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Your First Family Holiday

Your first trip away together is the perfect time to make memories that will last a lifetime. It’s all about the “first times” for your baby. The first time they’ll feel the sand between their tiny toes. Their first chance to swim in the sea in your arms. And it’s also the first time you’ve had to try and organise a trip with your little one - and we know that can sometimes feel a little daunting.

Millions of children take their first holiday every year and airlines and hotels know how to make that experience work for you and your baby. Thanks to our 20 years of experience in family travel we've become the official family travel partner for the government supported new ‘Your Family Plan’ initiative. The scheme comprises a handbook, which is given to all parents who register the birth of their new baby, containing helpful information and tips on all aspects of family life, including travelling.  

So with a little organisation and planning, you can have your dream holiday, memorable for all the right reasons. We asked our in-house family holiday experts and parents their top tips for travelling with kids.

*Booking dates - if applicable*

How to plan your first family holiday in 6 simple steps:

1. When is my baby old enough to fly?

Generally airlines allow babies to travel after they’re two weeks old. Up until their second birthday they can sit on your lap for the flight, using a baby seatbelt, and travel for a tiny fraction of a child or adult fare.

You’re allowed one infant per adult (without a seat). If you have more than one, you’ll have to book one as a child with a seat.

2. Does my baby need a passport?

The easy answer is yes if they’re traveling abroad.

The HM Passport Office has all the information you need to get your baby’s first passport- from when they’re eligible, who can apply for it and what documents you need to send off.

It can take around three weeks to get the passport, so make sure you leave plenty of time to get one before jetting off.

3. Booking with your baby

Most hotels and accomodation will have all the key information you'd need on their websites, but check that their facilities include things like a cot in the room (or if you need to bring one) and high chairs in the restaurant. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Many of the queries we receive are about travelling with under twos - so feel free to check if you’re unsure what you can bring.

We know you’ve spent the last few months getting your baby into a routine, so think about booking your flights around them. They probably won’t enjoy a flight at the crack of dawn (and neither will you), so why not book a flight around 8am-9am for a short flight or at lunchtime so you can feed them and they can nap on the plane. For long-haul flights, night flights with their subdued lighting will help your baby sleep better.

4. Before you leave home

We know it’s a mission to leave the house with babies, let alone go on holiday! So “be prepared” is the best advice we can give you. With travelling there is always a chance something unplanned happens, like a delay or occasionally lost luggage - best to pack extra essentials.

You can make an airplane nappy grab-bag by throwing in a few nappies, wipes and some extra clean outfits in a large ziplock (to stow in the seat pocket). It’s also good to have scented bags ready for the inevitable ill-timed nappy explosion.

Food and drink is key, so always take extra for your baby for the trip. And while they might have to be tested at security before boarding (Babies are allowed more than 100ml for sterilised liquids) these are always fine to take on the plane in hand luggage.

If you want to minimise baggage you can sometimes order food, nappies, wipes and other necessary items online and have them delivered to your accommodation.

5. Travelling with children at the airport

Before you set off check the airport website where you should be able to find out all the helpful facilities they have to make travelling with kids easier. Gatwick and Heathrow for example, have special buggies you can use before take off and after landing.

For short flights, some airlines let you check-in your main hand luggage which leave your arms free for baby and a smaller baby bag (for a small extra fee)..

And airports know it takes time to get your baby settled, so arrive early at the gate as you’ll usually have time to board first and get sorted.

Here’s some useful links for family information at major airports:

6. On the plane

We realise you’ll be carrying a lot of kit, and probably look back fondly on the times you did a city break with one bag between you. But did you know that prams/strollers, cribs, and child car seats can all be stored away for you in the hold? They’re treated as separate to your regular baggage allowance so bring what you need.

Air stewards are old hands when it comes to helping first-time parents on a flight - so do let them know as they’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to assist you.

And if you still want to find out more - check out our 21 helfpul family travel hacks to make the most from your holiday with the kids.