Giants Causeway

Getting away from the farm – holiday options with children

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As we’re moving rapidly through yet another year (what is it about getting older that means times whizzes faster by?), my mind’s turning to holidays and chance to get away from the farm for a bit.  We’ve not yet had a family holiday as the OH isn’t keen on leaving the farm, but now I’ve also got N on the case hassling him to take some time off.  N wants to go to the beach, although really he just wants to go on holiday.

Beaches in northern ireland

Since having N, I’ve tended to do road trips with him visiting friends and family around the UK for a few days, but this time I want to do one trip and stay for longer which would avoid the stress of being in and out of the car and sleeping in lots of different places.  I’ve had a think about the different holiday options there are in the UK. 

Hotel breaks

A bit of luxury is never a bad thing on holiday as it’s always nice to not feel like you’re working as hard as you would do when away from home.  There’s always a variety of budgets catered for, especially if you use a hotel specialist like Hotel Direct, from 5 star to budget hotels.  For meal times, if you don’t want to eat out, you can generally find a restaurant either in the hotel or next door.

If you want to ensure a bit of space between parents and children, look out for family suites – where you’ve got the main bedroom, and ajoining room for children.  It means they’re still close enough, but you also get a better night’s sleep without a noisy snoring child (or OH if they’re the noisy sleeper!).  The alternative is family rooms which are larger, and tend to have a convertible sofa bed.  Make sure you check when booking if you can have a cot to save taking your own travel cot with you.

Bed and Breakfasts

While hotels can be all inclusive saving you time and potentially money, eating out, B&Bs give a bit more of the home from home…but without the cleaning.  Always a good thing when you’ve got a messy child in tow.  We’ve always tended towards B&Bs (if not hotels) prior to N as we like to know we’ve got a good home made breakfast, usually from local produce to start the day.  You also get to know the owners/staff well as the owners tend to be the ones you see as you come and go.

We quite often stay on farms as well (not really getting away from home!), but if you want outdoor play space for children, then look for B&Bs on town or city outskirts, if not further out.  If you stay further out of town, you’re more likely to find places to stay with parking spaces, as often city centre locations have limited parking. 

Giants Causeway
Giants Causeway Photo credit: W Singhal


If you’re the type of family who want to control times of meals, when you can come and go, and not worry about fussy eaters or noisy children wanting to run about all over the place, then self-catering might be a good option.  I’m too lazy and prefer to come back in from a day out to a tidy and clean room, but there’re definitely advantages especially if you want keep your budget down.  Many places will let you order an online grocery shop ready for your arrival which definitely removes the need to shop before you leave, or having to visit the supermarket before settling in.

With self-catering you get a huge choice of accommodation types – you could tour via caravan or camper van, have serviced apartments, or a country cottage.

caravan holiday park in northern ireland
Alternative self catering Photo credit: W Singhal


Camping (or even glamping if you need more home comforts) isn’t for everyone.  I’ve been a couple of times with my best friend after uni (maybe February in Snowdonia wasn’t a good idea!) and would love to take N.  A chance to have a bit more of an adventure, be at one with nature, and have a great night’s sleep thanks to spending lots of time outdoors – what’s not to love in my opinion?  I just need a nice shower and toilet block, plus possibly kitchen facilities for an occasional meal by the tent.  But it would take a lot of convincing to get the OH to camp out, so it’s probably not going to happen on a family holiday.

Drummers at festival
Photo credit: N Taylor

Nowadays there are so many options for holidays in the UK or abroad, with so many companies realising they have to cater for families to continue to broaden their customer base, it’s making the decision on where to go that’s hard.  That’s of course, if you can persuade your workaholic husband away from the farm!

Where are you planning to go on holiday?  Do you have any tips for taking children?

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  1. I grew up in a family that spent weekends out-of-town. I used to complain a lot because my Mom made us pack our own stuff, but not looking back … I appreciate these weekends spent in a resort or a hotel with family and extended family.

  2. we just came from a road trip and my 3 year old was surprisingly very good. So we would do it again and plus we love seeing his reaction to everything. And it’s good for them to go out and see a little bit of the world 🙂

  3. We went for an adventurous trip last year with kids. That was the last time and we are not going to plan any such trip with little ones. They become all the more naughty and adventurous trips seems more dangerous and risky when kids are around :p

    1. There is always that danger that they get overexcited. Thankfully mine’s an only child so only gets wound up by his dad!

    1. I’ve only done road trips with mine. It involves lots of food being passed to the back seat. I’ve not done a holiday based in one place before, so I’m definitely up for a longer trip with him now.

  4. I love taking road trips with my kids. It’s so much fun to relax and go sightseeing. Been trying to plan one soon. Hopefully! lol

    1. I’ve done a few roadtrips visiting friends. I think they’re fine when children are older and happier to be in a car for longer, but mine doesn’t really nap now, so it’s hard work keeping him entertained, and not much fun for me driving all the time.

      Hope you get something planned soon

  5. I need to try the B&B thing. That’s something I’ve never done for some reason but I’ll bet I’ll be hooked once I stay in one.

    1. They’re definitely one to try. I find they’re a lot more personal, and the owners really care for their guests. Good to get insider information, and if you’ve got children, often there’s gardens with toys to play in.

  6. thanks for the tips and ideas! Definitely something we could do for the holidays.

  7. Love trips with my kids but have not been able to travel with them for at least 10 yrs. They are older now one 23 other 17. Still would love to go on a trip to MN with them to meet my new lil nephew when he comes at the end of summer. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ooh, got to go on a family visit to see family.

      It’s definitely sad when family holidays end as children get older. New memories to be made instead

  8. It takes a truly brave person (or people) to travel with children! haha. But seriously, I have a lot of fond memories of camping when I was a kid (in the back yard and legit camping both), so I’m sure I’ll take my kids camping some day 🙂

  9. I’ve had so many different holidays with the boys – City breaks, touring in Australia and USA, camping in England and in France, self catering, hotels. I really don’t think it matters what you choose as long as you pace yourself on holiday. Don’t try to do too much and be prepared to be flexible about what you do, what children eat, when children go to bed etc. Holidays are magical times and they don’t need to be expensive to be memorable. It’s the one time when you can leave all your domestic and work responsibilities behind and just concentrate on being a family. It’s so much fun seeing the world through the eyes of children and wonderful to give them new experiences.

    1. Wow, some fab holidays. I totally agree that they should be all about memories and getting away from normal life. We definitely need a break as a family, as the OH will miss out on seeing how N copes, enjoys life and how he’s growing.

  10. Loads of fab ideas and tips here! I’m lucky enough to be going on a Mark Warner holiday this year, to Rhodes. It looks as though the kids will be really well-catered for, which I think will be the main thing for ensuring that D and I have a good time too!

    1. Ooh, I’d love to go on a Mark Warner break. I’d just want to play tennis all the time (wouldn’t quite work), plus try the water sports – if I could get into a wetsuit!

      Hope you have a great time

  11. it is good to know that there are plenty of holiday options to choose from where we can bring the kids. traveling with my little man is one of my favorite things to do. we’ve recently been to the beach + i cannot wait to go back!

  12. We’re going to Spain this year, half looking forward but a bit nervous too! I’m a big fan of self catering, mainly because it tends to mean you get more room.

    1. Agree on the room bit. I just hate the having to walk up and down tourist town hills with bottles of water and food when abroad. Prefer eating out, but that’s not always the best way if you want to budget.

      Jealous – would love to take N abroad, but bit scared to do it on my own, hopefully if I booked something, the OH would come too!

  13. We are not the camping family.. We like a nice hotel where we can roam whatever it is we are doing.. We are now in the process of figuring out what to do during the summer..

  14. Not sure about camping, but I would love to stay in a B&B with my hubby. We haven’t been away on vacation since having our girls 4 years ago, but say this year we have to make time for us. Thanks for getting me thinking about B&B’s and other affordable lodging options.

    1. There’s definitely a broad range of options for B&Bs – but also there are now many places which are self catering but you can order a breakfast box for the mornings.

      Hope you manage to get away

    1. If you get the right one they’re great. So much more personal, and good customer service as it’s the person’s home. If you don’t like chatting over breakfast with owners, then it’s not for you!

  15. I love taking weekend trips to the lake! its so fun and relaxing and my children love it!

    1. Lakeside trips would be amazing. I love the Lake District here, although tend to stay further out and visit for the day.

  16. Have to admit I am a great fan of camping, especially with the kids. By it’s very nature it forces you to be outside enjoying fresh air. Plus we can cater for our fussy eaters!! We never go far as we love North Norfolk… Now when can we go? Hope you get a family holiday this year:)

    1. I agree. You can make it what you want, and it’s lovely being outside and what feels like being free.

      We used to holiday in North Norfolk, staying in a friend’s caravan. Great summer hols they were.

  17. Bed and Breakfast would be a much homier place to be in. Since I am in the city, I’d love to spend vacation in farm type atmosphere or the beach.

  18. I love travelling. I haven’t been camping in years. I usually don’t get any kind of vacation because my vacation hours get used up on my daughter’s needs (doctors, etc.) but if I lose my job this summer, we are going to go to New Orleans, Savannah Georgia and Nashville Tennessee (and several stops in between!)

  19. My children are grown but traveling when they were little are some of my best memories. Family vacations are so important and also showing children places that are amazing. We have been to every state in the US except Hawaii and Alaska and we had our children with us on every trip!

    1. Wow, that’s great visiting. So many people haven’t been outside their near region. The lack of travel round your own country seems madness to me as my mum always took us all over the place as well.

  20. Camping is really not for me. I have experienced it only twice at least and I hate the feeling of not sleeping on soft mattresses.

    1. You can get nice airbeds now, but that does mean it’s a pain for actually travelling with the extra paraphenalia. I suppose the alternative is glamping or yurts with proper beds

  21. Great tips Emma! We tend to stick to self catering as you tend to get more space (that extra bedroom for the kids mean mum & dad get a break too!). Also, with three kids a family suite works, but a family room in a hotel doesn’t really do it for us now 🙂

    1. Thanks Sara
      To be honest, I’m not sure a family room in a hotel would work for us either. The OH moans that I snore as it is, and N is the noisiest sleeper. I sleep through him but the OH wouldn’t. He’d be the one wanting a separate room!

    1. I’ve not been camping for years either but really want to take N. I’m definitely a more luxury camper than in the wilds!

  22. I’m a big lover of UK holidays, in particular North Devon (Woolacombe, Ilfracombe). It’s a great place for younger kids and adults, not so much the teenagers. In Ilfracombe there’s a bay with a small sandy beach, lots of things to do – boat trips to see dolphins, seals, fishing trips, trips to Lundy Island, chances to see seals. Also in lfracombe there’s a lovely pebble beach which is great for geology / beach combing, there’s also a great walk around a huge hill called the Capston! My 4 year old managed to walk all the way to the top last year, then we walked 3/4 of the way down, then he rolled down the rest of the way!!
    Woolacombe has a 3 mile long golden sandy beach, rock pools, surf lessons, beach huts, rides, ice cream van & chip van on the beach in high season!

    As for somewhere to stay, I’m a lucky as my dad moved down there a couple of years ago so we stay there for just the cost of extras – trips out / ice creams etc.
    Because of this i’m also able to travel really light, because I can just use their washing machine!

    Tips for traveling with kids? Take lots of little healthy snacks, some bottles of water and a bottle of squash (or the new robinsons squashd!) and paper and crayons! Play i-Spy and talk to them about things they can see.
    I personally, like to keep the kids up a couple of hours past their bedtime the night before (Only if my dad is driving though – as it’s impossible to carry a child, push a bug with another child in and carry luggage all at the same time if on a train!)

    1. Love Devon and Cornwall. Such a long drive for young children unless they’ll nap. I’d love to take N there as they’ve great beaches. Can’t beat a bit of hill rolling too.

      I think I need family and friends living on the coast. My SIL’s parents have a house in Sidmouth, so I might have to ask if they’ve got any weeks free that we could go and stay there. Definitely keeps it cheaper.

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