If you’re even a bit like me, then you’re the kind that has taken a dozen or so family holidays over recent years and found that almost every single provider out there seems to have a different definition of family-friendly. Now, this isn’t to say that in some instances I haven’t been most pleasantly surprised by the way my expectations have been well exceeded, but in others I can’t help but wonder how on Earth they get away with it.
I have to say however that after speaking to a fair few people in the same position as me, I have to admit that much of the problem may be with the holidaymakers themselves. The simple thing is this – if we are willing to accept substandard standards and a different version of family-friendliness everywhere we go, then there’s little to no reason or incentive for those on the other end of the equation to do anything about it.
What I’m getting at here is not something of a call to arms where we all need to start being picky as hell and demanding 5-star service for pennies, but rather a general and agreed-on definition of what family or Toddler friendly holidays should mean for the 21st century.
So, never the kind to either keep my mouth shut or wait for someone else to take the initiative, I defy you to argue that following summary from my own fair mind doesn’t indeed equate to a fair deal in this day and age:
Kids love going on holiday but hate travelling – it is as simple as that. This therefore means that the shorter the commuting time both from home and from the base of stay to where ever it is you are looking to spend your time, the better. This is why I’ve felt cheated so many times after being told the beach is “just a stroll away” only to find that said stroll is more like a 20-minute drive. Unless planning to spend every minute of every day on-site, by sure to find out exactly what they mean by “close to town” or “entertainment nearby” as location, in my opinion at least, means much more than the same grid reference on the map.
A spot of rain here and there on a UK holiday is about as certain as the sun rising in the morning. Not that it has to be the end of the world, but in my opinion the family-friendly moniker should not be weather-dependent. All too often, the whole place seems to grind to a close when the weather takes a turn for the worst and can leave you and the kids staring out at the grey and wondering if it is worth bothering or not. Family-friendly today should have all bases covered with enough activities for all weathers.
Chances are you’ll want to spend as much time as you can with your kids while away, but it is also important to know that if you want or need to take time away, there is the professional, experienced and certified manpower on-site to do help out.
Last but not least, family plans change at the drop of a hat and always will. This means that family-friendliness really should begin right with the very booking of the trip and offer super leeway and flexibility when it comes to alternations, payments, refunds and so on. After all, it isn’t exactly family friendly to bleed you dry just for clicking the wrong box when booking the thing in the first place, is it?
-By Elizabeth Staves
Elizabeth Staves is a part-time teacher and full-time mother of three, currently based in Southport with her husband of 11 years. As a keen traveler with a passion for bringing the whole family along, she is also devoted to sharing her advice and experiences with the world on the subject of Cornish holiday cottages.