Whether your children are six months or 16 years old, it’s no secret that when it comes to family holidays, if they’re happy, you’re happy.
Once you’ve picked your perfect destination, how do you then make it a safe, secure, stress-free experience for the whole family?
The secret is in the planning. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to lie back on your sun lounger, smug in the knowledge that everything is going smoothly, thanks to your 11-point plan.
- Learn from previous experiences
What has worked for your family in the past? What turned out to be a triumph or disaster? It’s also helpful to ask friends with children of a similar age about their holiday successes and failures. Also, don’t be frightened of repeating a winning formula; you can always inject a new twist by staying at a different resort and packing in different activities.
- What’s your budget?
Decide on your budget, including any spending money, before you start looking at holidays. Your budget may eliminate certain destinations, but it also saves time. Shop around with focus, and look for on great-value holidays before you buy. Websites such as holidayhypermarket.co.uk can help you.
- Time of year
Don’t give up on your favourite destination too easily – you could travel at a different time of year. What may be expensive during the summer could become affordable at other times, but check weather conditions and local attractions during these months, before you book.
- Do you love the journey, or just want to get there?
We all have different appetites for travel. Do you love the excitement of catching trains, planes and automobiles? If so, long-haul and multi-centre holidays are ideal.
It may, however, only feel like your holiday has truly started once you arrive at your destination. In this case, pick short-haul, single-leg, or direct-transfer options, so you can start relaxing as soon as possible.
- All-inclusive versus doing your own thing
How much of a break do you want? This is your once-a-year chance to have a complete rest from frantic family life and let someone else do the work.
All-inclusive family holidays have long been popular with exhausted parents and entertainment-hungry kids. Even day trips are planned for you. But for some of us, holidays are all about independent travel and adventures into the unknown. You’ll know what’s right for you.
- Research – start early!
Give yourself three to six months, to suss out what you need to know – especially if you’re planning a long-haul holiday.
Hit the internet and find out which travel vaccinations, visas or insurance you need. Are all your passports up-to-date? (Bear in mind, some countries require a minimum of six months’ validity when leaving their country.) Also consider insect repellent, sun protection, adaptor plugs, and how to minimise overseas charges for your phones and devices.
- How old are your kids?
Many all-inclusive hotels offer kids’ clubs. These are usually aimed at children aged from three or four years, up to 11 or 12. With discos, sports, pools and playgrounds, your little ones will be wholly entertained.
If your kids are older, ask them what they want on their holiday. Is there one key feature that would make or break them having a brilliant time?
- Self-catering versus hotel
Remember to think about how much private space you’d like, and which arrangements suit your family best at meal times. An all-inclusive hotel has the advantages of no work – and everyone can choose their favourite food from the buffet. But with self-catering holidays, you’ll have your own timetable and more space to call your own.
- Multi-centre holidays
If you can’t decide on the above points, a multi-centre holiday might be called for. This means you can visit more than one country, combine city sightseeing with beach, mix activity with relaxation, or hotel with self-catering.
Pack early and pack light! Why not get holiday items together as soon as you’re booked? You don’t need most of them at other times of the year anyway. Spend a winter weekend gathering flip flops, sun protection, swimsuits and beach towels. It can brighten your day and help you discover how many things the kids have grown out of.
- Getting there
Pack travel-sized entertainment and snacks in your hand luggage; enough to keep kids happy on flights, transfers and at airports.
Babies and tots will need a super-sized change bag, in case you’re delayed. Your passports, tickets, driving licence, car hire and transfer documents should all be in your hand luggage, and remember to save useful numbers in your phone and have enough local currency in your purse, in case something unexpected happens.
Finally, don’t forget to have a great time! It doesn’t have to feel like a military operation – if you follow these planning tips, you and your family will have the holiday of a lifetime, for all the right reasons.