7 TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF FAMILY HOLIDAYS
We recently ran a survey about how, as a nation, we tend to take our work away with us on holiday - and as a result, don’t get to make the most of our summer break as we could (and should) do.
This affects all types of holidays, from romantic city breaks for two to family holidays with the kids in tow. With that in mind, we asked popular blogger Francesca De Franco, founder of www.theparentsocial.com, to tell us her top seven tips for getting the most out of your long-awaited family holidays – without an email in sight!
Find out Francesca’s top tips below:
1. ENSURE THE HOLIDAY HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
“It sounds obvious. However, a child’s wish list (I’m talking five years old and up) can easily be overlooked as you try to organise the ‘perfect holiday’ and grapple with logistics and finances. It’s good to involve them in the planning. Top of my children's list is a place with a pool. I couldn’t care less about a pool, and much prefer sightseeing, but with a bit of thought and plenty of research, it is possible to book a holiday that caters for everyone.”
With this in mind, why not have the best of both worlds and book an exciting city break that will please all parties. Barcelona, for example, offers gorgeous sights, a fabulous beach and plenty of central hotels with swimming pools.
2. PACK THE LITTLE EXTRAS
Alongside the holiday essentials, there are a few other things you can pack:
“Holidays should be about unplugging and not about staring at a screen. However, taking electronic devices isn’t a bad thing if they are used in moderation. Holidays are also about having some downtime and relaxing. iPods, iPads etc can come in very handy when travelling to stave off boredom. If you’re dealing with travel delays, a quick and easy distraction will prove a godsend!”
“On the more traditional front, take pencils and a small scrapbook/exercise book. My daughters love collecting mementoes from their holiday and writing about what they’ve been up to. They also just like to draw in quieter moments. Get them to choose a reading book to bring with them as well.”
“Similarly, take a pack of playing cards and - if you have space - a travel board game. A game provides great family entertainment and is a really nice way to chill out together. It can also help the kids unwind of an evening before bed if you’re not going out.”
It’s not all down to the parents to supply the entertainment though, do your research and you’ll find a medley of fun-tastic family resorts in destinations across Europe and further afield. Plus, our guide on how to keep the kids happy should keep the boredeom at bay, too.
3. MIX IT UP
“Leisurely days on the beach or by the pool are great, but it’s good to mix those up with something a bit more structured. We tend to get the most out of a family holiday if we do a variety of things. We usually come up with a hit list of a few places/points of interest and attractions we want to visit and then research a few possibilities of nearby places where we can go for lunch. We usually alternate these more active days with lounging about days. Which reiterates my next point...”
4. HAVE LAZY DAYS
“Incorporate some lazier days into your holiday. I often try to cram in too much and cajole everyone into seeing this sight followed by that monument and that pretty village... If your children like seeing the sights that’s fantastic, just remember that even the most eager might not appreciate lots of consecutive days with a heavy itinerary!”
In this instance, why not browse our recommendations for the most relaxing holidays?
5. COMPARTMENTALISE ANY WORK
“Unfortunately, not everyone can slap on the “out of office”, get on a plane and totally forget about work for a fortnight (with four in 10 continuing to check emails throughout their holiday, one in 20 of which before they even hit the breakfast buffet!). The reality is, many of us will need to take care of something work-wise whilst we should be sipping our cocktails. Some things might need dealing with straight away, but outside of this, try to designate a particular time to check emails, make calls etc if you have to at all. This is the perfect opportunity for the kids to have their downtime with electronic devices or do a bit of scrapbooking, writing, drawing or reading.”
“Try to avoid discussing work outside of the designated time; the most important thing is to maintain a relaxing atmosphere so the kids (and you) don’t forget it is actually a holiday. I personally need to get out of the habit of checking work emails on my phone at every opportunity. People know you are on holiday, so understand you won’t reply as fast as usual. If it’s really important, they will call!”
6. FORGET THE NORMAL ROUTINE
“Holidays are about doing different things, having unique experiences and taking a break from the normal school and 9-to-5 routine. We don’t worry about getting the children to bed at a specific time as we don’t have to be up early, and they can always have a siesta if the mood takes. My children love to go out for an evening meal and see the town/village by night.”
7. RESEARCH SOME EATERIES
“It’s great to be spontaneous, but it’s good to have a contingency plan when it comes to eating out. If you’re in a more heavily populated tourist area you’ll easily be able to find a place to eat, which suits everyone’s tastes. However, if you’re more off the beaten track options might be limited, so it can be worth doing a bit of research to see what’s available in the surrounding areas. Whilst I always encourage my children to try new foods, it’s good to have somewhere up your sleeve that’s a dead cert; for our kids, it’s pasta, steak and calamari (not together)!”
Hey, together, not together – we’re not judging! That's what holidays are for, and with our last minute deals to your favourite destinations you can be touching down on soft white sands at the drop of a sunhat, without spending big. So browse our site for your ideal sun spot, today.
You can check out more of Francesca’s writing over on her blog, www.theparentsocial.com.