Holidays are for relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation. That was until you had kids. What you once packed into your sleek carry-on now hardly fits into your over-sized family suitcase. And your new seat of choice on the plane is always on the aisle closest to the lavatory.
Travelling with kids certainly changes the way parents think about holidays. As much as you love having them around, even the most patient moms and dads want to run for the hills after a few days of playing dress up, snakes and ladders, Lego or princess-princess.
Rounding-up its most popular family-friendly packages that give you a well-deserved time-out too, Sean Hough, CEO of leisure travel specialist Pentravel, advises the best spots to go on holiday with the kids in tow and tips to getting a great deal.
1. Beach holidays
Spend seven days on the beach in Mauritius to catch-up on a few books while the kids are kept busy at the kid’s club. The Le Canonnier Hotel offers among the island’s most interesting attractions and is ideal for families: The Kids club, housed in an ancient lighthouse built in stone with an old gun power magazine outside, it’s the perfect place for kids to indulge their creativity and get lost in their imaginations. Or, while the children are entertained relax in the Hotel Clarins Spa which is built into an old Banyan Tree. The time difference and flying time between Mauritius and South Africa make this tropical island an ideal beach getaway for kids and parents too.
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Top tip: Visit in low season when the prices are nearly half during December’s peak. Kids under 12 fly free and only pay for airport taxes on Air Mauritius. They also stay free at many hotels when sharing the room with their parents.
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By far one of the most exciting and practical ways to see the highlights of a few countries in a short space of time is by sea or river. There’s no need for car seats, traffic jams, toilet stops or the incessant, “mommy are we there yet?” Every cruise offers something different for the little ones too - from igloos and life-sized polar bears, Stone Age dinosaur play areas and endless list of sports and arts and crafts.
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Top tip: Book a NCL ‘free style’ cruise and dine when and where you want, dressed as you want. Or on MSC cruise kids under 17yrs cruise free when sharing a cabin with their parents. As space is limited book early.
3. Road and rail
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Kids love trains and buses; they also offer a more intimate way to see several cities within one country. Destinations with a strong historical appeal like Rome or Venice in Italy can serve as a unique educational experience for both you and the children. Imagine wondering about the streets of Rome amongst the ancient ruins of the Colosseum, living the life of a Gladiator or hand-making an authentic Italian pizza with local chefs? In Venice kids love being rowed in a Gondola under the tiny bridges. These experiences are what you and your family will be talking about for months and years to come.
Top tip: Discover each new city relaxed and stress-free by booking a guided holiday? Trafalgar offers fantastic family packages to suit the whole family.
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4.Travelling with babies
First time parents are always amazed at just how many accessories they need to pack. From bottle warmers and sterilizers to nappies and changing mats. Once a baby starts eating solids that must be liquidised, it can really put a fork in the road when deciding on a holiday destination. Luckily a lot of top hotels have this covered. There’s no need to pack any tools and utensils as they offer it all and some include a refrigerator filled with yoghurts. A few hotels and cruise ships also offer a special baby laundry service, ensuring all baby’s clothes are washed separately using baby friendly detergents.
Top tip: Ask your agent before you travel what your hotel or cruise offers. And ask your agent to pre-seat you on the aircraft when they can
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“With the school holidays fast approaching, book sooner than later as hotel and flight pricing becomes more expensive. Some hotels also limit on how many family rooms they offer. You can also enjoy great value if you catch an early bird special,” says Hough.
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