Top 12 tips for the perfect family holiday
Happy kids, happy holidays!
Keeping babies, children and teenagers happy and entertained on a family holiday can be tricky. Where to go? What to pack? What to do? It’s a minefield!
Even in the most amazing locations, most parents will have heard “I’m bored” at least once. The truth is that if your children aren’t having fun on holiday, the chances are you won’t either – we’ve learned from experience! It doesn’t matter how old your children are, keeping them entertained is a key part of a happy family holiday.
That’s why OVO Network developed our Cool for Kids range of holiday homes, each specially equipped to help parents and keep boredom at bay.
With plenty of children between us, the OVO Network team has put together our top 12 tips for holidaying with kids – things we’ve discovered and ideas we like – to help your next family holiday be all fun and games…
Before you travel
Packing with kids is a mammoth task. Clothes for every occasion, games, DVDs, food, travel cots, buggies – the list goes on. It’s no wonder many parents choose to drive to fit in all of the items needed, but it needn’t be like that. OVO Network Cool for Kids properties come ready kitted out with pretty much everything you need – read the full list here – to help parents reduce packing and plan ahead.
Kids can help before the holiday too
As children get older they often love to pack their own bags. While it probably needs some overseeing, it’s great to get kids involved and helps build responsibility. They may forget their socks, but they’ll be more involved in the holiday and that means a lot.
Family-friendly Air travel
If you’re flying on holiday find out about options with your airline that can help get your trip off to a smoother start. For example, Jet2 offers the option to check your bags in from 3 – 8pm on the evening before your flight – called Twilight Check in. If you’re staying at a hotel or live near your departure airport it makes an early start much less stressful.
There is also a growing range of companies who will pick up your luggage in advance and send it on to your chalet or villa ahead of your arrival. According to consumer website moneysavingexpert.com, on some flights this can actually save you money, compared to booking hold luggage with the airline. Take a look at sendmybag.com or luggagefree.com to see how it works.
Airlines such as EasyJet allow you to check in hand luggage too, for a fee. While it may not be easy to do if you’re travelling with young children and need snacks, books and toys to hand, if you can travel light it makes the whole airport experience much smoother.
It’s also worth checking what facilities are available at the airport. For example, many airports offer a children’s play area for young children and, if you have lounge access, some offer video games.
On the Road with Kids
If you’re travelling by car with children, be sure to keep games, books and any gadgets within easy reach. One invaluable option is audio books – if you don’t have an Audible account it’s definitely worth investing in one if you’re planning a long drive. Books such as Harry Potter, mean a car journey can be much less painful for everyone.
It’s also worth scheduling in regular stops to stretch legs and have a snack. Far better than just finding somewhere en-route is to do a bit of research and find recommended service stations or local towns where you can have a wander round – it will feel more like part of the holiday too.
Self catering properties offer great flexibility and convenience if you’re holidaying with children. More options for sleeping arrangements, the ability to prepare preferred foods, and you can spend quality time together. Finding the right property though can be tricky. I remember turning up at a villa in the south of France with young kids only to find a chicken farm right next door and no facilities such as games, toys or DVDs for the children. Needless to say we never went back!
Make sure you do your research, read reviews, and – top tip – see if you can see the property on Google maps – that way you can look at what else is around it. If you’re booking through a chalet or villa company read all of the information and Q&As they have, or speak to them to go through everything.
Finding out about the proximity of a property to busy roads or walking distance to the ski bus stop can all help you make a more informed choice about your holiday property. Don’t leave things to chance, particularly if you’re planning a ski holiday with little ones.
Planning a First Ski Holiday with Kids?
If there’s one holiday that needs a lot of planning, packing and organisation it’s a ski holiday with children. Sorting out ski clothing, organising ski hire, buying the lift pass, and then getting your kids up, dressed and fed in time to catch the ski bus!
If you are organising your first family ski holiday have a read of our blog – Skiing with kids for the first time, which has a great range of tips to help make it as stress free as possible.
Baby basics for family trips
If you’ve ever been on you summer holidays in the French Alps with a baby you’ll know how helpful modern gadgets such as bottle warmers and microwaves can be, so the thought of going somewhere without such items can leave you in a cold sweat! Add to that cots, changing tables and safety equipment such as stair gates and fire guards, and it’s much easier – and more reassuring – to go somewhere where everything is in place ready for you.
Check carefully what facilities are offered at a property, and if something isn’t obviously available ask if it can be provided. Owners or rental companies will usually be happy to help out if they can.
Holiday fun & games
A family holiday is all about making the most of the time you have together, and games are a great way to do this. I love playing games like Uno with the kids, sitting out on the terrace on a summer evening with some music playing. For me, it’s what holidays are all about.
While it’s easy to take card games, board games take up space and add weight, so find out what your holiday property has to offer. OVO Network’s Cool for Kids properties all have a selection of indoor and outdoor toys and games for different ages. Team up for Scrabble, Monopoly, or Guess Who?; head outside for a game of petanque or badminton; or let off some steam on a trampoline. Different properties have different facilities, but they all offer great family fun and are perfect after a day on the slopes or a dip in the hot tub!
DVDs, colouring pens and paper, and books (especially with Kindles) are also all easy to take on holiday, so take a selection, but again check with your property what they have available.
Bed time when away from home
It can be tricky for kids to get to sleep in a strange bedroom. Don’t forget to take favourite cuddly toys, or music to help lull them to sleep. If you have young children who need an afternoon nap, it’s also worth checking if there are blackout curtains or shutters to help. A night light is also a great item to have for little ones who are afraid of the dark.
Teenage travel tricks
Holidaying with teenagers can bring its own challenges. Most of them will want to be glued to their phones or iPads, but going somewhere where you can spend time doing things as a family is what many of us want.
Games such as table tennis, pool, table football, petanque, badminton and basketball are all great, and these days some self-catering properties – like OVO Network’s Cool for Kids Extra properties – offer a range of these and more. PlayStations, DVDs, swimming pools, hot tubs, mountain bikes, paddle boards – look for a property that has something that will encourage them to put their phones to one side and spend time together.
Fussy eaters? Pre-holiday research makes all the difference!
If you’re holidaying with some fussy eaters then doing a little bit of research before you go can make all the difference. Many parents will pack their car – or their suitcase – with those gastronomic essentials that children crave. Marmite, baked beans, Cadbury’s chocolate are just some of the things parents say they can’t holiday abroad without!
The good news is that many of these items are now available in supermarkets everywhere and you can usually track them down in advance. Do some research about your destination and local shops, and the chances are you’ll find even more to remind you and your kids of home.
Out & about during your stay
Location, location, location. It can make all the difference to holiday entertainment. Head to the coast and you have the beach and watersports. Come to the French Alps and you’ve cycling, walking, horse riding, trampolining and more, not to mention festivals, entertainments and all the lake watersports.
A stay in rural Tuscany may sound fabulous – and for adults it probably is – but with children it may not be quite as idyllic as you’d planned. Long drives to activities or entertainments will quickly result in “are we nearly there yet?”, while unless they have friends to play with even a swimming pool can lose its appeal.
Do your research and find out about the area you’re planning to visit. Are there things for all the family to enjoy? If the answer’s yes, then you’re far more likely to enjoy a family friendly holiday. Keep an eye on our Cool for Kids blogs as well – there’s lots of ideas for activities and interesting information for all the family.
Got any tips for organising the perfect family holiday? We’d love to hear them! Get in touch on our Facebook page to share them with us.