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The perfect family holiday – does it exist?

Date: 10 June, 2017
Tags: holiday, family holiday, vacation

In your mind what’s the perfect family holiday? And is there such a thing? Most getaways aren’t without their mishaps – from flight delays and unexpected hotel bills to tummy upsets and sunburn…it never seems to be plain sailing unless you’re the lucky few…

But what might be your idea of the perfect break isn’t necessarily what your kids are thinking. 

Let me give you an example. My husband’s perfect holiday would be a city break immersed in culture, history and local cuisine, while mine would be action-packed and full of activities – zip-wires, water sports and off-the-beaten track adventures combined with a couple of days on the beach to recover. 

However, my nine-year-old daughter’s ideal getaway would involve animals/nature and the beach, while my 12-year old son would settle for an all-inclusive five-star hotel with a teens club so he could flick between playing on the Playstation, eating as much as he likes and playing with new-found friends in the hotel swimming pool. 

See – we all want something different! So when we go away we try to compromise by doing a mix of all of the above. It’s important that we do this to immerse the kids in activities and experiences they wouldn’t necessarily try (last year for example, we went to visit kids in a township in South Africa), and likewise, it’s also good that us adults are forced to try activities the kids enjoy – and relax too of course!

So what do you do when it comes to organising the great family getaway? Do you just pick a location and hope for the best? Or are you a meticulous planner, making sure that every detail and every eventuality has been covered? 

I’m probably more the latter; I’m a bit of a perfectionist and like to get the most from my trips from FOMO ‘Fear of Missing Out’. I also want to ensure that my money is well spent, well accounted for and that I go all out to create lifetime-lasting (and happy) memories for the kids.

Adults V Kids

But I also think it’s important to stand back and take into account the little things that make holidays great. When I think back to a camping holiday in France we took a few years ago, I fondly remember I little girl calling Nadja’s name to play.

She couldn’t say her name properly and would shout ‘Nasia, Nasia!’ And to this day I sometimes call her ‘Nasia’. 

It seems that it’s the little things that kids are looking for too. A recent survey from lastminute.com found that having a water fight, taking a toy dinosaur and even jumping in a magic potato are three of the more imaginative ideas that children shared when asked what would make a holiday special for them. 

Top ingredients for the perfect holiday (according to kids) 

·       Jumping over a net and doing a flip 

·       Eating ice cream every single day 

·       Having friends on the other side of my door 

·       Swimming right to the bottom of the pool

·       Seeing a starfish in the sea 

·       Having a water fight 

·       Going on daddy’s back because I don’t know how to swim 

·       Taking my toy dinosaur and the family it’s supposed to go with 

·       And even jumping in a magic potato – proof that a little imagination can produce a lot of holiday fun 

Thinking about the little things from an adult perspective, here’s the top 5 things on my own wish-list: 

Separate rooms 

When we were in South Africa we had two separate bedrooms - and it was bliss. The kids could get on with watching TV or playing on their devices in one room before dinner and the adults could get a bit of peace and quiet.

Just that little bit of respite every evening turned the holiday from being good into being great. Now when we go away I’m always prepared to pay a little extra if I can get a second room. 

Kids clubs

My ideal hotel would have round-the-clock kids clubs that offered a great variety of games, activities and entertainment to keep kids occupied and happy. It would be free of course - and the team would really make an effort to get to know what my kids enjoyed doing and what they wanted to do.

It would be even better if they chucked a couple of fun educational sessions in there as well – perhaps about the destination we were in. 


Kids on holiday constantly want food, drinks, snacks and treats and if you’re not on all-inclusive, the bill can really start racking up.

My ideal hotel would offer half board (as we like to have breakfast, go off exploring for the day and return to an evening meal0, but what would be great was that the hotel made up a snack box for the day for you to take.

You could choose to have a packed lunch to keep costs down or, if you were planning on eating out for lunch that day, you could choose a snack box which would offer drinks and snacks for the whole family at no extra charge. 

Family entertainment (in the evening)

The difficulty we often face when going on holiday is that the entertainment often caters well for toddlers and well for adults, but doesn’t do that well for tweens or teens.

My ideal family getaway would include entertainment that is suitable for the whole family – I’m not asking for it to be in the same room or anything – just that something is offered so my kids are actively engaged in what’s going on around them, rather than sat there longing to stare at their devices. 


When we stayed at an Iberostar hotels in Mallorca a few years ago, we got a knock on the door early one evening. We opened the door to find a waiter with a trolley. We were just about to protest that we hadn’t ordered room service, when he told us ‘this is with compliments of the hotel’ and promptly lifted the silver dome to reveal sweets – and loads of them! 

To say the kids were delighted is an understatement – I was pretty chuffed too! And it’s little touches like this that really make a holiday and help create happy memories. It’s a small gesture but a very powerful one that told us we were valued and appreciated – and I haven’t forgotten it since. 

What happy holiday memories do you have – and what would be your perfect family getaway?



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