Best Family Tips

Family holidays provide the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together. It’s a chance to step away from the pressures of the school run and punishing office hours. You’ll make memories, have loads of fun and really bond as a family.

This is the dream, anyway. It’s crucial to choose the right destination for your getaway, or you could end up with bored kids and more stress than you’d bargained for.

Luckily, there are plenty of locations around the world that are tailor-made for holidays with children. From Europe to the USA, you’ll find many child-friendly resorts and hotels which also appeal to grown-ups, so you won’t be driven to distraction with kids’ clubs and ‘animation’ teams at all hours of the day.

How to choose a family holiday

The most important thing to remember when choosing a destination for your break is that everyone needs to be happy. You can’t have one family member feeling left out, such as a teenager in a resort where there’s nothing for them to do and no other teens around.

But how do you navigate this difficult balancing act to find a destination that everyone will love? Here are some handy hints to bear in mind:

    • Look at the typical weather for that time of year. Warm, sunny weather means plenty of things for the whole family to do outdoors, but too hot and little ones may not be able to stay out in the sun for long.
    • Plan each stage of the journey carefully. This is an area that can trip many parents up when planning a family holiday. How will you get there, and what effect will an extended or disruptive journey have on the kids? If you’ll be driving a long way, you’ll need to plan in regular rest stops. For long flights or ferry crossings, you’ll need plenty of entertainment to stop the kids getting bored and cranky. As a general rule, the smaller the child, the shorter the journey should be (except in the case of tiny babies, who may well sleep through an entire flight if you’re lucky).
    • Search for family-friendly accommodation. What kinds of facilities will you need at your accommodation? You may require a cot for babies and very small children, as well as a washing machine and dishwasher for longer or self-catering stays. Villas and well-equipped apartments are usually a good choice for families.
    • Some holiday types are more suitable for kids than others. Beach holidays tend to be a great choice for families, as you stay put in one place and there’s plenty for children to do. Cruises are another easy option, as transport is sorted and there’s usually lots of children’s entertainment. Active families may like to try a snow holiday, but this can be expensive when you start to tot up the cost of equipment, ski lessons etc. City breaks may be less than ideal for families, especially those with young children, as there could be too many practical and logistical challenges to overcome.
    • Could a UK holiday be the answer? If you’re worried about how your children will cope on a medium to long flight, staying in the UK could be the ideal solution. If you have a toddler or a young child, they don’t care where in the world you take them as long as there’s a chance to play and have fun. They’ll be just as happy playing with pebbles on a British seaside or jumping in puddles in the countryside as on a beach overseas.
    • Self-catering or all-inclusive? If your child is a fussy eater (like many small children), self-catering is a sensible choice. You can prepare the food they like, when they want it. However, if you’d prefer to avoid cooking and washing up, and you can put up with the odd tantrum over the food, all-inclusive holidays could be an easier option.
    • Are there other children nearby? If you’re going to a resort that’s popular with families, there’ll be no problem finding other children for your little ones to play with. There should be plenty of entertainment and kids’ clubs too.

 

Location inspiration

You literally have the whole world to choose from, so let’s narrow it down a little. Here are just a few of the most popular spots for family holidays.

Fuerteventura

The second largest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura boasts some of the most beautiful beaches. Its fine white sands are perfect for toddlers and children to play on. It also boasts shallow waters that are great for paddling, as well as superb resorts and lots of family-friendly attractions. Hit the water parks, the zoo or take a boat trip for dolphin-spotting and whale watching. Top resorts in Fuerteventura for families are Corralejo, Caleta de Fuste, Costa Calma and Jandía.

Orlando

It’s obvious why Orlando in Florida is one of the best places to take kids on holiday – it’s the home of the Walt Disney World! It’s pure magic for most children, but there’s plenty to keep grown-ups busy too. Orlando is also blessed with beautiful weather and every kind of child-friendly facility you could ask for.

Majorca

The Balearic island of Majorca is a popular choice for UK families due to the short flight time (around two and a half hours) and the pleasant climate. There are lots of lovely sandy beaches and family-friendly attractions. There’s an abundance of great family hotels to choose from too, especially in resorts such as Alcúdia, Cala Bona and Palma Nova – home of the Aqualand water park.

Lapland

Looking for a winter break? Family holidays aren’t all about the beach, and this destination is absolutely perfect for escapes in December and January. You’ll get guaranteed snow and the chance to spot the Northern Lights, as well as Santa Claus, reindeer and sleigh rides. It’s pretty special for all the family.

Italy

Italy is another top choice for family holidays because of short flights, great climate and a wonderful cultural experience. Families often stay in Puglia, Sicily and Campania, but the family-friendly resort of Calabria also offers sun and beautiful sandy beaches.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is an increasingly popular family holiday destination – and for very good reason. It’s home to child-friendly hotels, flawless Blue Flag beaches and dozens of amazing day trips including historic fortresses, temples and medieval basilicas.

Things to take on holiday for kids

You don’t always need to rely on entertainment for children being available in the airport, resort or hotel. You can bring it with you, which means no more bored, restless kids!

Depending on the child’s age, books and small toys are a great distraction. Even if you’re hesitant to encourage too much screen time, you may find it useful to take a tablet loaded with your little one’s favourite TV programmes. If all else fails and they’re screaming on the floor of the airport departure lounge while your flight’s delayed, this should do the trick. They’ll soon be mesmerised, forgetting what they were upset about in the first place. Make sure the content is viewable offline though, or you’ll be dependent on Wi-Fi or using your data.

As well as distraction techniques, you’ll also want to be prepared for your family holiday by packing:

      • Plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent
      • A backpack or hands-free bag for daily essentials (snacks, drinks, toys etc)
      • A copy of your family’s prescriptions, alongside any medication you’ll be taking
      • Refillable water bottles – it’s important for the whole family to stay hydrated, especially if you’re heading somewhere hot 
      • Chargers for all devices and plug converters
      • Baby monitor – if you’re travelling with a baby or toddler
      • Sippy cups, bibs, bottles, changing bag, nappies, wipes, pram, sling and anything else you’d normally use at home for looking after your little one
      • Plenty of changes of clothes for your kids – unless you have clothes washing facilities in your accommodation
      • Sun hats for everyone
      • Clothing and accessories for all weathers, including umbrellas, hats, raincoats and sunglasses – you never know what the weather is going to do!
      • Laundry powder or travel wash – even if you only have a sink to use, you can still wash some smaller items. This means less items to pack and more wear out of the clothing you do take with you
      • Sweets or mints to stop ears popping on the plane
      • Motion-sickness and/or sea-sickness tablets
      • Plenty of snacks – raisins are a good choice as they’re easy to pack and always popular with children  
      • UVA protection pop-up tent for young children if you’re worried about sun exposure
      • Pool inflatables – or at the very least, a pair of armbands if your children aren’t yet strong swimmers.

 

Of course, you’ll need a whole different set of kit if you’ll be heading off on a snow or active holiday. Make sure to make an extensive list and check off each item as it goes in the suitcase, or you could end up missing something crucial.

Remember – family holidays aren’t supposed to be stressful. With a little preparation and if you choose the destination carefully, you’re bound to have a wonderful time together. Happy holidays!