Tuesday 10 January 2017

Easy Guide to Choosing your Overseas Family Summer Holiday

{This is a collaborative post}

When Winter really hits and the gloomy weather arrives there is always one thing I want to do and that is book a holiday to look forward to in the Summer months. Up until last year that had meant a UK based holiday as we felt (at that time) it was the easier and more affordable option with younger children. Having now holidayed in Spain last year I think perhaps we had our blinkers on and should have been considering holidaying abroad with the kids from a much earlier age, as it truly was the best holiday ever.

Of course, this means that we can't go back to UK based holidays because as much as I love our coastline and think we have some magnificent places to visit you just can't guarantee the weather and seeing the joy on the kid's faces from spending every day in the pool last year is too much for me to ignore.

So this year we are heading off to Playa Montroig Resort on the Miami Platja, Costa Dorada, Spain with Eurocamp and we can't wait. I've heard so much about Eurocamp over the years and I hadn't investigated them as I didn't think they'd be for me as I don't do camping but wow, they have so much more than camping available. We are heading off to stay in a rather luxurious mobile home with a decked terrace for al fresco eating and drinking on those balmy evenings. I just can't wait and I'll be sharing more about our holiday choice in the months running up to our holiday in May but for today this post is about helping you select your ideal summer holiday too.

I suspect there are many of you in the same position as me looking to choose your family holiday, so I thought I'd share some factors to think through when making this important and potentially costly decision. Hopefully, these will help you draw up a list of your requirements to either take to the travel agents or surf the net with -

When will you go on holiday?
As my children are school-aged I choose not to take them out of school and this of course means that I do end up paying higher prices as we need to go in the school holidays. Some parents choose to pay the fine and take their kids in school term saying this still works out cheaper and of course, that is each family's personal decision. You are definitely worth making the most of out-of-school holiday trips when you have younger children as you'll find it far cheaper, not so hot and less crowded to boot.

How long can you go away for?
Most people think in terms of 7 or 14 day holidays when it comes to the summer but actually, we've found previously that a 10 day holiday can be a really good bet. It is cheaper than the 14 days but it gives you just that extra bit of time if you find it hard to wind down at the beginning and you then still end up with a full 7 days of fun.

Are there any countries to completely discount?
When choosing our first aboard holiday my husband and I wanted to go somewhere tried and tested. Up until about ten years ago, we had done a lot of travelling and the newer resorts in places like Bulgaria were not for us. We also decided that Turkey and Egypt were too unstable for us to take our children to and thus we chose reliable Spain. There's a multitude of options available when it comes to Spain tours, so you'll have plenty to choose from.

Which resorts will be right for your family?
Once you have narrowed your field of search down to a few countries it is then time to think about the specific resorts. If you are travelling with toddlers it is unlikely you'll want to go to a clubbing hotspot where you might get woken at all times of the early morning and if you have fun-loving teens then you'll probably not want to be on a remote hillside, so some research before you go away really pays off and there is so much information out there nowadays.

Check out the local beaches (if that is important to your family), local transport, the cost of familiar items in your chosen resort and what others are saying about that resort. For me Trip Advisor is an invaluable resource and I also tend to do a shout-out on FB as friends just love to share their experiences.

How do you want to travel?
I can't bear being in the car with all the family for more than about five hours so long car journeys are not for us. I had thought this might discount all French holidays or trips to holiday parcs with mobile homes similar to those we have stayed in, in the UK but actually so much of France and many holiday parcs in other countries like Spain and Italy are accessible by plane or trains.

If travelling by plane, what flight times are acceptable?
Last year as it was our kids first time on a plane we had no idea how they would feel about it so we decided to go for a short couple of hour flight time. If you've got more placid kids than I have, they're seasoned travellers or you know they'd find it a fab treat to watch a load of movies on a long haul flight then further afield might be right for you.

Don't forget to also think about the departure time as well as the actual fly time. Day flights tend to cost a little more than night flights but really who wants an overtired kid for the first couple days of a 7 day break? When choosing our holiday I filtered flight times to the countries/ destinations that had flights at times acceptable to our family - early morning and through the day. No evening or night flights for us and I was surprised at how many destinations this discounted from our search.

What about transfer time?
Don't forget to factor in how long it takes to get from the airport to your destination and will you be organising this yourself or booking a package holiday where it is all taken care of? For our family when we arrive in the country we just want to be there and start the fun so we only tend to go for a maximum of an hours transfer.

What do you want included?
OK, you now know when you want to go, for how many nights and how you want to travel, the next thing to think through is what you want included with your holiday. Is it literally a room as you like to go out every day and explore? Is it important to you that there are clubs for the kids and lots of other children for them to get to know? Or do you even want formal childcare to be available so you and your other half can enjoy some alone time?

Really take time to think about what the one factor is that will make or break the holiday? For me this year after seeing the kids last year, I knew a great pool and ideally water slides would be the thing that would make their holiday and therefore ultimately mine and my husbands.

Eating is, of course, an important consideration too, so think about if you want to cook during your holiday? Yes, then think about if your choice of accommodation has what you want - outside space and BBQ, full-scale kitchen or something else? Or if you like to be catered for then consider what it will cost your family to eat out at a restaurant each day for 1, 2 or 3 meals a day and work out if it is cheaper to book full-board or even all-inclusive at your chosen resort.

After thinking through these factors you'll come to the realisation of whether you want a hotel, holiday parc, campsite or apartment and then you are practically fully equipped to commence your holiday search.

Azure mobile home - Image Credit - Eurocamp

Lastly, think about the weather
Do you like it really hot and if yes, will your children be able to tolerate/ enjoy it at that temperature? This was one of the biggest factors that held me back from taking my younger children abroad, they were all blond and very pale-skinned and I had nightmares about the amount of sun cream they'd need. So do check the average temperatures (and rainfall) for the resorts you are considering to help you with your booking decision.

I hope that by working through my checklist, you'll come up with a few good resorts/ destinations that you are happy to travel to and then you can book the holiday that is perfect for your family.

Disclosure: We stayed at the Playa Montroig Resort for 7 nights courtesy of Eurocamp in May 2017. You can check out my review here

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