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Ready to travel abroad again? Tips & tricks for families

family-friendly campaign, TUI

With more and more countries opening up, we’re looking at the best destinations to go to for families.

We know you will look at safe ways to go abroad, especially when you’re travelling with little ones who might have never left the UK before.

We’ve gathered questions from you on social media, which we're answering here.

Read about where to go with unvaccinated kids, the pros and cons of an all-inclusive vs. self-catering holiday, what to expect at the airport and how to prep for the plane journey with a baby or toddler.

Where can you travel with unvaccinated children?

Working out whether your children need to be vaccinated or not to enter a specific country can be exhausting and stressful – it might even stop you from going at all. We’ve had a look at the current situation around the world (February 2022) to make things easier for you.

Rules are constantly changing, though, and you should always check the latest advice on the FCO website before travelling. You’ll also get info on entry forms and full rules surrounding testing and facemasks there.

Europe

Croatia

To enter, adults and over-12s need to be vaccinated or show evidence of a recent negative test or recovery from Covid; children under 12 are exempt if travelling with an adult who meets these requirements.

Denmark

Children under 15 need not be vaccinated to enter; those aged 15-17 are exempt if travelling with a parent who’s been fully vaccinated or if they can provide proof of recent recovery.

Finland

People aged 16 and under are exempt from all Covid entry requirements if arriving with a fully vaccinated adult.

France

Children aged 12 to 17 inherit the vaccination status of the parent they are travelling with. Under 12s are exempt from all testing and vaccination requirements.

Greece

Everyone entering the country, 5 years and older, either needs to be vaccinated or needs to show a certificate of recovery.

Ireland

Children aged 11 and under need not be vaccinated or take a test before entering.

Italy

Those aged under 5 are exempt from Covid entry requirements; non-vaccinated children under 18 can enter with a fully vaccinated parent if they show proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test. Anyone aged 12 and over must have a Green Pass.

Portugal

Children under 12 are exempt from Covid entry requirements.

Slovenia

Children under 12 are exempt from Covid entry requirements; unvaccinated travellers above that age are allowed in if they can show evidence of recent recovery from Covid or a negative test.

Spain

Children aged 12-17 are permitted to enter, so long as they’re able to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arriving. Children aged 11 and under can enter without being vaccinated, and don’t need to provide a negative test.

Sweden

Children under 12 are exempt from all requirements; those under 18 don't need to be vaccinated, but must show a negative PCR or antigen test before entry.

Switzerland

Under 18s don’t need to be vaccinated or show a negative Covid test if entering with a fully vaccinated adult.

Turkey

Children aged 11 and under are exempt from Covid entry requirements.

Further away

Antigua and Barbuda

Children under 18 don't need to be vaccinated. But those between five and 17 must show evidence of a recent negative test if they’re not fully vaccinated.

Costa Rica

Children under 18 are exempt from Covid entry requirements.

Dominican Republic

Children under seven are exempt from Covid entry requirements.

US

Children under 18 years old can enter without proof of vaccination, though those over 2 must take a pre-departure Covid test and another test three to five days after arrival.

South Africa

Except for those aged under 5, all arrivals must show evidence of a recent negative PCR test, but need not show proof of vaccination.

Sri Lanka

Children under 12 do not need to be vaccinated if travelling with a fully vaccinated parent. Unvaccinated children between 12 and 18 need to have a PCR test at an approved venue when they arrive.

Where to stay?

It’s totally up to you how you feel comfortable on holiday. Some families feel more relaxed in their own villa or bungalow. Some are looking for the services that come with a hotel stay. We’ve gathered the pros and cons for all-inclusive vs. self-catering holidays below.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Make sure you ask for a cot if you’re travelling with a baby.

family-on-a-balcony

All-inclusive

Pros

  • You don’t have to worry about cooking

  • You can set your budget prior to booking and keep to that

  • Family entertainment is usually included (keep an eye out for kids’ clubs)

Con

  • Some places don’t offer baby food, so you better check

  • It may seem more expensive at the first glance

  • Some kids’ clubs don’t accept under 3s if you’re looking for childcare for your baby

We’ve checked our partner TUI’s website for family-friendly all-inclusive hotels. They’ve got a great portfolio of hotels dedicated to making a family holiday as easy as possible.

Look out for the TUI BLUE range, where you’ll find that you can get a crèche, a kids’ club, pre-bookable equipment like baby strollers, high chairs, bottle warmers, even play pens, healthy kids food, baby lounges with microwaves, changing facilities and more. You can browse their holidays with free kids places here.

We’ve pulled out some examples of great all-inclusive hotels around Europe:

TUI Blue Sensatori Biomar, Majorca

Luxury hotel experience. Kids have their own pool. Children’s buffet. TUI Kids' Club and BabyClub available.

TUI MAGIC LIFE Calabria, Italy

Shallow kids pool, pool with slides for kids. Heated family pool. Kids club from the age of 3. Youngster & Teen club available.

TUI BLUE Aura, Ibiza

This hotel had a total refurb in 2019, so its kid-friendly facilities are fresh from the wrapping. There’s a water park next door, you’ll get free entry. Heated indoor pool in May and October.

TUI BLUE Grupotel Turquesa Mar, Menorca

In the summer, you can hire bikes or take the kids for a swimming lesson. Kids’ splash zone with mini-slides and fountains. BabyClub, age-specific kids’ clubs and The Hangout for teens.

Self-catering

Pros

  • You control when you eat and what you eat

  • You can be in your own little family bubble (if you’re renting a house or apartment outside a hotel complex)

  • You can find amazing villas that have your own private pool and BBQ

Cons

  • You’ll need a more flexible budget as you may eat out and use local supermarkets

  • You’ll have to learn how to cook in someone else’s kitchen

  • If you’re doing a DIY holiday, you may have to rent a car to get about (driving will most likely be on the opposite side of the road)

Again, we’ve checked TUI’s website for family-friendly self-catering holidays. Here’s what we found:

Cerro Mar Garden Aparthotel, Algarve

1- and 2-bedroom apartments available. These come with a kitchen, so you can prepare your own meals. The hotel complex has a kids’ pool and an indoor pool.

Talayot Apartmets, Menorca

1- and 2-bedroom apartments with kitchen. The hotel complex has 6 pools and there’ll be a TUI Kids’ Club this summer.

Villa Ca’n Roman, Majorca

2-bedroom villa near Pollensa. Stunning countryside setting, short drive from the beach. Private pool and BBQ area.

Villa Kimbo, Portugal

3-bedroom villa near Praia da Luz. Private garden and pool. 10-minute drive from the nearest restaurant and beach.

Getting there

Right, you’ve chosen your destination, you’ve booked your holiday. What next? If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler (maybe even for the first time), here are some things to think about.

flying-with-baby-hold

Flight booking

  • Avoid daytime flights if you’re going long-haul. If you’re on the plane for more than six hours, you’ll be thankful for their natural sleep pattern

  • Most long-haul flights provide cots that will need to be pre-booked (up to 10 kg – check with your airline). We tested this on a flight to Mauritius, and it was a lifesaver

  • Pre-book your seats, so that you’re all together as a family

  • If you're after particular seats, check the plane layout here

  • Book a window seat if you're travelling with a baby -- gives you extra support while feeding and baby can sleep comfortably against you

At the airport

  • You are allowed to bring baby’s milk on board and through security

  • Give yourself extra time at the airport. Most airports provide a dedicated family lane during peak time. Look out for that

  • Most airlines will allow you to check in a pram and car seat complimentary with each child booking (best to check with your airline)

  • You can click & collect baby milk, wipes, sun lotion, etc. at Boots at the airport, saves luggage space

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: When you check in your luggage, get tags for pram and car seat (don't forget to buy a cover for pram and car seat). Airport staff are going to ask you to drop the car seat at the oversize luggage desk. You can take your pram to the gate. Be aware that you most likely won’t get it back until you get to collect your luggage. If you have a baby, you might want to take a baby carrier on board, so you’ve got your hands free to carry hand luggage.

On the plane

You know best how to entertain your kids. If you’re travelling with a little baby, they’re probably easier to entertain than toddlers. Here are a few tips on how to prepare:

child-eats-on-plane

Food & drink

  • Take a bottle of water or milk with you, offer them drinks for take-off and landing

  • You can ask for hot water on the plane if needed

  • If your little one takes the dummy, offer the dummy for take-off and landing, that’ll help with the pressure on their ears

  • Prepare yourself for the mess -- feeding babies and toddlers on a plane isn’t easy (have wet wipes at hand)

child draws on plane, shutterstock

Toys

  • picture books, watercolour drawing books, stickers and puzzles are great entertainment

  • there are shape sorter kits for travelling (we went with the Melissa and Doug Take-Along shape sorter)

  • the buttons on the entertainment system can also be a good distraction

  • download child-friendly videos for distraction (and don't forget headphones for the little ones)