Unmissable holidays when you have children

So the carefree days of travelling with just hand luggage and a passport may now be over however, there are lots of unmissable holidays when you have children.  This article will highlight the holidays you can look forward to as a new parent.

First family holiday with baby  

Make the most of your sleepy little bundle of joy and book your first family holiday. Travelling with a newborn is great because the extra cost involved is minimal.  Depending on the airline you could be charged a small flat fee for your infant sitting on your lap or up to 10% of an adult fare.  Accommodation should be free accommodation (unless you wish infant to have his/her room) and of course there is no need for food other than milk.  Baby should (in theory!) sleep anywhere as they are not yet in a routine.  Newborns are also great travelling companions because they are not yet mobile and so enjoying the inflight movie and relaxing around the pool is still a possibility (if you do not believe me, you just wait until you have a toddler!)  Our first family holiday was to Mexico when Charlie was four months old.  Read more about it here. 

Images – First family holiday, Mexico

Travel as much as possible before your child turns two 

As explained above, the extra costs of a holiday with children under the age of two are minimal as they are considered as a lap child and therefore the most you should have to pay is 10% of an adult fare for their flight.  Once your child turns two you will be required to purchase a child ticket. (Child fares are for youngsters 2-11, 12 years plus are considered to be adults).  Most toddlers are also still napping for a couple of hours during the day which will give you some much-needed adult-only time to relax in the sun! 

We enjoyed a fabulous family holiday to Antigua when Charlie was just approaching two years old.  Each morning after breakfast we chose between the beach and the pool and completely wore him out so that after lunch he was ready for a long three-hour nap!  We were fortunate to have beach side accommodation and so when we put him down to nap we simply turned on his baby monitor, locked the front door of our hotel suite, stepped out of our patio doors and enjoyed the afternoon on our beach terrace child-free… safe in the knowledge that our baby monitor would let us know the minute he woke up.

Every night after dinner we attempted to get him to go to sleep in his pushchair so that we could return to the hotel bar and make the most of the all-inclusive drinks.  Charlie however clearly thought the stroll around in the dark was for his entertainment!  He would tease us by looking like he was going to sleep but just as we started to head towards the bar he would point towards our room… A clear sign he just wanted to sleep in his own bed!  We gave up after several nights and just resigned to the fact that an early night just meant we could survive the crack of dawn wake up calls and make the most of the resort during the day.

Images – Family holiday to Carlisle Bay and Rosewood Jumby Bay in Antigua

Last holiday as a family of three

This is the last opportunity to treat future big sister/brother to a holiday where they can enjoy your undivided attention before the arrival of baby.

We went on a touring campervan holiday around Cornwall and Devon, six weeks before baby Harry arrived.  It was magical for Charlie because his Daddy and I were able to give him our complete attention.  His life was about to change forever, he was going to have to learn to share our time and as his baby brother got older also share all of his most treasured belongings (toys etc).  The time away from the worries of work gave us the chance to prepare for the fast approaching arrival date of baby number two.  We spent time talking to Charlie about how he would be a fabulous big brother and also a useful help to mummy in assisting in caring for baby.  Our holiday also gave us the chance to talk through all of Charlie’s questions such as where baby would sleep and how baby would arrive (I left that one for his Daddy to answer!) 

Images – Campervan holiday around Cornwall and Devon

Holiday with Grandparents

Before the sleepless nights began we took a mid-week break to Center Parcs with my parents and Richard’s parents.  It was the first time we had all been on holiday as a group but it was a great chance to get together before baby Harry arrived and just another opportunity to give Charlie/future big brother lots of attention.  We were all excited about the imminent arrival of baby who was due three weeks from our stay at Center Parcs.  (I had checked out local hospital maternity wards in case I went into early labour!) 

Charlie thrived due to the attention of all four Grandparents, Richard and I.  He was in his element always having someone who was available and willing to take part in a little adventure with him. My mum took part in a cheerleading class with him, his Daddy accompanied him to a fencing class and roller skating class, both Nanna’s took him on a bear hunt and we all got lost on a nature trail!

A major benefit of having both sets of Grandparents around was that we had four willing babysitters:) and so we left Charlie in very capable, loving hands and enjoyed an evening at the twilight spa!

We have always been huge fans of Center Parcs, the concept of the range of activities inside and outside all within an enclosed forest is fabulous.  We have visited many times before, including for my hen weekend, but I have to say Center Parcs works particularly well for multi generational holidays.  There truly was something on offer which suited us all, from Charlie who was three, through to my father-in-law who was the eldest in our party at 65.  Even I, at 38 weeks pregnant, was not short of activities to enjoy!

Images – Multi generational holiday at Center Parcs

Travel as much as possible with your preschool child during term time

We all know that it costs significantly more to travel during school holidays.  According to the Guardian, February ’14, it can cost as much as 99% more to travel in the peak times.  It is therefore advisable to travel as frequently as financially possible before your child starts reception class and you are forced to pay ridiculous prices (or risk facing a fine).  

Richard bought an extra weeks holiday from his employer this year to make the most of Charlie being a preschooler. We did however decide after a lengthy conversation that our boys would enjoy holidays in the UK as much as a holiday abroad and so chose to book numerous day trips, weekend breaks and camping trips spread over the year instead of a fortnight holiday abroad.  (I have to admit that the day the schools broke up in July I went into extreme panic mode, regretting not making the most of the opportunity to travel abroad fairly cheaply before Charlie started school!)  I cannot regret our decision though as we had a fabulous time exploring the UK and fortunately we were incredibly lucky with the weather!  We enjoyed some very memorable family trips including another week at Center Parcs with friends; camping in the Lake District and Gloucestershire; overnight stay in Windsor with visit to Legoland and lots of day trips to attractions including Warwick CastleEureka and At-Bristol  

Images – Family holidays in the UK

Travel with your children whilst they still love spending time with you!  

As my boys are only four and one, the day they no longer want to join us on family holidays seems like a lifetime away (but still feels me with absolute dread!)  I suppose every parent must go through the stage when their child no longer thinks its fun or cool to travel with mum or dad:(  I intend on making the most of every family holiday (toddler tantrums and all) before that dreaded day arrives!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article.  I would love to know what holidays you have enjoyed for each milestone with your children.  Can you add any more holidays that parents would enjoy when they have a child/children?

If you do not yet have children you may find my article highlighting unmissable holidays before kids useful!

My Travel Monkey

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47 thoughts on “Unmissable holidays when you have children

  1. Emma

    Hi there! I simply want to give you a big thumbs up for a great post. Not yet got kids so will keep all of these experiences in mind!!

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  4. Packing my Suitcase

    Your experience is amazing to be shared. I always thought that travelling with kids before they turned 2 was cheaper, good to confirm that.
    It’s great that you guys enjoyed and still do enjoy traveling before and after kids. I believe it changes, but I think what matters is that you keep traveling, even if it’s for day or short trips 😀

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes
    Packing my Suitcase recently posted…10 things worth doing in São PauloMy Profile

  5. PRiya

    Wow it is great that you were able to go on such awesome trips with the family! We love travelling with our family as well.. kids are teenagers now. It is easier when they are younger when there is not that much of school commitments as well. You are right I dread the day when they start travelling on their own and it is not cool to travel with us anymore!!
    PRiya recently posted…Saint Tropez – a Provencal escape!My Profile

  6. mark

    We love traveling with our kids. We spent our 8-year-olds birthday at Oktoberfest with her and out other daughter we celebrated it in porto. Great moments they will never forget.
    #mondayescapes

    1. Lisa Post author

      Both holidays sound fab Mark! We tend to spend alot on experiences with our kids (holidays, days out etc) however tend not to buy many toys/gifts unless its Christmas or birthdays. My eldest talks about Daddy going to work to earn pennies for us to ‘do things’ rather than ‘buy things’ which we think is lovely:) Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Claire at Tin Box Traveller

    I can highly recommend holidaying with the grandparents. We went away for our first summer holiday as a family of four in August and it was great to have the parents along too to entertain our eldest. It gave us a much needed break and they baby sat on our anniversary so we were able to go out for a quick meal once the kids were in bed.
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Highlights from our half term breakMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      I agree Claire. It is great to travel with grandparents as long as you all have the same expectations! I am pleased to hear you had babysitters for your anniversary too:) Thanks for stopping by

  8. Keri (Baby Globetrotters)

    Some great advice here. Had we had our time again we would have done SOOOO much more when we only had one very easily portable baby, and more again before she was ready to start school. We still get out a lot with three of them now, but we’re a lot more restricted by term times and the amount of paraphernalia we still need! And we swear by grandparents whenever we can!
    Keri (Baby Globetrotters) recently posted…10 Best Cities for Family TravelMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks Keri! I tell every friend with only one baby to travel as much as they can. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone believes it is easy with a baby until they have a toddler or several children to run around after!! I also swear by grandparents, my hubby and I really enjoy our kid free weekends away a couple of times a year:)

  9. Lauren (The Helpful Hiker)

    Loved reading this article. We’ve enjoyed a few trips away, including camping when our baby was 4 and 5 months old. It’s certainly harder now he moves! We’re determined to make the most of the time before he goes to school. I’ve now got a few ideas from your post! #mondayescapes
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    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks Lauren! Yes do make the most of it before he starts school. We are planning on taking him out of school for a few days on either side of a school holiday, however it will still be expensive. Make the most of term time cheap holidays whilst you can:)

  10. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    Great post – I think you always realise a lot afterwards too. Only when you have a toddler do you realise how easy some bits of travels with a baby are. And when you travel after two, you appreciate how much cheaper it was! With my daughter starting school next year, I need to make the most of no term times… #mondayescapes
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    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks Cathy. Yes hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it! I cannot believe I worried so much about travelling with a newborn, he slept throughout all four flights. I am sure you have lots of plans already to make the most of flexible term time holidays;)

  11. Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    We started travelling with our son when he was a toddler (he is now 7). It is only in the last year that we have started to look for accommodation where he can have a separate room. Prior to that he easily slept through in the early evenings.

    One thing we have learnt is not to be too rigid with plans, you never know what may crop up. Sometimes they nod off to sleep unplanned (take the opportunity for a date meal) or they misbehave and you have to call it a day.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…A Family Day Out at Bali Safari and Marine Park: A ReviewMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      You lucky thing Sally! We have had mixed experiences when staying in hotels with our boys. Sometimes they have been great and other times my husband has had to go for an early morning walk with baby in a pushchair! We have found that glamping works well for us, as we can put our boys to bed and then sit outside our campervan/pod etc enjoying a few drinks in peace… certainly beats sitting in the dark in a hotel room being afraid to turn on the lights:)
      Completely agree re: flexibility and going with the flow! Thanks for stopping by

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for your comment Louise. Did you see the news last week regarding the father who refused to pay the school fines and won the legal battle? His lawyer proved that the law only requires parents to ensure their children attend school “regularly”. Check it out here – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/parents-can-take-kids-holiday-6647196. Lets hope that parliament approves the allowance of up to two weeks’ term-time leave from school for holidays:) It would make a massive difference to families wishing to take affordable holidays.

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks Kaz! You lucky, lucky lady! I hope my boys still want to travel with us when they are 19:) You are obviously great company on holiday!

  12. Shareen HD

    I missed pretty much all of these first holidays! I’ve managed to travel with a pre-schooler in September and a nearly one year old. I took the pre-schooler away when she was around 9 months old as well. But none of the littles have left the country! I work so much and we have little in the way of money to do more but when we do, we enjoy it!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Shareen. Glad to hear you got away in September to enjoy a last term time holiday! Some of our best holidays have been in my parents campervan at campsites in the UK, we find we do not always need to leave the UK to enjoy family hols. Pleased to hear you make the most of your hols:)

  13. Anna Fraser

    Great post! Yes, I would definitely agree with the whole ‘travel as much as you can whilst they are babies’ thing and this is something that I’ve always tried to pass on to friends.

    We are now learning that as your children get older (teens) things change even more once again, Yes, they can go off on their own BUT they can also stay up late and they want to join you as you have your once ‘quiet’ evening time! It can be quite exhausting when you can no longer get away with afternoon nap times and early bedtimes!

    Anna x
    Anna Fraser recently posted…Why I Quite Like ArroganceMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for your reply Anna. Great to hear from someone with older children. I have always been under the impression that it gets easier and less tiring as your child gets older but of course, as you point out, every stage comes with its own perks and downsides! I am certainly making the most of baby nap times and 7pm bedtimes although this does mean missing out on the occasional nights in the hotel bar whilst on holiday!

  14. blogging mummy

    I totally agree about travelling abroad before the age of 2. Its so much cheaper not having to pay for a seat. However sometimes it pays to have that seat when they are being wiggly. We try and travel abroad once a year I really want the kids to see so much of the world.
    blogging mummy recently posted…First School Parents EveningMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      Yes I agree re the dilemma between saving some money or paying for a toddler to have his/her seat. We are considering going over to the USA next year but it is such a long way to have our (very energetic) son on our knee, it may be just worth the extra money to pay for a child fare! Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks Ana:) My eldest had been on 18 flights by the time he was one year old from living in the USA, I feel guilty (which is very silly!) as my youngest hasn’t flown as yet but he will be taking his first trip to Denmark soon. We have visited USA, Mexico, Italy, France and the Caribbean with our eldest son:) Obviously a few toddler tantrums along the way and several night flights without any sleep but all in all very positive memorable experiences!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Oh I completely feel your pain re; the car! Our eldest hated his car seat and would scream from the minute we put him in the car until he ‘eventually’ fell asleep! Good luck with getting some flights in before March 🙂

  15. Aly

    We’re going away for our first family holiday next week to Coombe mill farm.My kids are 7, 10 and 13 and I’m quite glad I’m not travelling with them as babies or toddlers as we’re going by train.I think it sounds like you’ve had a really good experience and you’ve made some fab family memories from an early age but circumstances have meant that never happened for us.
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    1. Lisa Post author

      I am so jealous that you are visiting Coombe Mill Farm! I follow Fiona’s blog, the farm looks like such a lovely place to stay with lots of fabulous activities. You will all have an amazing time. Thanks for stopping by

  16. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    We’ve done a lot of road trips around the UK with our two and have been making the most of being able to travel outside of school holidays. My eldest daughter is not allowed to fly due to her heart condition so we are limited to travelling by car, boat or train (we did manage to have a trip around France, Italy and Belgium last year which was amazing though). Road trips were a little easier when they were smaller and would sleep in the car for significant periods though! We’ve not done holidays with grandparents but I do remember that last holiday as a three and it was lovely to have that focused time on my eldest before her baby sister arrived. Lovely post 🙂
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    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Louise. I am so envious that you can still travel in school time:( Your European holiday sounds incredible. I completely agree re road trips when little ones sleep. My eldest now just none stop chats from the minute we get in the car until we arrive at our destination… bless him! He seems to make the most of the opportunity.
      Yes the last holiday as a family of three is so special, even if my eldest cannot remember it when he gets older, it will always be a treasured holiday.

  17. Random Musings

    Definitely good advice to make the most of travelling in the cheaper times before your child starts school. If they are young enough that missing a week of school won’t really harm their education, it is worth looking into the price difference – it might be cheaper to pay the fine than the peak season travel costs!
    Debbie
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  18. Tessa

    I don’t have children and I’m always amazed when I see people travelling with babies, I always imagine it to be a nightmare but I suppose it depends on the baby! It definitely makes sense when you think about the price difference though!
    Tessa recently posted…Vampire Halloween Look | OOTDMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      Hi Tessa thanks for stopping by:) Honestly, we have found travelling with a newborn to be the best time to travel but yes I agree every baby is different! We have been fortunate not to experience any meltdowns on flights etc (a few sleepless nights in hotels mind you but I just send my hubby out for a walk with baby and that always seems to do the trick!)

  19. Sarah

    I wish I had traveled more when my children were babies, it would have been SO much cheaper. Bless your little one pretending to be asleep and pointing to the hotel room door, aww. Holidaying with grandparents is also a fab idea for any age children, family time together AND a babysitter (lol) sounds good to me! 🙂 I would so love to camp/caravan around Cornwall, it’s a beautiful place! Is that lands end I spy in the photo?

    Fantastic post with lots of great tips and lovely photos! xx
    Sarah recently posted…The one where H turns 12 years old!My Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      Hi Sarah! Yes it certainly is Lands End.. well spotted! Cornwall is such a stunning place to enjoy a road trip. We would definitely do it again.
      I justify the amount of trips we have taken with our boys as baby’s, telling my husband I have saved him money!! LOL 🙂

    1. Lisa Post author

      Kids are really quite flexible aren’t they Joanna? I find that I dread certain parts of our holiday i.e. them having to sleep in new beds but they (usually!) pleasantly surprise me:) Enjoy your holiday and good luck on making the most of cheap flights with your son!

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