How to Choose a Family Holiday Abroad: 20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking

Over the Christmas Holidays each year we get to thinking about the next big chunk of time that we’ll have off and get out the holiday brochures or start googling.

Since we’ve had kids we’ve gone abroad on holidays three times (to Italy twice and Portugal once, read all about them in the TRAVEL section above)  and we’ve holidayed in Ireland in West Cork, Clare, Kerry and Connemara.

Each holiday had its own “specialness” element, and each is remembered fondly for different reasons. None of them were chosen on a whim (except maybe Italy 2015 out of sheer laziness as we went back to exactly the same place we had been two years earlier) we spent hours and hours (and hours) researching the best flight options, accommodation and transport options. We agonised over which apartment or campsite to choose and then waited months to see if we had made the right choice. Usually, the research paid off.

When you’re looking in to booking a holiday with children you have different things to think about then if it’s just with adults. Things matter for family holidays that really don’t for adults, and some questions to ask yourself before you book?

The Journey

1. Are your kids good travellers?
In my experience the hardest age to keep entertained on a plane is a young toddler as they get overtired and overexcited and they don’t take no for an answer. If you’re driving or taking a ferry this may be less of an issue at that age, so bear this in mind.

2. How long is the flight?

My rule of thumb is to stick to no more than 3 hours flying time with young kids which keeps us to near Europe. I’m still nervous to go any further with the kids, although as they get older I can see this becoming less of an issue. I know there are wonder-parents who fly to Australia with toddlers solo, but that’s a different story than heading off on a sun holiday somewhere for a break.

 

3. Which airlines fly there?

Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus have become much more child friendly in recent years, carrying baby equipment like car seats free but you may have a preference, or a frequent flier card.

4. Are the times of the flights socially acceptable/doable?
Last year we flew out mid-morning and home late at night, and it worked well, another year our flight home was at 6am so we had to leave our campsite at 3am to get to it, not so easy with a toddler and a small boy.

Accommodation

5. What will the sleeping arrangments be?

The travel agent might think that a family of 5 can sleep in a one bedroom apartment but that’s my idea of hell, so since we’ve had three kids we’ve opted for two-bedroomed mobile homes or apartments.

6. Is there Air Conditioning?

If it’s going above 25 degrees and you want to sleep and have your kids sleep then pay the extra for air conditioning if you can, you won’t regret it.

7. Is there a Kids’ Club?

Kids’ Clubs can be handy for older kids (say from 5 ) who want to interact with other children but can find it hard to mix at the pool. That said all kids are different- are yours likely to use the Kids’ Club? If it’s not likely to be your kids’ thing cross it off the list of must haves.

 

8. Is there a pool?

Is it suitable for the age of your child, look for pools with non-slip surfaces for extra peace of mind.

9. Is wifi available?

Because you might want to look at your online banking or read your favourite blog.

10. Is the resort accessible with a buggy?

A description of “steep terraces” on one campsite put us off immediately. Check photos for mentions of steps, scan tripadvisor for the truth.

11. Is the campsite described as “very large”?

This may mean a LOT of walking to get around, so can you bring a buggy or stow away scooters in your luggage ( I hear that the storage bags for buggies can handle 3 scooters and a stroller pretty easily *wink*) for kids that are too big for buggies but too small to walk the 1.5km each way to the pool or beach.

12. Is there kids’ entertainment at night?

Pros and cons to this one, you’ll have to deal with incessant Europop and demands for fizzy drinks, but you get to have a glass of wine and stay up late too.

Ready for action at the Albi Disco

13. Is there somewhere that the kids can play safely while the adults have a glass of wine while supervising?

This is the dream, Park Albatros provided it.

Resort

14. Decide what you are looking for in a resort. 
When you might previously have looked for something described as “young and lively” you now seek out “family friendly” and mentions of nearby playgrounds.

 

15. Is it near the beach?

Or does it matter if there’s a huge pool where your baby can’t eat the sand?

16. Will you need a hire car?

Can you transfer by taxi or get around by  public transport? Think of the extra costs and the the logistics  (Will you need to bring car seats with you?)

17. What’s the transfer time from the airport like?

This links to the flying at human times. A two hour transfer is a nightmare with small kids.

18. Are there places to go visit nearby (if you’re the sightseeing type)?

We like to have a variety of daytrips that we can take with our hire car

19. What will the weather be like when I’m there?

In August many parts of Europe are just too hot for small Irish children (and their parents) so check the temperatures and consider staying near the coast at hotter times where it will be slightly cooler usually.

20. Have you fully briefed yourself on what holidaying with kids is like?

No, well read this and get the most out of your “break”.

2 Comments

  1. Great post, Sinead. I never thought of using the buggy bag for more than a buggy… clever! Scooters would be so handy on campsites or in bigger resorts. #beatingthesystem

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