Holidays are great but when children are small there’s a real risk of overdoing it with extravagant destinations that they simply don’t appreciate. We’ve now tried both holidays abroad and the increasingly popular staycation with Tilly and we’re starting to get a picture of what’s right for small children.

The case for: going abroad on holiday

Sun. Not always completely guaranteed but even in the convenient Mediterranean you’re normally on to a winner throughout the summer months. It’s warm, or simply darn hot at the height of the summer holidays, which means water play and outdoor activities are an absolute winner. Much of it is hotel based so getting changed for swimming is a breeze.

Hotels are geared for families too. From Portugal to Turkey you can find hotels offering days filled with family-friendly activities. Let the little ones get their fill of kids clubs, sports, parties, evening entertainment plus filling their boots with all inclusive food and drink. Parents put up their feet while the children play all day and crash at night.

Then there’s the culture of a foreign land, the chance to try out a new language and discover somewhere different to home.

The case for: staying in the UK

What could be better than jumping in the car at being in your destination in a few hours. No waiting for flights, security checks and all the hassle that flying and international travel brings. Plus, you go in your own car and explore the sights at your own pace.

Our own country is incredibly varied, from the fishing villages of Cornwall to cosmopolitan cities, rugged highlands, inland lakes.

For small children there’s plenty to do in most places. Activities as simple as walks, being at the beach, by a river or even a trip to the local playground can be all that they need.

Our verdict

For us the first properly relaxing holiday we’ve experience was our recent staycation in the West Country. We mixed some sightseeing for us and interspersed it with trips to playgrounds with great success. The weather, even in August, wasn’t brilliant, but with transport at our disposal and plenty of information we can look up, we found a great selection of activities from days at the seaside to visiting caves, outdoor spaces and much besides.

Sunseeking does suit some but it’s not our cup of tea, so being tied to a hotel for a week or more, even with occupied children, doesn’t really cut it. We’d prefer some culture and to be honest that’s easier to achieve in familiar surroundings especially when young children just won’t appreciate it. Keep visits light and flexible. When abroad, if you don’t hire a car you have to sign up to a whole day away, which can be hard work if the child isn’t in the mood for it a couple of hours in.

Going abroad isn’t getting easier at the moment with horror stories of security queues this summer. That’s enough to put off many families, where long delays with children is enough to sour a holiday experience.

Our feeling at present is to look at easy UK-based holidays while Tilly is still small and satisfied by simple activities that you can find anywhere. In years to come, when she’s older and with more complex demands, we’ll look for the more diverse attractions of abroad.

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