Top 5 family holiday tips: how, where and what

We wait all year for it and with a family holiday costing a significant percentage of our income, it is not surprising that we absolutely want to get it right. The decisions involved are complex and numerous – often increasing in direct proportion to the number of children that we have. So these are our top tips for making sure you get the right family holiday to suit your brood.

Self-catering or hotel?

Generally cheaper and definitely offering more flexibility, a self-catering break means that you can enjoy food shopping in local markets and shops and eating breakfast in your pyjamas. If you prefer to be amongst other holidaymakers and families with a communal pool, one option may be an apartment on a hotel-style resort such as the Casale Villarena on the Amalfi Coast or the Grande Baia in Sardinia.

Casale Villarena

Casale Villarena, Sorrento

Pool or beach?
Whilst we all would prefer a bit of both, you do sometimes need to choose. Are the children happier wading out to sea or splashing around in a pool? This is where regions such as the Cilento and Sardinia really come into their own. Choose a hotel a short stroll from the beach, with its own pool, and keep everyone happy.

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La Pineta, Cilento

Single or multi-centre?
Well this one depends largely on the age of your children. Our experience is that little ones generally just need a bit of water to splash around in, regular feeding (penne al pomodoro works a treat!) and maybe a small play area. Older children may get a little restless if you stay too long in one place in which case a tailor made holiday, combining beach life with a few days in a city, can work very well.

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Tenuta Santa Tecla, Acireale

Children’s clubs
This is highly personal: some children just are not interested in children’s clubs however welcoming they are. Find a compromise at a resort that runs some gentle activities rather than a full-on club, such as at the Grande Baia where the hottest ticket in town is for the evening poolside disco (average age: 5½).

Grande Baia Resort kids club 

Grande Baia, Sardinia

Location location location
Rural, town centre or beachside .... If everyone wants something different, make tracks for an area where all three are accessible. The south east corner of Sicily is definitely a good option, with the white sandy beaches around Pozzallo and Marina di Ragusa just a short drive from the towns of the Valle di Noto, but Tuscany also works well, particularly in the more southerly Maremma.

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Locanda Rossa, the Maremma