I wrote this post on our top 10 essentials for great family holidays as part of a Mark Warner competition. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but the post remains as true and relevant now as it did when I wrote it.
When it comes to family holidays, I think there are some essential ingredients that really make a family holiday and these are ours. As long as we have these 10 elements, I know we’ll have a great time.
#1 Family-Friendly Hotel
It all starts with the perfect family hotel. Nothing is more important when you have two little ones than a good hotel that you are happy to spend as much time in it, as you are out of it.
Our holidays these days are all about the kids, although mum and dad want to have a good time too and that means staying somewhere that caters for families in every sense of the word.
That means great hotel and room design that is as easy to use as it is to look at, and tasty food that is as nutritious as it is impressive. It means beach foraging activities for the kids and couples massages for mum and dad. It means feeling like you are in a home away from home.
#2 Attentive Staff
There is nothing that makes me happier when I’m on holiday than when I see the hotel staff talking to our little ones with genuine interest and delight, and treating them like the special little guests that they are.
It’s what makes a hotel a great place to stay and makes you want to come back before you’ve even left which is exactly what we found during our stay at the Lux Belle Mare in Mauritius.
#3 Perfect Pools
For me, a great holiday is a beach holiday and that usually has to involve a swimming pool or two to jump into and lounge around at. There is a lot less lounging since we’ve had the little ones, but we still manage a fair bit of splashing, although its usually in the baby pool these days. But as long as our hotel has a great pool then we’re a very happy family.
Five or so years ago a perfect holiday was to someplace far-flung and exotic, usually with friends. These days a perfect holiday is no less exotic, or necessarily closer (although it is far easier) but it is always with family. My little tribe.
There is something rather special and magical about travelling once you have children of your own. Suddenly looking at the world through another lens. Theirs. The excitement of taking them somewhere for the first time, of showing them something for the first time, of them trying something new for the first time.
#5 Beautiful Beaches
For me, a holiday would not be a holiday without a beach. Which is why when we very occasionally go on city breaks, they don’t quite feel like a holiday.
They always feel like they are missing something and it’s probably a beach. I love nothing more than lying on a sunny beach abroad, although much like the swimming pool, it rarely happens these days.
Whilst we may visit a beach when we are on holiday, there is no guarantee anyone is going to be lying on it, especially when your three-year-old is still scared of the sand. But I am hoping that one day I’ll get to lie back on that beach. Eventually.
#6 Yummy Food
Good food is such an essential. Even more so now that we have a little family. Not only do we need food that appeals to us, the type of gluttonous food that you wouldn’t eat every day at home (because we all like to let loose a little on holiday right), but also food that appeals to the teeny tiny palates of little ones.
I want options and I want choices, and I want things that are authentic. But I also want things that I could eat at home as we did at the Lopesan Baobab Hotel. Basically, I want the world.
#7 Ice Cream
A holiday would not be a holiday without oodles and oodles of ice cream. I’m not sure how much more there is to say about ice cream other than we love it, can’t get enough of it, and eat waaaaay too much of it when we are on holiday!
Our holidays have to be somewhere warm and sunny. For me, a holiday would not be a holiday without the sun. I love the summer sun and seriously can’t get enough of it. I am never happier, home or abroad than when the sun is shining.
#9 New Experiences
Before the little ones came along Chris and I would always spend our holidays out exploring the local places. Now that we have the little ones, we’ve found a good balance for us is spending some of our holidays in the hotel as well as exploring the city, town or island that we’re in.
Because one of the most important thing for us on holiday is having fun, exciting and interesting new experiences as a family.
#10 Happy Children
As much as it is a holiday for the parents, the most important thing for us is having happy children at the end of each day and at the end of the holiday.
Nothing brings a smile to my face like it does when I see happily exhausted and content little faces. That’s when I know that the months of planning, the hours of travelling and all the disrupted routines have all been worth it.
What are your top 10 essentials for great family holidays? I’d love to hear yours in the comments below.