It’s very rewarding to spend some quality time with the whole family and explore a new destination together. As this often takes careful planning, let us share some of our tips for a smooth and memorable family holiday.
Stage 1: Planning and booking
You will come across the advice to “book in advance” a lot. But that really is the key – sometimes up to a year in advance! Early bird offers can save your family a lot – and that’s not just on the cost of flights and accommodation.
For example, if you’d like to save yourself the hassle of dragging luggage and family round the airport car parks in search of a space, you might want to pre-book a Meet and Greet service; you can get great discounts on this or other airport parking services if you do so on sites like Looking4Parking.com.
Even complete holiday packages can work out cheaper. Just have a look at Disney’s offers for Disneyland Paris all year round, as they reward early bird bookers with a discount, added meal plan or even an extra day for free.
By planning, you’ll also get the added bonus of having a much larger choice of flights, accommodation and other reservation options, which is particularly useful for larger families.
To snatch the best deal, try to arrange your trip outside of school holidays, if your children’s ages allow you to. Even if your children are old enough to go to school, you can stay flexible within the term breaks; consider flying mid-week, for example, or try a few different dates to find the best value deal.
Speaking of timing – take time off as soon as you can for holidays that are important to you. Your children’s school holidays are fixed, so you can plan for the entire year and book time off accordingly. It might feel strange to commit so early, but this is the best way to secure your holiday before a colleague takes the time off and you can’t go. You can still stay flexible for small breaks over bank holidays during the year.
Stage 2: Packing
Packing is, of course, destination-specific, but here are some of our essentials:
- Always pack an extra change of clothes or two and keep it easily accessible on long journeys
- Pack different layers of clothes; someone is bound to be too cold or too hot at some point
- Pack some food or a snack for the journey, even if you plan on making some stops along the way
- Let children participate, but make sure you have the final say to avoid packing a whole host of unnecessary stuff
- Take some toys, books or a tablet for the little ones and make sure they’re easily accessible throughout your journey
- Consider buying toiletries at your destination, so you don’t clutter your luggage (nappies, extra wipes, shampoo etc.)
- Always take a smaller bag or rucksack for your daily needs, ideally one you can fold up easily and put back in your suitcase when you don’t need it
Stage 3: The Destination
You know your family best, so you can make sure the trip includes something for each member of the crew to enjoy. Try and tailor all (or most) group activities to your youngest family members. You can of course split up in two groups, as well, based on interests and age.
The ideal scenario is that the parents relax, while the children play. When going to the beach take beach toys, books, and sports equipment, like a snorkelling set or a beach ball, with you. Your kids will often be happy making sand castles, swimming and playing, but don’t expect this to be time off parenting. Don’t forget to pack some products for sun protection (sun blocker, caps and hats with neck protection, parasol) and plan in breaks from the sun.
If you are on a city break with children, always take a rucksack that holds food, water and a change of clothes. Even though you might be tempted, don’t plan in too many sightseeing spots. Try and alternate must-see spots with play spaces, museums with activities, and time to relax. If you are going to London for example, by all means take everyone to see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. But then also take some time out in the nearby Victoria Tower Gardens for a picnic!
Every family holiday should be perfect for you and your family and no one else. Hopefully, our tips will help you get your next trip sorted more easily. Ultimately, what counts is that you all get to spend time together away from your daily routine and to explore a new place as a family.