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You’ve planned the ideal holiday and you can’t wait to kick back and relax. But when you arrive you discover there are no lifeguards at the pool, the children aren’t allowed in the restaurant and the child-minding service needed to be booked weeks ago. Finding out a few things before you leave can make for a happier holiday.

We share the questions to ask to ensure your dream holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Getting there

Are we driving or flying? If you’re driving, ensure you have enough snacks and activities for the drive, and include child-friendly refuelling stops in your route. When flying, know your baggage weight allowance and whether you’re allowed to take a car seat, pram or both.

Accommodation

Is our room baby- or child-friendly? Make sure your room is on the ground floor, where you won’t have too many stairs. If you have a baby, check that the room has a cot. Older children may be booked into separate rooms. Request that your rooms are close to each other and, if possible, have a connecting door or passage.

Also read our articles on travelling stress-free with a baby and making a road trip fun.

Activities to ensure it’s a happy holiday for all

  • What activities, programmes or clubs are available? Before booking, find out what activities are available for children of different ages, and whether these are available throughout the day or only at specific times.
  • Do we need to book activities upfront? Game drives, boat rides or other scheduled activities may need to be booked before you arrive.
  • What age group does that activity cater for? Certain activities require children to be a minimum age. Game drives often only take children who are over seven. However, there may be private game drives or self-drives available. If you want to take a hike or bike ride, find out if there are shorter trails for younger children.
  • How far away is the pool, and is it fenced in? Find out the proximity of any potentially dangerous areas, such as a river or the road. If you’re concerned you’re too close, ask for a room further away.
  • Are there safe entertainment options for older children? Teenagers may not want to hang out with their parents all the time. Find out if there are suitable, supervised venues that cater for them. Cruise ships may have an under-18’s night club, while resorts often have games rooms.
  • What about when it’s raining? Organised indoor activities or playrooms are essential if you’re expecting bad weather.

Services and facilities

  • Is there a child-minding service? This service may be available for babies, or only for children who are out of nappies. Also find out the hours for which childcare is available, and whether you need to book before you arrive.
  • Are there qualified medical personnel, lifeguards or other professionals on hand? You can also find out if staff in the playroom, or those caring for your child, know basic first aid.
  • Is room service available? If you’re stuck in your room it will be handy to know if you can order in.
  • Is there a shop nearby? If your accommodation is self-catering, check where the nearest shop is, or if there is one at the resort.

Rates

  • What is included in the rate? Know beforehand if the rate includes meals, drinks or any extras. Some resorts or cruise ships may only require you or your children to swipe a room card when buying drinks. While this is handy, your bill when you check out may be a shock.
  • What about rates for children? Depending on the age of your children, you could qualify for discounted rates. However, be aware of additional charges for children, such as for activities, programmes or childcare, nothing ruins a happy holiday more than being hit by unanticipated charges when you leave.

Dining at the resort

  • Are the restaurants child-friendly? Find out if restaurants provide high chairs, children’s activities or a playroom, and a children’s menu. Children can be fussy eaters, so find out whether restaurant can cater for them.
  • What are my dining options? Some resorts allow children into the restaurant, but only until a certain time. Others have dining rooms for children, but only of a certain age. Other restaurants don’t allow children at all. Find out all your options upfront.

The Department of Tourism provides some valuable safety tips for travelling or when on holiday.

Now, it’s time to pack those bags and embark on your journey. Happy holiday!

 

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