10 Tips for travelling with children to Portugal
I’m a mum of two (Agnes 2 and Ava 4) and guests often ask me for my tips when travelling with children to Portugal. Actually my tips probably count for travelling anywhere so here goes.
1. Hey Pesto
This is my top tip – a bag of dry pasta and a jar of pesto! Whatever time your flight or worse if your flight is delayed, chances are you are going to arrive somewhere with hungry kids bored of snacks and wanting a proper meal. If it’s a late flight you just want to get them fed an in to bed asap. 2 ingredients and you can have a meal done in minutes. I’ve been saved by a jar of pesto on many an occasion!
2. Black out blinds.
The one with the suckers. All our properties at Praia del Rey have external shutters so total darkness can pretty much be guaranteed but on other holidays we have had sheer curtains that do nothing to block out the early sun. Anything that keeps them asleep, or gets them asleep is worth having. Have one (or more) of these in your suitcase to keep kids’ bedrooms cosy and dark. You can buy black out blinds here [caption id="attachment_13535" align="alignright" width="400"] Pottering around Obidos with the children[/caption]
3. Know when to budget and when not to.
Save on flights but splurge on airport valet parking. If you book well in advance it really isn’t much more than the ‘cheap’ option but when you are travelling with kids, buggies, car seats, suitcases etc the minibus transfer from the car park is really not a great start to your travels. Also on arrival back you just want to get home and having your car waiting for you in the airport is so much easier. Look online for your best options.
4. Equally splurge on transfers from the airport and get your hire car delivered to your accommodation.
Most of Europe seems to have a different concept of time to what us Brits are used to. Little sense of urgency, seemingly taking ages with everything and nowhere is this more apparent than at the car hire desks in the airport (it doesn’t help that I am VERY impatient). Italy and Spain seem to be the worst for this (we once waited nearly 3 hours for our hire car in Sardinia, thankfully pre-kids). Lengthy queues for a car having already been on a long flight, with all the luggage, plus kids who want nothing more than to run the length of the terminal is enough to drive anyone crazy. Save your sanity, get out of the airport asap!
5. Also car hire related – book car seats / baby seats with your car.
We had a baby seat come back in pieces after a TAP flight from Lisbon. No idea what they did to it on the flight but we were then in trouble when we tried to get home with it. Don’t risk your own, hire someone else’s!
6. Don’t fly longer than your kids age
This isn’t actually my tip, I got it from Melissa Biggs Bradley (@) Founder of Indagare Travel although with a 2 year old and a 4 year old I try and keep flight times to 3 hours max anyway (Portugal is around 2 and a half). It’s a great rule of thumb to apply to planning family holidays.
For the flight – get the iPlayer app and download all their favourite shows to your phone / iPad. Yes it’s overdosing on screen time but getting through the flight is a matter of survival, anything that keeps them quiet is fine. That being said sugary snacks are not a good idea, way too hyper and then they want to run. Get popcorn: low sugar but still a treat.
8. Airport Softplays
At the airport find out where the kids’ softplays are in advance. Heathrow and Gatwick have them and it’s a great chance for the kids to burn off some energy. Forget the shops, get a coffee and get the kids in the softplay. At Lisbon airport it is in Terminal 1 near gate 44. (BA and TAP usually go from gates 41 up). Family facilities at Heathrow airport Family facilities at Gatwick airport
9. Have enough time!
However much time you think you will need on travel days, add an hour, add 2 hours, everything takes so much longer with kids in tow. I’m pretty sure the family queues at Gatwick are there to prevent you from making everyone else’s journey worse (but actually make yours longer). Make sure you have enough time, everyone will be happier if you aren’t in a mad rush.
10. And relax
Lastly, wine. It is served on flights for a reason (just out of shot here). Have a glass, take a deep breath and remember once you’re lying by the pool it will all be worth it!