Planning a luxury break with children

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You have heard the saying “Happy wife, happy life” right? Well when travelling with kids, a similar rule applies. Happy kids, happy parents, usually.

Most of us have either been in the situation when the kids are tired, irritable, grumpy or worst still, bored! If we have not experienced it personally, we have probably had those kids on a flight. You can spot their parents a mile off, they look stressed, loaded down with luggage, the kids are whingeing and moaning, probably kicking lumps out of each other .. and that is before they have even got on the plane.

Whilst I cannot wave a magic wand and make it all run smoothly, there are ways to make it a little less stressful and add a little luxury.

If departing early you could stay at the airport the night before and let the holiday begin early. Otherwise you could opt for valet parking at the airport, where you drive up, and an agent whisks your car away.

Make sure you use the special assistance and family lanes at security to minimise the stress on the kids, and parents.

If you have a young baby, you can pre-order some baby formula from Boots and pick it up airside.

Some hotels offer a hands-free service for babies, where they will provide formula, nappies etc if arranged in advance. That way you can keep your hands free for some Duty Free shopping..

When deciding on where to go, try to stick with destinations that are served by a direct flight, and take advantage of the families with young children board first policy on most airlines.

If on a longer flight, you can order child meals, but if your child is fussy, you might want to come prepared with some of their favourite snacks.

When choosing a hotel, do opt for a child friendly hotel as you are likely to find early dining options available as well as babysitting services for when you fancy dinner a little later than 5.30pm. One without a kids’ club is fine of course if you like to have your young children with you all the time. The drawback is that the hotel might not be set up for families, and they may not allow children in the restaurants in the evenings.

When choosing a room, think about how much time you will spend in it. Families with young children tend to spend more time in their rooms than those with older children.  Suites with swim up pools are a great way to escape other people’s children and the rush to get sun loungers near the pool. They also mean you can be right next to them in the pool, you can pop back into your suite those all too frequent trips to the toilet, a nap or just a break from the sun. A terrace and swim up pool is also great for the parents when then children have gone to bed. Order a nice bottle of wine or Champagne to be delivered to your room and enjoy the sunset and the sound of the cicadas whilst congratulating yourself on getting it right this time.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you planning something more exciting with your kids. Most clients tend to find that they get more adventurous as the children get older.

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Safaris are usually pretty popular with adults and youngsters alike.

For some real luxury, how about a few nights at Giraffe Manor? The children will be delighted to feed the giraffes through the windows at breakfast. From there head on for three nights at a luxury tented camp (a far cry from that tent you had in Devon when it rained solidly for a week) for a wildlife experience. A great ranger will teach the kids how to track the animals and can take them on a bush walk to discover the smaller creatures like spiders and birds. If you have a head for heights, and the children are tall enough, you might enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the plains and enjoy spotting the animals from above. If you are worried about malaria medication, South Africa has malarial free zones with excellent camps. After all this excitement you might like to head off to the beach, perhaps somewhere like Soneva Jani, where you can book an overwater villa that has its own slide directly into the sea.

A few years ago I arranged a 17-person multi-generational family trip in China. Needless to say, everyone had different interests. Some days they would visit the sites like the Great Wall of China, together, and always with an amazing guide who would appeal to both the children and the adults. Other days I factored in different activities for the various age groups. A comfy seat and some nice tea for grandma; a couple of hours with a graffiti artist for the teenagers; dumpling making for the younger children and a personal shopper for the mums; whilst the dads took a private architecture tour with a local historian and may or may not have stopped at a local bar ;-) where artists used to gather many years ago. This was apparently one of their favourite days, as there was something for everyone.

Another itinerary had a family with teenage children, enjoy exploring and ziplining in the jungles of Costa Rica, as well as climbing volcanoes and toasting marshmallows at the top.

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

In Italy you can enjoy a cooking lesson in the house of a Marquesa. She will take you and the children to a local market, teach you how to choose your ingredients by sight, smell, touch and weight, then return to her home to create a fine Italian banquet, with a menu tailored just for you. Children are usually excellent at the market shop as they are more intuitive.

In France and Italy, you can visit a master perfumier, learn the history of perfume and create your own scents.

If you are Disney fans, have a celebration coming up and a healthy budget, a private party can be arranged at Disneyland Paris, with some of your child’s favourite characters. Imagine the White Rabbit banging on your hotel room, your child opens the door to find him standing there.

“Hello Charlotte (or whatever your child is called) we are going to be very late! You must come!”

And off you all head to his rabbit hole and on into Wonderland. Can’t you just picture your child’s face? Bet they would have eyes like saucers!

Whilst two weeks in the sun, a kids’ club and a babysitter on tap might be all you need right now, don’t think you have to reign in your sense of adventure just because you have children. Be bold, be brave, inspire wonder in your children.

Whatever you wish to do, we can work together to create an adventure that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

For help planning you next family escape, and making your life just a little bit easier, you can email me on

Janet Mactavish