Planning a child friendly holiday begins with working out how long a journey you and your little ones can cope with.
The child friendly journey
For some toddlers, a half-hour train journey is too much while others seem to cope really well with an airplane flight of four hours or more.
But if your little ones find sitting still for any length of time impossible, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of visiting Europe until they’re a lot older – you and the family could instead travel by ferry or train rather than an airplane.
The journeys by train or ferry might be a little longer but you’ll have the opportunity to get up from your seats and move around.
Pick somewhere with child friendly holiday weather
When you’re planning your child friendly holidays, find out what the weather will be like in the locations you plan to visit.
For although you may love nothing more than holidaying somewhere very hot, small children don’t fare well in hot weather – they get sunburnt and dehydrated much faster than adults do.
If you really can’t resist the lure of hot climes, remember to take plenty of high factor sunblock, sun hats and children’s sunglasses for your little ones and keep them in the shade.
And if you’re going somewhere for your children friendly holidays where it’s likely to rain, take plenty of indoor entertainment for your little ones so that they’ve got lots to keep them occupied.
What’s your budget?
Book the best quality accommodation that you can afford and where possible save money on getting there.
Choose child friendly accommodation
Something else to decide is where you’ll stay during your family friendly holidays – will you opt for hotels or choose self-catering accommodation?
While staying in hotels has obvious benefits for parents (someone else does the cooking and cleaning, which is always a treat!), they are not always child friendly.
For a start, you’re all likely to be sharing a room, which is fine until the children have to go to sleep. Then what do you do?
Parents who’ve stayed in hotels with their children often end up going to bed at the same time as their little ones or sitting in the bathroom to talk or read.
Self-catering can be more cost effective and is a great all-round, flexible child friendly solution. You can all eat, sleep and play when it suits you and your children.
Self-catering cottages, villas and gites are ideal for family holidays, especially if your children like to snack during the day or are unlikely to be able to wait until hotel restaurants open.
Self-catering family holidays give you a lot more flexibility about when and where you eat – if your toddler wakes up at 5am and wants breakfast, you only have to go to your kitchen to make it – something that you wouldn’t be able to do in a hotel.
It also means you and the children can go shopping in local supermarkets and markets, which is a great way for them to learn about the local culture.
There’s also a lot more space in holiday cottages, villas and gites than hotel rooms, which means the children have enough room to play during the day and the adults have somewhere to relax in the evenings when the little ones have been put to bed.
There’s also a tremendous range of self-catering accommodation available, to suit any size pocket.
Once again, do choose the best quality accommodation that you can afford. This is especially true in the UK where the weather might not be that great and so you could spend most of your holiday time indoors.
Buyer beware! Only book your holiday through a reputable supplier. There have been cases where the property didn’t exist and families have lost their deposits.
Look carefully at the photos and ask lots of questions so that you’re sure that you’re booking the right place for you and your children.
The child friendly villas and child friendly boltholes on TotstoTravel’s website are hand-picked, stylish properties that have been vetted by our experts to ensure they’re completely safe and child friendly and that they offer parents essential baby and toddler kit (things like cots, high chairs, sterilising equipment, etc.) so that you don’t need to lug any of that with you from home.
Some of the Tots to Travel property owners also offer baby-sitting services and others even arrange to do pre-arrival grocery shopping for you.
What do you want to do?
It might be worth finding accommodation with some childcare so that you do get a chance to read your book in the sun or curled up inside. Depending on what you are after, there are different levels of childcare available.
For an all-day childcare solution try a club holiday or hire a nanny (try www.holidaynanny.co.uk). There are also some self-catering properties and hotels that offer flexible childcare depending on what you require.
Do you need childcare?
If an all-day childcare solution is what you’re after then there are a few options: you could choose an all-inclusive club holiday and book a nanny from a local agency (for example, if you’re planning a ski holiday) or take a nanny with you - www.holidaynanny.co.uk will match you with the best nanny for you.
A third option is to travel in a group (ideally with a devoted granny!) or to choose somewhere that offers flexible childcare arrangements or provides a babysitter so that you and your partner can go out for a meal.
Many self-catering holiday properties do now provide some childcare so ask the question when you book.
It’s really easy to find great child friendly villas and cottages with Tots to Travel in France, Spain, Canary Islands, Italy, Portugal, and the UK. You can use our convenient map or our advanced search to find the perfect child friendly villas for you. It is really easy to enquire and we will be in contact shortly to help you have a relaxing and safe family holiday with your young children