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Know before you go: Holiday planning for parents

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Inspire March16
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Know before you go: Holiday planning for parents

story by: Anna Sarjeant

Family holidays can sometimes result in tears, tantrums and stomping feet. and that’s just mum and dad. Ask your travel consultant these twelve simple questions for a smoother, stress-free getaway.

Ask about entertainment facilities on-board. Are they built in? Or do you need to rent devices? Airlines such as Virgin have an app that can be downloaded to your own gadget, eliminating all on-board fees for screens. Always pack child-friendly headphones so you aren’t stuck with ones that don’t fit little heads.

Where should I ask to sit?
Which seats will aid the journey? Many parents request to be seated at the very back of the plane; closer to the toilets, the air stewards and fewer people. If you’re breastfeeding, window seats provide extra privacy and if you want to take a bassinet, be aware these spaces fill up way in advance. Ask your HOT consultant how early you should place your request with the airline.

What should I take on-board?
As well as games and snacks, are there other practical issues to consider? Sticky fingers are a dead-cert so every parent loves a wet wipe. Take a few plastic bags to use for rubbish and some lollies or a dummy for take-off and landing - to help equalise little ears. If you are formula feeding, decant a few feeds into separate snap lock bags, then buy a bottle of water through customs to mix it on-board. Ask the cabin crew to heat it up for you, or request boiling water and mix it to the right temperature yourself. Also consider the weather on arrival and pack your carry-on accordingly. We all know what happens when a child gets too hot or too cold – all out pandemonium. And don’t forget their favourite teddy!

How convenient are transfers?
How quickly and easily can it be done? You’ll want to know the transfer time between the airport and your resort, as well as the distance and time from your accommodation to local attractions and dining establishments. Ask your HOT consultant if you are required to bring a car seat for any transfers.

When’s check-in and out?
What time is check in and check out? Arrive too early and you’ll have nowhere to go. Equally, if check-out is 10am and you have a return night flight, that’s an entire day without access to showers, beds and proper respite from the sun. Ask your HOT consultant about late check outs and flights that accommodate your needs.

What can I expect from the resort’s nanny service?
What’s the staff to children ratio, times available and of course, hourly charges (some resorts do offer a complimentary nanny service). It’s common for nannies to work between 8am - 9pm but you can always ask if extended hours are available. It’s fine to ask for the resort’s child protection policy, formal training and police checks before using their services.

Does the resort have a kids club?
What’s on offer, what will they be doing and does it cost extra? Some resorts are hard-out water obsessed, with classes in windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling, whereas others offer art classes, face painting and hair braiding. While some resorts will charge, many boast complimentary kids’ clubs. Also check the minimum age for children attending and find out if younger children need a supervising nanny.

Are my children safe?
Can you fully relax knowing your children are safe? It makes sense to ask about child-safe play areas, child-friendly furniture and if there are locked gates around the swimming pool. Some resorts build separate kids sections designed entirely with children in mind. Ask for the address of your closest hospital and buy travel insurance ahead of your trip.

What bugs (both germ and insect) should I be wary of?
What are the hazards? Every destination differs but it’s worth asking about drinkable tap water, the likelihood of mosquitos and other risks such as flea-ridden stray animals and rabies. A miniature First Aid kit will serve the entire family well. Pack plasters, antihistamines, painkiller syrups and of course, Imodium! Before you book, check any travel warnings in place around diseases on this site: www.safetravel.govt.nz.

What are the food options for my children?
Is there enough variety to avoid pouty lips at the dinner table? Many resorts offer specially designed children’s menus, some of which are complimentary. Others boast fun kids-style buffets. Take some snacks with you too; ask what to avoid (meat, fruit and veggies are usually a no-no) but chips, cookies and crackers are good to have on-hand. Quarantines can have some funny rules so ask about peculiarities before you go.

> Read the entire March 2016 edition of Inspire here

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