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 Parents want
When it comes to something as fundamental as a holiday, until the children place fewer demands, there is a strong argument that parents' needs should come first.
For babies, their parents are the centre of their world. The parents' happiness is paramount as it is fundamental to the child's.
Even when the children are growing it is worth remembering that if parents don't look after themselves, they won't be in a fit state to look after the children.
If you can think of something you would like on holiday, chances are it can be arranged to work with your children - though sometimes at a price. What you need to do is think through what that might be, and where you will find it.
Do you want (and the limitations on your timetable), or do you want the more relaxed option of self-catering? This second often means either more work, or extra expenditure/effort eating out [Food and Drink]. However, there are operators and resorts which provide extra maid service and/or meals for self-caterers which might be a useful, if expensive, half-way house. [Self-Catering]
Do you want full cooking facilities or just a kettle to boil water/warm things up? Do you want 24-hour room service, a serviced beach, a pool? A pool may be a better option with children if they aren't used to swimming in the sea.
Activity or Inactivity
Are you looking for total relaxation or plenty of physical/cultural options?
If you just want to relax you will probably have to provide company for your children and/or childcare [Using Childcare].
If you want to involve the children in any activity you will either have to put in some effort yourselves, or opt for one of the organised activity holidays for families. [Activity Holidays/Camping/Operators Providing Childcare]. Most allow varied members of the party to chill out if they wish. There is also a handful of organised [Cultural Holidays] generally aimed at the over eights.
Remote, Resort or Urban?
- Remote areas have the bonus of lots of open space, well away from traffic. A number of self-catering specialists can offer options like this. If this seems a little lonely you could consider an adventure holiday company which caters for children, either in a creche or including them in some of the adventure. [Self-Catering/Farms/Activity Holidays]
- Resorts will offer more in the way of entertainment for yourself and/or children. It can be helpful to get clear in your mind quite how much you want going on. If you don't want too much honky tonk a smaller village, as on some of the Greek islands, might suit better. If considering one of the larger places, big tour operator brochures can be a good source of information. ‘Good for singles and young and heart'' is clear brochurese for noisy for example.
- Urban may seem a perverse choice with children but for city people city breaks can work well, particularly with children over five. [Short Breaks] are geared up for the children who live there and usually offer a range of child-friendly choices. In addition there are the main sights which, if well prepped, children may enjoy being able to recognise [Holiday Reading].
Comfort or Character?
Although at the very top end of the market there are older buildings converted to offer a degree of luxury, generally character comes at the expense of some comfort.
More interesting accommodation may suffer from low ceilings and - more of a problem for children - uneven floors, and steep and potentially uneven stairs. If in the country there may well be more insect life than you are used to, more countryside smells and noises and, if outside the UK and not British owned, the property may be equipped in an unfamiliar way - for example without a kettle.
Chain and larger hotels tend more to international standards, particularly those properties contracted to the big name tour operators which can impose their own requirements for British customers.
Company or Privacy?
This is a very personal choice and one which is crucial to enjoying the holiday. If you do want company and are not taking your own with you, it's a good idea to try to pick somewhere where families will tend to be of a similar mind to yourselves.
A large hotel, although it will provide plenty of potential company, will also be a place you can lose yourselves if you prefer. This is particularly true if you opt for accommodation or bed and breakfast only.
In middle-sized or smaller hotels you may find it easier to get chatting but can also find it more difficult to spend time alone if you are targeted by another family.
Organised or Independent?
Do you want the reassurance of permanent back-up, in which case a larger tour operator is the best way of finding what you need, [See database] or do you prefer to be on your own with the family doing your own thing? [Independent travel].
If you want a halfway house most specialist tour operators can now tailormake something to meet your requirements.
Familiar or New?