Friday, 21 June 2013

Things to do on holiday with children

Keep your penny arcades.  Keep your expensive "days out".  Holidaying with children doesn't have to be a pain, and in fact can be both cheap and joyful.

  • Do your research.  Look up maps of the area you're visiting.  Find out what's around.  Look for woodlands, Google "free days out with kids in.....", where are the beaches?  Check out the Rough Guide, and yes, look at those expensive places to visit too.  On arrival, check out the Tourist Information Centre.  There might be a carnival, a festival or special (free) events being run that you can tap in to, and you can also collect leaflets.  Don't forget the National Trust, Historic Scotland, CADW, English Heritage and the RSPB too - if you're already a member that gives you plenty of free days straight away, and if you aren't a member, but there are lots of places to visit in your holiday area, then membership might be worth while.
  • Keep it simple.  Don't try to do too much each day.  The children will feel rushed.  They need time to just play and relax and be with you.  If your younger ones still nap, then this needs to be factored in, whether you return to base to sleep, or allow a long walk with a pushchair or drive in the car to let them get some shut-eye.
  • Let them have a say.  For the first time this holiday we all took it in turns to plan the activities for the day.  When it was the children's turn we gave them three choices, and then a fourth alternative "any other idea you might have".  To our astonishment, one day we offered C the choice of the "Dinosaur Park" (costly attraction), castle, beach or other; he suggested that we go for a walk in a bluebell wood in the morning and then visit a bookshop in the afternoon!  We had a lovely day.  Bug wasted no time on her next turn in opting for the Dinosaur Park.  Having their choice in what to do gave them a real sense of ownership over the holiday, and we soon spotted them looking at our pile of leaflets, and looking out of the car windows to see what they might choose to do next time they got a choice.
  • Wet weather doesn't mean that you have to stay in or spend money.  Beaches and walks in the woods are just as much fun in the rain.  Puddle jumping competitions, sea swimming in the rain, catching raindrops on your tongue, all are great in the rain, though you might be more inclined to warm up and dry off in a cafe afterwards, and your trip out might be shorter, so don't throw away the board or card games just yet.
  • To keep things flexible and less expensive, always pack a picnic.

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