Travelling with toddlers - 2 under 4
I’m currently sat on a balcony in the Balearics enjoying 31* of sunshine. Whilst that may sound like heaven it’s been a long road to get here and post pandemic there’s been plenty of hoops to jump through so I thought I would share my experience which may help you prepare if you plan a trip this year. For those who don't know me, I am Natalie and I have Harper who is 3yrs old and Ethan who is almost 2yrs old (17m age gap).
First things first Passports!! It’s been a while since anyone went on Holiday overseas so it’s definitely worth checking that your passport is still valid. I found out when I booked our pre flight Covid test that David’s wasn’t, so despite me reminding him in Feb 2020 that it ran out in the October he forgot to get it renewed. Thankfully the passport service has an urgent renewal option where you can upload your photo online then book an appointment at your nearest passport office to collect it. If you have the time to get it renewed the current guidance is to allow 10 weeks (although friends have got theirs back in 2 weeks) however I guess this depends on demand.
Next on the todo list is Covid tests - there are so many options and packages it’s a bit of a minefield to navigate. Harper & Ethan being under 5 were exempt from all tests thankfully as it definitely starts to mount up cost wise!
David & I had to have a Covid test 48hours prior to arriving in Spain, I booked this with “Expresstest” and you go to one of their drive through sites and they do the swab and you get your results and certificates by 10pm the next day. We didn’t want to risk anything being lost in the post so that’s why we did an in person one.
To travel back to the UK we booked tests with Qured. We booked these in advance to departure and they post you your tests to do whilst you’re on holiday, you do these over video call with one of their team. You then send them a photo of your test result within 20min of the call and they issue your certificate.
As we’re are in a green list country we only have to do a day 2 test which I haven’t actually booked yet as I had so much to do pre holiday! So the plan is to get this booked in with Dante Labs.
These 3 companies were chosen due to ease and price at the time when we needed to book them. To find what you need I came across this website which was so helpful. You can also find a whole page of discount codes on the BA Covid travel website 😉.
In addition to the tests we had to complete a Spanish government passenger locator form - on the desktop version you can complete a family form whereas on mobile or on their app you have to do each person individually!
Once you have your Covid test for your homeward leg you need to complete the UK Gov passenger locator forms too. As you can see there’s a lot of admin and so make sure you write a list as it’s easy to forget a step.
Once we arrived other than wearing masks in the airport and in the shops nothing has changed. The sky was blue, the sun was warm and the sea was crystal clear.
Harper and Ethan were completely overwhelmed with it all and teamed with the heat they slept for 2-3 around 1pm every day which was great as then they stayed up later which was nicer for our evening meals.
I definitely regret not bringing a double buggy! Harper is a confident walker and at home never goes in a buggy unless we’re doing the pre-school run or the start of a dog walk where we have no pavements so she jumped in the Thule sports trailer.
She has spent around 4-6hours a day swimming, plus then the running and playing. Her little legs by 8pm are shattered. We have managed to get them both in the babyzen yo-yo for when she just physically couldn’t go on and it was still too hot for us to carry her very far.
Towels : Our best item we packed was our microfibre towels from decathlon. They fold up so small and sand doesn’t stick to them at all, so at the end of each beach trip just shake them off abs you’re ready to dry off and go. They come in so many colours and sizes - David and I have the XL and they both have a L. I can wrap the XL around me twice it’s so big but absolutely perfect and compact in my bag.
Floats : I’ve never been a huge fan of armbands. I’ve seen kids slip them off their arms so easily which is fine if they are water confident and know what to do if they fell in. Neither Harper or Ethan have had swimming lessons - between their age gap and Covid we have never had the opportunity. We got two Savylor floats from Costco and they have given us both so much peace of mind and the confidence in both of them has grown each day as they feel safe in them. The foam float goes over their arms and around their chest with a chip on the back so they can’t undo it. Designed for children 15-30KG Ethan doesn’t quite fit that size at 12KG but we twist the back straps to make it smaller and it’s worked a treat.
Suncream this one is a bit preachy - factor 50 only for us. My children, like me are extremely fair with their blonde hair and blue eyes so we only use factor 50 on them. The sun is so hot and the amount of swimming and sweating they do I would hate for them to burn even the slightest. We follow the instructions and around 40min-1hr prior to going to the pool or beach we cover them head to toe in cream. They help do their tummies and their arms which makes it less of a challenge. They have both gone the most gorgeous colour and look so sun kissed but we know their skin has been really well protected. As grownups we don’t use anything less than 30 on us, rather have a deep rich tan that takes a while to get than burn and get skin cancer as I am covered in moles.
Evenings at dinner : at 22months and 3.5yrs they don’t have tablets/iPads (they getting Amazon Fire tablets for Christmas). We’ve actually been really impressed at how well they have behaved. Between ordering and dinner arriving one of us has taken them for a stroll so they don’t have to sit for a really long time. If they start getting cheeky and fidgety we’ve been lucky that as it’s so quite they can dance to the music next to the table.