January and February are the busiest months of the year for holiday bookings. We know how much money we have left over from Christmas and the dreary new year weather compel us to book something we can look forward to.
And we’re no different, having booked our June holiday to Croatia before we went back to work in January. So what are the key things that we consider before booking a holiday, now that we have our little man to think of?
1. What are the local hospitals and medical care like?
We’ve had to take our son to see a medical professional twice while we’ve been on holiday – both times in Thailand and both times being ear infections, probably picked up from swimming pools. Not a nice experience, however we were glad to have quality care nearby.
This was a key consideration before we booked and we discounted a number of destinations because we weren’t confident with the facilities. Oh, and the hospital in Bangkok was more like a five star hotel!
2. What times do the flights take off and land?
Rocking up in a new country at 8am after a long flight might give you the opportunity for a full day’s exploring or chilling on the beach, but it might not be the best time for your nippers.
I remember checking in to a Bangkok hotel just before midnight and after a pleasant, sleep-filled flight, our boy was wide awake while we were exhausted and with no hope of getting him down.
While it’s not always possible to choose the most convenient flight times (I’m looking at you Ryan Air), it’s worth planning your take off or arrival times. Of course this depends on the length of the flight, however the last thing you want is for your child to fall asleep during the journey and then be completely wired for when you arrive at your hotel at 10pm.
3. Does the hotel have child-friendly facilities?
Perhaps the most obvious one on the list and for good reason. Checking out what child-friendly facilities a hotel has before booking is a must. Some hotels will have a kids club, or a room with toys, books and even computers to keep the kids entertained.
Hotels have other facilities designed to ensure you and your children enjoy the best stay possible. Some include a babysitting service (often at a charge), where a member of staff will stay in your room while your child sleeps, giving you a chance to visit the restaurant in peace. If you don’t have this luxury, then check whether the hotel has a menu for children in the restaurant. If they don’t, it’s likely that the hotel won’t be catering for your kids in other ways too.
4. How far is the hotel from the airport?
This may seem obvious but is easily overlooked. Often the most difficult part of the journey is arriving at an airport abroad, with tired and over-excited kids, only to have another hour or two to travel before you actually arrive at your destination.
This happened to us when we travelled to Turkey for an opportunity to grab some sun before the long winter set in. Arriving at the airport after a four-hour (and largely uneventful) flight was fine, however the two hour coach journey to the hotel wasn’t. We hadn’t brought a car seat and our boy, who was 18 months old at the time, was cranky, restless and noisy for the duration.
5. The weather
One of the reasons we enjoy going away is that my wife, born in South Africa, needs some sunny respite from the gloomy grey skies of Great Britain. However we have to be careful about where we go because the sun is so strong on such sensitive skin (I’m talking about my boy’s skin, as well as my delicate British skin).
So Greece in August in a complete no-go and when we do travel, we stockpile factor 50 sunscreen. When our boy was a baby, we’d dress him in a UV protection swimsuit and hat as well as covering him in sunscreen and that combination did the trick.