Family holidays should be easy to plan, so why is it that when we decided to go on a family trip with my brother and his family at the start of this year, it was not only the location that became problematic, but also whether or not the accommodation was toddler-friendly.
So perhaps January is not the best time to head off on a family holiday. After all with two toddlers in tow a long-haul flight to somewhere warm and exotic was not really on the cards. However, we are also a family that, if we have to choose between a hot climate or one where thermals are still required to be worn, the heat will win out every time.
So for us, location really is important.
Add to that the fact that we need space to move. I don’t know any family that wants to spend two weeks living in each other’s pockets. Don’t get me wrong, I have chosen to go away with my siblings knowing that two pairs of little legs will be running around, causing mayhem and generally enjoying themselves for the duration of our trip, but I also want to have a space where I can relax, unwind and perhaps enjoy a bath in peace.
These two things however, are becoming increasingly difficult to find, especially when you start to discuss the budget.
Yes, it’s a holiday and everyone wants to enjoy themselves, but no-one wants to have to consider remortgaging their home in order to gain a week or two in the sun each year.
I believe that there are some hotel brands and holiday companies out there that thrive purely on the fact that people are willing to sell a kidney in order for their family to have the perfect holiday.
Not us however. Not only do we want a lovely place to stay, in a beautiful location we also want it at a reasonable cost.
Thinking back now, there were several things that should we ever go away with them again, that we will take into consideration.
What Should You Consider When Booking a Family Holiday?
#1 Child Safety
Children want to run around and play. They do not want to constantly have a parent or guardian telling them to be careful and to stand away from the edge of the pool. Parents also want the peace of mind that their little ones are safe and secure.
For us, as non-parents we were looking at hotel complexes that, in fact, were not suitable at all for children and if I am truthful whilst the actual hotel we did stay in was lovely to say that it was fully child-friendly is pushing it a bit too far.
#2 Family Friendly Rooms
Whilst I only occasionally use a microwave, when we arrived at the hotel it was disappointing to find that there was no such facility in not only the bedroom but also the dining areas. We had purposely booked an all-inclusive package thinking that this would make things easier with the children but it was not to be the case.
Now, for other non-parents, you may now be asking why a microwave would be important but for families with little ones still using a bottle this is often how parents sterilise the bottles.
Add to this the fact that, even though they knew that we had a three-year-old with us, no child toilet seat or bathroom step could be provided. Whilst this may not be a big deal to some, for my brother, whose son has now learnt to use the toilet rather than the potty it was a really big problem.
#3 Freedom for Children to be Children
So, I won’t lie, I have been known to book a hotel purely on the fact that it advertises that it is an adults-only resort. There are times when I just want to relax, read my book, enjoy my surroundings and not hear the screams of a small child because they have either fallen over or can’t get what they want and I am sure I am not alone.
However, if the resort is advertised as a family-friendly hotel, why is it that some adults still feel the need to tut and sign every time they hear a child make a noise? Why do they need to shake their heads in disgust when a child splashes in the pool or complain because they have to sit too close to them at dinner time?
Surely they are the ones that need to research their surroundings better rather than making parents feel uncomfortable because their child is unable to sit at the dinner table quietly for the couple of hours whilst food is served.
What Are The Alternatives?
As I have already mentioned, price is an important factor when booking a family holiday. Whilst we appreciated that the cost would increase we were not prepared for the quotes that started to roll in when we started to look around. Therefore, to find something cost-effective, whether you are a small or large family is paramount.
Secondly, you want to relax and feel at home in your surroundings without the added pressure of on-lookers all judging you and silently thinking that if they were their children they would behave so much better.
Therefore, perhaps it’s time, if you haven’t already done so, to start to move away from the typical hotel and package holiday type accommodation and start to look at providers that specialise in family holidays.
Tots To Travel is one such company that I wish I had known about before booking our last trip. Not only do they pride themselves of selecting only the best villas and cottages, making sure they are suitable for children of all ages they also make sure that each one of their homes is suitably furnished with a child in mind.
Whether it is a summer holiday or an active ski break you are looking for, all tastes and styles are catered for along with party size.
With the majority of their accommodation spread across Europe, I understand that if you are looking for a holiday in the Caribbean that these may not be your first choice, but if your next trip is going to be Greece, Italy or France then this is a brand seriously worth considering.
I know that when I started to look in more depth at their website, I started to dream about spending more time in the French countryside, whiling away my days enjoying the beautiful surroundings, looking out over fields full of bright yellow sunflowers whilst enjoying their local cuisine.
It actually reminded me of the time that we lived in France, around La Rochelle and Royan, when we would dream of owning our very own slice of French lifestyle, wishing that we were fortunate enough to own one of the light stone buildings, with their cornflower blue shutters where we could spend our evenings sat out on the veranda enjoying a dinner of fresh fish and fine wine.
We have become a generation of travellers that prefer to experience something more authentic then simply what a hotel has to offer. We want to experience local life, visit the daily markets where we can purchase our fresh produce and mix with strangers that can enlighten us about the surrounding areas. For me, that is what struck me about Tots To Travel. It is a way of experiencing more. Booking a villa or cottage with this company will certainly lead to a much more fulfilled family holiday – that is most certainly guaranteed.
Have you ever stayed in a villa or cottage with family members? Do you prefer this type of holiday over a hotel?