turn by turn walking directions.

Once you’ve installed the app onto your GPS-enabled mobile phone or tablet, you’ve effectively turned your phone into a personal tour guide.

GPS Guided Travel ArticlesWhat’s more, once the app has been downloaded onto your device it works offline so you don’t need to have internet access to read the articles or follow the routes.

On the GPSMyCity website, you can find over 5,000 self-guided walks in over 600 cities all over the world. In each city there are loads of different walks: some are cultural, some are focused on food, others will tell you where to find the best parks or family-friendly activities.

You could look for the best cafés in Florence, where to shop in Havana, take a walking tour of New Orleans or follow a three-day guide to St Petersburg.

You can download any travel article free of charge. Several of my best city guides are already available as apps. If you decide you want to turn them into a GPS-guided article you just pay a small fee (typically about $1) to upgrade.

I’ve teamed up with GPSMyCity to offer you all a free upgrade on a couple of my latest article apps so that you can see how it works without having to pay anything.

For the next week you can upgrade:

The Ten Best Free Things to do in London

(My guide to all the great things you can do in London without having to spend any money)

City Breaks with Kids: Seville

(A guide to all that’s brilliant about the Spanish city – especially with children)

To get your free upgraded app you need to click on the link for the article you’re interested in. Now follow the instructions to download the GPSMyCity app and you’ll be taken to the page for the article app. Click on ‘upgrade’ and the app will be automatically linked to an offline map and the GPS navigator.

Enjoy your guided tours and let me know what you thought!

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The Ten Ways to Make your Flight More Glamorous

The Ten Ways to Make Your Flight More GlamorousUnless you’re travelling first class, flying, particularly on the no-frills airlines, can be almost as unglamorous as it gets. You often leave horribly early in the morning, you spend ages in queues at the airport and then you’re squashed into an airline seat for hours on end.

But I want my flight to be less like this…The Ten Ways to Make your Flight more Glamorous

And a lot more like this…

Fortunately there are things you can do to make your flight more glamorous than grim.

Ever had one of those moments when you realise that you’re doing it all wrong?  A few years ago I was queuing up to board an Easyjet flight with two small children. The kids were whining and mucking around, I was feeling stressed about getting us seats together on the plane and trying to balance a cup of coffee with one hand and wipe a child’s nose with the other. Then I looked up and noticed the immaculately dressed woman at the front of the queue. She was carrying a Longchamp bag and flicking through a copy of Vogue, looking as if she was about to walk into a first class cabin, not onto a budget airline.

It got me thinking. She clearly didn’t see the flight as an ordeal to get through. She was acting as if she was travelling first class. And why not? Since that moment I’ve realised that you can make your flight as glamorous as you want it to be. You’ll feel less stressed and enjoy the flight a lot more if you follow these ten tips to make you feel as if you’re flying first class when you’re stuck in standard.

Pack a gourmet picnic

Packing a variety of foodie treats is guaranteed to make your flight feel a lot more luxurious, especially when everyone else is either gazing mournfully at their plastic tray of airline food or ordering an overpriced sandwich from the air hostess.

Bring along a selection of your favourite sandwiches, some fresh fruit, carrot sticks and dips as well as pudding treats like mini cheesecakes or chocolate mousse. If we’re flying over breakfast time I’ll always buy some juices, yoghurt pots and pastries from one of the cafés at the airport. Setting it all out once we’re in the air makes breakfast feel so much more special.

Be stylish but comfortable

Wear clothes that look good but make sure that they’re comfortable enough to wear for a long period of time. I usually opt for smart, but not tight, trousers, with a long-sleeved top and a jacket I can put in the overhead locker. Avoid wearing fabric that’s easily creased.

Create the perfect in-flight toiletry bag

The Ten Ways to Make Your Flight More GlamorousWhen you fly in business or first class, you’re given a wash bag filled with a couple of toiletries, usually a toothbrush, lip salve and hand cream. Why not go one better and create your own personal toiletry bag complete with all those things designed to make you feel special? I always pack hand cream, a hydration spray, tinted lip balm and eye gel in a nice wash bag. Make sure you don’t bring anything bigger than 100ml and transfer it into a clear plastic bag to go through security at the airport.

Stay hydrated

The low humidity inside an aircraft cabin means that moisture evaporates from the body more quickly when you’re flying and this can lead to dehydration. You can help combat this by drinking lots of water – it’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine. Buy a big bottle of water in the airport lounge after you’ve gone through security.

You can help keep your skin at its glamorous best by applying a moisture serum on your face before you travel and regularly using hand cream, lip balm and a hydration spray during the flight.

Wear a scarf

The Ten Ways to Make your Flight More GlamorousI always wear a scarf when I’m flying, usually a pashmina or a scarf big and soft enough to double up as a luxurious blanket if the air conditioning is too fierce. It can even be folded up to use as a pillow if you want to go to sleep.

Bring along a small make-up bag

The cheapest flights often leave horribly early in the morning so if I’ve had to get up really early I won’t put make-up on. You can get away with tinted moisturiser, a tinted lip balm and an under eye concealer with a light reflector, like the YSL Touche Éclat pen at that time of day.

It is nice to look a big more glamorous when you arrive so I always pack a mirror, mascara, a small eyeshadow palette and a cream blusher that doubles up as a lipstick to apply before landing.

Pack it all in a gorgeous bag

Carrying a beautiful bag always makes me feel more glamorous so I pack everything I need for the flight in a handbag large enough to fit it all in but stylish enough to make me feel good. It’s helpful to have a bag with compartments in which you can slot your passport and ticket. There’s nothing very glamorous about being that person in the boarding queue who has to empty out the entire contents of her bag in order to find her boarding pass. I speak from bitter experience.

Be as comfortable as you can on the flight

It’s really important for me to feel comfortable if I’m going to be stuck in a small space for a long period of time. I always take my shoes off as soon as I get on the flight and put on soft, comfy socks. Cashmere socks are the most luxurious choice.

Keep the children entertained with quiet activities

Dos and Don'ts of Flying with ChildrenThere’s nothing less glamorous on a flight than having to cope with bored, hungry and irritable children so be sure to bring along healthy snacks and plenty of activities to entertain yours. We really like the Usborne sticker books, wipeable activity cards and plenty of books.

For more ideas, take a look at The Dos and Don’ts of Flying with Children

Treat everyone to new magazines

I always buy a magazine to take on a flight, sometimes two if it’s a long flight and I want to save one to read beside the pool on holiday. The children always choose a magazine for themselves as well and they’re not allowed to peek at it until we’re on the plane so that they’ve got something new to look at. We all pack books too – flying can be a great time for a good long read.

What about you? Do you have any tips on making your flight more glamorous?

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I’m linking this up to this month’s Travel Link-Up with EmmaAngieJessi and Nano.


How to make City Trips Fun for Kids: The Leap & Hop Travel Guides

Taking your children to visit cities can be a real headache. You want to look at the sights, see the museums and enjoy the food but you don’t want crotchety kids moaning about how tired and bored they are.

When you’re travelling with children, particularly if you want to see the cultural sights,  you need to find something to engage their interest.  I always try and hunt out the stories that will make the place, the history or the art come alive and turn it into a fun experience for all of us. We’ve gone hunting for dragons at the Brighton Pavilion, found out about the King who chopped off queens’ heads at the Tower of London and searched for the sea monsters carved into the stone in the cloisters of a Lisbon Monastery.

Travel is the best possible way to teach your children about the world they live in as they get the chance to explore different cultures, learn about history and try new foods. But it’s not always easy. You have to change your pace when you’re travelling with children, take things slower. You can’t walk around for hours. You also need to factor in tiredness, hunger and boredom thresholds.

But when you get it right and you see that excitement in their eyes when they’re experiencing something for the first time, you realise that far from slowing you down, travelling with kids can be even more rewarding than it was before.

The wonderful Leap & Hop travel guides are brilliant at helping to turn a grown-up trip into a fun adventure for children. The books include guides to the cities of New York, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong. They’ve been created to help kids get involved and excited about their travels with fun, interactive activities.

The Paris guide is wonderful. It’s packed with information about the city, with games and activities on every page to help kids discover more about where they’re visiting.  You can go on a scavenger hunt around a department store, take a quiz walk around Montmartre, design clothes for the fashion capital of the world and hunt for the ‘mascarons’ (carved faces) on the Parisian buildings you pass. There are spot-the-differences, colouring pages and word searches and it’s all really colourful and beautifully illustrated.

My kids and I loved the idea that you can turn the book into a very special travel scrapbook of your trip. There are places to stick ticket stubs and souvenirs, draw pictures or take photos of what you loved and hated eating while you were there.

The book is so jam-packed with information and things to do that you couldn’t possibly do it all on one trip so there will always be something to save for your next visit. The books are aimed at 7 to 14-year-olds although younger children would be able to enjoy some of the activities with their parents’ help.

My 10-year-old was delighted with it. “It’s an amazing book!” he told me. “You’d know every corner of Paris when you finished doing it.” He’s really excited about using it when he goes to the city for the first time.

The books have been written by Isabelle Demenge. She wrote her first guide to Cambodia when she couldn’t find anything suitable for her three children, aged 8, 6 and 3, for their family trip to the country.

“I wanted to make sure that the kids could enjoy the temples so I tried to think of activities that they would enjoy for each temple on our list: treasure hunts, i-spy games and doodle prompts. It was a big hit with my three boys and their two cousins and so every year I wrote another book for them for our big family vacation.”

Her boys loved the book so much that she now writes one every time they travel anywhere – even for a long weekend. There are now nine books in the series and Isabelle is planning more. “It’s great to see how all three of them are interested in different sections of the books,” she says.

You can buy the books from the Leap & Hop website for HK $170 (about £15). They are also available on Amazon. I’ll certainly be using them with my kids and I think they’d make wonderful presents for children travelling to those destinations.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post. I was very kindly given a copy of the Leap & Hop guide to Paris for the purposes of review. All opinions are, of course, my own.

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How to plan a one-to-one trip to Paris with your child

Introducing your children to some of your favourite places is one of the thrills of being a parent. It’s wonderful revisiting those places you’ve loved with your own children and seeing them for the first time through their eyes.

I took my 11-year-old son, Edward, with me to Paris a few months ago. It was his reward for working hard for his exams but we both got a lot out of the trip. Travelling one-to-one can be a great way of bonding with your child as you get to spend some time alone together and create some really special travel memories. Here are some tips on how to make the most of the experience.

Let them get involved in the planning

how to plan a trip to Paris with your childGet your child involved in planning what you do and see while you’re there. Going on a one-to-one trip with a child will be a very different experience to going on your own, with a partner or with girlfriends. I know Paris really well – I’ve lived there and visited on numerous occasions – but this was my son’s first trip and he had very clear ideas about what he wanted to do. Edward was desperate to do all the touristy things I hadn’t done in years: climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, go down the Seine in a boat and visit Notre Dame.

Don’t plan every minute of your trip

You should definitely do some research before you go, make lists of the things you want to see, check out opening times and book tickets for sights like the Eiffel Tower to avoid queuing when you get there. But don’t plan your days so rigidly that you don’t leave any spare time for doing something on the spur of the moment or wandering around and getting a little lost in Paris’s enchanting streets and alleyways.

If you’re open to possibilities you might discover some wonderful place you haven’t read about. It’s these chance discoveries that can be the highlight of your trip. Don’t just follow the guidebook either. Often the best way to get to know a place is to listen to the locals once you’re there. Where do they eat? Where is their favourite place to visit?

Choosing where to stay

You’ll want to travel all over the city and visit sights in lots of different areas during the day but I didn’t fancy venturing too far away from our hotel at night so it’s a good idea to pick a base – whether hotel or apartment – in an area which has a lot going for it so that you’ve got restaurants, cafés and sights right on  your doorstep.

This isn’t difficult in Paris, where so many areas have an individual, villagey feel to them. Good areas to look at include the Marais (where we stayed. Take a look at my guide to the Marais for more information), the Latin Quarter and Montmartre.

Don’t try to do too much

Don’t try to fit too much in. It’s better to see one or two things well with an engaged and interested child than rush around all the sights with a child who is tired and grumpy. You won’t see anything properly and you will both be miserable. Travelling should be a pleasure, not an endurance test. If you’re going to a museum, plan something relaxing to do afterwards like finding the best ice-cream in Paris (try Berthillon on the Île Saint-Louis) or head to Angelina’s on the rue de Rivoli for the most divine hot chocolate you’ll ever taste. Don’t just rush from sight to sight.

Choosing the right place to stay

It can get pretty tiring spending the day sightseeing even when you’re having lots of treat stops for ice-creams and hot chocolate so it makes sense to base yourself in a hotel or apartment that is nice enough to provide a much needed sanctuary when you need an hour’s break before going out again.

We chose to stay in the wonderful Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais which has all the charm of an 18th-century Marais town house with its antiques and chandeliers. Edward and I delighted in returning here to put our feet up after a day’s sightseeing with a pot of tea from room service and a parcel of cakes from the local pâtisserie before heading out again for the evening.

Make getting around part of the fun

how to plan a trip to paris with a childMost cities are best experienced on foot and Paris is an absolute joy to walk around. You’ll find unexpected delights every time you turn a corner. But when you need to travel that bit further, make getting there an event in itself. On our first afternoon we took a boat trip down the Seine from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame and back, past many of the most iconic sights in Paris. It was a great way to get our bearings on our first day and see some of the sights before deciding which we’d like to explore further.

The other great way to get around is by bus. There’s no need to pay for a sightseeing tour when you can go on a local bus for a fraction of the price. The number 69 bus route is particularly scenic as it takes you past the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, Saint-Germain-des-Près, Pont Neuf, the Marais and Bastille.

Try to avoid queueing

Long queues can sometimes spoil a good trip, particularly when you’ve got children. Try to avoid queues by booking online for sights like the Eiffel Tower. There are also clever ways of avoiding the very long queues for museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Follow the wonderful tip I was given: Go to the Cour Napoléon, the main courtyard with the Pyramid in front of the Louvre, and head for the shopping centre downstairs. Here you can buy tickets for most of the museums from a small tobacconist and then join the much smaller queue at the museums for people who already have tickets.

Don’t overdo the museums

Like a lot of first-time tourists to Paris, Edward wanted to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I managed to convince him to go to the Musée d’Orsay instead. The Musée du Louvre is rightly one of the world’s most famous museums but it is massive and you need a whole day to do it justice which wasn’t an option for us on a weekend trip. Plus, the Mona Lisa is always surrounded by tourists and it’s so small when you actually get up to it that it’s almost a let down after battling through all the crowds.

The Musée d’Orsay, while still huge, is more manageable and there were enough famous paintings in there to satisfy Edward: Van Gogh’s Self Portrait and Starry Night, Manet’s Olympia and Monet’s Rouen Cathedral to name just a few.

Unless you plan on spending most of the day in a particular museum it’s always a good idea to decide which painters and paintings you really want to see and just do those. That way, you and your child won’t get museum fatigue and you’ll be able to spend time looking at the things you’re most interested in. Edward was keen to see the Impressionists so we did the large gallery on the fifth floor and a couple of other bits and pieces on the other floors. Obviously we had to see the clock too.

The advantage of pacing ourselves and just seeing a few chosen things in the Musée d’Orsay meant that after a lovely lunch in a café in the middle of Jardin Tuileries we felt up to wandering over to the Musée de l’Orangerie to gaze at Monet’s wonderful series of Water Lily paintings in their specially designed gallery.

Bond over books – or whatever the two of you have in common

It’s great when you share an interest with your children. Edward and I both love books so it was always a must for me to take him to my favourite bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, which is tucked away beside the Seine on the Left Bank. We spent ages wandering through the book-lined rooms and up the winding stairs where we found a white cat curled up on one of the beds. Edward loved the idea that book lovers and aspiring writers can sleep in the beds here amongst the bookshelves on the condition that they read a book a day. He nearly moved in there and then but eventually settled himself down with a book on one of the comfy day beds.

We even managed to find a bookshop to have our dinner in one evening – the wonderful La Belle Hortense in the Marais, which doubles up as a wine bar at night.

How to plan a trip to Paris with your childPlan something that’s especially for them

Make your trip even more special by finding an activity perfectly suited to your child’s interests. Edward’s really into magic so we visited the Musée de la Magie which is a fantastic museum for kids whether they’re aspiring magicians or not. There’s a live magic show and an impressive display of props from famous magicians like Robert Houdin. It’s a brilliantly interactive museum too, with lots of handles to turn, magical mirrors to look through and illusions to figure out.


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The Dos and Don’ts of Flying With Children

Dos and Don'ts of Flying With Children Who’d go on a flight with children? You get up at the crack of dawn to stand in queues at the airport for an hour. Now you’re finally on the plane where you’ll be confined to a small seat for hours at a time. There’s very little space to move, it’s almost impossible to sleep and there are only a handful of toilets between hundreds of people. Surely, it’s a recipe for disaster for children who can barely sit still for more than five minutes at a time?

Not necessarily.

Flying is a huge adventure for children. My two like nothing more than getting up in the middle of the night to leave the house for the airport. They love taking off and landing and the thrill of being up in the air. Plus, they’re going on holiday! What could be more exciting? However exhausted you feel, there is something uplifting about being in the company of two people who think they’re having the ultimate adventure.

If you’re prepared for all the things that can make your kids grouchy – boredom, tiredness and hunger – there’s no reason why you can’t all enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Here’s a list of all the things we’ve found that help make flying a pleasant experience for all the family.

  • DON’T feel pressured into paying for allocated seating. I used to dread the boarding gate scrum for seats. Flying with my children became a lot less stressful when the no-frills airlines started allocating seats at check-in.  Airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair say that if you want to be sure of sitting together you have to pay for the privilege – they “will try and put families together” but can’t guarantee it. On Easyjet you can check-in online up to a month before your flight so the sooner you do it the more likely you are to get the seats you want – without paying any extra.

Dos and Don'ts of Flying with Children

  • DO take them to the toilet before boarding. It takes quite a lot of time for the seatbelt signs to go off and the last thing you want are children saying they need a wee just as the plane takes off.
  • DON’T check-in your pushchair. You should be able to push it right up to the aircraft door. Make sure you’ve got an address label tied to the handle with your name, address and phone number on it.
  • DO give them boiled sweets to suck at take-off and landing to ease any ear pain due to the change in air pressure. Babies and toddlers can be given milk or another drink.
  • DO prepare for tiredness by having a favourite cuddly toy and comfy blanket for them to snuggle down with.
  • Dos and Don'ts of Travelling With ChildrenDO go through the usual sleep routine if it’s bedtime. If you give them milk, a bedtime story and get them all snuggled up, they’ll be far more likely to go to sleep.
  • DO encourage your children to be independent and pack a few things for their flight in a bag they can carry themselves, whether a rucksack or a small suitcase with wheels. My two love their Trunkis which they can wheel through the airport themselves.
  • DON’T leave the house without checking what they’ve chosen to pack. Mine have tried to smuggle in a wand, ten soft toys and the entire Harry Potter collection before now.
  • DON’T pack tiny toys that are likely to get lost on the floor or down the back of the seat. Or toys that make noises.
  • DO pack a small surprise to produce when they start getting fidgety. A few days before we travel, my two will also choose a magazine which they’re not allowed to look at until we get on the plane.
  • Dos and Don'ts of Flying with ChildrenDO prepare for boredom by packing lots of quiet activities. Good things to take include the wonderful Usborne sticker books, wipeable activity cards, magnetic travel games, books, playing cards, finger puppets, iPods filled with music and stories, pens and notebooks and a couple of their favourite toys.
  • DON’T get everything out as soon as you get on the plane. If you stagger their books and activities they will always have something new to look at.
  • DON’T insist your children stay in their seats all the time. They should occasionally stretch their legs by walking (or crawling) with you up and down the aisle – they will love the attention they get from the other passengers.
  • DO encourage your children to charm the people sitting near them by smiling and playing ‘Peekaboo’. Hopefully, if they’ve seen them being cute, they’ll be far less likely to get grumpy when your kids start whining and kicking the seat.
  • Dos and Don'ts of Flying With ChildrenDos and Don'ts of Flying with ChildrenDO pack a gourmet picnic. I’m not talking lobster and champagne, but a selection of delicious food for you all, and some of your children’s favourite snacks. If we’re on an early morning flight we always buy lovely pastries, yoghurt pots and smoothies at the airport so that we’ve got the thrill of a fancy breakfast once we’re on board.
  • Dos and Don'ts of Flying With ChildrenDON’T be afraid. You don’t want your children to pick up on your fear – they need to feel reassured that flying is safe. A friend of mine says that having children has cured her of her fear of flying – she’s too busy marvelling at their excitement to be afraid anymore.
  • DO ask if you can visit the cockpit. You’re not likely to be allowed to visit during the flight but if you ask the flight attendant, your children may well be allowed into the cockpit at the end of the flight. It’s an excellent bribe for good behaviour!

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The Dos and Don’ts of Travelling With Children


The Dos and Don'ts of Travelling WithTravelling with children can be both fun and frustrating in equal measures. Here are a few of the things I’ve found that help us get the most out of our trips and make our travels as stress-free as possible.

  • DO be flexible. It’s good to plan lots of things to do but don’t be too strict with your list. If you’re open to possibilities you might discover some wonderful place you haven’t read about. It’s these chance discoveries that can be the highlight of your trip.
  • DO prepare for hunger, boredom, cuts and bruises by having supplies of snacks, activity books and first-aid essentials handy.
  • IMG_1704DON’T underestimate the sheer amount of noise children make on the first couple of days by the hotel pool. While you’re trying to pretend they’re not yours, remember they will calm down.
  • DO treat the trip like an adventure. Things will go wrong but that’s part of the experience. Go with the flow and everyone will be happier.
  • DON’T plan a holiday just for the kids or as if you don’t have children at all. It’s a good idea to take your children’s personalities into account when choosing a destination but remember that it’s your holiday too. Why not have a family discussion about where to go and what to do?
  • DO learn the basics of the language of the country you’re visiting. It’s fun for children to say “Good morning” and “Thank you” to the people they come into contact with. And the locals will love them for it.
  • IMG_1012DO slow down. You don’t have to do endless activities to keep children entertained. Kids need to chill out too. Children can be just as happy crabbing for an afternoon or on a beach building sandcastles and splashing about in the sea as charging around from water park to zoo.
  • DON’T just follow the guidebook. Often the best way to get to know a place is to listen to the locals. Where do they eat? Where is their favourite place to visit?
  • DO get your children to reflect about what they’ve done each day. Mealtimes are a great time to chat as a family about what you’ve seen. Ask them questions like “What was the best thing you did today?” or “What was your favourite part of the walk?” You could even encourage them to make a travel journal or scrapbook of their holiday.
  • DON’T try to do too much. It’s better to see one or two things well with engaged and interested kids than rush around all the sights with tired, crotchety children. You won’t see anything properly and everyone will be miserable.
  • IMG_1810DO try what I call ‘Travel One-to-Ones’. One parent takes one child and does something special together like a trip to a castle they’ve always wanted to visit or a weekend away. This is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with just one child and is a wonderful bonding experience.
  • DON’T travel without wet wipes. You can clean almost anything with them: dirty hands, mucky faces, excess sand and suncream stains.
  • DO eat lots of ice-cream. Eating ice-creams on holiday is the best kind of treat and they’re great for bribing good behaviour.
  • DON’T expect holidays to be the same as they were before having children. They won’t be. They might even be better.

What about you? Do you have any great tips for travelling with children?

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The Dos and Don'ts of Travelling With