Have you started planning next years holiday?
Given that my husband is a travel agent you would think that we would jet off on holiday several times a year. In reality its been a tough few years with one thing or another. We haven’t really been away on a proper holiday for quite some time. We had a family holiday to Italy about 3 years ago which we all loved and we had a belated honeymoon cruise which was also amazing.
But now its time to plan our next family holiday. We all need a break, I have been studying like crazy in amongst all the usual chaos of day to day life and my husband has been working hard on his new business. The kids, well they have all been amazing, I can’t complain. I’m very lucky to have 4 lovely children who behave pretty well most of the time. So I think its time to plan our family holiday for next year.
What do you want from your holiday?
We all like different things. I am just happy shopping or sunbathing with the odd excursion to do some sightseeing. The kids are happy so long as they are doing something to keep them occupied and my husband likes to find nice restaurants to dine out. There are so many things to think about when planning a family holiday from suitable flight times to suit your family down to available holiday activities and excursions. What to pack and what not to!
I’m thinking it might be nice to find a place where there are some good kids clubs as my youngest will be 4 when we go away. I am sure we can find something that will keep them entertained. This will enable us all to have a bit of a break. Another thing we all seem to enjoy are the waterparks, they provide a great family day out especially if you are on an all inclusive resort.
Planning a family holiday can be really stressful and there are lots of possibilities for things to go wrong and completely ruin a holiday so with a little careful planning before hand you can look forward to your break away knowing that you took care of the little details that make a big difference.
So here is my list of things to think about when planning a family holiday…
1.Compare your options
You can save money by looking at package holidays and then comparing the cost with booking everything separately. But on most occasions I would rather spend the extra money on having the service that comes with booking a package with a travel agent who is ATOL registered and knowing that if something goes wrong there is going to be someone who can sort things out for you financially.
Generally when things go wrong on a holiday that you have put together yourself there is no back up from anyone. This means you could get stranded causing holiday upset for everyone and leaving you with no money. I guess this all comes down to your destination and how easy it would be to sort things yourself if something were to go wrong. Would a package be suitable if you are visiting multiple destinations in one trip and how confident you are at arranging the different ways you may have to travel to get to and from your destinations.
2.Check the Details
Things you might not think of until after you have paid like if the flights are direct, flight times. Are your transfers included in the price? Especially if you are visiting more than one destination or you are going on a cruise. Is there going to be big gaps between arrivals and departures if you don’t have direct flights? Or if a cruise doesn’t depart until the following day after you flight arrives.
Many airlines now let you take car seats and pushchairs for free, I used to think it was just a pushchair but if you don’t want to take your own you can look at the cost of hiring and if this is going to be available.
3.Research Your Destination
Find out what is going to be in the surrounding area of your hotel. Will there be the activities you want or are you within walking distance of the beach. Check what kind of restaurants are near by. If you are taking small children it’s worth checking if there are any nightclubs near by as that’s another thing that could spoil your holiday. What will the weather be like when you are there? I know you can’t see that far ahead when you book but there are ways to find out what the typical temperatures are for that time of year. Then you can start to plan what you need to take in plenty of advance.
4.Check Your Documents
Holidays can easily be ruined by just simply forgetting to renew something. Make sure your passport will be in date not only when you fly out but for a couple of weeks after you return from your destination. Some cruise lines also require that you still have more than this time left so check with the operator what their policy is.
EHIC cards also need to be valid to cover you for any medical treatment that you might need while you are away. They are free to apply for but you need to make sure you go to the official EHIC website as there are many sites out there who are charging for them. Please note this is not a replacement for travel insurance.
Travel insurance, shop around see what deals are around and what your policy will cover should anything go wrong.
Check if your driving licence is valid as in some countries you will need a different permit.
5.Get the Best Seats
There are websites that let you check the planes seating plan. If you are travelling with small children this should be a priority as you will be much more comfortable if you can bag a seat with a little extra room, it’s really worth paying for and doing this as early as possible.
6.Find Cheap Travel Accessories
Don’t wait until you get to the airport to remember things like the right travel adaptor or insect repellent. Check the pound shops and other bargain stores to find your accessories at a fraction of the cost. You can also make your own travel size toiletries instead of buying them as this works out much cheaper.
7.Liquids are Banned
But food is not, don’t be fooled into thinking you have to buy food at the airport. Take a picnic and save some money. Make up items can also be taken through if they are small enough. MaKe sure you check the specific requirements on the airport website. They also have a habit of charging for the clear plastic bags that you are required to put your belongings in. Take a sandwich bag with you for each person.
8.Be Aware of Star Ratings
I often find that reading reviews is a much better insight than looking at a star rating which don’t always mean the same thing. The star rating is not world wide standard. Sometimes star ratings are used to show promotions and don’t reflect the quality and service of a hotel.
Look for the best exchange rate before you change any money over. Think about what other options would be best for you. Last time we went away we took what was essentially a prepaid credit card which was covered for loss or damage. You may want to look at travellers cheques or cash or even if your bank will charge to just use cash directly from your bank.
10. Dress the Kids up
I always try and find some bright clothes for the kids when we are travelling. It’s so easy to get distracted and take your eyes off them. Especially when going through security. Taking shoes and belts off, whilst emptying your pockets and loading your belongings onto the conveyor belt. If they have a bright top on then its easy to spot them. Write your mobile number on a wrist band so if they go astray they will be easily reunited.
11. Free Apps
Look for free apps that will help you with your holiday. It could be a translation app so you can easily access when needed without having to carry a book around. There are many other apps that will help for things like flights, car hire, accommodation and of course some games to keep the kids entertained.
12. Prepare Your Mobile Phone
Call your service provider and check what their policies are. Do they need to do anything to enable you to use your phone abroad? They may be able to offer you special rates. Before you go switch off your data roaming so you don’t end up with unnecessary charges.