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Share your top tips for travelling abroad with young children with Brittany Ferries - chance to win a £300 voucher NOW CLOSED

(256 Posts)
AmeliaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Feb-17 15:47:29

Travelling with young children isn’t always plain sailing from the start, but, if you get it right, showing your children a new part of the world can be a fantastic experience. So, to avoid those horror stories about packing all the wrong things; choosing a destination that’s not quite as child-friendly as it promised; and temper tantrums along the way, Brittany Ferries want to hear your top tips for travelling abroad with the little ones.

Brittany Ferries say “if having young children has put you off taking that holiday abroad, then think again, think family-friendly France. Sailing from Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth we offer more choice of sailings than anyone else and our onboard service is designed with little ones in mind. What’s more, we can also arrange your holiday accommodation. Our choice of sail & stay holidays are perfect for young families with a chalet camping holiday offering fun for all with lots to see and do both on and off site. And, as all our holidays include return sailings with your car, so you can pack all you need for your time away.” You can find out more here.

What’s your go-to for keeping the kids entertained throughout the journey and avoiding the dreaded ‘are we there yet’? Do you have any tips for encouraging fussy eaters to enjoy some local cuisine? Is there a particular part of France you’ve come to love as a family holiday destination? Whether it’s useful packing advice or just a recommendation for a great family activity, don’t keep it to yourself. Share yours on this thread to help other parents enjoy their holidays with young kids to the fullest and you’ll be entered into a prize draw for a £300 Love2Shop voucher.

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Thanks, and good luck!


Mummykempy Mon 06-Feb-17 16:54:30

Top tips for travelling are to keep the snacks and water at the ready, travel overnight if you can as they will hopefully sleep. Some films downloaded ready to watch on their own device has helped us out in the past. And get ready with some eye-spy type games. Our current favourite is the snooker game- red cars, green, then yellow etc (if this is the right order). Also plan your stops. Try to find services where there is a play area/somewhere for the kids to stretch their legs.
With regards to trying the new cuisine, encourage them to try something new off your own plate and back it up with something more familiar which you can always share if they do like what you've ordered. Our then 5 and almost 4 year olds tried octopus and whitebait whilst on holiday.

GraceGrape Mon 06-Feb-17 17:09:23

If travelling to France, the overnight Ferry is great because you then have the full day to drive to your destination. It's also exciting for kids and part of the holiday.
Lots of the French motorway aired have play areas so are great for frequent stops. One of those books of "things to spot on a car journey" have also kept my kids occupied.

foxessocks Mon 06-Feb-17 17:50:38

Go on the ferry because it is part of the fun for a small child! My dd loved it and then spent most of the rest of the journey still talking about the big boat!

Crispmonster1 Mon 06-Feb-17 18:41:52

Go by ferry and make it a huge adventure! Book the cinema and a restaurant. Have a picnic on deck. Let the children help choose the picnic when you are preparing. For the car have your iPad charged, audio books, colouring and magnetic story books!!! This for us all the way to Austria last year!

starlight36 Mon 06-Feb-17 19:03:18

Go with the flow. Accept that 'normal' bedtimes and healthy eating may not happen on the journey.

I would agree with making the 'journey' part of the holiday. Let them
make some of the travel decisions - which restaurant to eat in, services to stop at etc.

Plenty of activity books, magazines to keep them busy.

Realitea Mon 06-Feb-17 19:04:16

I have to say how much I love Brittany Ferries and trips to France. It's the perfect adventure for children and adults of all ages. I had never been on a ferry before and was a bit cautious as I imagined the cabin being too small for us all etc. It was actually brilliant. Really well organised and I felt like I was on a little cruise and we still had all the fun of France ahead of us too! So here are my tips:
What’s your go-to for keeping the kids entertained throughout the journey and avoiding the dreaded ‘are we there yet’?
Download tv programmes, pack colouring pencils and books for the drive. Talk about the adventures you're going to have.

Do you have any tips for encouraging fussy eaters to enjoy some local cuisine?
See if they'll try a bit of whatever is on your plate first. I'm sure once they see all the bakeries they'll be wanting some local food!

Is there a particular part of France you’ve come to love as a family holiday destination?
We sailed to Roscoff, which in itself is worthy of a couple of days exploring with loads of cafes, shops and prettiness. We then went to a village about half an hour away I think and stayed in a farmhouse that Brittany Ferries arranged for us as included in the price (and amazing price it was..I couldn't believe it for August!) We had the car obviously so we were able to go out every day and explore a different beach or area. I enjoyed the big city of Brest with all it's shops but I think the children preferred the miles and miles of coastline. We made some unforgettable memories there. All these towns around the port have fabulous markets on different days of the week too where you can get some lovely local food and cook up in the villa.

Stillwishihadabs Mon 06-Feb-17 19:20:34

We have travelled all over Europe and beyond with our dcs since birth.Both us and our dcs love the ferry, particularly the cruise ships on the Bilbao route. Visiting the resturant is a must ( great food with children's menu and amazing views). Our kids loved splashing in the pool and on one occasion they were serving Brecon crepes and cider to go with! There was also great entertaiment- face painting was a particular hit. We also really enjoyed watching the dolphins at breakfast time!!! On shorter journeys we take cards (snap for littles, playing cards for older ones) this allows them to scan the horizon and are thereforestation less sick making than movies.Once in the car on the other side we tend to do 2 hours in the morning then stop to shop for lunch, another hour and a half then a long picnic somewhere with outdoor space. Then back in the car, the kids nearly always sleep. We stop once more for another run around and then a meal in a resturant ( use the toilets to change dcs into pj's and do teeth) then we drive until we feel sleepy, usually another 4 hours. In this way we covered up to 1,000km per day, we did have a camper van. A great tip I picked up here was to take a Frisbee or skipping rope, then you only need a small patch of grass to get everyone some exercise.

tooneedyme Mon 06-Feb-17 20:06:05

Travel when the kids are tired so they sleep and plan stops they can run around and burn off some energy. Snacks that take a while to eat, raisins for instance. Books, games and ipads. All the things which are normally limited are unlimited when travelling long distances. We are doing an 8 hour trip this year. Splitting it in two and staying overnight. I am thinking of buying 2 dvd players for the journey.

janney3 Mon 06-Feb-17 20:08:32

Definitely make the ferry trip part of the holiday excitement. Last time we were on the ferry we joined in the family quiz and bingo - kids loved it.

Always carry snacks and drinks in the car. We also enjoy audio books on long journeys, you can usually borrow some from the library?

Anononoo Mon 06-Feb-17 20:37:21

Oh how my little children loved Brittany Ferries. The quiz and games in the bar, the pantomine, the food. And they loved the tiny cabin. Didn't need to do anything more than let them enjoy the boat.

Jenniferb21 Mon 06-Feb-17 21:03:12

Take the ferry and travel early evening so they enjoy some of it and sleep well otherwise.

Take enough snacks and age appropriate games to keep them entertained. You could organise activities and let them open little clues to what they'll be doing the day before (like presents) to make each day more and more exciting.

Take a uv tent. This is essential for around the pool or beach for little ones to get a break from the sun.


123julie321 Mon 06-Feb-17 21:42:31

I have found that a good way to get fussy eaters to be more adventurous on holiday with local cuisine is to introduce them to a few national dishes because the holiday so that they can see that they're yummy. For example, because going to France last year, we had a French brunch, with croissants, omelettes, etc. It may not be a very accurate reflection of actual French national cuisine but because they tried it at home and knew they liked some French food, the kids were much more willing to try new dishes when on holiday smile

As for the actual journey, bring a picnic! Bring magazines, books, games and toys to keep them busy :D x

GiraffesAndButterflies Mon 06-Feb-17 22:03:09

Pack a toy or two that they haven't played with for a while. I've even found it works well to confiscate something well in advance ready to take on holiday, so it's suddenly a novelty again and they're keen to play with it on hols.

boptanana Mon 06-Feb-17 22:32:41

Overnight ferry, not too long of a drive either side. Films on the iPad, audio stories, snacks, water and wet wipes are a must!

tryingtorunagain Mon 06-Feb-17 22:36:19

We've taken the ferry to France for the last two summers. Flying is such a hassle now with 2 little ones. You can explore different parts of the ferry; an adventure going upto the helipad, looking at the rescue boats etc. Take a few board games, see a film as a family treat, do a bit of drawing and read some favourite books. On the Plymouth Roscoff line there has always been a children's entertainer for at least an hour of the crossing. Take lots of snacks, visit the cafe to learn a little French and get your first or last amazing baguette. Think we'll book for this summer too grin

marymanc Mon 06-Feb-17 23:22:45

I always keep it simple even if more expensive. Closest airport, shortest train ride, shortest journeys. Then lots of games, snacks and activities.

ChasedByBees Mon 06-Feb-17 23:31:33

We found a pack of slim toys and games for the journey helped. So stickers and drawing pads, a book, top trumps / card type games and paper dolls / aliens / dinosaurs stuck on lolly sticks for pretend play and putting on shows.

This didn't take up much room and could be easily taken out at a seat while travelling.

Theimpossiblegirl Tue 07-Feb-17 09:16:52

Plenty of drinks and snacks. My kids start asking for food about 10 minutes into a journey!

Activity packs are good- a few small toys, colouring books, pencils and a spotting sheet (make your own or I think Usborne do them).

When all else fails, don't be afraid to get out the tech. Let them watch a film with headphones and enjoy the peace.

MiddleClassProblem Tue 07-Feb-17 09:28:42

Best tip I had which can apply to any mode of transport really but particularly ones where you are in confined seating, pack hand luggage toys that won't too under your seat and off down the aisle.

Wombletor Tue 07-Feb-17 10:19:52

Overnight travel on long journeys is ideal, if its a long ferry journey or flight. If driving we always plan our drive and never drive for longer than 2 hours before we stop or stay somewhere. In the car, we have iPads for films and games but save them for when the kids are really bored, firstly having a sing song to a playlist that we've made with music we all like, followed by car games, then we allow the iPad. Always make sure they use the loo before we set off, top tip! But we also take a portable potty, and loo roll for unexpected emergencies.
Always plan and be prepared, if you've made plans for the day then you'll have a good day. Take waterproofs and wellies, so bad weather won't stop play. Take buckets and spades, save buying them. Always have a surprise in your handbag to prevent a tantrum or create distraction.
We travelled round France for 6 weeks last summer with our caravan, arriving in Caen on the BF overnight. We have a fondness for Normandy, as my grandad fought there during the war and we visited many times whilst he was alive, so much history, and lovely people, its one of our favourite areas of France.

voyager50 Tue 07-Feb-17 10:30:08

Get an 'i-spy' book for the journey - they have all sorts available and it's great watching them ticking off all the things in the book. This is good for trains, cars and airports although I'm not sure if there is one suitable for ferry travel!

BillyButtfuck Tue 07-Feb-17 12:03:13

We don't have the 'are you there yet?' question yet, as they can't talk but travelling to Majorca with 6 month old twins was quite the experience.
Top tip is plan plan plan and then plan some more!
Making sure all their home comforts were available as and when we needed them was a life saver and trying to pre empt what we would need at different times was a must!!

I never used to be the most organised of people but now I have to-do and planning lists for everything!

LuxuryWoman2017 Tue 07-Feb-17 12:04:59

Snacks, drinks and I-pad - vital! Ferries are great because it's so much part of the holiday, plenty to do and see on board.
We love to set off early and have a cooked breakfast on board, and sitting up on deck weather permitting is such a lovely way to start your break.

MakeTeaNotWar Tue 07-Feb-17 12:20:43

For or young kids, it was always important to know where the next meal was coming from, to always be one step ahead in terms of the next "goal" be it destination, next ice-cream, the next stop on a long drive etc. Don't over-do it either, tiredness makes ours go from hero to screaming demon in minutes!

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