According to SunLife, family holidays are something most of us want to experience during our lifetime; I know that, for me, they are the highlight of the year, and I intend to keep them up long after my children are grown. As a child, I never went away with my family and I feel that we missed out so aim to compensate by making sure we have at least one break a year now I’m a parent myself. I know my parents would cite finances and logistics as being the main reasons we never had a holiday but there are ways of getting round this. Here are some of my favourite ways to get away from it all with my family, and the pros and cons of each:
I’m a bit sad but I love a train journey – I also don’t yet drive so if I want to take the kids away during a holiday whilst their Dad is working, trains are our best bet. So far, we have been to London and Bristol, while York, Bath and Edinburgh are on my radar for the coming years.
Pros: convenience; time spent together travelling; flexibility; children can move around during the journey more so than in a car; can be quicker than driving; destination stations are usually central and therefore it is easy to reach popular attractions.
Cons: prices can vary a lot and be very expensive; there may be delays or cancellations that affect your plans; it can mean a lot of changing and waiting around on platforms for connections; you have to carry your luggage with you at all times unlike in a car.
Now the children are a little older, we love to take them camping. So far, we have only tried it quite close to home, but we would like to go further afield next time; the New Forest features highly on our list, as does France.
Pros: cheap; lots of fresh air and exercise; good for family bonding; flexible.
Cons: can be boring if you choose the wrong site; if the weather isn’t dry or warm, it can be more of an endurance test than a holiday; food options aren’t great; wash facilities may not be ideal.
City breaks have been a family favourite since the children were very small and we would love to do more of these, particularly via Eurostar. Getting to European cities can be done via a number of options from the UK – we have previously driven to Dublin, caught a coach to Paris, taken the Eurotunnel to Bruges and flown to Amsterdam.
Pros: accommodation can be cheap if you look in the right places; there is no shortage of things to see and do and cities often have discount deals for local travel and attractions; plenty of options for eating out and picnics; if staying in Europe, can be done over a weekend so no need to use up Annual Leave.
Cons: travel can be expensive, particularly via plane or Eurostar, which are the quickest options; generally, eating out and buying souvenirs is more expensive in cities; there tends to be a lot of walking involved in getting round the area, which can be tiring for the kids.
We love getting away, even just for a weekend, and one of the loveliest things to do is rent a cottage for a couple of nights, get in a takeaway and chill by the fire playing board games. Just us?
Pros: relaxing; can be local to you so travel costs are low.
Cons: can be expensive as properties tend to put prices up for the weekends, especially in high season.
I’m not typically the ideal candidate for a beach holiday considering my skin turns pink at the merest mention of sunlight and I am generally more interested in culture than sun-worshipping. However, the kids and hubs all love swimming and being active by the sea and I’ve found that, given a recliner in the shade, an iced drink and a decent book, I’m pretty happy too.
Pros: loads of options of where to stay, including UK; can be cost-effective if you take advantage of a package deal; sunshine makes us all happy, right?
Cons: again, expensive if you want to go abroad where it’s properly hot; can be overcrowded at peak times of year.
We’ve been to a grand total of two holiday parks so far, one in North Wales, one in the centre of France, but both have been such a success that, if the kids have their way, we will be going to more asap.
Pros: works out a lot cheaper than a hotel/villa; often lots of English people onsite so the kids usually find playmates to keep them amused; free kids clubs; food available onsite (stores and restaurants); onsite entertainment; water parks (my kids’ absolute favourite thing about them).
Cons: the only downside I can really think of is that when we went to the holiday park in France, and it took hours to drive there, we really could have been anywhere; I suppose the location didn’t really justify the effort it took to get there.