With the weather in the UK hotting up nicely and the summer holiday just around the corner, families across the nation are getting ready for their annual trip abroad. With this in mind, Thomas Cook has put together its top tips to help take the stress out of a family holiday, showing how a little insider knowledge and a few wise decisions can help you and your loved ones make the most out of your precious time together.
Tip 1: Book with a reputable holiday company
In light of the findings of a recent report conducted on behalf of ABTA, which found that British travellers lost £7million through booking with bogus holiday companies in 2013, travelling with a reputable tour operator is more important than ever to safeguard your hard-earned holiday spend. A recent YouGov poll for ABTA revealed that one in ten consumers (9%) do nothing to research their travel company, such as checking if it is a member of a trade association like ABTA (which has a code of conduct in place to protect consumers), asking friends and family for recommendations, or running a web search. So, make sure you book with an ABTA/ATOL protected name you can trust like Thomas Cook to ensure you receive what you’ve paid for – high service levels, fair terms of trading and accurate information, as well as that all-important value for money.
Tip 2: Choose the right holiday for you and your family
While keeping the kids happy is the key to a successful holiday, don’t forget you’re on holiday too – it pays to do some research to make sure you choose the right holiday for your family. To save you time, Thomas Cook has done the hard work for you – its family holidays are easily categorised for your convenience, reflecting the varied needs of modern families.
- Families with toddlers will know how challenging it can be to keep them entertained, and so that’s why our Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD properties feature Toddler Time (operating May, June, September and October 2014) – a free, fun-filled activity programme of interactive music, dancing and story time sessions for toddlers up to 3 years old.
- If you have tech-lovers in your family, you’ll know how they can struggle to imagine life without the internet – 54% of us consider broadband as ‘vital’ or ‘important’ for our next holiday according to the latest research conducted on behalf of Thomas Cook. Our SunConnect resorts have been developed to appeal to families who like to stay connected and offer some great digital features including the ConnectBar, where you can relax with a drink while you recharge your digital devices, and ConnectFun, with activities for all ages, such as geocaching GPS treasure hunts.
- If you’re after an exceptionally good value holiday, our range of Airtours smartline hotels with their eye-catching, colourful interior design and smartline ice cream trolley serving fresh fruit and ice cream on a daily basis, have been developed with the budget-savvy holidaymaker in mind.
- If you are looking for a great place for your family to let off steam, you’ll want to pick somewhere with plenty of fun activities to keep them occupied. Thomas Cook and Airtours Aquamania hotels make an ideal choice as they all include unlimited access to onsite waterparks or free entrance to some of the biggest and best waterparks in Europe.
Tip 3: Pack for perfection
- When you’re packing for little ones as well as yourself, it’s a good idea to check whether the airline you are travelling with offers any additional luggage allowance – Thomas Cook Airlines provides an extra 10kg luggage allowance for infants travelling with you on your lap.
- If you’re holidaying with kids, it’s best to pack as lightly as possible so you’re not laden down with suitcases and prams. The majority of resorts have good local supermarkets, so consider saving space by buying baby essentials such as nappies and baby food when you arrive at your holiday destination.
- Don’t forget to pack a high factor ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen with a four or five-star rating to make sure you and yours stay safe in the sun.
- A holiday isn’t complete without a good book and Thomas Cook has launched a brand new ‘Holiday Book Selector’ app in collaboration with NOOK®, to help you pick your ideal summer read to complement the destination you’re travelling to. The ‘Holiday Book Selector’ is accessible via http://www.thomascook.com/blog/holiday-book-selector/
Tip 4: At the airport & in the air
- Families holidaying on a budget might want to consider travelling from a selection of regional airports, or look into night flights as they can be cheaper than travelling at peak times.
- Midweek flights don’t tend to be as busy as those at the weekend, so if you choose a weekday departure, you might find there’s more space on the plane and in the airport, making for a more relaxing journey.
- To help children feel like the flight will be an adventure, consider letting them take their own small case onto the plane as hand luggage. Not only does this make them feel grown-up, it also frees up some room in your own hand baggage that would otherwise be taken up with toys.
- If you’re travelling on a long flight, consider wrapping up a few books and small toys before you leave and keeping them with you in your hand baggage – rewarding children for good behaviour with a present will help to keep them entertained.
Tip 5: Once you’re there
- Encourage your kids to keep a travel journal to look back on when they’re older, suggest they write about new experiences and draw pictures of what they see and the new foods they try. If you’re looking for new experiences, Thomas Cook has a great range of excursions from island tours and submarine safaris to trips to local markets and aqua parks, providing plenty of opportunities to take photos and videos.
- Don’t forget, to help keep kids amused, many of our hotels and resorts, including our Airtours Sunstar and Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD properties, feature a great range of family entertainment.
- It’s important to make sure children eat well on holiday, otherwise they have a tendency to overload on ice-cream and sugary treats. Well balanced, fresh cuisine is the trademark of our SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts. In addition to the varied buffet selection, SENTIDO guests can order food at the live cooking stations and watch the chef prepare their dinner. There are also themed buffets and dedicated buffets for children, vegetarians and guests with special dietary requirements, as well as a range of snacks and delicious fresh fruit available.
- Consider booking your children in for swimming classes while on holiday. They’re a great way of gaining water confidence and learning essential water safety skills. New for Summer 2014, in partnership with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), Thomas Cook is offering parents of non-swimmers the ideal opportunity for their kids to learn to swim – on holiday in the sun. An adapted version of the ASA’s Learn to Swim Framework will feature in swim academies at six Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD and Airtours Sunstar resorts, throughout July and August 2014.
- Water-based activities such as swimming and snorkelling can increase UV exposure, so make sure your family covers up with UV wetsuits.
- It’s easy to forget about yourself on holiday and focus on making sure the kids have a great time, so ensure you factor in some me-time too. Many of our hotels have Kids’ Clubs, hosted by our own UK qualified and DBS-checked team. This offers parents the chance to spend some quality time together as a couple, enjoy one of the many adult-focused activities including spa treatments – or simply soak up a few rays on a sunbed by the pool.
Thomas Cook’s dedicated family offering…
Available with Thomas Cook and Airtours, Aquamania hotels have an amazing range of rip-roaring slides, plummeting chutes and twisting flumes. Most hotels have their very own on-site aqua park and they all include unlimited access to onsite waterparks or free entrance to some of the biggest and best waterparks in Europe throughout your stay.
Airtours Aquamania – 7 nights in Tunisia from £1,059 for a family of 3
Staying at the 3-star Sahara Beach in Skanes, Tunisia on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 4th October 2014. To book click here or call 0844 412 5970 or visit the nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel.
Available with Thomas Cook and Airtours at 52 hotels and with a different themed programme each day, our fully qualified, energetic kids’ club team and sports coaches have a full agenda of age-appropriate sports, games and crafts for children aged 3 to 11, designed to suit three different age groups.
Airtours Kids’ Clubs – 7 nights in Crete from £1,285 for a family of 3
Staying at the 4-star The Village Resort & Waterpark in Hersonissos, Greece on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 10th June 2014. To book click here or call 0844 412 5970 or visit the nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel.
Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD
Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD hotels are exclusive to Thomas Cook customers in the UK, hosted by our own dedicated and qualified team. They offer all the facilities you’d expect from a great family resort: family-size rooms, children’s pool, play area and menus as well as our multi-activity Kids’ Club for ages 3-11 years.
Our SunConnect Resorts are embracing the future, with a combination of fantastic digital and traditional features. This means that besides family-friendly rooms, spacious pool areas and good value all-inclusive packages, SunConnect Resorts offer free wireless internet within the hotel as well as new features that make your holiday even more relaxing and uncomplicated such as the ConnectBar, where you can relax with a drink whilst you recharge your digital devices, and ConnectFun, with activities for all ages, such as geocaching GPS treasure hunts.
Thomas Cook SunConnect – 7 nights in Mallorca from £1,565 for a family of three. Staying at the 4-star SunConnect Rosa Del Mar in Palma Nova on a half-board basis, Manchester – 16th June 2014
smartline hotels are a great value option for families, couples and single travellers. The eye-catching, colourful interior design is fresh and inviting and each hotel typically has a bar, buffet restaurant and swimming pool. Ice cream and fresh fruit are served daily from the smartline ice cream trolley and free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby.
Airtours smartline – 7 nights in Djerba from £959 for a family of three.
Staying at the 3-star smartline Miramar Petit Palais in Djerba on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 20th June 2014.
SENTIDO Family Hotels
A range of 4 star hotels designed with children from 3 to 16 in mind, with dedicated programmes for parents and children in a child-friendly environment.
Airtours Sunstar Resorts – 7 nights in Lanzarote from £1,305 for a family of 3
Staying at the 4-star Sentido Mamlouk Palace Resort in Hurghada on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 3rd June 2014.
Airtours Sunstar Resorts
With sports, entertainment and a wide variety of activities on hand. Airtours Sunstar Resorts are individually chosen to bring you great facilities, excellent accommodation and a fantastic atmosphere in one complete package.
Airtours Sunstar Resorts – 7 nights in Lanzarote from £1,305 for a family of 3
Staying at the 3-star THB Tropical Island in Playa Blanca on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 12th June 2014.
* Correct at time of issue and subject to change, inclusive of flights, transfers and accommodation as specified. Other optional extras such as in-flight meals, Choose Your Seat and 5kg additional luggage allowance may be applicable at the time of booking.
© Thomas Cook