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This week, as part of our January Travel blogs we have a fantastic blog written by Sarah Ebner of Family Travel Times. Read her tips and favourite holiday locations for a family holiday.I’ve always thought that, when it comes to family holidays, what’s crucial is keeping the kids happy. That means the destination – and what it offers - is key.
For most families, summer provides the big vacation event of the year. So, where would we suggest for a great trip? And what are our tips to make sure that 2014 brings you a holiday which definitely won’t disappoint?Holidays in the UKStart in the UK and you can’t go wrong with Devon and Cornwall, Bristol or Bath. Bristol was our destination last summer and we couldn’t believe how much there was for us to do.
We would also recommend Scotland, where we had a wonderful holiday a few years back. We started in Edinburgh (which has lots to see including the castle, of course) and also travelled to Tobermory in Mull. This island was absolutely gorgeous, but as Tobermory was the setting for the children’s television series Balamory, it was particularly special.
London is a great place for a holiday with masses to do. We would suggest a trip to Buckingham Palace (which has a child’s audio tour), while Robert, who’s eight and loves to be scared, would recommend the London Dungeons and London Tombs (see more about the London Tombs on his blog post). However, accommodation can be expensive, so it's worth waiting to see if there are any last minute offers.
Make sure you find the right place to stay. As your kids get older, you may care more about a hotel which guarantees twin beds (adolescent girls don’t really enjoy sharing with younger brothers) than one which offers babysitting. We love interconnecting rooms, which mean you and the kids get some space.
Wherever you stay, you should research your destination. If you have young children, find out about local parks (for when the weather’s good) or libraries (if it’s not so good). Leisure centres and soft play areas were always on our list when the kids were young.
If you want to leave the UK, you can’t go wrong with France, which has a huge number of options. We stayed in a Siblu holiday park when the children were 8 and 5 and it was a huge success. My daughter, in particular, was desperate to stay in a caravan and to my surprise it was really good fun.
We stayed in the Vendee region, which is along the Atlantic coast and south of the Loire. It’s a brilliant region to visit with kids with some gorgeous beaches. If you hire a car, you can also have some great days out. For example, we visited the island of Noirmutier, stopping on the way back at the Parc de Loisiers du Gois where the children jumped on inflatables and trampolines and went mini boating and go karting.Of course, France is also home to Disneyland Paris, but we wouldn’t recommend visiting Paris in the summer. Save it for Autumn or Spring.
Turkey is another popular destination and is good value (helped by being outside the Eurozone). It’s beautiful and offers many different types of holiday, catering for beach bunnies and culture vultures (don’t miss the ancient town of Hippokome in the Dalaman region).
The Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye has had rave reviews from friends who say that it’s a “beautiful all-inclusive resort which has the best kids' club ever and is worth the money.” The Hotel Canada in Cirali is also recommended. One friend told me: “It’s really good value, perfect for families, especially with young children and off the package tourist trap. Not luxury but has everything you need in a stunning location, and very chilled.”If you want something a little bit more unusual, try Morocco, which offers family travellers good food, a laid-back atmosphere and a huge variety of things to do, including visiting Marrakech (a must), trekking in the Atlas Mountains and a trip to Essaouira, a coastal town with fabulous fishing, a camel trek and markets. Morocco is also easy to get to via EasyJet and good value once you are there.
For an unusual summer holiday, you could consider Austria or Switzerland. I adore mountains, so both of these countries with their scenery, wild flowers and trails do it for me! We had a wonderful time in the Austrian Tyrol, which even had adventure playgrounds in the mountains.
What do the children think?
Robert (aged 8) says: Orlando in America was the best holiday of my life! The theme parks, hotels and everything was awesome. The rides were really fun and I got to meet Donald Duck!My favourite holiday in the UK was Bristol because of the science museum. It had really cool experiments and lots of things to do.
Jess (aged 12) says: Beaches Negril in Jamaica was my favourite holiday because you got to relax, play and have fun all at the same time, and it was so luxurious. However, a more down to earth family holiday that I really enjoyed was our caravaning holiday in France. I just remember loving the food, always having so much to do and staying in a really cool place that was so different to our normal lives.
Tips for booking:
Don’t leave everything to the last minute and hope for special deals, unless you are flexible and don’t mind where you go. If you have your heart set on a particular place, you shouldn’t leave booking too late, especially as prices can go up as availability goes down.
Sign up for cashback websites and reward schemes, check out offers on flights, and take up hotel credit cards. We had two wonderful nights in the Meridien Etoile hotel in Paris via our Starwood points! Shop around and use price comparison sites for hotels and flights, as well as pre-booking extras such as airport parking.
Consider being flexible with your timings. If you go midweek rather than on a weekend, you will probably find the holiday, particularly flights, will be cheaper.
Sarah Ebner and her two children run Family Travel Times, a blog about where they go and what they do! http://familytraveltimes.blogspot.co.uk/
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