Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tips for taking a short break with a toddler

It can be daunting planning a short break away from home with a toddler. There is a lot to organise before you go, plenty that needs to be taken with you, and although a change of scene is always good you can find that you end up doing the same thing that you do at home, but without all the things that you usually rely on!

We've taken our toddlers on several short breaks throughout the UK, and so I've put together a list of tips and ideas which may help to make things easier.


  • Keep an eye out for cheap last minute UK family breaks. There are lots of deals to be had, and with younger children you are more likely to be flexible when it comes to dates, especially if only one parent needs to organise time off work. 


  • Make a detailed packing list containing everything that you might possibly need, and then tailor it for different occasions. If you are going away for a few days and staying with friends then you may not need to take towels or toiletries, but if you are going to be self-catered then you need to remember essentials like washing up liquid or dishwasher tablets. I have one master packing list which I print out each time we go away, and then cross out the things that aren't relevant to that trip. Remember to update your master packing list over time as your children grow up and no longer need things like bottles or a steriliser.

  • If you can afford it, it's worth trying to find accommodation that will allow your young child to sleep in a separate bedroom. This means that you won't disturb them during the evening if you are staying up later. You might also want to consider somewhere with babysitting facilities.

  • Look for family friendly accommodation which includes essentials like travel cots, steps and potties for the bathroom, and child friendly cutlery and crockery. Many companies which specialise in family holidays are happy to provide this sort of equipment, and it can save you a lot of space in your suitcase.

  • Research the area that you will be visiting and come up with lots of local attractions and places to visit. Plan for things to do in all sorts of weather. They don't need to be expensive activities - if you are staying in a large town it's worth looking for some local baby and toddler groups which you can pop along to for a few hours to entertain your child with some new toys. Find out about free local playgrounds and country parks too.

  • Although we always try to travel light, with younger children it's still worth packing a selection of toys and books. Bring some familiar favourites along, and perhaps a few surprises. Alternatively, hide some of their toys for a few weeks before you go away so that they feel like new toys when you arrive! 

  • If you will be self-catering, it's worth breaking the journey with a trip to the supermarket on the way so that when you arrive you will have everything ready that you need. Make a shopping list before you go with a rough meal plan, at least for the first few days. 

  • Think about the things that will make your toddler feel safe. This might be the favourite teddy, or perhaps a particular cup for drinking from. In unfamiliar surroundings it's important to have some consistency.

  • Try to keep to your usual routine as much as possible. It's tempting to keep your child up later because you're on holiday, but you may well pay for it the next day with a grumpy, over-tired toddler.

  • Finally, enjoy it! If you take the time to plan in advance then you can relax and spend time together as a family, exploring some new surroundings and enjoying new experiences.


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