Many families with young children choose to avoid airports when going on holiday, because of the hassle of all the procedures and restrictions, and because it is easy to become stressed on a plane when your bundle of joy becomes everyone else’s nightmare. Most people would prefer not to sit near any child while in the cramped environment of a flight.
But choosing not to fly doesn’t mean holidays have to be in the UK. There are many opportunities to visit the continent by train, or car and ferry, reaching destinations across France and Spain.
The benefits are many-fold:
- You can enjoy the freedom of taking your own car packed with everything you need (or might need) for your family to make the most of their time away.
- You don’t have to wait in the long queues for flights, and the excess baggage charges that often come with children’s paraphernalia. Plus check-in times for ferry crossings tend to be around 45 minutes before departure.
- There is more space and freedom with this type of travel, meaning that young children can explore and let off steam more readily.
- The bathroom facilities are easier to get to, making nappy changing a possibility rather than a test of ingenuity – as it can be within the small confines of aeroplane toilets.
Plus, cruise and high-speed sailings often go direct to the holiday regions — avoiding the long drive through northern France to get to popular southern and Spanish resorts. Again, this keeps stress levels to a minimum, particularly when your children’s favourite CD fails to keep them occupied, and they keep asking the perennial question: ‘Are we nearly there?’ Being able to answer ‘yes’ has huge advantages…
There are many activities available on board a ferry, too, so you can start your holiday immediately, and are free to move around while you cross the channel.
Children are well entertained by most operators, with well-equipped play areas and a great choice of places to eat. Most ships feature a selection of play areas, games rooms, live entertainment and cinemas.
During the summer holidays, ferry companies often provide live entertainment, such as game shows and pantomimes, on busier crossings. Also, dedicated children’s entertainers offering close-up magic, balloon modelling and more are regular features of family-friendly crossings.
It is possible on many boats to book en suite cabins. By day or by night, they give you a place to relax, sleep and store your belongings. They can also offer the opportunity for young children to get some rest, meaning they aren’t getting tetchy with the process of travelling – with the result that they, and their parents, arrive ready for the next stage of their holiday.