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Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones. We look back on our own childhood summer holidays with fondness and probably through rose tinted specs! Long summer days playing on the beach, followed by good food and a good night’s sleep – perfect! Creating memories is an important job for parents and with a little thought and a lot of planning summer holidays can be a fantastic experience for all the family. Of course there will probably be a little turbulence, but isn’t this what family life is all about? Dealing with mishaps and obstacles all contribute to the fun and actually promotes excellent life skills in children.
There’s no denying the fact that holidaying as a family can be a challenge. The ages of your children determine the facilities you need to consider, for example very young children will need lots of activities to keep them amused, quiet evenings, accommodation that is child friendly and amenities that will allow for easy meal times and nappy changing. Teenagers will more than likely want an active, lively, noisy holiday with plenty of sports, activities and music bars to keep them happy as well as other teenagers around to “hang out” with and enough space to be out of sight from parents! If you have a combination of ages, you could have a potential mutiny on your hands.
Gather together lots of information on possible destinations and share them with your family. It’s exciting choosing where to go, but there are a few points to bare in mind.
Gone are the days when you could just pack up and go at the drop of a hat. Family holidays require thought. Pre children you probably yearned for deserted beaches of hot white sand, as a parent you are now probably more concerned with the swimming pool and kids entertainment packages!
Your first consideration when choosing a destination is how long you think your family can travel for before having a meltdown or colossal tantrum. Travelling can be boring for children and there is a lot of waiting around at airports to contend with. For young children a short haul flight is probably the best option. Teenagers would probably appreciate the chance to travel further if they have the opportunity, they are also easier to entertain, especially with the invention of social media!
You could of course ignore all the opinions of your children and opt for a holiday that suits the adults in the party. This may work, but on the other hand you could potentially end up with whiny toddlers and teenagers plugged into their smartphone for the holiday duration. A little planning is required and lots of research to find the perfect destination.
The remainder of this article aims to highlight ways to create the perfect holiday with family.
Plan a family meeting and brainstorm ideas on what everyone feels is conducive to a perfect family holiday. This may sound more like what happens in a business boardroom, but it is an excellent way for everyone to contribute their views. Don’t expect the meeting to go smoothly and don’t be surprised if arguments break out. Encourage everyone to take turns and listen to other people’s opinions. Draw up a list and hopefully reach some common ground. Discuss absolute necessities and then work out what would be a nice additions. Hopefully by listening to other people’s points of view common ground can be reached with a few compromises along the way.
Choose your destination
Thought needs to be given to the climate of your destination and the time of year you’re travelling. Certain destinations are simply too hot for young children, especially at the height of summer. A hot child, is a grumpy child and you will probably spend most of the holiday trying to keep them cool, whilst slathering them with sunblock!
The accommodation choices for a family holiday all have their pros and cons. You really need to decide what is easier for your family. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of accommodation types.
Hotels – hotels have the benefit of no cleaning required, no cooking, no washing up and no food shopping. It is an easy option for the parent, if all other aspects of the hotel fits the needs of your family. Disadvantages of staying in a hotel include cramped rooms, especially when extra beds are added to accommodate the children, no self catering options, being restricted to meal times and close vicinity to other holiday makers for the duration.
Self catering – choosing to go self catering on holiday means you can take your pick of property for rent. You could choose a detached villa, apartment or country house. Self catering gives flexibility with meal time options, which is more suitable for small children. You can also stock up on foods that the family likes rather than having to choose from a menu. Disadvantages of staying in self catering accommodation include having to wash up, cook, clean and make beds.
Camping – Camping is fun for all ages, in the main and if everything goes to plan. If you are affected by inclement weather a camping trip can be a recipe for disaster. Consider going with other families, this will keep the children happy and happy children equals a happy holiday. A disadvantage of camping with children is the sheer amount of equipment needed!
Holiday park/village – these village style parks are designed with families in mind and will normally have facilities to suit all ages. Teenagers have the space to have the freedom to chill with friends and younger children could be entertained literally for the whole day with games, music and swimming. Disadvantages of holiday villages are that they are extremely noisy! Instead of having a relaxing hour sunbathing by the pool, you are likely to get dragged up to take part in aqua aerobics! Another negative is that they can feel quite busy in restaurants and poolside. You could potentially experience the age old problem of getting a sunbed!
Gone are the days when you could chuck a few outfits in a bag and head off into the sunset with passport in hand! Packing for a family holiday takes careful planning and military precision. The amount of paraphernalia that young children require is overwhelming and you have a weight restriction to consider.
Some accomodation is geared up for families and lots of the equipment, such as bottle sterilisers and highchairs are provided. It is worth checking the facilities carefully. The key to being organised when packing is to write lists – lots of them. Thankfully there are lists readily available on the internet that you can download and adapt to your own requirements. There are lists for beach, skiing, weekend breaks and camping holidays, so you should find one suitable for your destination.
Check to see if your accommodation has laundry facilities, as this will reduce the number of clothing you’ll need to pack for each person. Choose outfits that are adaptable for daytime and evening wear and don’t pack too many pairs of shoes as you are likely to just need a couple of your most comfy pairs.
Other essential items to pack include medication, toiletries, first aid kit, wet wipes, safety items, beach wear towels and sunscreen. Don’t forget to pack your child’s favourite toy, especially if they can’t sleep without it!
Pack snacks, small games to keep the children entertained and essential documents such as passports, insurance and money in your hand luggage.
Relax and enjoy quality time with your family!