How To Choose The Perfect Family Holiday

What makes up the perfect family holiday for you? I’ve been chatting about it over on Instagram today. It’s been such a miserable, grey day up North and the forecast is showing much the same for the next week or so.

Once the Christmas lights come down and the adrenaline of a new year has passed, January is left feeling a bit drab really isn’t it? Aside from my birthday and a fancy pants weekend in London, there isn’t a lot on my calendar for the coming year. Which means I’ve started my annual holiday shopping. And Shaun has hidden his credit cards.

I have this weird hankering to be one of those families that finds the perfect holiday spot to return to year after year. It would make life so much easier wouldn’t it? Easy or not, I just can’t get on board with this kind of thinking – there are just way too many amazing places to explore and drink cocktails in.

So how do you narrow it down? Well I have a secret (not really, I just think it sounds better saying it that way) formula for choosing the perfect family holiday that I thought I’d share with you.

How to choose the perfect family holiday

  • Start with a budget. You work hard for your money all year and it is tempting to just go out and have a nosey around looking for the perfect family holiday. I agree, two weeks in Florida is lovely if you have the money but it is not worth getting into debt for. If you agree a realistic budget before you start looking then you know where you stand and can set your expectations accordingly.
  • How long can you go for and at what time of year? This will be dictated by your annual leave I imagine.
  • Hot or cold? Hot is probably more my thing but I wouldn’t be adverse to going skiing etc. If I am only going on one holiday this year though, for us it is all about the sun.
  • Flight time / travel time. Do you hate flying? Do you have really young children and can only manage 2-3 hours? Perhaps you don’t mind a really long flight and the world is your oyster? Thinking about how far you are willing to travel will really narrow down your search.
  • What sort of accommodation do you want to stay in? For me it’s a villa or self catering every time. I have a very young child who needs to go to bed early and I have an much older child who won’t. That’s age gaps for you. Anyway, none of us want to be cramped into one hotel room for a week or stuck in the bathroom drinking wine because the baby is asleep in the room. I can do that at home thank you very much. You may prefer a hotel for all the amenities and lack of cleaning up it brings. Narrow it down before the search begins.

So now you know how much money you have to play with, how long you are going for, when you can go, and the general area you can holiday in. You also know the sort of holiday accommodation you want to stay in. It’s time to shop.

I will only say this once. If you are searching online then clear your browsing history first because otherwise the Google Gods will know what you are interested in before you do and they will NOT give you the cheapest price. Stalkers.

Every family is different from this point on so I will leave it in your very capable hands. We have criteria that ranges from a need for a swimming pool right through to unlimited WIFI. These are all things that can be compromised on though once I’ve followed the check list above.

If you are particularly time poor, there are lots of family friendly companies who will allow you to check the boxes that are relevant to your search and book through their website in mere minutes. That’s my kind of shopping.

All that’s left to do then is count down the days to the perfect family holiday and pack your bags.

So tell me, using the list above to help you, where are you off to this year? I’m off to look now – that’s if I can find where Shaun has hidden the credit cards!

Happy shopping






  1. Julia
    January 9, 2017 / 03:32

    Checklist great idea. Hope you find your perfect holiday!

  2. January 9, 2017 / 09:59

    I so need this right now – we are planning for Feb half term and feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all!

    • January 9, 2017 / 10:37

      Oh I can only dream of getting away so soon! Think we will have to wait until the summer but at least it will be something to look forward to. Have an amazing time x
      A Mum Track Mind recently posted…30 Ways To Celebrate Turning 30My Profile

  3. January 9, 2017 / 10:08

    Oh fab tips. We are hoping to have a couple of city breaks this year and maybe one or two mini cruises if we can find some good deals!

  4. January 9, 2017 / 16:28

    A great read, I’m sure lots of parents will find it very useful this time of year 🙂

  5. January 9, 2017 / 19:05

    some great tips. I’ve heard from lots of people who have just picked the cheapest deal they can find and then not had a great time. More research and a bit more money would have made the difference.

  6. January 9, 2017 / 21:43

    I always said I wouldn’t be the person who visits the same place every year, then we discovered the South of France/Var region and that’s our location of choice. Weather is always good, flights and accommodation reasonably priced and very child friendly. Once I live there I will look for a new holiday location
    Love your cookies tip though, thanks x
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  7. January 10, 2017 / 17:31

    There are so many places I’d love to go and some that returning to would be wonderful. I’m a fussy eater so we tend to look at self catering places and those that have a fair few tourist attractions. #tribalchat
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  8. January 14, 2017 / 08:10

    Some good ideas. Haven’t decided about our holiday yet but warm sounds nice! #fortheloveofBLOG

  9. January 14, 2017 / 08:33

    Great post although I think we maybe headed to but libs this year #fortheloveoftheblog

  10. January 14, 2017 / 08:42

    We so badly need a holiday (and a honeymoon- we’ve only been married for three years! Haha!) I love this post, a lot of it seems “common sense” but I’ve watched friends blow thousands and thousands on a holiday that becomes nothing more than stress and debt because it’s the place to go. We’re aiming for a ski holiday in the next few years. The full monty. Chalet, chef, nanny, ski school for the kids. I’d prefer one massive holiday every 3-4 years over a “cheap” holiday every year! I only recently learnt about clearing cookies and browser history though! Great tip! I hope you’ve found the credit cards since writiting this?! 😉 x #FortheloveofBLOG

  11. January 14, 2017 / 08:56

    Great tips! Oh you’re got me thinking about holidays now! Have a pull towards going to Mauritius at Easter – off to have a little look! Love the fact about clearing browsing history – sneaky google! #fortheloveofblog recently posted…Celebrating All The Bad MumsMy Profile

  12. January 14, 2017 / 08:59

    As someone that used to work in travel, this is very sensible advice! We have also come round to the benefits of self catering since having Baby Lighty. With regards to clearing your internet history, I believe they can also track what you’ve been looking at through your IP address now I could be wrong though as I’m a complete technophobe!! Thanks for hosting #fortheloveofBLOG xxx
    Mrs Lighty recently posted…Seeing in the New Year through the Eyes of a ToddlerMy Profile

  13. January 14, 2017 / 09:15

    Thank you for some sound tips. This year we’re visiting family in England, but next year we’re pondering on taking a sun holiday or city break. I wouldn’t mind a week in Greece, though. #fortheloveofBLOG

  14. January 14, 2017 / 09:17

    Some great tips. I’m rubbish at booking holidays I can never decide and hate shopping around. I usually leave it to my husband to sort it all out! #fortheloveofblog
    Kiri recently posted…Our Weekly Roundup #29My Profile

  15. January 14, 2017 / 09:20

    These are great tips. I’d never thought about clearing my browser history – I’m going to try that next time! I totally agree about getting self-catering or at least something that involves a separate room for the kids to think in. Although next time I am stuck in the same hotel room with the kids, I’ll remember the idea about drinking in the bathroom. Not a terrible idea in a pinch. #fortheloveofBLOG
    The Mum Reviews recently posted…Tips for a perfect, portable Lemon Drizzle CakeMy Profile

  16. January 14, 2017 / 09:51

    Ooh this post is so well timed for me. We are thinking about our first proper family holiday at the moment and I didn’t really know where to start. Thanks! #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. January 14, 2017 / 10:51

    I literally come out of Christmas always thinking right when is the sunshine! And I agree I rarely actually go back to the same place twice as there are just too many places in the world x
    Laura @ Little Ladies Big World recently posted…Happy 6th Birthday Eva DeeMy Profile

  18. January 14, 2017 / 10:58

    My parents found the perfect family holiday – a house my grandfather built in the west of Ireland and we went every year as children. As a teenager I hated it and wished my family should take us to Disneyland, or just abroad somewhere. But now I love it and this year I am taking my daughter for the first time. Good luck with your search. The browsing history tip is a great one. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  19. January 14, 2017 / 11:00

    Lovely tips for narrowing down your search. I think with teens and conflicting interests we will most likely be staying put at Coombe Mill this year and letting the kids fly the nest with a few festivals they are wanting to go to without us. On the plus side Coombe Mill is a wonderful base and we will be surrounded by holiday makers so it puts me in holiday spirit too. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Coombe Mill – Fiona recently posted…Country Kids 14th January 2017My Profile

  20. January 14, 2017 / 11:11

    Great checklist.We’ve always preferred to AI hotel deals but now we are getting more adventurous. A Uk road trip for this year and I suspect any future hot holidays will be in a Villa like yourself. I quite like the privacy of them and separate rooms are a must!
    Helen @Talking_Mums recently posted…To the man in beige trousersMy Profile

  21. January 14, 2017 / 11:43

    I had no idea about the browsing history, naughty Google! We havent planned a family holiday yet. It’s awkward for us as I teach so I’m off in the school holidays and hubby gets 2 lots of 18 days that he has no control over when they are. Finding a date we can both do is a nightmare! #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. January 14, 2017 / 12:12

    We’re just heading to Norfolk this year – week in a rental and then a week camping in our friend’s garden. Loads of National Trust places to go on our membership and can just drive down. Cheap and cheerful approach! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  23. January 14, 2017 / 13:51

    Oh how I wish we could go on vaccation. But with me freshly out of a job, there is no wiggle room in the budget for it. At least not right now. I hope you have an amazing trip. #fortheloveofBLOG

  24. January 14, 2017 / 14:13

    Great tips thank you. We’ve only managed one family holiday in almost 3 years, so we’re hoping a camping trip might be in order this year! Good hint about clearing your internet history too 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG
    Becki Parsons recently posted…parkrun Diaries | Injured!My Profile

  25. January 14, 2017 / 14:52

    As long as it isnt Disney World I am in!

  26. January 14, 2017 / 14:59

    We used to have some very amazing holidays but since Josh came along we have stuck to UK holidays. I have to say I am ready for a bit of sun now but slightly nervous at the thought of a flight with a baby! xx#fortheloveofblog
    Fi – Beauty Baby and Me recently posted…It’s Not Always EasyMy Profile

  27. January 14, 2017 / 18:55

    January is definitely holiday shopping time! I’m always planning ahead for the next trip, and there’s something about January that leaves you dreaming of the next getaway. Hope you find what you’re looking for 🙂 ! #fortheloveofBLOG xxx
    Emma recently posted…#DayLOT5 Survival Mode – Working itMy Profile

  28. January 14, 2017 / 19:31

    Ooo yes – some good advice here and the fab pic got me thinking about being outside on a warm and sunny day 🙂 xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  29. January 14, 2017 / 19:35

    We will be booking last minute this year – just have to to up sticks and go when work and the budget allows! Hoping we’ll get a good deal doing it that way though #fortheloveofblog
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  30. January 14, 2017 / 20:59

    That’s a very sensible way to plan your holiday. We don’t have any plans for this year yet but it’s love a hot holiday, it’s been years! #fortheloveofBLOG

  31. January 14, 2017 / 21:25

    Your making me want to go on holiday again and i’ve only been back six weeks. No harm having a look though #fortheloveofBLOG

  32. January 14, 2017 / 21:52

    Great advice about clearing browser history first, I have never thought of doing that! I have only done one holiday since my son was born and that was in a hotel and never again, the drinking wine in the bathroom thing was all too much of a reality for us! I’ve been looking into villas, it’s all so exciting but expensive! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  33. January 14, 2017 / 22:02

    We are not having a family holiday this year so that we can save up for a really nice holiday next year. Like you said, as nice as a holiday is it is not worth getting into debt for.
    Ali Duke recently posted…My Weight and I: Update #6My Profile

  34. January 15, 2017 / 00:30

    We just chatted today about a family trip! The real goal is Disney World…but we will see =) #ForTheLoveOfBlog

  35. January 15, 2017 / 09:29

    Fab ideas and yes, I agree, how cool would it be to return regularly to a cute holiday cottage that no-one else knows about. Very idealistic! Anyway, yes we need a holiday too. Planning on booking a week away with the girls in June for our honeymoon…yes, honeymoon with the children. Jude, our son, won’t be coming as he really can’t cope with holidays any more and he’d be happier at home with Granny for a week. He has severe learning disabilities so the notion of chilling out doesn’t register with him! Anyway, happy holiday hunting #fortheloveofblog xx
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  36. January 15, 2017 / 11:38

    fab tips 🙂 we just booked our summer hols to menorca. there is limited wifi and i am actually really pleased about this. i literally want to switch off for a week. no facebook, no blog – just me, the boys and sunshine! #fortheloveofblog

  37. January 15, 2017 / 14:07

    Yet again, you’ve nailed it with another really useful post! I always get so much out of reading your blog, and this is perfectly timed as we’re just starting to make holiday plans for the summer.

    My toddler is normally a fab sleeper, but whenever my husband and I stay in the same room as her, she’s really unsettled and won’t sleep at all – this makes taking her on holiday a real nightmare! We went to Italy last summer and none of us slept the whole trip!

    There’s so much to think about and plan when taking a youngster away, and this post has given me some serious food for thought for my planning. Thank you! x
    Musing Mum recently posted…I have invented a new work-out for parents – ‘Baby Gate Gymnastics’My Profile

  38. January 15, 2017 / 14:43

    Your tip about clearing your browser history and cookies is so important. It’s astonishing how much pricing and options are influenced by that information! It can be annoying wiping key info from your main browser though so I have a second browser installed which I use for that sort of thing and can wipe clean without disrupting my day-to-day stuff! Hope you find somewhere nice to go! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  39. January 15, 2017 / 17:22

    This is so useful to me right now! We have been trying to decide on where to go this year. Initially we thought we would go abroad but given the fact that my children are more demonic than ever, we are going to stick to the UK for another year. It’s hard work deciding where to go but I think it’s always nice to have a holiday to look forward to through these miserable winter month! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  40. January 15, 2017 / 18:13

    Clearing the search history is such a good idea! I have never thought of that before but now you say it, it is so obvious!
    Kirsty – Winnettes recently posted…Raspberry CupcakesMy Profile

  41. January 15, 2017 / 20:01

    Hope you find that perfect holiday! We just booked a weekend in Paris in February to meet up with my husband’s friend and his wife, but we’ll want to do a proper family holiday later in the year. We may just end up going to New York again to visit my family there – but it’s New York, so I guess I can’t complain! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  42. January 15, 2017 / 20:17

    This post really resonates with me because for the first time we are looking for a family of 3 not 4 as the eldest Teen is off doing his own thing this year so my criteria have suddenly shifted back to looking for a place where our youngest might meet others, something we have avoided so much over the last few years. It’s early days so will have to report back on the results. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Jo (Mother of Teenagers) recently posted…Teenagers On Tour – The Holiday Every Parent DreadsMy Profile

  43. January 15, 2017 / 20:19

    I tell you hun the French live for their holidays! Every six weeks the kids have two weeks off and then it’s summer and it’s eight weeks! They take a holiday for every one!

    Feb for us is skiiing (I live with three mad skiiers!). But this year we’ll stick to France so that narrows things down. Airbnb has worked out brilliantly for us too. But I do want to go to Italy, and maybe further afield Japan in a couple of years for a big milestone birthday – it aint 30!!!

    But fab tips! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  44. January 15, 2017 / 20:26

    These tips are really helpful! This year we knew we wanted to go to Center Parcs for some family time just chilling out away from the world, making the most of being all together before the eldest starts school in September. When we eventually decide to brave a plane and head further afield, we will definitely use this list to help us decide! xx #fortheloveofblog
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  45. January 15, 2017 / 22:24

    This is great! I agree, a checklist is so important. We are a family of 5 with the kids ages ranging from 18 to 6 so it can be so difficult to find a holiday suitable for all of us. We also have some really fussy eaters and after a nightmare trip to Europe a few years ago where we regularly struggled to find places to eat, we now put food right there near the top of our list! Our two weeks in Naples Florida last year was incredible and will have to keep us going for a while until we can afford the next one! #fortheloveofblog

  46. January 15, 2017 / 22:36

    Some great pointer – especially the ‘clear your browser history’ one. I’d never have thought of that.
    When the kids were small we had a little old touring caravan. I loved it. Home from home wherever we went – even if we did have to change a tyre every time we went out lol. I was never brave enough to fly with children.
    Hope you find the perfect holiday

  47. January 16, 2017 / 10:41

    Great tips, we just had our first family vacation last month and hopefully planning to have more vacations in the future but maybe not during December because flights are expensive and most places are booked in advance.. A lot of planning is involved to ensure you get the best deals #fortheloveofblog
    Samsam recently posted…Family Day Out- Nairobi Animal OrphanageMy Profile

  48. January 16, 2017 / 16:18

    I have no idea? Camping maybe? All I want in a holiday is a swimming pool…with a tight budget I might gatecrash my mates house, occupy her blow up pool by force, get her to put the hose on me, then slope off to the forest beside my house. If I’m lucky my brain will be fooled into thinking I’ve been to Center Parcs. #fortheloveofBLOG

  49. January 16, 2017 / 18:30

    Having been pleasantly surprised by the price of kids passports I got excited looking for bargain holidays. They were not bargains. No no no!
    Then I realised a beach holiday is not good for a ginger one year old who’s skin is paler than Casper! Also the heat may not be nice, then there is the thought of what happens when he goes to bed. Do we sit in the room staring at the walls? Then hubby raised the point of what happens if he needs medical attention in a foreign country. My argument to that was let’s not go away for 18 years and he realised how silly he sounded haha! (Although he does have a bit of a point)
    We have decided if we do go abroad it will be a city break for a long weekend so it will keep Ben entertained as he is a nosey parker and then we can do late dinners and by the time we come back to the hotel we’ll be happy for bed too!

  50. January 18, 2017 / 08:53

    Some fab tips – completely with you on the browser history thing. They are so sneaky aren’t they? I have also found searching at different times of the day makes a difference in price too! We are off to Bluestone in May and we are currently considering a family holiday to Cornwall for the Summer with my parents! #ForTheLoveOfBlog
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  51. January 18, 2017 / 16:22

    Awesome checklist! I would love a nice family holiday but for us it’s all about making in the money side of things. Sometimes in the future though hopefully.. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Amie recently posted…Why Two Is Better Than OneMy Profile

  52. January 19, 2017 / 20:17

    This is a great way to look at things. We go to my parent’s villa in Spain every summer because it’s just so convenient with a baby/toddler – pool, sun, air con, wifi and sangria, what’s not to love!? An yes a short flight. I would love to go visit friends in NewZealand but I am just too scared of the flight and the time difference/jet lag! Maybe once the kids are 5ish upwards… only a few more years but I wish it could be sooner! #FortheloveofBLOG

  53. January 21, 2017 / 11:01

    Great tips Fi – we are planning our summer holiday and looking at a lot of these things as James is 11 years older than Emma, it is often tricky. I’m thinking South of France at a villa with a few sporting activities nearby 🙂 Thanks for hosting #fortheloveofBLOG lovely x
    Bridie By The Sea recently posted…Days Out: The Painting Pottery Cafe, BrightonMy Profile

  54. January 22, 2017 / 15:45

    This is a topic that stresses me out! There are too many restricting factors, from money to time off work and inflexibility of other family members that spoil the fun in the idea of a holiday. It didn’t use to be this stressful! Sorry for being late with my commenting. #Fortheloveofblog

  55. Astrid
    January 28, 2017 / 09:02

    Hi Fi,

    This is my first time on your blog, thanks for these great tips!

    We’re planning a trip to Namibia. It’s a ‘rough-it’ holiday. Deserts, 4 wheel drives, wild camping, no people, cell reception or wifi for days and days!

    Oh, and it’s a roadtrip!

    Can’t wait!

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