Winter is the best time to start thinking about your family holiday for the following spring or summer. At this time of year there’s lots of availability and many holiday companies are offering competitive low deposits. It can be a minefield finding the right holiday for you and your family, and you want to make sure you make the right decision for that valuable family time together. Here are nine things to consider when choosing your family holiday.
1. Journey time - work out what length of journey your children can manage. How long can they sit in a car for? Are they okay hanging around at an airport? Remember that a usually short motorway journey in the UK can take much longer on a busy Saturday in August. Consider different options for breaking up a journey, eg travelling to mainland Europe can be broken up by a ferry sailing. Maybe break a long car journey by staying overnight somewhere?
2. What do you want to do each day? A lazy holiday or activities or a mix of both? What will the children enjoy doing? Little ones can be easily entertained by a pool or a beach but older ones may get bored and need something more than that. Some resorts offer Kids Clubs but not all children enjoy them and you need to check the costs and opening hours suit you. If you’re holidaying in the UK or northern Europe you might want to choose a location with lots of indoor as well as outdoor activities as the weather isn’t always reliable!
3. How important is the weather? Although endless sunshine is appealing, too much heat can be draining. Especially for little ones. If your children develop heat rash easily you could find all that sunshine isn’t so appealing after all! There’s shade, suitable clothing and sun cream to consider as well. Having pools and water parks nearby can help you cool off and remember a bit of rain or cool weather doesn’t matter if you’re doing lots of activities.
4. Do you want childcare? Some families travel with friends or other family members to share out the childcare. Many resorts offer creches, Kids Clubs and babysitting. If having a break from the children is important to you on holiday you’ll need to think about who can help with the children.
5. What accommodation are you after? Hotels take the effort out of cooking, but meal options can be limited and eating times may be restricted. Look for hotels with a range of dining options or consider self catering especially if family members are fussy about what they eat.
How much accommodation space do you need? Some families are happy to keep costs down and share a single family room in a hotel, or you could think about inter-connecting hotel rooms and family suites. Self catering in an apartment or villa gives you more of your own space. If you enjoy an outdoors experience consider camping or glamping.
Larger places cost more – would you be okay on a sofa bed in the living room for two weeks or is a bed of your own essential? Also look at the outside area the accommodation offers: balconies can be a worry with young children unless they’re constantly supervised. A ground floor terrace or small garden might be what you prefer.
6. What do you need to take with you? Some holiday places can provide the essentials for babies and toddlers and these are good options as you can take less with you. Look for accommodation with travel cot, baby bath, bath mat, highchair, push chair and even children’s toilet seats or potties. It’s also a good idea to ask about stair gates, it’s possible to buy travel versions but it’s best if you don’t have to take them with you.
7. What’s your budget? With cheaper flights these days, UK holidays aren’t necessarily cheaper than travelling abroad. Think about what you’re likely to do and spend while on holiday and consider an all-inclusive holiday option which makes it easier to budget. The cost of days out and eating out can add up. Also think about childcare costs, car hire and baby seats, airport parking, airport transfers and fuel.
Remember that you may not need to pay for under 2s on a flight, but you may need to pay for extras with budget airlines such as priority or reserved seating and excess luggage. It’s worth trying to save as much money on possible on these little extras but it’s always a good idea to spend as much as you can afford on your actual accommodation. As much comfort as possible is essential for a relaxing holiday.
8. Location, location, location: How will you get about or do you plan to stay in one place? If sightseeing is important you’ll need to look at car hire or local transport if you don’t have a car with you. Even if you’re staying put in a resort most of the time, you might need a few facilities within walking distance. Most parents find they forget to take something with them so a nearby shop is often essential for nappies and other supplies for little ones.
9. Read reviews and recommendations: once you’ve narrowed down your search, read online reviews of the places you’re interested in. Reading what other parents think can really help you decide.
To help you find your family holiday, visit our holiday pages. We’ve got tonnes of family friendly holidays listed to suit every lifestyle and budget. Here are a few ideas: