We love a mini break. Because we holiday in the UK (apart from so far N’s first trip abroad to Jersey), we tend to opt for more but shorter breaks. Three or four nights away, sometimes splitting it between 2 places. But to plan a mini break still takes quite a bit of organising, especially when you’re trying to please different people. But you can get your children involved, especially as they get older. After all, you want everyone to enjoy the break.
I’m a bit of an organiser (probably why I’m in project management!). N also likes to know what we’re doing, what the plans are, and to input. There’s usually only the 2 of us going away as the OH stays on the farm. So we’re only trying to make the break work for 2 rather than 3. I’ve trained N well in our mini breaks, so we’re pretty efficient. When the OH comes away too, we change our normal structure and accommodation a lot. He prefers to go away to rest, whereas we like to get out and about a lot. Sleeping and doing nothing is a waste of going away in my view, we could do that 10 miles away from home in the Premier Inn in town.
Here’s tips on how I plan a mini break with children, and how you can get children involved. (mostly school age children, but even toddlers can help with packing or choosing items to pack).
(Like most of my tips, I don’t always follow it all myself. Mainly because we quite often end up booking last minute if we don’t know whether the OH’s coming along too).
How to organise a family mini break (with children’s input)
1. Book your time off work early
Especially if you work with people who also have school age children and will want to take time off during holidays too. And if you need to coordinate with a partner who also works and has to book time off.
2.Think about accommodation configuration
When it’s just N and myself we’ll generally book hotels and share a room. If the OH comes too, it’s better to book self catering so we can get different bedrooms.
3. Have a choice of locations
Do you like coastal breaks, countryside or cities? Do you want to sightsee or stay around your accommodation.
- For the kids, ask them to look at the map of the area you’re going, and choose somewhere to base yourselves.
4. How are you travelling?
By train, take less luggage but make sure there’s plenty of board games and toys for borrowing at your accommodation. Or do you want to drive, but leave the car to explore by foot, bike or bus. We tend to drive, but always look for bus or walking options for exploring the immediate area where possible.
- Kids, think of travel games to play and take
- Plan the route, and let the kids lead the way with their own map
5. Think about what type of break you want
Family fun and activities for little ones, or a cultural break with older children. Or adventure activity fun.
- Kids can write a list of the type of activities they like, and where they’d like to visit
- On your first day (or even en route if stopping at service stations), pick up leaflets from the hotel or tourist information office, and get children to have a look and decide what looks interesting to them.
6. Price compare
Check directly with the accommodation and use booking websites.
- Always check prior to signing up/logging in, as you might find you get better deals before or after.
- Check if you can get cashback if you book via different shopping apps – for cashback try topcashback or Quidco, or try apps like Nectar. You might get extra points or discounts.
7. Think about how you’re doing food
Breakfast is easy and fast to self cater, lunches can be easy to do sandwiches and take out and about in a cool bag. But you don’t want to be reliant on having to return to your accommodation everytime you want a meal.
- Get ideas for places to eat from your children. Would they enjoy tapas or buffet style pick your own, or do they prefer similar food to what they’d have at home. N loves curry but we don’t get to eat it at home much because the OH isn’t a fan, and he also enjoys tapas but we don’t have places near us that serve it. So we try and eat both when we go away.
- Let them pack snacks for the journey
- Each day, give the children a job helping make packed lunches.
8. Think about themed activities
Is there a book that your children enjoyed where there are locations you can visit or tour? I remember I always wanted to visit the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, and the Whispering Knights of the Rollright Stones after reading about them in books.
- Look for sculpture or art trails to combine both outdoors and exercise with learning and interest through scavenger hunt style trails. You can also use Treasure Trails maps or games to work your way around a city. These can help keep children interested for longer when visiting cities.
9. Write a packing list
You can sort this early, and ask the children to get together what they need on the list. If they can fold or roll, even better, they can actually pack their case too.
10. Keep a journal of your adventures
- Children can collect tickets, or souvenirs, can draw pictures or write about their travels.
What other ways do you get your children involved to help plan a mini break for your family?