Whether it’s a cottage holiday in the Yorkshire Dales or a sunny beach break on the Costa del Sol, holidays give families the opportunity to relax, have fun and spend some quality time together. Many of our foster carers enjoy holidaying with their extended family, but there are a few things you need to know before you start packing your suitcase.
In this guide, we list our top tips and advice for holidaying with young children – from need-to-know essentials to budgeting and safety. With our help, you can look forward to a memorable getaway with your foster family.
It goes without saying that the safety of a child should take precedence when it comes to planning a trip, and safeguarding measures mean you’ll need to get consent for the young person and plan for all eventualities to make sure your holiday goes as smoothly as possible.
Here, we list some of the rules and regulations you need to know when holidaying with young foster children:
- Before you even start looking at holidays, ask your supervising social worker about your plans. They’ll also be able to give you information on any restrictions or additional permissions you’ll need before you travel with a young person in your care.
- Any restrictions or rules regarding holidaying with a child should be outlined in the placement plan, given to you by a social worker at the start of your placement.
- In some circumstances, it may be necessary to seek the permission of the child’s biological family and/or their long-term foster carer. Again, your social worker can help with this.
- Your supervising social worker will be able to help with any additional paperwork that may be required to take a child on holiday, particularly if you’re planning to travel overseas. For instance, your child may need to apply for a passport or attain a visa.
- As long as a child’s welfare is considered and you seek the right permissions, in most cases young children are able to travel with you on family holidays, both in the UK and abroad.
- Depending on the circumstances of a child’s placement, it may be necessary to book separate accommodation for them, so that they have their own space (just like they do in your home). Your supervising social worker can advise on this, but it’s something worth considering when planning holidays, trips or camping expeditions.
For more information on holiday rules and regulations, read our guide to the things you should know about taking foster children on holiday.
Many new foster carers may not be used to travelling with young children, so knowing what and not to pack can be tricky. Here, we list the essentials you’ll need when holidaying with little ones – it’s by no means exhaustive, but we hope it steers you in the right direction:
- Clothing for every day of your trip, plus extra in case of messes and spills
- A basic toiletry bag, complete with all the essentials: first aid kit, toothbrushes, insect repellent, and sun cream that’s a suitable SPF level for all members of your family
- Books, toys and games to keep the children entertained (particularly helpful during long drives or when waiting at the airport departure lounge)
- Water, snacks and provisions – you never know when a delay might interfere with your mealtimes
- Some warm clothing such as a light jumper or jacket, even during the warmer summer months
- Emergency contact details, travel documents and passports
- Child-appropriate swimming costumes and goggles
- Sun hats and sunglasses
For further guidance on packing for a family holiday, we’d recommend this extensive packing guide.
The safety and comfort of your foster child is paramount when holidaying as a family. Here are some general safety tips and advice to follow throughout your holiday:
- When you arrive at your accommodation, set a meeting point that’s distinctive, safe and easy to find. That way, if a child wanders off by the pool, you’ll know where to start your search for them.
- Give everyone a set of contact details and accommodation information. We’d recommend creating small, laminated cards that a child can carry around at all times and store in their pocket.
- Do plenty of research before you pick a destination for your trip, and make sure there are plenty of family-friendly facilities and attractions.
- Don’t let children drink the local water; buy bottled water from a local shop to prevent upset tums.
- Always make sure they’re wearing plenty of sun cream. If a young person is reluctant to let you apply it, show them how and make sure you get a product that’s easy to apply and rub-in.
- Make hotel staff aware of a child’s allergies, illnesses and mobility issues.
- Check the appropriateness of a child’s room. Some young children may be able to fall through gaps in the balcony, so it’s worth checking things over when you arrive.
So, there you have it, our guide to holidaying with young children. If you have any other advice, head over to our Facebook page to share your top tips with our foster care community.
At NFA, we do what we can to support our foster carers, providing 24-hour support and ongoing training to help them cope with the everyday challenges of fostering. Click here to learn more about fostering a child with us.