Q We are going to Tenerife for a wedding in January and flying on a low-cost carrier. Since we are only going for a long weekend (and having experienced suitcase-in-transit-disappearance in the past) we are aiming to take hand luggage only. However, we are also travelling with our six month-old twins and this will be the first time they have been abroad. Is there any way we can avoid checking in luggage (baby-liquids and so on)? P Lawton, Northants
A You have two options, the first of which is to travel with hand luggage only, then purchase all your baby lotions and food in the Canaries.
However, if you're anxious – as many first-time parent travellers are – that you won't find your preferred brands, then you might consider using a delivery service to ship items to your destination. This isn't a cheap option but does guarantee that you'll find your favoured brands waiting when you arrive in your hotel room or rental accommodation. Furthermore, the pricing tends to work out more reasonably for longer stays.
There is a growing number of companies offering an online shopping and delivery service for infants. While delivery and product rates vary, you can expect to pay a £25 handling charge and an £18 customs charge if you're travelling outside the EU, plus the cost of the courier service, which varies according to the weight and distance travelled. The first of these companies is Baby Holidays (07909 933 114; baby-holidays.com ), which launched last month and will ship nappies, wipes, lotions, shampoos, medicines, drinks, food and even soothers and bottles to hotels and villas in most countries that UPS delivers to. The one-week Baby Pack is pretty comprehensive and includes milk, sterilisers, nappies, swim nappies, shampoo, formula, sun cream, cough mixture, teething gel and nappy sacks.
Since you are travelling for a long weekend this should be enough for both your babies. It costs £80, plus shipping charges of £83.30, £25 handling and £18 customs charge, bringing the total to £206.30. It is also possible to purchase the liquids only by selecting items individually.
Alternatively, Spanish-based Bebebel (00 34 661 575 532; bebebel.co.uk ) provides a similar service delivering UK brands to European and longer-haul destinations. The Canary Islands falls into its Band Three price category, costing £65 to ship a package up to 5kg in weight. Items can be selected individually (usually with a minimal mark-up), making this fairly good value.
A package containing baby bath, shampoo, wipes, lotion and sun lotion, formula and food comes to £105 including the shipping and handling charges. Another competitor is Tiny Tots Away (01257 424241; tinytotsaway.com ), which charges £95 for shipping and service for packages up to 7.5kg, plus the cost of the goods in the parcel. All companies recommend reserving the goods at least 14 days prior to your arrival.
If you haven't already booked your accommodation you might consider Baby Friendly Boltholes (0845 094 9864; babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk ), an internet site that selects the best family-friendly accommodation in the UK, as well as increasing numbers of European properties.
Tenerife is one of its new destinations, with four hotels listed on the island. The luxurious Hotel San Roque in Garachico in northern Tenerife, can provide cots, pushchairs, baby wipes, nappies, baby formula and food with advance notice. Double rooms at the hotel (00 34 922 13 34 35; hotelsanroque.com ) start at €221 (£184) in January, including breakfast. Infant amenities are priced on request but cots are provided free of charge.
Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org