Posted by: MummyTravels | June 2, 2012

Surviving long-haul travel with kids

In my quest to prove that you can travel with children (something I’m hoping to start demonstrating before too long, as the last weeks of pregnancy tick down), I’ve been keeping an eye out for helpful tips from people who’ve been there and done that.

So who better than a woman who’s ‘adept at pulling leeches off small people’, blogger Victoria Wallop.

After surviving even being unable to check into their room for hours after a long-haul flight to Japan, I loved her tips for Baby Born Free’s blog. And even better, although there’s definitely less enjoyable elements as well as the good bits, nowhere does she say ‘Don’t’!

 

Image: nateOne/Flickr

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Posted by: MummyTravels | June 1, 2012

Britain’s most family-friendly museum

Since I heard about the Family-Friendly museum award a few months ago, I’ve been keeping an eye out for the eventual winner, from a nominated list of attractions which seem a million miles away from some of the dusty silent museums of my youth, where time apparently stood still.

Actually, I’m very partial to a good museum, although even the best can usually only capture my interest for an hour before fatigue sets in – so it’s interesting to see which one could enthall a child.

And (drum roll), the winner is Haslemere Museum in Surrey. A local independent museum, it’s probably not somewhere that’s already on your radar, unless you live in Surrey, but the secret family judges who picked it called it ‘amazing’, adding that the volunteers were hugely welcoming, as well as having a range of activities and clubs for children and teenagers.

It sounds like an eclectic collection, home to a stuffed bear, a giant spider crab and an Egyptian mummy, along with fossils, flints and artworks, but proves you don’t have to be a national name to ensure an interesting afternoon.

The other shortlisted museums were:

World Museum, Liverpool
Brixham Heritage Museum, Devon
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands

Image: Tom Carmony/Flickr

Posted by: MummyTravels | May 31, 2012

60 years of travel

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in the middle of a very isolated desert, you’ll probably have noticed that this weekend is the Diamond Jubilee. (If you hadn’t realised, Tuesday is a bonus bank holiday in the UK – no need to thank me).

So with lots of focus on what life was like in 1952, I rather loved this comparison of travel then and now from Holidaysplease.co.uk.

An average holiday to the Costa Brava? Improbably exotic for most back in the 50s, and with a price tag to match – a whopping fifth of the average annual salary, around £35 per person. That’s the equivalent of just over £1,000 in today’s money compared to around £550 for 2012 prices.

On the plus side, if you did have the cash to go abroad, you practically had the world to yourself – only around two million British holidaymakers travelled to foreign parts in the days before package holidays. In 2011, around 56 million of us headed overseas and even the recession hasn’t dented our love of a fortnight in the sun – while France, Italy and Spain haven’t budged from our favourite destination top spots in six decades, even if Switzerland has been pushed out by the USA.

The airlines flying us to our destination wouldn’t be completely unfamiliar either – Delta and United both figure in the top seven biggest airlines based on passengers carried, although Pan Am and TWA are long gone. And with low-cost flights changing the whole travel industry, it’s no great surprise to see Ryanair sneaking into seventh place.

And we can get there faster too – it’s not just long-haul destinations which are suddenly an option now you don’t have to choose a slow boat or a ruinously expensive air ticket, even travel to Europe takes less time, with a British European Airways flight from London to Milan taking 3 hours and 25 minutes in 1958, compared to just under two hours with BA today.

But we can’t take as much luggage (and not only when you’re travelling with Ryanair) – allowances have dropped from around 30kg in the late 1940s to 23kg with most national carriers, and even less with the budget airlines.

So what will the next 60 years bring? Another volcanic eruption which grounds planes and makes us rediscover slow travel? Or space flights becoming mainstream (please let that happen. Please). I just hope I don’t have to wait until I’m 95 – or a millionaire – to try it.

Image: cheelah/Flickr

Posted by: MummyTravels | May 30, 2012

Countdown to the MAD blogs

Well, time is ticking – only a week left of voting for the MAD Blog Awards. And today, I’ve had a mention on the HomeAway blog, which is sponsoring the Best Family Travel category and providing the prize, along with my four fellow finalists.

Check us all out here – everyone’s worth a read – and if you haven’t voted already, click this link to make your preference known. Hopefully for me, obviously!

Image: KCIvey:Flickr

Posted by: MummyTravels | May 29, 2012

The car seat conundrum

It’s one of the few items parents are told not to buy second-hand, and one of the few that even the hospital insists you have before the birth – a car seat. So, the chances are that at home, you know that they’re safe and sound as you travel around.

But what to do when you go on holiday abroad? If you’re flying and planning to rent a car at the other end, there’s two options – take your own as part of your luggage allowance or rent one from the hire company.

Well, why lug around heavy paraphernalia if you don’t need to, right? Except a new survey gives some worrying reasons why you might not want to rely on a rental car company. Over a sixth of the parents surveyed by YouGov for iCarhireinsurance.com said the seat they were given was ‘dirty and tatty’, but worse, over a quarter had no help to fit the seat, and 37% weren’t even given written instructions on how to do it.

Which if you’re fiddling about with an unfamiliar model after a long plane journey, isn’t just frustrating, it could be dangerous if it’s not fitted properly.

Worse still, it’s not cheap to get bad service. A comparison of prices from three major car hire companies found it cost around £60 to rent a car seat for a fortnight – nearly as much as they can cost new.

So what to do? Airlines have different policies on travelling with car seats, so it’s worth checking before you fly whether you can take them as hand luggage (and whether this means you need an extra seat for your child), which car seats they’ll accept and whether you can check them into the hold for free, especially if you also want to check in a buggy. If you can check it in, make sure it’s very well protected.

Some, like easyJet, insist you bring your own if you want your child to sit in a separate seat, while Ryanair won’t allow you to bring one on board at all. No big surprise there…

Even if you can take it along, it’s worth checking that your model will fit into the hire car you’ve requested – especially if the company can’t guarantee which car you’ll actually get.

For older kids, something like the Trunki BoostApak, £44.99, (www.trunki.co.uk) could be the answer – the booster seat converts into a rucksack, it’s hand luggage approved, and is suitable for four to 12-year-olds (or 15-36kg).

So what’s everyone’s experience of hiring car seats or travelling with them?

Image: mapagajgp/Flickr

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