Family Holidays Summer 2013
Booking a holiday for your family is exciting! The mere thought of spending a week or two relaxing in the sunshine, is enough to lower your stress levels. Flicking through brochures and checking out holiday websites online, whilst dreaming about sipping a cocktail by the side of the pool, ahh…paradise.
Whilst the best travel deals are all online these days, and it’s fairly easy to book over the internet, there are still lots of things you need to consider before booking your family holiday.
This guide will walk you through the basics, so grab yourself a cuppa and a pen and paper and jot down a few notes as you read through.
Things to consider:
- Where to go – Home or Away – how long will it take to get there?
- Style of Holiday – Adventure holiday, relaxing holiday?
- Types of accommodation – facilities – entertainment
- Location of accommodation (close to local town or remote location)
- Research – Trip Advisor – reviews
- Financial protection. What happens if the company goes bust?
How much do you have available to spend? If you are on a tight budget, don’t worry – you can still easily find a really good deal. For example, a week in Portugal, in April – self catering in a 4 star 1 bedroom apartment, for 2 adults and 2 children, costs around £585. That’s a fantastic price for 4 return flights and an apartment for a week! And for not much more, you could book a twin room in an all inclusive 3 star hotel in Spain, so you won’t even need to pay extra for food and drinks! This year there are some great offers for early bookers and the most competitive travel agents are offering low deposits with the balance due just 4 weeks before travel. As an example OnTheBeach.co.uk offer you the chance to book with a deposit and then pay balance 4 weeks before travel, plus they have a Kids stay free at the hotel offer.
Tip : Non Euro countries such as Turkey and Egypt currently offer great value for money.
Home or Away – how long will it take to get there?
If you have children, you know how impatient they can be at times. It’s an important factor to consider when choosing where you want to go. If you stay in the UK, you need to think about the driving distance (plus cost of fuel) and the time it will take you to arrive at your destination. If you choose to fly, then the flight time plus the time in the airport (possible delays) etc need to be considered. There are lots of destinations that are only a few hours away, like France, Spain, Italy and Greece. If your children are a older (or extremely patient), you may want to consider travelling a little further, perhaps a trip to Disneyland in Florida or even Barbados.
Tip : When looking at flight times remember to count back how early you’ll have to wake up to catch an early flight – 07:00 may sound like a nice time, but if that means waking at 04:00 to get to the airport and check-in it might not seem as nice on departure day!
Style of Holiday – Adventure holiday, relaxing holiday?
Does your family long for days of lounging by the pool or do they prefer something a bit more action packed and adventurous? There’s a plethora of options available and the world is your oyster or so they say. The only thing you need to do is explore your options, consider your family’s budget, needs, and time availability.
Camper-vanning in Spain
Let’s start with the more adventurous! Travel around Spain in a funky graffiti painted campervan, equipped with table and seating area, which cleverly converts into a sleeping area, doubling as accommodation for the night. It also has a sink with tap and water container,cooking burner, pots and pans, dishes and plates. It sleeps 3 comfortably in the van and comes with a 2 person dome tent. You can freely move around the countryside, explore and do plenty of sight-seeing on your holiday.
Orlando, Florida is another magical destination for families. It’s one of the world’s top holiday destinations. It’s famous for its theme parks such as Disney’s Magical Kingdom with its theme parks and water parks. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, one of 2 Water Parks in Walt Disney World Resort, features one of the world’s tallest and fastest free-falling water slides, as well as slides and rides for the whole family.
Visit Universal Studios, where you can go behind the scenes, beyond the screen, and jump right into the action of your favorite movies!
Seaworld offers you and your family the chance to interact with many beautiful sea mammals such as dolphins and whales. You can watch the animal care team perform a training session with the dolphins and then learn the hand signals used to teach the Dolphins the different behaviors. If you’ve ever wanted to stroke a penguin, book a penguin tour and not only will you stroke them but you’ll also get a chance to go behind-the-scenes and learn about what it takes to care of them. Your kids will love it!
Epcot theme park, is one of 4 Theme Parks at Walt Disney World Resort, and sprawls across 300 acres—twice the size of Magic Kingdom theme park. It’s divided into 2 sections, Future World and World Showcase.
Future World, is full of sensational attractions, including one of the fastest attractions in all Disney Parks, as well as inspiring entertainment and shows, all of which focus on technological advancements, innovation and wonder. In Future World, ideas become reality.
The Epcot theme park has a Spaceship as it’s icon. It looks like a giant golf ball and welcomes you as you walk through the Park’s main entrance.
World Showcase - Beyond Future World, is the World Showcase area. World Showcase is a collection of Pavilions that wrap around the World Showcase Lagoon. Inside the Pavilions you’ll find shops, attractions and restaurants that represent the culture and cuisine of 11 countries. There are live performers like magicians and acrobats and lots of entertainment for the kids from gentle boat rides to a thrilling hang-gliding experience. For the adults, there’s an international food and wine festival!
Tip: Search for great hotel deals in Florida with OntheBeach.co.uk
Top Ten Family Holiday Resorts 2013
The hallmarks of a great beach resort for families, that has people coming back year after year include clean safe sandy beaches, “something for everyone”, well established hotels and short transfer times. Here are the top resorts : (let us know your favourite family holiday destination in the comments below!)
- Los Cristianos, Tenerife
- Alcudia, Mallorca
- Caleta de Fuste, Fuertevntura
- Costa Teguise, Lanzarote
- Albufeira, Algarve
- Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
- Marmaris, Turkey
- Salou, Costa Dorada
- Puerto san Miguel, Ibiza
- Torremolinos, Costa del Sol
Types of accommodation – facilities – entertainment
Consider what your preferences and needs are as a family. If you’re on a tight budget, you might think that self catering would be your cheapest option but you might be surprised. All inclusive packages in hotels are proving to be a very popular choice these days.
Tip: A heated swimming pool can mean much more splash time for kids, which might mean more sun lounger time for adults!
What to expect from a Family All Inclusive Holiday
All inclusive holidays take the pressure off you. You can relax and make the most of your holiday without having to worry about the bill. All meals from breakfast to dinner are included. Unlimited alcoholic and soft drinks are usually also on offer. On many all inclusive holidays, water sports and kids clubs are included in the price of the holiday. Oh, and of course your flights and accommodation! On top of excellent value, another advantage of All Inclusive family holidays is the convenience of not handling cash – the kids can get drinks and ice cream without having to worry parents for yet more cash!
What to expect when booking a hotel
Similar to the all inclusive experience, except only certain meals will be included. You’ll need to pay for any extra drinks and snacks. Most hotels have some form of entertainment included and this will be listed in the brochure or on the company website if they have one. Make sure you check the location of the hotel if you’re likely to want to explore the local area. Will you need to hire a car?
What to expect when booking an apartment
Apartments usually mean self catering, so you’ll need to budget for your food shopping. And you’ll be cooking all your own meals unless you plan on eating out a lot! Sometimes entertainment will be included, especially if your apartment is in part of a large complex that also includes a hotel. Be sure to check what facilities and entertainment are available.
Tip: In some countries, a low star rating “self catering” apartment might have very limited facilities – one or two heating rings, a fridge and a few utensils for example.
What to expect when booking a villa holiday
Booking a villa is a great option if you are perhaps thinking about going on holiday with your friends and their kids. Although the cost of booking a villa seems to be quite high, if you’re booking a villa that can accommodate say 8 – 12 people then it works out to be quite cheap. The only thing you’ll need to consider is the location of the villa and whether or not you want to hire a car. The “freedom” of a villa holiday has its good points and bad, for example you’ll be cooking for yourself and making your own entertainment.
Location of accommodation (close to local town or remote location?)
This one is quite often overlooked when booking a holiday but it’s quite an important consideration. Think about what you are going to do whilst you’re on holiday. Do you want to be close to shops, facilities, banks, nightlife, bus stops etc. Or are you quite happy to be in a secluded area that either requires a long walk, a taxi or car hire for you to be able to visit the nearest amenities. This is especially relevant if you book a last minute deal. Allocation on arrival, means just that. You won’t know where you’re staying until you arrive. You may get lucky but you may also be in the middle of nowhere. If that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, do not book an allocation on arrival holiday. Also think about distance from the airport – an hour plus transfer can seem like twice that after an early start at the airport and then the flight. To save time, and in some cases beat the queues at the hotel check-in we recommend ResortTaxis.com to get you started on your holiday as soon as possible. A pre-booked taxi at the airport can feel like a real luxury but if you book early it’s not nearly as expensive as you might fear.
Do your own research
Don’t rely entirely on brochure description and photographs. Although they aim to be accurate, often they can be slightly misleading so do your due diligence. After all it’s your hard earned cash and precious time with your family you’re spending. Make sure you’re well informed before you book. A quick google search or a browse through reviews on Trip Advisor could save you from booking a ‘holiday from hell’.
It is very important it for you to know that your money is protected and that you will not lose it in the unlikely event of your travel agents insolvency or any financial failure of any supplier. Make sure that the company you book your holiday with is a member of ABTA. The majority of travel companies are but be sure to double check. For example, OnTheBeach.co.uk is a popular holiday website. If you check their site, you will see at the top of the page, there is an ABTA sign and an ABTA number. If you then go the to ABTA site and enter that number, you will see that OnTheBeach is a member. This ensures that you are covered in the event the company becomes unsolvent. The money you have paid for licensable transactions will be held on trust for the Air Travel Trustees who, through the Civil Aviation Authority and the ATOL Scheme will ensure either that you are repatriated (in the event that you are overseas when we become insolvent) or that you receive alternative flights or a refund of the money you have paid.
Over To You
What are your tips for travelling with kids?, how do you find the best travel deals – book early or wait for late deals? Please leave your comments and travel tips below….