How to create the Perfect Family Holiday

As a travel writer with a toddler and a baby it’s not uncommon to be asked what makes the perfect family holiday?

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Do you know what, it’s not about the location or a specific activity – it’s the whole package.  You show me a travel company that not only offers ‘family holidays’ but has actually engaged brain over what this actually  means- what does a baby need, a toddler, a child, a tweenager, a teenager need?  What do parents require whilst on holiday?  What does a family desire when ‘getting away from it all’?  What will relax them, bring smiles to tiny faces and create special memories?  Has anyone really thought this through??

For a start I want a company that offers its flight departures at convenient times.  (A family holiday that leaves at 6am, check in at 4am, um, no thank you).  Let’s leave during daylight hours please.

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With young children we currently don’t want to go long haul – Mr Husband and I don’t have the mental capacity or tenacity for such an intense undertaking.  (Other long haul passengers should thank us).  I love European destinations, ideally the Mediterranean, where we can feel the sun on our faces after a brief flight and transfer.  And yes, hit me with it, I love a good pool and a nearby beach.

I’d love family friendly activities.  I’m a big fan of cycling, swimming, sailing, snorkelling and I’d love to try something new.  Mr Toddler and Mr Husband love sports, and Mr Baby just likes it if we include him in anything – poor second child.

We take our tots away to spend quality time with them but a bit of couple-time wouldn’t go amiss, but couple-time seems like an impossible dream as child care is rarely available for children under three years old.  What’s wrong with two year olds – they’re adorable aren’t they, AREN’T THEY?  Is there a company that offers quality child care for toddlers or babies?  Perhaps a trustworthy listening service in the evenings or a range of evening activities to engage and entertain the young discerning holidaymaker.

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Um, you’ve got a little something on your face…

What else makes a great family holiday?  Good food and drink, and plenty of it – Yay.  Sounds like a no-brainer, granny-suck-eggs kinda stuff but you’d be surprised. Parents want a children’s menu that’s yummy, not just junk food, and served at times that work for all the family.  9.00pm may be very continental but my tots dine around 5.30pm GMT.  I try to be as flexible as possible but they are very grumpy, very miserable diners if they’re exhausted at the table.  To avoid flying food, tears and spilled milk let’s eat early.

The cherry on the proverbial cake would be access to a separate ‘Parent Kitchen’ for preparing and sterilising bottles, heating puree, prepping fruit for your toddler or popping some supplies for the tots in the fridge – does such a place exist?

And what about the accommodation?  It’s so important.  Who doesn’t want sumptuous surroundings?  As a parent I don’t want to sit in the dark quietly when the babies are asleep next to me, I’d be better off in my own living room.  I want mummy and daddy space for mummy and daddy time, so in my dreams I picture a spacious family suite with room for all the rugrats and an area for the adults to chillax with a  glass of vino.

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Island hopping tot

Location?  If I found all the resources I’ve mentioned above I would holiday on the moon if required, but generally I love an island destination.  Mr Toddler has already larged it in Ibiza, he’s sailed from Corfu to Paxos then onto Anti-Paxos, and he’s sunned his cute little derriere  in Mallorca and Tenerife along with Mr Baby.  And they both braved the wind and the rain on the hugely atmospheric Scottish island of Lewis and Harris.  Next on our wish list is Corsica – pourquoi?  Pourquoi pas.  We haven’t visited a French island before, I’d hope to visit some of the renowned rock formations and cliffs, explore the architecture of Corsica’s religious buildings and enjoy the beaches and seafood on offer.  But does this holiday exist?

Unbelievably I have stumbled across a company which offers all of the resources I’ve listed above.  I haven’t travelled with them yet but you won’t be shocked to hear that I’d like to.  The company’s called Mark Warner Holidays and I’d love to hear if you’ve travelled with them at all and also what you think would make the perfect family holiday.  At Tots2Travel we strive to find you to best family holiday recommendations and we keep it real with genuine feedback and toddler travel tales – tantrums and all.

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[The post above is a competition entry for Mark Warner Holidays’ Family Ambassador Programme in the Creative Writer category – I am impressed by the list of facilities on offer which, of course, I would like to personally experience.  Everything I’ve mentioned above Mark Warner Holidays provides, as well as a range of family Ski holidays.  They also provide specialist childcare for special needs in some of its resorts.]

For any feedback, queries or opportunities please email tots2travel@hotmail.com or join the conversation at www.facebook.com/tots2travel.wordpress.

#markWarnerMum

 

 

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57 Comments

  1. Reply

    Somerset Garden

    February 18, 2016

    Your holiday ideas sound just like ours! I have found they evolve as the kids get older but the same themes and ideas run through the planning!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 18, 2016

      I did like the sound of a club for teenagers too because I can imagine they’d like to hang out with folk their own age – I certainly did. The planning will always shift and change 🙂

  2. Reply

    Angela

    February 18, 2016

    this makes me want to take a vacation sooooo bad. i’m terrified of taking my toddler long plane rides!

  3. Reply

    tonyadenmark

    February 18, 2016

    There are so many things to consider when taking little ones. It’s great to hear you found a travel partner that gets it!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 18, 2016

      I love reading about companies that have actually thought through what families actually want – the next step is trying it!

  4. Reply

    worldwidewithkids

    February 18, 2016

    Never tried Warner’s but ive heard good things from others that have. You’ve painted a very good picture of them for me and im now off to check out their ski holidays!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 18, 2016

      Cool. I’m a comedy skier so we hope to teach our youngsters early. Glad you’ve heard good things – I was very impressed by what I read.

  5. Reply

    sara west

    February 19, 2016

    I haven’t travelled with them but I have a friend who took their toddler son with them a couple of times as he grew older as well and really rated them. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think once you’ve been.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      Glad to hear it.
      Mark Warner Holidays is choosing six bloggers as Ambassadors so competition is fierce – you can but try your best. If I do get to go I’ll keep you posted of course.

  6. Reply

    Suzi Whitford

    February 19, 2016

    Oh such a holiday would be great. I am not yet ready to leave my toddler, and now newborn, alone for days with someone else as hubby and I go on vacation. So if it’s possible to include them and still have alone time, I would love it! I can’t be too far from my newborn who nurses every 2-3 hours.. and she’s too darn cute anyways! <3

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      Breastfed newborns are never far from mummy. It was a real culture shock for me at first but once you’re used to it it then becomes strange to set them free. My two are now of an age to spend a few hours away from me so couple time (or even me time) might be more achievable – how heavenly.

  7. Reply

    amiecaitlin

    February 19, 2016

    Love this: “Mr Baby just likes it if we include him in anything – poor second child.” So true!

    But you’re right – we’ve only ventured for self catering so far since Little Miss came along two years ago because first it was the use of a kitchen to sterilise bottles / make tea and coffee at all hours, then with 6am starts, we were all starving long before any cafes opened and a 7pm bedtime (8:30 or 9 is about as late as she can last bless her!) we need somewhere to hang out other than her bedroom! Would make things so much easier in hotels, certainly in the baby years if they had access to a kitchen, etc. Great shout.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      A hotel with all these extras does sound tempting. Would love to try it – obvs!

  8. Reply

    fifi + hop

    February 19, 2016

    Corsica would be amazing:).

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      I’ve never been to a French island so I am curious.

  9. Reply

    yvette morgan

    February 19, 2016

    totally agree with the silly flight times, you just spend the first day totally exhausted 🙁

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      Sleep is a very, very precious commodity after children 🙂

  10. Reply

    joannavictoria

    February 19, 2016

    This post makes me so excited about going away in November.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      Now of course I have to ask where you’re going – no doubt I will be v jealous. Are you travelling independently or on a package?

  11. Reply

    Georgina Prince (@xxgeexx44)

    February 19, 2016

    I think family holidays are totally what you make of them! My memories of been squished up in a caravan when we were kids in Wales somewhere were probably less than ideal in reality but I have such happy memories! I must agree with you though good food and drink is essentia! We are grouchy as hell if we don’t get fed haha x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 19, 2016

      Definitely. Those holidays like sardines in a can have their own magic, we had the same experience when we went visiting relatives in Ireland – everyone all over the place. It was a riot. Don’t know how my parents coped.
      Now I’m the mum we still head over to Ireland to see the family but when I go abroad I’m looking for different things and I love travel companies that understand what makes a family tick and truly put them at the heart of things. Basically I love variety but, yes, good grub is essential!

  12. Reply

    Emma White (@TheRealSupermum)

    February 19, 2016

    I find it so hard to find the right place as I have 6 children aged 5,6,7,12,13 and 17 so finding something suitable for all ages can be a real challenge love your entry good luck x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 20, 2016

      Six children. That is a lot to think about. Let me find out.

  13. Reply

    Kerry norris

    February 20, 2016

    Good luck with your entry. I agree with you on all of these points. Good departure times are a must yet so many holiday companies do awful times for family destinations x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 20, 2016

      I’m sure it’s not easy to secure the coveted, civilised flight times (and before I had kids I liked to travel early to get the most of the day at my chosen destination) but a quality family travel company will offer the best flight times it can.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 20, 2016

      p.s. thanks for the good luck message!

  14. Reply

    mudpiefridays

    February 20, 2016

    Wow I had no idea they offered all of these things, we tend to do the whole thing from scratch for many of the reasons you have mentioned above. Must check them out. Good luck with the competition x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 21, 2016

      Thank you.
      In holiday terms it is a very solid offering. We do a lot independently too but it would be lovely for someone else to do the thinking for me once in a while.

  15. Reply

    Hannah - Budding Smiles

    February 21, 2016

    It definitely is important to have the whole package and I’d also love to go to Corsica! Best of luck with your entry, I’m stupidly nervous even though I know I won’t be picked haha xx

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 21, 2016

      I’m excited. It’s a genuine opportunity and it fits my brief perfectly so i think this will be a real strp forward for whoever is chosen.

  16. Reply

    Grant R

    February 22, 2016

    You’ve certainly ticked all the boxes as far as this dad is concerned! Especially the bits about food and mum /dad space 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 22, 2016

      Often the partner that works full time wants more time with the kids and the stay at home parents wants a little break! That’s another balance to get right.

  17. Reply

    HelpfulMum

    February 22, 2016

    I had no idea they offered half of the facilities you’ve mentioned! Good luck.

  18. Reply

    Chilling with Lucas

    February 22, 2016

    Fab post, good luck with the competition x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 22, 2016

      Thank you. Would be a fascinating company to work with.

  19. Reply

    The L's Mum

    February 22, 2016

    You have really covered all aspects here. Couple time hash;t ever been on the cards on our recent family holidays, and always struggle to entertain our two year old. Mark warner sounds like they have it right.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 22, 2016

      I’ve never experienced childcare for under 3s before on holiday. It’s never been an option. Yes I do go on holiday for quality time as a family but a cheeky lunch or dinner as a couple would be a huge treat.

  20. Reply

    Rachel

    February 22, 2016

    That first photo is picture perfect, what a beautiful shot x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Thank you. Trying to stop him sucking all the pebbles was quite trying 🙂

  21. Reply

    laura447

    February 22, 2016

    Good luck with your entry. For me it’s also the full package. We’ve yet to venture abroad with ou 20 month old yet!!!

    Laura x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Well I hope you venture abroad soon. The memories are wonderful and they inevitably try new things – in Scotland we don’t play in the sea very often so I love seeing the boys warm and relaxed splashing around.
      I’m not saying it’s always easy but it’s certainly more fun than staying at home. Maybe a company that uber kiddie friendly could persuade you 🙂 Best wishes.

  22. Reply

    Lilinha Espindula

    February 22, 2016

    We have been to a Mark Warner holiday in Sardinia and it was fantastic. Little man loved their childcare and activities. The whole family had an amazing time! 🙂
    http://lilinhaangel.com/

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Wow, more positive feedback. Glad it worked for you, Mark Warner does seem to have pinpointed what families actually want. What a lovely destination too. Jealous!

  23. Reply

    Ana De Jesus

    February 22, 2016

    I just read on a side note that they provide holidays for special needs children? I would love to hear more news on that!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Yes I think the ways in which they cater for special needs children and their parents makes the company stand out even more. If I was lucky enough to write for them then this is something I’d definitely wish to shine a light on.

  24. Reply

    Miranda (Anosa)

    February 22, 2016

    I love traveling and lately been doing a lot of it but not sure my mental capacity can handle traveling with kids. Will see when we do have kids what its like and thanks for sharing this post got some cute ideas.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Let’s put it this way, no it’s not the same as lounging by the pool for hours with tunes blasting in your iPod but you will genuinely love seeing your little ones play with a bucket and spade or paddle in the sea. Trust me.

  25. Reply

    Kara

    February 23, 2016

    We were lucky enough to travel with Mark Warner last year and they really do cater for all ages. The kids learned new skills and made friends and we for some much needed adult time too!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Hearing very good things so far. Would love to try it. Very jealous of your adult time!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      p.s.shared your ferry journey post – spot on.

  26. Reply

    lambandbear

    February 23, 2016

    Totally agree with you about flight times! It’s almost impossible to get a baby/toddler to the airport at 4am! It sucks that the more convenient times are more expensive. Good luck with your entry x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 23, 2016

      Well we’ve done it and the tots were so good, but as parents depriving yourself of further sleep kinda goes against instinct!

  27. Reply

    Rashminotes

    February 24, 2016

    Nice post:) The kids in the pics look soooo adorable!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 24, 2016

      Aw thanks.

  28. Reply

    Candace

    February 25, 2016

    Some lovely tips here and I just adore the first photo. Just too cute!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      February 25, 2016

      Thank you. It’s my favourite age, when babies can sit/crawl but aren’t quite walking – just a personal thing but it’s the best age to me.

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