No matter whether you are travelling an hour down the road or travelling half way around the world, the key to the perfect family holiday is in the planning. Get the planning right and everything else will nearly always fall into place. And should something unexpected come up, you will be in a better place to handle it. Here is our guide on how to plan the perfect family holiday.
Choosing the destination
The key to having a perfect holiday is always the destination but choosing the right place can be a juggling act if there are more than two or three of you in the family. If everyone shares a certain interest or hobby then this can help in a big way towards choosing where to go and what to do. But if everyone has diverse interests, then choosing a holiday can be more difficult.
There are two main ideas – something different or something with a little for everyone. So you could choose a destination or location that is something totally different to previous holidays and not favouring any one person’s tastes. Or you could choose somewhere that everyone can do a little of their own thing or have a turn on different days. Most importantly, talk to the kids about the ideas to judge their reaction to it – if they all hate it then back to the drawing board!
Talk to friends and family for recommendations, as this is one of the best ways to get a feel for a place. Everyone will have their own opinion based on their own preferences but it is easy to get an overall feel from what they say. Read up reviews on website, especially neutral ones likes TripAdvisor that give the good as well as the bad.
Travelling in the UK
While travelling somewhere exotic and unusual can be great, sometimes it is good to start closer to home and explore what the UK has to offer. Okay the weather may not always be startling but there is such a diversity of sights and attractions that there is something no matter what the climate throws at you.
A big part of any holiday is the accommodation you choose and that’s one area the UK excels in. Whether you want to stay in a plush hotel or rough it in a tent there is a perfect option for you. Staying in a hotel can be great if they offer child-minding services to allow you and your partner to have a little time on your own for a period during the holiday. If you are looking for something a little less expensive, then why not try out glamping or glamorous camping? There are hundreds of different types of glamping sites around the country ranging from safari-style large tents to yurts and gypsy caravans. Or pitch a tent in a conveniently located camping site to use as a great base of operations to explore an area.
Once you have an idea of the type of holiday you want and the accommodation you prefer, then you can choose the activities and sights you want to include in the holiday. Spread across the UK are hundreds of castles, stately homes and other historic buildings that are worth visiting and are a great way to sneak a little education into the holiday. Most kids will enjoy running around the castle grounds or exploring the dungeons and will be fascinated by glimpses of life in the past.
Another great idea are theme parks and zoos. Again, there are a large number spread around the country including some phenomenal zoos and famous theme parks. For older kids, both of these can be essential visiting as they offer something for all tastes. Whether they love be creeped out by spiders or watching cuddly meerkats, zoos have something to offer while theme parks and amusement parks are literally crammed with attractions.
At one time, a cruise was seen as something that people did after they retired and were the domain of the post-children generation. But today the family cruise offers something for people with kids. The modern cruise ships offer a great combination of spending time together as well as letting the kids do their own thing as well as visiting a range of different locations in one holiday. Kids don’t have time to get bored and the journey is part of holiday, so no long boring trip to endure.
If you want to take a flight and travel somewhere further afield, don’t forget to organise passports for the kids. If you want to travel to the US, then there are also visas to consider, though there is a new online application system to use for this called the ESTA. Make sure you leave enough time before travelling to organise all this paperwork.
Travelling with kids
For many people regardless of the distances involved, the travelling is the most trying part. The old joke about ‘are we there yet?’ really does apply to most kids so the key to planning the perfect holiday is to incorporate travel planning.
If you are travelling by car, then consider travelling at night or in the early hours of the morning when you have smaller kids. There is a greater chance they will sleep through more of the journey and therefore not get as bored. Leave yourself plenty of time for the trip and avoid getting upset if something goes wrong, as this will only stress the kids.
While electronic gadgets are an essential part of travelling, try to get the kids to enjoy the scenery around them as well. I-Spy books or other activity books will keep their attention for periods of time away from the tablet or DVD player and is another quiet bit of education.
If you are flying somewhere with smaller kids, remember to prioritise what you will need to hand for the flight as once it goes into the cargo hold, you won’t see it again until you reach your destination. Again choosing a time of flight where the kids naturally sleep can be a benefit as they can wake at the destination rested and ready to go.