Think Before You Book And Save Money On Your Family Holiday!

A family holiday is one of the great joys of being a parent. It is uninterrupted time that you get to spend with the kids; making memories and exploring new places. We have had 2 fantastic family holidays with the our 2 youngest kids. Clacton and Cornwall. This year we are off on a family holiday to Whitley Bay, Newcastle. Our first family as a holiday of 5, and with grandparents in tow. We even get to catch up with some much missed family and friends. We can’t wait!

We took a visit to Ox Pasture hall, Yorkshire back in 2013.
We took a visit to Ox Pasture hall, Yorkshire back in 2013.

We only holiday in the UK, it reduces stress and there is plenty of places that our beautiful country has to offer without whipping out the Passport or attempting any long haul flights.

But before you sign on that dotted line for your very own holiday, or click that ‘book’ button you need to consider some the issue around going away with kids carefully.

Accommodation

First of all, when planning a holiday, you need to consider the type of accommodation that you will go for. Of course, there are so many choices to pick from. You have hotels that are room only, half board, or all inclusive. Then you have camping sites and caravan parks as well as the option to rent a chalet or a villa. So many choice, but what will suit your family’s needs most?

What you really need to consider is the amount of space and types of meal that will suit your family the best. For example, if you have toddlers that are in a picky stage of eating, then you may want to go for a self-catering option. You can make sure that they will always have something you know they will eat, and just go to a restaurant a few times. This can also save a lot of money as well.  We tend to prefer self-catering when holidaying with the kids because we can grab lots of tins and packets of food for cheap that are easy to cook in the caravan or on a BBQ (think pasta, soups etc) saving money for activities and souvenirs. The only downside to taking your own food is that you have to pack and take it all with you, fine if you have a car but this can be tricky if you have to take the train or coach to your destination.

cornwall villa

If you have a larger family like us, or you are going away with friends, you will want to look at hiring a more extensive type of accommodation like a whole apartment, or villa. So everyone will have enough room to spread out but still get some privacy. If you are going with your parents or siblings it can be cheaper to book one large accommodation rather than multiple.

Activities

Another key issue that you need to consider before booking is what they’re will be to do there. A relaxing holiday by the pool might sound like your idea of heaven, but how much R&R are you really going to get if there is nothing to keep the kids amused?

That is why you need to ensure that the holiday that you book has plenty of activities to keep the kids busy and having fun.  A great way of doing this is to choose one that includes activities like checking out local museums, visiting farms, or checking out the local pier (who doesn’t love the penny machines?!). Check out these family summer holiday ideas for some more options.

Then not only will the kids be kept happy the whole time, but you get to make amazing memories with them that will last a lifetime too. Don’t forget to pack your camera, or a handy emergency battery charger for your phone so you can always capture the fun!

We aren’t a sun worshipping family so spending hours sat on the beach in one spot doesn’t really do it for us. But, the kids love the beach! Take buckets and spades and some fab beach games to play while you’re down there. We love beach combing for interesting artefacts and beautiful shells to bring home.

clacton beach

Distance to travel

Travelling long distances with kids in tow can be something of a trial. Even if they are fairly grown up kids like teenagers. No one really wants to be stuck in a car, plane, or ferry for long stretches of time with nothing to do and no way to get up and stretch their legs.

That is why it’s essential that you consider the distance you will need to travel to your chosen destination before you book your holiday. Remember somewhere far flung and exotic can sound like a lot of fun. But isn’t quite so good if you have to spend two days straight getting there, with the kids screaming ‘are we nearly there yet?’ in your ear the whole time. It’s bad enough taking a 40 minute journey into London let alone several hours, stuck in a tin can high up in the air.

Our journey up to Newcastle will take us just over 4 hours, but add in the kids needing a wee every hour and myself being heavily pregnant it’s likely to take much longer. We plan on letting the kids have a late night the day before we travel, getting them up early for leaving at 6 or 7am and with any luck they will still be so tired that they fall back to sleep for a decent chuck of the journey.

So with some careful planning, a holiday doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. We are really looking forwards to our holiday away. Have you booked a holiday yet and have some fab tips for tripping with the kids? Where are you planning to go this year? Let me know in the comments!

Perranporth, Cornwall.
Perranporth, Cornwall.

Our Cornish Stay With John Fowler Holiday Parks

perranporth

Last week we spent 5 gorgeous days at Perran View Holiday park, with John Fowler holidays. Just 2 miles from Perranporth beach, John Fowler holiday park Perran View had so much to keep us and the kids busy for the full 5 days. The park has lots of play spaces, a swimming pool- with lots of fun water activities including Zorbing and Aqua Gliders, outdoor sports courts, BMX track and (holiday favourite) a crazy golf course.  There was an amusement arcade and a superb kids club, with Foxy!

We arrived at the park a little later than planned at 7pm,  due to several service station pit-stops, so our first impressions of the Perran View holiday park were brief, and in the dark, as we were desperate to get settled into our accommodation, and eat.

john fowler holidays

The park’s reception was well signposted and easy to find, and is just a brief walk from the main car park. The reception area is welcoming, and so was the receptionist. She handed me my keys, a huge welcome pack, containing park information, booklets and leaflets on local attractions and even money-off vouchers for various attractions and events. A lovely idea, when welcoming new guests looking for fun things to fill our days.

Our accommodation was easy to find, thanks to staff showing us the apartment location on the park map. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the apartment, with large rooms (1 double, 2 twin rooms) and all areas looked clean and well kept. The accommodation smelt fresh, carpets spotless, no dust and immaculate fridge, microwave and oven. The kitchen was fully stocked too with cutlery, crockery, and utensils. We just had to bring a tea towel, something I wish I had known earlier. oops!

There was a TV in the living room that was wall mounted, for safety and out of children’s reach. A great selection of freeview channels were available including CBBC and CITV for older children and CBeebies for pre-schoolers. There was also a DVD player built in to the TV that was very easy to use, Just in case you wanted to bring some DVDs for rainy days or just to keep the kids entertained while you packed up your lunch boxes. We also found a clothes airer (perfect for drying swimming costumes), an ironing board, iron and hoover!

perranporth

Our visit to the entertainment areas of the park were very pleasurable. All areas were non-smoking, in the dining and family areas. All tables were showing menu’s and were clean and easy to access, with room for pushchairs and highchairs if needed. Buggies and pushchairs could be safely stored in a couple of large open spaces, by reception and at the back of the club room, but it was no problem at all to bring buggies to your table within the whole area of the entertainment areas, ideal if you had young sleeping children.

Food is served daily from 5:00pm- 9:00pm from Chef’s Corner, and all food was available to eat in or take away, back to your apartments if you wished to and served in a takeaway bowl and plastic cutlery. Ordering food was easy with a purposely dedicated ordering area between the reception and club room. A chalk board clearly displayed specials / extended ranges and prices, and high chairs were easy to access. The highchairs were actually brand new and only just been delivered to Perran View!

john fowler holidays

The menu had burgers (100% beef, Chicken or Quorn choices available) and you had lots of choices if you wanted to add any extras or sides. There were larger dishes advertised for those wishing to share a meal, Baked Jacket potatoes with a choice of cheese, beans, and chilli con carne toppings. A range of curries, all served with rice or chips and naan bread. There were 9 main courses to choice from, 2 of which were vegetarian options. 12” pizzas and a wide range of side orders. I though the food was cheap, but lovely none the less. great for families on a budget, who needed something quick to refuel.

The kids meals, called ‘Foxy Boxes’ were large portions and well worth the £2.99 all were priced at. Inside the box was the child’s chosen meal and an excellent quality toy- a travel sized game, from a series of games. My girls were given snakes and ladders and noughts and crosses. The boxes were bright and colourful with little puzzles that could be played on the side of the boxes. There were ice cream puddings for the kids (one even came with a toy) and apple pie, ice cream or chocolate cake for the adults, although child’s portions of these were also available. The menu also states that all meals served, to the best of their knowledge, is free from GM food products, some products may contain traces of nuts. I would have liked to see some more healthy options on the menu, but the staff were happy to cater to requests so I felt that I could have asked, should I felt the need to. Baby food and milk could also be warmed at request to staff.

foxy club john fowler

There was a medium sized indoor pool and sauna room for visitors to use, free of charge. The pool was attended by a security guard during open hours. The main pool had varying depths, from shallow to deep but there was a separate paddling pool, for young children. The pool was pleasantly warm and the kids were very happy splashing and having fun in a safe pool. There was a superb range of pool activities regularly throughout the week, including water Zorbing, and canoeing. These too, were free of charge. Private male and female changing facilities were available with great showers, cubicles, clothes pegs and nappy bins all inside the changing rooms. By the poolside was a separate sauna room within the pool area for adult use only (A nice luxurious treat and 5 minutes peace and quiet!) and the room was regularly checked by the pool attendant who’s seat was next to the door to the sauna so they could monitor who went in and out.

On site there was a lovely range of outdoor activities to keep the family busy. There is a BMX track, tennis court, crazy golf course, Basketball hoop, goal posts, volley-ball/badminton net and ping pong table all for free use, all very clean and in well order and easy to access.

john fowler

The children’s play area was situated in a large green play area of the park. The park is aimed at older children from 6 years up, but there is a small climbing frame and slide for younger children to join in with the fun. I found it wonderful that the play park is surrounded by a high fence and there is a gate with a catch on, to ensure child safety, and just by the park was some picnic benches for those who wished to eat outside and watch the kids play safely. Also in the play green area was the sport nets and goals, which could also be easily seen from the picnic benches, meaning big kids and little kids could all play in the same area and parents could watch them all without worrying. Dogs were not allowed into the play areas nor was smoking.

The shop was easily found, situated right next to reception and stocked lots of family essentials such as toiletries, food, drinks, various cooking and cleaning utensils and lots of toys, souvenirs and games for the children. All items were reasonably priced and not too expensive at all. Alcohol and cigarettes were being sold but were out of view and reach from children. There was a wide range of magazines and newspapers for adults and children, with magazines for kids suiting all ages, perfect for raininy days or stocking up on car activities before the long drive home.

john fowler

There is a large laundrette on site, next to the shop that was open for long hours, and all pricing was clearly displayed. There were large and small washing machines and tumble dryers available. The laundrette was clean, any dangers were signed and fire extinguishers were easily found. Washing powders could be purchased from the on-site shop if needed.

At 6pm the evening entertainment began with the Foxy Club. 2 great entertainers played simple games with the kids (our daughters took park in hide and seek and a chasing game) with small prizes for the winners and introduced one of the characters (Foxy fox, and friends). Music was played for the children to dance on the dance floor (They felt so grown up!) and were able to take requests. Our 3 year old asked for Our House by Madness, and they made sure that it was the next song to be played, it made her evening and she was so pleased. There is a quiz for all the family to take part in, with prizes to be won and Bingo is played for the adults, and children’s bingo cards are available for small kids prizes. The evening entertainment goes on until around midnight, with adult entertainment including a game show and live cabaret. The entertainers were great fun, and very welcoming. The kids all seemed to enjoy their presence and were received well by all. A superb night of entertainment that the whole family truly enjoyed.

JohnFowler holiday park  club

There was a large stage and by the DJ decks was a shop selling lots of Foxy Club merch all at reasonable prices for the kids to choose a souvenir to take home. Soft cuddly toys, character back packs, inflatable pool toys, clothing items and even comfort blankets for babies (to list just a few items). There were plenty of outside toys too to keep the kids amused on site in the outside play areas.

On the park map, supplied in the welcome pack the following numbers are listed: Taxis, Perranporth surgery, NHS dentist, Vet, Garage, Red Cross, Police, AA and RAC. The reception staff were good with local knowledge and could easily tell me where the nearest A&E was and where to find the closest petrol garage and superstore. I would have liked this information displayed in accommodation or front of house to be accessed at all times in an emergencies.

There is park information found in the welcome pack giving useful information on fire assemble points, maintenance, parking, security, lost key policy, pets and vacating accommodation.

To book a holiday with John Fowler, more information can be found here. We stayed at Perran View, just one of the 14 parks situated in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

Newquay coves

This post was written by myself as an ambassador for Approved Family Friendly, searching for quality family friendly holiday experiences, days out, eateries and activities.

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