We love a holiday, although ours aren’t the normal once a year big foreign holiday. Poor N hasn’t been abroad yet (excluding a trip to Jersey and he didn’t need a passport for that), and given I don’t want to take him alone on a first foreign holiday, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Instead we do several staycations a year, including our annual friends camping trip.
There’s so many holiday options nowadays, it’s a case of picking the most suitable one for you and your family. We’ve done most types in the UK with N and have our preferred ones for different holidays. If you’re not sure what type of holiday is right for you, this list could be for you.
Camping is going through boom times at the moment. Parents remember times they camped out as children, and want their own kids to experience the freedom of holidaying on a campsite. Camping holidays are relatively cheap even in summer holidays, and there’s so much choice of them too. We’re currently trying to book somewhere for our annual summer trip with friends, and it’s proving harder this year – we only want nice showers/toilets, electric hook up, near the coast, group booking and no rowdy packed holiday park, but there’s not much around that’s catering for us this year.
Wild camping – go back to nature, no toilets, no electricity, just pitch up in a field. Maybe better for experienced campers, or for a night only.
Family camping with without/electric hook up – go as a family or as a big group. Nowadays, campsites have luxury bathrooms, shops and often a café. Range from large holiday parks with entertainment down to more basic campsites.
Glamping – go posh and just turn up to find a tent and furniture already set up for you. A good launch into trying camping. We’ve never been although it would be quite nice to try out some of the more alternative tent types. Less of a glamping option, but definitely of the turn up and not have to pitch a tent, you can even do Eurocamp and other campsites overseas.
Motorhome – we’ve got a friend who has come camping with us, but in a motorhome when she was pregnant/when the baby is young. Hand for keeping everything contained, but it takes longer to get to the campsite, and unless you tow an extra car, you have to pack up every time you want to go out for the day.
The benefits of camping is that even if you go on your own, chances are the children will find new friends, they’ll be able to roam in relative safety. Even when there hasn’t been a children’s playground, we’ve always found the children can entertain themselves just with the field or open spaces.
I’ve only stayed in a caravan (static one, rather than a touring caravan) as a child, when a few years running, a family friend let us stay in their caravan in North Norfolk. Nowadays, there are so many more holiday parks – some are the big Haven or Parkdean brands you can find all over the country, others are independent holiday campsites. But they usually have some kind of entertainment, people often return year after year, and there’s usually plenty of activities for the children to do on site.
We loved staying in the caravans as children, although we did tend to use the campsite toilets and showers rather than having to deal with the sewage afterwards. Shudder. This would be different if you were just renting a caravan on a campsite rather than using a privately owned one, but if you want something more substantial than a tent, they’re certainly a good value option.
Bed & Breakfast
With the rise of Air BnB there’s even more choices for B&Bs. We used to stay in B&Bs all the time before we had N, but nowadays prefer a hotel. With a B&B there’s usually less of a communal area, sometimes you’re staying in the owner’s home, so you don’t always feel you can loiter in your room during the day. But if you want to just use them as a base for sleeping, they’re brilliant. Especially if you’ve a freshly cooked, locally sourced breakfast.
For children, you want to look for one with a garden you can use, but we’ve often stayed on farm B&Bs which are great if the children can have a look at the animals. Plus on a farm, there tends to be plenty of private free parking, which you don’t always get with other B&Bs, especially in towns or cities. With children, you don’t want to be parking miles away from where you’re staying.
There’s certainly a lot of choice in the type of properties – from grand manor houses, to little bungalows. There’s something for everyone. And nowadays you can get some really quite amazing boutique places. We stayed in a wonderfully classy B&B in Edinburgh.
Another self-catering option and great for families, especially if there’s a couple of families or generations holidaying together. Our only family holiday was staying in a Swanage and it was a beautiful cottage, home from home. Even if you don’t book direct, often you’re picking up the key from the owner, and they want to make you feel at home. We’ve had basic essentials left for us, use of garden equipment and BBQs, wood for the wood burner provided, and easy to find a forgotten item and get it sent back. In a hotel, lost items are usually never found again.
We would stay in a cottage if the OH was coming with us, but not for just the 2 of us because it would work out more expensively than a hotel if we needed a cottage with 2 bedrooms.
At the moment, hotels are the norm for our staycations and holidays. They’re not always cheap (in fact because we usually book last minute, while I tend to get good deals via places like hotels.com and other hotel booking sites, we tend to only decide at the last minute and that means we only have expensive choices left). But with a hotel you do feel like there’s a bit more freedom in when you can come and go.
Because there’s only 2 of us usually, we share a room but the alternative is to ask for adjoining rooms or have a larger family room. The thing to watch out for when booking is to read the small print. Some hotels claim to be family friendly and have family rooms, but the small print then says no children under 10 or under 6.
Check for facilities – in holidays, hotels often have kids activity clubs running, look out for opening times for family swimming in their pools (some have restricted times or charge for hotel guests to use the pool). We’ve found a few hotels offer evening cookie and drinks for children in the rooms which N loves.
There’s so many choices for holiday types now, there’s something to suit everyone. If you’re after a checklist of what to look for when booking different holiday accommodation types, sign up for the newsletter below and you’ll be able to download it. Use the final 3 columns for your own checklist as you’re shortlisting accommodation.
What type of accommodation do you usually book? What criteria do you look for?
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