Travel with Children - Why Use This Site
Once you've had children it can seem like you are never going to have a real holiday again. Instead of being able to look forward to leaving your day-to-day life behind, it all looks set to come on holiday with you, attached to the children and their associated paraphernalia.
Causing further irritation, it can seem like a waste of money taking children on holiday at all. It is certainly true that they are unlikely to pay undue attention to the sights and attractions which adults consider famous and important. However, children are highly observant and usually gain something from the experience, even when very young. Just the different quality of light and smells can be intriguing to a curious baby.
It Can Work
In fact, kids can love holidays - as long as they're the right ones. Getting it right can sometimes be even more fun than going on your own. Exactly what the magic formula is going to be, however, depends on the parents, the children, their interests and their ages.
While some children seem to be natural travellers, even when very young, in others the stresses of their lives (even starting nursery school) can make them more inclined to cling to the familiar. You may resolve this by picking one holiday destination and returning to it until the uncertainty resolves itself. You can also make sure you provide lots of familiar items for reassurance. And if for one reason or another your child finds your holidays stressful, it is worth bearing in mind that the experience is probably showing your child how to become adaptable.
All the children's requirements have to be combined with the needs of the parents. Parents may want to spend time with their children, or desperately crave a break from them. Whichever it is, one of the prime lessons of parenting groups is that parents need to look after themselves first. If they don't, they're not going to be much use as carers.
And though the dream of leaving the mundane behind can be harder to achieve than it used to be, it isn't impossible. All it needs is a little planning, which is what this site is designed to help with.
How to Use the Information We Offer
First of all we run through the decisions you need to make to choose what you need. Then for subscribers there are details of all the tour operators and specialists who can help you with the specific type of holiday or destination you have chosen. There are also notes on what you need to do to help everything fall into place - starting with more planning and preparation - the key to keeping everyone, including the children, happy.
The Basis of Our Listings
We work on the assumption that you are better off dealing direct with any provider. Travel agents rarely know much about holidays for families and in some cases precious little about holidays at all. In fact, their recommendations are driven by all kinds of hidden commissions, pushing you towards a holiday which may not be at all what you need. If you are interested in travel you will probably know more about the subject than most travel agency staff. People who are serious about travel generally go to work for a tour operator.
Tour operators, and particularly specialist tour operators, are the ones who can answer your nitty gritty questions about anything from the safety of the accommodation to the real temperatures you are likely to experience any given time of year.
This is also likely to be more helpful than most of the information you can unearth on the web. As Journey Latin America points out, ‘Whilst the internet will go some way to providing information about straightforward travel services, it will not replace the information that's in a travel consultant's head.' (JLA employs around 60 of them whose average length of time with the company is 5.1 years. As their MD points out, that's a lot of South American travel expertise.)
Closer to home we do the research ourselves - we inspect all the hotels and b&bs we recommend in reports on Britain and France. Further afield we carry out our own inspections but also refer you to the most helpful specialists and highlight what they might be able to offer you.
We have deliberately included holiday options right across the range of budgets and you should bear in mind that when it comes to holidays, nowadays you generally get what you pay for - exceptions being at the very top end of the market where a plush brochure is sometimes a front for prices 10-15% higher than available through less glamorous names; and at the near bottom where the complications of big name pricing conceals all kinds of hidden costs.
One point which is important for readers of this site is that no company has paid in cash or kind to be included. If it is listed that is because it offers what might be a useful service to parents, not because we made money out of including them. If readers have a good or bad experience with any operator, we are delighted to include details.
One company, which shall remain nameless, was slated by a Family Travel reader. When the marketing department came to know the immediate reaction was to offer us an expenses paid trip for the family - sub-text, then you won't be able to publish material like this about us. Glowing reports about family holidays in the press are all too often the result of this kind of freebie. We don't think these reports are any use at all to readers like yourselves, so we don't take them.
Reports assume that you will be getting a good guidebook to your destination with information on things like opening times, but our destination reports do include pointers on all the main attractions for children and families.
A Final Point
Enjoy the holidays. The chance to spend much time listening and talking to your children is soon gone.