| Do It
Knowing your child
Near or far?
Where to stay:hotels
Where to stay:villas
Food & Drink
|Knowing your child|
|There are no hard and fast rules for what might suit a child of a certain age (or an adult of a certain age come to that). Based on this, only you will know what your priorities include: whether it's no steps, supervised childcare, a private pool or being within walking distance of shops.|
|Near or far?|
| It’s a common lament that it’s too difficult to go abroad with children, so holidays will be taken ‘at home’ rather than anywhere involving a flight. Nothing wrong with this of course, but the logic isn’t necessarily spot on. It's worth bearing in mind that a long drive in this country can be harder than a short journey abroad, when the length of time spent travelling might conceivably even be less door to door. Even if it's not, the journey is likely to be broken up in to different stages, each with their own distractions (hopefully). Even a longhaul flight can be easier, especially if it includes plenty of walking around breaks, a seatback TV (see Virgin) or is at night. So it’s a good idea to be prepared to consider all the options and to think about what a trip in your own country might mean in terms of travelling time, and in terms of the boredom factor, before plumping for the ‘easy’ option.
| Even if supervised childcare is not a priority for your family holiday, don't rule it out per se. The range of flexible childcare options we feature means that you could simply opt for a couple of hours here and there; for some parents, baby listening might suffice. It could make all the difference between a fun but exhausting and a fun but relaxing holiday with baby in UK. If childcare is definitely a consideration, you have a number of options:
All of these offer flexible care: a nanny could mean anything from an hour’s babysitting to a full day’s supervision. You’ll find full details of these options plus the pros and cons of each in our worldwide childcare section
Babygoes2 will also be running a spotlight on different types of childcare in our read about it section.
*Check ratio of carers to children.
*In hotels, consider dining arrangements. Will your children be allowed to eat with you, for example, or will they have to eat their meals separately? Does that bother you?
*If you've got a clingy child, don't expect them to trot happily off to the creche for a couple of hours each day. It might work, but if it doesn't the stress would be counter-productive, and you'll have to forget any notion you had of learning to paraglide!
*Bring your own nanny. If you decide on this option, be sure to fix the goal-posts before you leave home. Agree with them exactly what their duties will be, including hours, time off, babysitting requirements.
*BYO relatives. If you decide to go with grannies, granddads, or any other relations, do it because you enjoy their company rather than in the hope that they will relieve you of all or any of your childcare duties. It's more than likely that they will lend a hand but don't rely on it.
|Where to stay|
*While hotels provide a break from cooking, cleaning, and washing, (they may be an ideal option for those parents with tiny babies, who only require baby listening to enjoy a relaxing dinner in peace) they can offer less flexibility, especially in terms of space, as well as what you and your child can eat and when you can eat it.
*Hotels do offer a variety of facilities on tap of course, with little effort required to have a good time. If you’re tired or stressed, or simply can’t be bothered with a lot of ‘finding your feet’ time, then hotels are perfect. The restaurant, sports facilities, beach and even spa treatments are right there .
*Hotels are doing more and more to provide fun and relaxing breaks for those travelling with small children. But some are more ‘family’ oriented than others, and some make an effort to preserve the adult atmosphere of the main areas, such as restaurant etc. Nothing wrong with this, but if you want your child/ren to eat with you and be involved in everything, it might be worth checking first .
*If there's a babylistening/sitting service, this will mean you can spend time outside the room enjoying yourself. If not, you'll be in the room with your sleeping babe, so you might want to make sure that the rooms are a decent size, or that there is a separate sleeping area i.e. a living room (or even a bathroom - some hotels have disproportionately sized ones), so that you can be in the room with your baby but still able to eat, watch TV, have the light on etc...
*If you don't want to leave your baby or child, then make sure that the hotel allows them in the restaurant. In an attempt to make the family holiday experience enjoyable for both children and parents, some very child-friendly hotels keep mealtimes very separate and make dining an adult affair (mainly in the UK). Check when booking if you think you might want to eat with your child.
*Make sure you take washing up liquid and washing powder. You might not be self catering but you'll have to wash up bowls and cups and if your child is unlucky enough to suffer from an upset tummy, you might have to wash a few clothes, even if you're only there for a weekend. Don't rely on hotel laundries - they are often closed or on a go slow at weekends.
*If you haven't brought your baby bath, tiny tots can be quite easily bathed in a sink (wrap socks around tap). Alternatively, a universal bath plug means you can convert any shower into a bath (juicy tip? a satsuma can work just as well!)
|Where to stay|
*Villas offer the flexibility to come and go as you please, cook what you want when and if you want. Many of our selections feature enclosed, outdoor spaces as well - ideal for babies and toddlers.
*Of course, the extra space offered by villas means extra room to move around but also extra room to child-proof, so select carefully. You’ll want to consider a number of different features to make your villa holiday a good one – from a villa without internal or external stairs/steps if you’ve got crawlers or tiny toddlers, to one with an enclosed garden if you got a full of energy toddler. Given that you won’t have the facilities of a hotel on tap, you might also like to consider whether your villa allows you walking access to beaches, restaurants of towns, or if there’s plenty to do nearby. BabyGoes 2’s key highlights the main considerations .
*If at all possible, travel with friends. Babygoes2's guide recommends some excellent properties with plenty of space for a number of families, all over the world. Apart from it being very enjoyable to share the fun of a family holiday with baby, the shared babysitting means you can have some nights out without worrying about an overtired baby or toddler. It also makes most family holidays very reasonable price-wise.
*For those who can't get their friends to agree on the best week to go, however, we've tracked down a number of places which offer the chance to meet others and benefit from the same advantages as travelling with friends.
*If your child is already big on socialising, it's worth considering whether there are alternative attractions nearby and whether there will be other children in the vicinity. If you're close to a city, then these often boast large central squares - ideal, enclosed haunts for toddlers (you can enjoy watching them play from the comfort of one of the alfresco cafes), and it's amazing how quickly they hit it off with other children, despite the language barrier.
|Food and drink|
| Getting to know the local cuisine is not quite the draw for children that it is for their parents. While most toddlers will enjoy sampling some of the local fare (especially if it involves pasta, pizza or fries), they may well not consume it in the vast quantities you would like. Just more salt than normal might make it unpalatable, for example. So to avoid days spent fretting over food consumption rather than lazing languidly on the beach, it’s a good idea to pack a few jars if they’re at that stage, or take some favourite staples from home – beans, fish fingers, favourite pasta and so on. It won’t weigh much in a suitcase, but will stop you worrying or spending hours in the local supermarket (the kind of home from home most of us can do without on our holiday…)
*If you're eating out, remember that piping hot, freshly prepared food is the safest. If you're not sure go for fairly reliable staples such as live yoghurt, baked potatoes, pasta, rice, cooked veg.
*Avoid cold cooked foods and raw seafood. Be wary of icecream and also salads (especially in countries where typhoid and hepatitis are a problem). Wash and peel fruit.
*In some countries (Africa and India for example) it's not always clear as to whether the milk is pasteurised. Use long-life if you're in any doubt.
*Watch out for unpasteurised cheeses and milk products in countries such as France.
*If your child is well into toddlerdom then jars won’t be an option. You can whip up some old favourites easily enough, but each country will offer something to tempt your toddlers palate for the odd meal out, meat-eater or veggie. Here are some toddler faves:
Spain: tapas suit little appetities – choose patatas bravas (fried potatoes), tortilla (omelette), albondigas(meatballs), empanadas (pasties), paella,
Greece: moussaka, fresh fish and chips, souvlaki (lamb or chicken on skewers)filo pastry cheese pies
Portugal: cataplana – big fish or chicken stew, loads of charcoal grilled chicken, fresh fish, rissois - tuna or chicken rissoles, pastel de nata – tasty custard tarts
France: cassoulet – sausage and bean stew, huge variety of saucisses (sausages), tarte tatin, croque mousieur, onion soup with croutons
Corsica: charcoal grilled chicken, fresh fish and chips, great pizzas, brocciu – local soft cheese, popular as pasta stuffing or as a fritter, veg stew – tianu de pisi
Italy: Pasta with just about any sauce – spaghetti is most fun, pizza, risotto, ice cream
USA: Burgers, pasta, pizza, grilled chicken
Caribbean: fish cutters (breaded fish in a bun) rice, bean and sweet potato stews
Thailand and Bali: Noodles always popular
*Breastfed babies are unlikely to need anything else to drink when you're away, even in hotter climates, although they may want feeding more often.
*Check out the local water. Depending on where you are, it's worth taking a Thermos to fill with boiled water for when you're out and about.
*Scrutinise the bottled water on offer: is the seal intact? Is it just treated tap water? Are the levels of salt and other minerals safe for your young child?
*Although you might not consider them at home, brand-name carbonated drinks are bottled under strict regulations and for toddlers and older children offer a safe alternative if you're wary of the water.
| *Check what, if any, vaccinations you and your baby will need. Contact your GP a couple of months before your departure, as some immunisations cannot be given simultaneously with others (British Airways Travel Clinic (01276 685040). You should record them on an International Health certificate to take with you. www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel/vaccinations.shtml
*Wherever possible drink water, and plenty of it to help avoid both constipation and dehydration. Take a thermos to fill with boiled water when you're out and about.
*Be meticulous about hygiene, washing your own hands (or using wipes) and your children's regularly. Many instances of upset stomachs can be traced back to unhygienic food preparation.
*Use mosquito nets and child-friendly insect repellents to prevent bites.
| Create a welcoming and cosy place for your child to sleep with a favourite blanket, bottle or teddy. A plug-in night-light is useful for your child's peace of mind in unfamiliar surroundings. If you've got room, it's worth considering a portable bed-rail for young children in their own beds.
| *If you're travelling by car, it's definitely worth considering a non-spill travel potty.
*For use in public toilets, arm yourself with copious amounts of wipes (including antibacterial) both for you and your child's hands.
*Small spray bottles filled with dilute soap solution are extremely useful for those children who hate having their hands washed. They can also be filled with dilute disinfectant solution for spraying on toilet seats.
| *Try and visit the beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun's rays are less harsh.
*Hats together with loose, long-sleeved T-shirts and trousers clothing are essential for babies and toddlers in the sun.
|As you’ll know by now , one the main aims of Babygoes2 is to ensure that parents get to have a relaxing (and not exhausting) family holiday when travelling with their little ones. Lots of the places and childcare options we recommend will ensure that you have a few moments during the course of the day to concentrate on you. This means doing what you really want to do, taking some time out to reflect, pampering yourself. The crucial thing is not to spend your whole holiday in UK rushing around as much as you do at home, and to make sure that the responsibility for amusing and caring for your child/ren is lifted from your shoulders in some way, however small, at some point during your break.
A bit of pampering can really help you to feel relaxed and special , and if the products are aromatherapeutic then this will help even more.
Make sure you find room in your suitcase for a your own pampering kit – some relaxing or uplifting bath oil(lavender or geranium work wonders), a couple of perfumed candles or some oil and a diffuser will create an oasis of calm (try ylang ylang if you need extra relaxing after a stressful journey to help sleep along). If you’re travelling with a willing masseur, then some massage oil is essential packing. If not, then go for an aromatherapy body cream – so much more luxurious than after-sun.
Take the time for the little beauty regimes you never have time for at home. Deep condition your hair, give yourself a facial, a manicure or pedicure, or paint your toenails. Take time to fit in whatever it is you keep meaning to do but never get round to at home – a game of tennis, a long swim, half an hour of yoga, reading a book.
Create your own spa while your baby or toddler(s) are otherwise occupied. Light a candle in your room or villa, luxuriate in the bath, massage some rich cream into your skin, wrap up in a fluffy towel and put your feet up on the patio or balcony (if you’re somewhere hot) or by the fire (if you’re somewhere cold), and just chill out. Perfect.
You’ll find an excellent selection of aromatherapy pampering products on our what to take page. If you’re ready for some full time pampering then go straight to our UK pampering section, or to luxury hotels, where many have integral spas. Enjoy
| For more details on skiing with the under fives go to ski guide.
*If your child is 3 or more, do you want them to learn to ski? Choose a resort or company which offers the kind of tuition you want, and make sure it's compatible with other childcare.
*Childcare: Knowing your child, do think he/she would be happier in a creche or with a private nanny?
*How flexible is the childcare - will the child/ren be collected for you after classes or nursery? Can you choose your pick up times?
*Will your children be allowed to eat at the same time as you? Some companies are quite strict about this, and if communal eating is important to you then you could be disappointed if you don't check in advance.
*Do you prefer the informality and flexibility of a chalet or the extra privacy of a hotel?
*Each operator we have chosen offers a well rounded ski experience, but each will have its own priority - it could be the food, the childcare, the luxury-level of the chalets, the individual service, the resort, the skiing. Draw up your wish list and make sure that the company whose priority matches your own also offers childcare you will be happy with. Babygoes2's key indicates the top priorities of the entries we have selected.
*The most respected companies are strict about child/staff ratios, so you must book childcare in advance and if possible, book early. Popular weeks book up extremely quickly.
*Some companies offer special discounts for bringing your own nanny or even grandparents. This is can be a good and low stress solution for you, but it may not be stress free for the carer. They will be without access to lots of toys or activities, and skiing days can be long, so it's best to plan the time well in advance if you're keen on taking this route.
*All operators include slightly different elements of the family holiday with baby in UK. Larger "resorts" can seem more expensive, but often include free childcare, babysitting or even tuition, so price up carefully!
*Look for slopes that catch the sun - again improves enjoyment.
*T-bar lifts are better than button lifts.
*As with all holidays with baby, consider flight times and transfer times.
*When considering the cost, remember that unless included (unusual and often as part of a special offer) you will have the following extra costs to add to the price of your family holiday UK: ski passes, ski and boot hire.
*If you're keen for your child to learn to ski, it's useful to book a couple of private lessons before they start the ski school. This gives them a lot of confidence and can make all the difference to their level of enjoyment (will cost between £10 and £20 for an hour). Look for a good level of English and perhaps a purpose child-ski area such as ESF where there are indoor play areas too.