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A family on holiday on a sunny stretch of beach

Compare the best family holiday deals right now

Family holidays are special as they create memories for years to come and allow you to spend some quality time with those you love. Make booking and planning your next holiday child's play by comparing online today. Read our guides below for some top tips and get away for less on cheap family holidays.

Planning your family holiday

Your family holiday should be one of the highlights of the year, yet so many parents return from their break vowing never to attempt it again...

But if you get the basics of a family holiday right, you'll come back with fond memories rather than needing another break to recover.

Follow our tips below to make sure your family holiday goes as smoothly as possible.

 

It all starts in the planning

• Make a list of the things each member of your family might want from the trip - such as a sandy beach or watersports lessons - and decide whether you all need a rest or are looking for something physically or mentally challenging. Then sort your list into “must haves” and “nice to haves” to help you make a decision.

• Decide on how long you want to be away for.

• Think about the length of the journey your family can cope with. This will vary by the age of your children and how long you, realistically, think they will handle being confined in a plane.

You should now be starting to filter out some destinations. To help you further:

• Think about the time of year you are travelling and do some research on the weather in your potential destinations.

• Find out whether you will need any injections or medication, such as malaria tablets, for any of your short list of destinations and address any health concerns.

• For inspiration, take a look at our article on 'Top 10 family destinations' When you have a short list, it's a good idea to talk through the options with your family so everyone feels involved in the decision. That way, you'll have a better chance of starting off on a good footing.

 

Doing your research will pay dividends

Time spent researching your trip will really pay off when you are there - you don't want any nasty surprises when you arrive.

Start by looking online and browsing a good cross-section of websites - for example, travel companies and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - for help and advice on destinations and resorts that are suitable for children and families.

If you still have questions, speak to your local travel agent who should be able to recommend companies and accommodation to suit your needs. You could also pick up brochures for inspiration.

Talk to friends and family to get holiday ideas, and ask your connections on social media platforms for advice and inspiration.

 

Getting closer? Now refer back to your original list

When you have received recommendations and done your research, it can be all too easy to get carried away and forget your original objective so, before you book, refer back to your “must-haves” list and ask yourself:

1. Will there be enough to keep the kids entertained and will there be other children around for them to play with?

2. Is there a safe beach or pool near your accommodation that the kids can cool off and have fun in?

3. Can you find food nearby (or in your accommodation) for all the family?

4. Does your chosen holiday have all of the facilities and equipment you will need - kids' clubs, cots, high chairs etc.

5. Have you chosen the right accommodation type for all of your family's needs? For example, all-inclusive accommodation could be perfect if you don't want to worry about extra costs while you are in your hotel, but self-catering may be more for you if you like to have more control over what you all eat and drink and when.

 

How to book?

Once you have settled on your holiday choice, it's time to find the best deal. Follow our tips below to secure the best price.

• Compare the price of booking a package holiday with that of buying your flight and hotel separately so you know which the cheapest option is.

• Use a price-comparison site such as TravelSupermarket so you know that the deal you have found is the most competitive around.

• Look out for deals on both deposits and balance payments. And, remember our three golden rules when booking your holiday:

• If you can, book an ATOL or ATOL Flight-Plus protected holiday. If you are unsure whether your holiday is covered, ask before you book.

• Pay by credit card to receive protection under the Consumer Credit Act for transactions of more than £100 (and up to £30,000), or by VISA or MasterCard debit card for charge back protection.

• If you don't book a holiday with ATOL protection, take out a travel insurance policy with end supplier failure as soon as you book. This will protect you from day one should any part of your holiday fail.

Once you are booked, stick a picture of your destination to the fridge so all of the family have something to look forward to and start saving a little straight away so you can all have fun without worrying about the bills you will come back to.

Travelling with children

Make sure that the journey to and from your holiday destination is as stress free as the time away itself by following our tips on travelling with children...

You've done all of the hard work booking and planning your family holiday, and now is the time to relax.

Many parents are filled with dread at the prospect of being stuck in an airport for hours with an easily-bored child, or being the mother or father of the energetic toddler constantly kicking the seat in front on a plane. However, going to the airport and flying can be very exciting for children and, with a little preparation, needn't be stressful for parents.

 

Arrival at the airport

Make sure that you allow extra time to travel to the airport itself - you don't want to start the whole journey off running late.

When booking airport parking, consider using the airport's meet and greet service. It will allow you to drive right up to the terminal building where a member of the meet and greet team will be waiting to park your car. When you return, you will be able to present your ticket/receipt in the meet and greet office to get your car back. This will not only save you time but it will also prevent you having to park a long distance away from the terminal building and having to carry pushchairs, bags and children all the way there.

Be prepared for things to go wrong whether it is a delayed flight, a tantrum or food spilt down your child's travelling outfit. And, if they do, try not to get stressed as your child will pick up on it and will be anxious too.

 

In the airport

If you have a young child, make sure you are prepared to travel through the airport carrying them as well as any hand luggage you have. A sling may be a good option for babies whereas reins will allow energetic toddlers to walk on their own without being able to wander off. If you plan on taking your pushchair through the airport, confirm with your airline when you need to check it in and what the procedure is for putting it on to the plane.

Look at the airport's website before you travel to find children's play areas and family-friendly restaurants. This will save time when looking for somewhere to eat and, if your plane is unexpectedly delayed, you will know where to take your children to keep them entertained.

Make the airport an adventure for children by writing a list of things for your children to spot and tick off. Have a look on the airport's website for inspiration before you set off. Manchester Airport, for example, have a fun activity pack on their website guiding children through the whole process from arrival to the departure gate with a list of things to look out for.

 

Passing through security

You are allowed to pack enough baby milk or food for your child in your hand luggage - although you may be asked to try some to prove what it is at security. Another option is to pre-order cartons of baby milk or other travel essentials - such as nappies - from a pharmacy in the departure lounge.

 

Getting on to the flight

Before you travel, check what your airline's policy is on family boarding. Some airlines will seat parents with young children before the rest of the flight so you can get a seat together and there is no need to pay for priority boarding. However, not all do. British Airways offer a family check-in service that allows families to check in (up to six people) 24 hours before your flight, choose your seats and to print your boarding passes out.

If you have a small child, it is a good idea to change their nappy just before you board the plane - especially on short-haul flights.

 

On the flight

Bottle feed your baby during take-off and landing to prevent the discomfort caused by changes in the cabin pressure from affecting them. This may also help your child to drop off to sleep.

Make sure that older children drink plenty of water during the flight to prevent possible dehydration and grumpiness.

If you are travelling with a toddler and they have their own seat booked, check whether the airline provides a booster seat for them. Some airlines such as Virgin do (as well as activity packs and complimentary nappies) while others such as easyJet ask you to take your own.

Have a familiar toy packed for babies to keep them entertained on a flight. It may also be worth packing a new, surprise toy to distract them on a longer flight.

Activity books, magazines, travel games and hand-held devices are all good things to pack to keep older children entertained on a flight. And, don't forget the old favourites such as I spy and word association games.

Why is travel so brilliant for families?

We all love holidays but as well as being the chance to soak up some sun, they are extremely beneficial for the whole family. Find out why...

Do you have fond memories of a family holiday from your childhood? Many of us do and this is because travel - however near or far from home you venture - is something that can enrich and add so much to your life. It offers the chance to see places beyond your familiar neighbourhood, to experience new foods and cultures, to enjoy new experiences, to marvel at unique places and, often, to appreciate more about your own life and where you come from.

For parents, travel can be a great opportunity to teach your children more about the world they live in and to challenge any preconceptions they may have. Children are naturally curious and soak up new experiences, so holidays are the ideal time to introduce them to different sights, tastes, smells and sounds - while having fun.

After all, a family holiday is more than just a break in the sun, a visit to a city or ski slope, or a trip to a theme park, it's a chance for the whole group to learn and grow together while in a different environment.

 

So, why are family holidays so beneficial?

Daily routines and the stresses of everyday life often get in the way of spending quality time with the people you love, and family holidays are the perfect opportunity to make the most of each other's company.

Family holidays also offer the chance and the time for you all to learn something new while you are completely relaxed away from home - why not try a new sport or have a few language lessons with the kids? And they are opportunities for you and the children to make friends and socialise with the people you meet along the way.

A week or two off also gives you the time to completely unwind leaving you refreshed and better equipped to tackle the hiccups and annoyances that crop up every now and again - and if the kids have been getting cranky towards the end of term, a holiday is sure to do them good too.

Plus family holidays are opportunities to create memories for years to come - don't forget to take your camera or camcorder.