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Summer holiday survival tips

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Mumsnetter tips on making family holidays fun and safe, sponsored by Boots Soltan which, unlike other suntan creams, provides unbeatable 5* protection from harmful UVA rays.

Sun, sea, sand... squabbles, sunburn, ah the joy of a summer holiday with kids. Trying to transfer the contents of your home into a series of overstuffed suitcases, finally making it to the front of the check-in queue, only to find you've left your passport on the kitchen counter... Spending hours in a packed-to-capacity plane trying to prevent your toddler from kicking the seat in front and then arriving, weak with exhaustion at the villa only to discover there's nowhere to buy nappies/plasters/suncream... If these scenarios awaken deeply suppressed flashbacks of summer holidays past, then take these Mumsnetter tips to heart. They're aimed to help any parent prepare for, survive and even enjoy those all-important weeks in the sun.  


soltan lightBe prepared!

  • Travel first class and only stay in five-star-plus hotels. Have a cleaning agency blitz your house while you are away, they can also change sheets and do any remaining laundry. Arrange for a gardener to maintain your lawn and shrubbery. Back in the real world, unpack your tent before you travel to check for mildew and slugs! Alouiseg
  • Don't go with another family, no matter how well you get on at home. mosschops30
  • Work out a budget for each day and stick to it so that you're not skimping and saving and worrying about money by the last day of the holiday. Pixieonaleaf
  • Have realistic expectations! If you have children, going on holiday is not the relaxing experience it once was. It's still great fun, but only if you have realistic expectations, so don't pack lots of novels thinking you'll have chance to read them by the pool etc! countrybump
  • If you are off on holiday with a baby, make plans based on the baby learning the next stage of mobility while you are out there. I took my 4.5 month old to a mobile home site assuming that I could plonk him on a single bed and all would be well (a dodgy assumption anyway). Of course he learned to roll over the day we arrived. Taking a travel cot would have been the sensible option. choosyfloosy
  • Do some packing/washing each day for a week before you are due to leave - this helps avoid the day-before-the-holiday panic/stress/moods. PixieOnaLeaf
  • Take friends for older kids. My step-daughters (now teenagers) are both allowed to take a friend each on our holidays and it works a treat - apart from the cost!! But at least we all get a great holiday. harimo
  • Keep it simple. Little kids just want water - beach/pool and a playground. Location unimportant/sight seeing not necessary. Portofino


Your questions about sunscreen answered

Boots suncare senior advisor Mike Brown tackles some of your questions about what goes into suncream, how much to use and which type is the best for you and your family. 

Bags and baggage

  • Pack some of everyone's clothes in each suitcase. Then if one goes missing, at least you've got something to wear. Uriel
  • Don't overpack. In most countries the basics can be found. onadietcokebreak
  • Put all toiletries in at least three plastic bags... you do not want to spend the first day of your holiday trying to wash Medised/shampoo out of your clothes. geordieminx
  • Unless you are really in the back end of nowhere, then you can buy nappies and don't have to fill half your luggage allowance with them. Similarly with baby food. FiveGoMadInDorset
  • Pack a separate beach/swim kit bag with sun cream and everyone's stuff in it so you don't have to fanny around on holiday getting it all together. ConnorTraceptive
  • If you are flying to a beach holiday abroad, pack swimwear for everyone in your hand luggage. So if the airline loses your bags for 48 hours you can still swim. And, yes, I know that small kids can swim in their undies but teenagers and most adults won't, and the cost of swimwear in resorts is often exorbitant. KristinaM
  • Never let your darling daughter pack her own 'entertainments' bag - the first year we opened a case of cuddlies and had nowt else for her to do. Gay40
  • Think hard about the clothes that will be appropriate at your destination and prepare your summer wardrobe early on in the season so that everything goes with everything and you have the right stuff before the shops run out. Bonsoir
  • We limit our children (who each sleep in a pile of cuddly animals at home) to four animals and daily parades and headcounts are required to ensure we have them all. They all also have to get out of bed every morning in hotels, as I have no desire to be rescuing teddy from the hotel laundry. stealthsquiggle
  • Allocate considerably more nappies, changes of clothes, snacks and formula (if needed) to your carry-on luggage than you think you will need for the actual journey. A couple of times due to delays the stress was greatly increased by the fact that I was scared to death I would not have enough nappies, changes of clothes etc. shimmerygoldglitter

Surviving the journey

  • Let them dress up. Makes any waiting around at the airport/port more fun. Plus, if you lose sight of them, you can always ask someone if they have seen Spiderman/a cowboy/a pirate! Grumpalumpa
  • For travelling, fruit sweets and mints are a must to avoid travel sickness. nickschick
  • Soltan sun lotionDVD player on the plane is good, plus magazines, raisins, breadsticks, 'magic pens' as they equal no mess, and small books. FiveGoMadInDorset
  • If you go any distance in the car, buy DVD players. We have a twin player for our two year old and six year old and it has saved our sanity on many,many occasions. Not cheap, but I'd spend ten times their worth for the value we get out of them! NeatFreak
  • A picnic midway breaks the journey, refreshes the driver and lets the kids vent. Our picnics are part of the holiday...we have 'posh' sandwiches and crisps etc. nickschick
  • Wrap small 'gifts' for long journeys and bring one out every few hours. A pack of cards is a good one (the Twits game, cluedo etc) but teach yourself how to play it first! Books on tape/CD are good too. Mousey84
  • A pack of plasticine at 99p makes for great entertainment on the plane. geordieminx
  • Wear something appropriate for the destination if you are going abroad - there is nothing worse than getting off the plane and immediately melting. pixieonaleaf

How to enjoy it when you get there

  • Organise for one of you to unpack when you get there and the other one to take the children to do something (swimming pool/walk) as soon as you there - children who are fed up of travelling and excited don't want to sit around waiting for the unpacking to be finished. PixieOnaLeaf
  • If travelling within Europe, keep the kids on UK time, that way you won't worry about them being up 'late', and you will get a lie-in. (NB: Don't try this if flying long-haul. Kids bouncing out of bed at 4am is no fun.) ChippyMinton
  • Kids clubs. Where you can leave the children. Pennies
  • Put on the Beach Olympics. Our events typically include Best Sandcastle, Dig The Largest Hole, Find The Prettiest Shell, and so on. Points are awarded based on who looks most likely to cry if they don't win, and the prize is a flake in the top of the last ice cream of the day. Snickersnack
  • Keep children up until midnight so that they will go down for a siesta between 11am and 3pm. trice
  • If you have children over five, take a set of playing cards. The games you can play are fairly endless. wombfrootshoot
  • Give it some stick. As in stick-collecting, stick-piling, stick-building, stick-poking, stick-eating, stick-breaking and, of course, the obligatory stick-wielding round heads. LupusinaLlamasuit
  • Talcum powder to help dry off/get the sand off. The only time I ever use talcum powder is when I am on holiday. CaurnieBred
  • For a stress-free holiday, ensure you have keep the kids' day planned from the minute they wake up until they go to bed. That way they are organised, have something to do, will eat at proper times and will go to bed totally shattered and sleep for the night! Then you can have the evening to yourselves, peacefully! We say the days are for the kids and the evenings are for us - works a treat. Fruitysunshine
  • Let your children plan one day of the holiday - depending on their age, you can let them have varying degrees of responsibility: under-8s can tell you what sort of thing they'd like to do; ages 8-11 can find where they would like to go and tell you where they'd like to eat; ages 11+ can organise the day and the transport and stick to a budget if there is one. If done properly, it can be really good - the kids love feeling as though they're in charge. pixieonaleaf
  • If you go self-catering, plan the meals so its not just one person cooking all the time - one of our fave holiday teas is a ready-cooked chicken with salad and new potatoes- virtually effortless. nickschick
  • A cheap, plastic spray bottle full of cold water is good for cooling people down (plus your children will love squirting everyone and being squirted). oldbea

boots soltanStaying safe in the sun

  • I don't want to look like I'm sucking up, but here goes - Soltan kids sun lotion with insect repellant is a really good idea in hot countries. It cuts down the mozzie bites enormously. Lee36
  • If you're putting suncream on, use the Boots-own Once high-factor cream. It really does last all day, even in water. trice
  • If travelling with a baby/toddler invest in a shade a babe or similar with a built in SPF/insect net to attach to the buggy.  I also apply thick layers of suncream underneath said shade and dress babe in UV sun suit (paranoid mummy.) MintChocAddict
  • Make sure you pack sun-suits / UV T-shirts for your children (and any adults who need them) - much easier than forcing them to undergo suncream applications! BigTillyMint
  • We only holiday in the UK, but my tip is to buy a high-factor suncream that everyone can use and store it in the fridge so when you apply it its cool and refreshing. nickschick
  • Don't buy your suntan lotion until you get there and see whether there WILL be any sun in Cornwall. tootootired

And home again

  • If you are travelling by plane, pack a spare set of clothes for everyone in case there's a volcanic eruption and you get stranded while your clothes are in transit. bigtillymint
  • Pack your dirty washing according to machine loads - ie one bag of whites, one of colours etc. That way you don't have to get everything out, just do one bag at a time. littledawley
  • If self-catering, the day before you leave, do all the washing there is. And dry it (in dryer if need be). Then you come home without having a mountain of laundry to deal with. clary
  • When you do return home - don't come down to earth with a bang - have a takeaway and the next day a trip out. nickschick 


Safe in the sun

uva logoKeeping children (and yourself) protected in the sun, in the UK or abroad is the key to enjoying any summer holiday. Unlike other brands, Boots Soltan sun cream provides unbeatable five-star protection from harmful UVA rays, but doesn't stop you and your family from enjoying the sun.

Whatever your suncare needs, Soltan offers a suitable product, whether you need a non-greasy, waterproof range, after-sun lotions or products compact enough to pop in your handbag. A new addition for 2010 is the Soltan Sensitive range, which is fragrance free and includes shea butter for super moisturised skin. And for active kids, who are in and out of the water continuously on holiday, keep them sun safe and know they're protected from any harmful rays with Soltan Water Play, which provides up to three hours' water resistance – much more than other leading suncare brands.


For a limited time, Soltan have a family pack with Soltan sun care and after sun for £11.99 - a saving of over £20. Soltan from Boots for all your summer essentials, visit us in store or go online to Boots.com to purchase today. 

Last updated: over 3 years ago