Thinking it Through Making the Choice
The Underlying Choices
Weather and Seasonal Issues
What Children want
What Parents want
Making the Booking
Practicalities Thinking it Through What Children want
Pre-crawling babies are relatively easy to take with you as there is a limit to how much trouble they can get into. In fact, unless suffering from colic (normally over by around four months) babies are portable just about anywhere if they are relaxed enough to sleep and aren't given to too much loud yelling.
There is therefore a strong argument in favour of treating yourself to a holiday before the child reaches mobility. The incentive is compounded by the reduced air fares for under 2s if you can bear to have them in your lap on the journey.
Provided you can supply the usual rations of sleep and food, crawling babies and young toddlers will probably be content.
The type of holiday will depend on how well he or she can be relied on not to scream. Peaceful children may be fine in a small hotel. Parents of noisier ones might be more relaxed in a remote country cottage.
In addition there is the problem that this is an age at which everything goes into the mouth. If you worry about your child's health this means it is not a good time to go abroad. There is a good likelihood that he or she will pick up bugs which, though not dangerous, are new to his or her immune system and which might cause a temporary problem.
As they grow, mobility also makes things more complicated and you need to start looking for physical locations where the child will be safe, and even better, people happy to see a mobile child. Unless it comes with either constant supervision or is fenced, a pool is probably something you want to avoid.
Given that children this young do not generally need others of their age to play with, you could take a holiday with people without children, assuming that they will be understanding about the practicalities which structure your timetable.
Preschoolers and Early School Age
Depending on your children's activity levels, from around 18 months they enjoy diversions like a swimming pool and playground. Beaches popular with other families are particularly useful from this point of view and with more sophisticated options like canoes and dinghies, can keep them going well into their teens.
From around the age of two the company of other children becomes more important although the degree depends on the child.
This may mean considering places with central children's facilities, arranging a holiday in conjunction with another family (see Using Childcare), or simply picking a resort or hotel which you know is popular with families.
At around four years old tetchiness on holiday may kick in. The parents no longer make up the child's whole world and the stress of changing their environment can lead to more clinging/tantrums details depending on the child.
Returning to the same place for a few years can be a good solution once you have found where you like.
Holidaying with familiar friends may be preferable to meeting up with new children if your child does not make new friends quickly, provided the old friends are not given to fallings out and, if they are coming en famille, you get on with the parents.
Junior School Age
Felt by many parents to be the ideal age for exploration together. Teenage ‘cool' has not yet depressed curiosity or enthusiasms. For best results tap into those (generally shared with at least one parent) whether for marine biology or the world's best thrill rides.
Now the rules about putting parents first no longer hold true. The offspring's interests have to be taken into consideration if you still want them to holiday with you.
The main facility required by teenagers seems to be safe places to disappear. As with very young children you probably have to consider more stay put holidays so that, like very young children, they can make themselves familiar with their surroundings. If they will want to be kept busy go for a suitable group/activity options (see reports on Safari/Exploration Holidays/Adventure/Activity Holidays).
However even in well travelled families, unless the travel gene and enthusiasm has been passed on, you may face burnout.
(updated 15 April, 2006)