A child’s first holiday is an exciting experience – both for the child and the parents – and one that has to be well prepared for. Whether you’re staying in the country and taking a road trip, or taking a short of long distance flight, it can be a frustrating experience for everybody involved if you haven’t prepared properly.

With that in mind, here is a complete checklist for parents to follow that will make their pre-holiday blues non-existent, and prepared them for the awesome holiday they deserve.

Create a Pre-Holiday To-Do List

Once your holiday is booked, the hard work begins – planning what you’re going to take, getting passports up to date, buying the sunscreen and so much more – and although this is all important, it can be made a great deal easier if you create a pre-holiday to-do to follow and check off as the tasks are completed. It may sound a little obvious, but many people have turned up at an airport and suddenly realized they’ve left something important behind. A little extra prep and you can avoid this issue fairly easily.

Get the Important Documents Ready

If you’re flying, you’re going to need updated passports, and that includes getting one for your child. If you’re taking a road trip by car or bus, you’ll need to make sure you have your tickets printed (for accommodation if you’re travelling by road), including having any confirmations via letter and/or email to hand, too. This will avoid any unnecessary issues that always pop up when you’re not as prepared than you should be. Have everything to hand and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable when you’re relaxing in your seat.

Pack the Right Clothes

Most adults will over-pack and throw pretty much all of their clothes into a suitcase, but for a child, you have to be more meticulous than that. If you’re traveling somewhere hot, you’ll need to pack plenty of weather appropriate clothing, but cater for the fact that they are more sensitive to heat stroke and burning than adults, so hats, long-sleeves and plenty of sunscreen should be packed, in as high a factor as you can get your hands on. If you need to get your hands on some new threads for the little one before the trip, save money on designer clothing by using websites like Nickis, and you’ll have extra cash for enjoying your trip.

Think About Your Health

There is nothing worse than going on holiday and spending some of that time nursing a cold, allergies or worse – an injury. Before you head off, pack your bags with plenty of medication (and subscriptions, if you or your child has any) – including allergy and headache tablets, sore throat sweets, vitamins, etc., and a mini-first aid kit complete with antiseptic cream, and plasters, for example. Hopefully you’ll never need any of them, but it pays to have them to hand rather than to need them urgently and have to shop around for a pharmacy.

Don’t Overplan Everything

It’s great to have an itinerary and a plan of action, but with a child on board, you can expect the unexpected, and that means that you shouldn’t over-plan everything, for fear that you might not be able to do everything that you planned to do for some reason. Although kids are filled with manic energy, they do tend to slow things down a little, so be realistic in your plans. For instance, aim for two or three activities a day rather than five. That way nobody will be disappointed, and there’ll be no resentment for missing anything out.

Generate Plenty of Excitement

If you’re jumping on a 10 hour flight or driving eight hours a day on your road trip, your child’s energy levels are inevitably going to wane, and they might struggle with being in a confined space for long. During this frustrating period, do your best to generate plenty of excitement, both in the lead up to the trip and during.

For the pre-trip excitement, give your little one activities to do that will get the psyched for the trip, such as researching where you’re going and drawing a map. Once the trip begins, you could give them a camera or a journal and ask them to document their first holiday. They’ll have a great deal of fun snapping away and writing about their experiences, and you’ll have something to commemorate the trip forever.

Involve Your Child in the Plans

It’s your child’s first holiday, so surely they should have some input into the planning of the trip? You could show your child the website and write down a list of ideas for activities that they would like to do while you’re away. Even if you’ve already thought of them as parents, it’ll make your child feel like they’ve inputted in the trip and are involved in the decision making. You never know, they might unearth some hidden gems that you hadn’t thought of, such as a theme park or historical site.

Remove the Pre-Flight Jitters

There are people who don’t like flying who are decades older than your child, so don’t be surprised if there are some pre-flight jitters before you head off. If this occurs, try your utmost to take their attention away from the flight, and reassure them that it’s perfectly safe (without overdoing it and getting them to focus on nothing but the flight). Take magazines, books, coloring books and other forms of entertainment on board, and keep their minds occupied during the duration of the flight.

Another great idea is to try and cut down on the number of naps your child has before they get on the flight. This will increase the possibility of your child falling asleep for a large period of the flight once you’re up in the air, and give them less time to play up, get nervous, frustrated, etc.

Be Prepared to Split the Parenting

It’s all well and good preparing your little one for the trip, but parents need to consult with each other before they head off so that they can split the parenting right down the middle, so that there isn’t any resentment at the end of the holiday. You need to strike a balance between family time, personal time on your own, and time as a couple if your child is going to be enrolled in activity clubs while you’re away.