After having just returned from a wonderful break in Margate, I’ve been inspired to write about great getaways and how to plan them.
Okay, so I’m not able to get abroad this year due to the weekly hospital treatments, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy day breaks and wonderful staycations – and of course dream of getaways further afield!
So it’s the summer holidays and a family holiday in 2019 could be just the ticket to getting that change of scenery and a bit of respite that we all seem to crave. Cue sandy beaches, beautiful backdrops and plenty of sunshine.
A sun-filled getaway
First and foremost, I need to start by saying that it’s worth spending time doing your research. When we were looking to get away last year (we ended up going to Freiburg in Germany), VIP spent hours pouring over accommodation options and family activities online – and the research paid off.
Another alternative European destination worth a look at (for its abundance of family-friendly options) is Kefalonia in Greece. We’ve been once when the kids were really young, but it’s a destination that is both relaxing for the adults and entertaining for kids – and it’s definitely ‘on trend’ at the moment.
If you’re not taking in one of the gorgeous sun-kissed beaches or exploring the sandy coves, there’s plenty of food options to digest at a wide variety of restaurants (the food scene is definitely worth a mention!)
If your kids are fans of water sports or swimming, it’s also worth checking out what’s available – things like the nearest beaches, waterparks and facilities on offer nearby, plus if you’re planning on shopping (and I’m always interested in interior shopping whilst abroad!), it’s worth doing the research before you go. And then start getting excited about it!
In terms of accommodation, there’s a plethora of options of course – have a look at Kefalonia Villa Holidays for a range of options. They offer private accommodation where you can enjoy the luxury and comfort of your own living room, kitchen, bedrooms, dining room – and even a pool.
They’re great for group bookings too if you’re on a multi-generational family holiday or travelling with friends and it just means that you’re not cooped up in some hotel room – you actually get space and privacy to really enjoy your holiday.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Yes, I know I’ve made a bit of a statement in my sub-heading, but I really believe that the devil is in the detail when it comes to researching and planning a great family holiday. For me, it might mean the difference between a mediocre getaway and one that I’ll treasure for years to come.
Creating memories on holiday is a great way of making the whole experience much more enjoyable. For example, you could visit various historical landmarks, embark on family-friendly hikes, or you could even book a day trip to nearby cities or towns.
BUT….you don’t want to be doing this research last minute in your hotel room trust me, so in the weeks leading up to a getaway, start planning what activities you can do – come rain or shine. It’s worth creating a document on your computer that you can dip-in and dip-out of.
I’ll usually also add useful information such as the company’s website (to check if they are open that day), their social media handles so I can tag them in when I’m posting plus things like how to get there and a contact number.
Get the kids involved
If the kids get the chance to have their say about one aspect of the holiday, it’ll mean they’ll really feel involved in the planning and are more likely to enjoy the whole experience.
Depending on how old they are, you can also build on the excitement of the getaway by counting down the days with the kids. Let them have a hand in packing – if not your suitcase, then definitely their hand luggage.
If they’re really young and you’re flying long haul, then it’s worth getting prepared for a long flight by packing plenty of activities that will keep them entertained and distracted. Again – something worth considering, but if you’ve got younger children then a mid-morning flight will mean you will not need to wake too early to arrive at an airport, which can prevent tired, irritable children during a flight. Plus, the whole clan won’t need to struggle to enjoy some much-needed shut-eye during a night flight.
If a mid-morning flight isn’t on the cards and you’re having to get up at the crack of dawn then consider an overnight stay at an airport hotel. And at the other end of the scale, try letting the kids have an afternoon nap if you’re flying late in the evening so they won’t be too tired to enjoy the experience. Otherwise – have a read of my jet-lag tips if you're facing the inevitable! And if you’ve got a long car journey or transfer the other side, then a read of this post might come in handy!
The family packing list
Last but not least, there’s some things I never leave home without – split into three categories – toiletries, occasionals (mix and match this according to your own needs) and essentials.
Toiletries: make-up, sun cream, after sun, moisturiser, shampoo/conditioner, shower gel, towels/tampons, contraception, medication, nappies, hairbrushes/hair bands, first aid kit, toothbrush/paste.
Occasionals: sunglasses, glasses, books/magazines, music on devices (or programmes/films downloaded on tablets for kids), wet wipes, drawing supplies, washing powder, pack of cards.
Essentials: phone/laptop, camera and chargers for all, universal plugs, passport, purse/wallet, driving licence, tickets for the plane, transfer, accommodation, clothes and shoes, handbags, an extra bag for dirty laundry, shawl, keys, antibacterial gel, tissues, headache tablets, water bottle to refill.
I hope you've had some inspiring ideas about how to plan a family break – and making the most of a getaway. I'd love to know what advice you'd offer when planning a holiday – or your favoured packing list items!
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