We have prepared for you a mini-guide with ready-made questions to answer yourself or ask a travel agent before you decide to go on an all-inclusive trip with your child!
The time for vacation planning is approaching, and many people are probably wondering where to spend their vacation with their child. Some families choose to go to familiar places and areas and return to proven accommodations, some organize trips on their own, and some want someone else to organize the trip for them, and they don’t have to worry about anything. It is this third option that we are going to write about today – vacations purchased with a travel agency, often precisely in the all-inclusive option.
As you may know, we rely on organizing trips on our own and are unlikely to travel through travel agencies as a full option. I emphasize this because it doesn’t mean that we don’t buy anything at travel agencies – it happens to us. Often, you’ll find that you can hunt down cheap charter tickets (such as to Mexico recently) or good accommodations (such as in the Dominican Republic) this way. Just because we don’t buy vacations doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, too. Ba, we even think that for many people this form of vacation works perfectly, and maybe in the future they will result in a trip organized on their own.
We absolutely do not believe that someone who travels with a travel agency is inferior, more lazy, more comfortable or we also do not claim to see and explore less. I remember that as a child I often went on such vacations with my parents, but this by no means meant that we spent the whole beaten two weeks in the hotel, at the pool or on the beach. Very often we went on various optional excursions, explored the area, went for walks.
We know people who only travel this way, and they are able to return from such a trip with such a dose of knowledge, such a thorough knowledge of the culture, as someone who spent several months on the spot!
Everyone likes to spend their vacation in a different way and everyone has the right to do so, we respect this as much as possible, and with this post we would like to show you what to pay attention to when choosing the right vacation or hotel if you have a trip with a child in mind.
Because vacations for most people are just associated with rest, doing nothing, lying down upside down. We relax, while others clean, cook and prepare entertainment for us. When you buy all-inclusive vacations with a travel agency, you get a flight, transfers, a hotel with full board, care of a pilot, a resident and you don’t really have to worry about anything.
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And while the name all-inclusive itself refers only to the form of food offered by the hotel, for us this option means something more: that we have a hotel with more and richer facilities, not just one that offers mountains of food and rivers of alcohol. If we already want to spend the night in just such an option, we would like there to be some opportunities to spend time with the child here, a playground, pools with slides, paddling pools, beach, sun loungers, etc.
Table of contents
Traveling with a child vs. all inclusive
Traveling with a child is completely different, and in fact we should pay attention to other things when choosing a hotel or vacation just in the all-inclusive option through a travel agency. Let’s not hide the fact that while adults are a little less demanding and need less to be happy, when going with a child, you need to take care of some basic aspects.
Many people choose this option because they don’t feel like standing at the pots and pigeonholes with the vacuum cleaner during the vacations. They want to go to a nearby restaurant, where there is a large selection of food, there are many activities and animations for children, and some evenings with music. Attractions for the youngest in hotels can be animation, playgrounds or playrooms, children’s pools (paddling pools, slides), special meals for the youngest, infrastructure adapted for families with children, children’s cribs and accessories in the rooms or a safe beach.
Nowadays, especially when we travel with a child, we happen to stay in a hotel just with an all-inclusive option, and that’s why today we would like to give you some tips on how to choose such an all-inclusive vacation so that you will not be disappointed.
We have had several trips where we just bought a full-board hotel through a travel agency (sometimes foreign agencies), Booking.com or directly through the hotel’s website, and unfortunately we have already managed to score a few slip-ups :) Although maybe not so many slip-ups, but a few times we were disappointed with the hotel or some extra options we wanted.
So, below you will read not only about what to look for when choosing a full board hotel, but in general about choosing a vacation when traveling with a small child.
And one more small note: what you will read below we have prepared on the basis of our own experience, but also on the basis of the many emails, questions and comments we get from you and read on the Internet with doubts and fears before traveling with a child. We know that parents have a lot of questions about how to travel, where to go, what kind of vacation to choose, and that’s why this post was created. And let me emphasize again: we don’t buy full vacations with travel agencies, but we happen to buy a hotel, transfers or a hotel through a travel agency. Nevertheless, we know what it involves and we would like to help and advise you at least a little here :)
In the following we deliberately omit financial issues.
Where are we going?
It is very important to choose where we will spend our family vacation. As a rule, one first chooses a country, a region and only then looks at the accommodation offer. In fact, there is no one good answer to where is the best place to go with a child because the options are really incredibly numerous, and travel agencies are outdoing themselves in offering more and more exotic destinations suitable for families with children. So parents can pick through the offers, go between travel agencies and find the ones they like best.
However, it’s important to be aware of what’s on site, what country we’re going to, what’s in the area, because, however, suppose we don’t want to spend a week or two just within the walls of a hotel. So it’s worth checking and asking what’s in the immediate area and what optional tours are on offer. Let’s ask ourselves and the office worker the following questions:
- Is it safe on the ground? It’s always a good idea to check this independently on the Foreign Ministry’s website
- Is it safe to swim in the sea/ocean?
- Is this a place where any additional vaccinations are required or there is a risk of contracting exotic diseases?
- What is the climate like there, what is the weather like there at any given time of the year? There is no point in going with a child to a place where it is non-stop hot and you will actually be limited to sitting in an air-conditioned hotel room or restaurant.
- Visa/passport requirements?
When and for how long?
Referring to the point above, it is worth considering what will be the best period to travel to the place we dream of: will it be the holiday season or will it be perhaps just the autumn-winter period. There are regions where going on vacation, especially to southern Europe or Africa, may not be the best idea, because it’s incredibly hot there at the time, and staying in such a place can turn out to be a torture. On the other hand, it is known that an exotic place whether it is the Caribbean or Asia is better to visit in autumn, winter and early spring.
It is also important to consider how long we want to go for. As a rule, it will be a week or two, and here, of course, there are different schools, different ideas and different approaches. Much depends on what kind of vacation you can afford and your choice of destination. If you want to see quite a bit in the area, drive around whether by car or on optional tours, consider a two-week trip.
We on most all-inclusive trips go for a week, but for example, if we have a two-week vacation we relax for a week and spend the next week driving around exploring other corners of a country or place. However, this is a very individual issue.
Many children need a longer time to adapt, and you also need to take this into account especially if you are flying somewhere further away where there is a big time difference. Jet lag can cause both children and adults to take up to three days for their bodies to get used to the time change. So in such cases, it is definitely better to go less often, but spend more time on the spot.
Once again, this is not the rule – with us, for example, Olive has no problem at all adapting to new places and big time changes. We had no problem with that. He sometimes copes better than his parents. Children can surprise :)
What does the journey look like?
Once we know where we want to go, when we want to go and for how long, it’s worth comparing offers from travel agencies in terms of the trip itself:
- How long will the trip be?
- Does the flight involve connecting flights or stopovers? If so, how long do they last?
- What kind of airline do we fly: are they charters or cruise lines?
- Will a cradle, and thus a front-row seat, be provided for a small child?
- Will there be free food on the plane or will there be an additional charge?
- How long will it take to get there later by bus?
- Will there be a pilot/resident waiting on site right away?
- How much luggage can we take with us and are the same limits per child?
At a reliable, good travel agency, they should be able to advise you right away which vacations are suitable for children and which are not, taking into account at least the length of the trip.
Let’s not kid ourselves for many parents who travel with their children, and as a rule do not plan and organize the trip on their own, it is this comfort and the thought that everything is planned and prepared for them, and the trip itself will be safe and reasonably comfortable that is most important. And we understand it because it’s just convenient.
Note, you may find the trip to your dream destination so uncomfortable that you will return to question #1 ;)
We also recommend you similar texts:
- 7 TOO MANY gadgets for kids on the go and ONE thing you can’t miss!
- A 12-hour day flight vs. a 10-hour night flight (and that’s with 9 babies on board!).
- Airplane flight “for free”, that is, with a child under 2 years of age
Which hotel to choose?
Choosing a hotel can spend you sleepless nights, and I make no secret of the fact that for us it is also often quite a complicated decision-making process ;) We often spend a very, very long time thinking about how to choose a hotel, in what area, in what option and, of course, in what budget. We talk, we deliberate, in order to finally reach compromises on what hotel we stay at.
Of course, it is different when you go somewhere for one night, for a weekend, for three-four nights, because then the accommodation is not so important, but if we want to spend a week or two weeks in the all-inclusive option, we want everything to be perfect on the spot, that the hotel provides everything, that it is pleasant, comfortable, friendly and clean. Because it is the choice of the hotel that is crucial to make the vacation successful :)
So what’s the best way to choose a hotel? Assuming that we are traveling with a travel agency, then, of course, we move only within those hotels that are offered by the agency. It’s worth talking to either a hotline employee or a physical office employee, because it’s very possible that this person has been on a Study Tour, has seen the hotel and can tell you a little more about it than just what you read on the websites. Nevertheless, let’s remember that the travel agency earns money on us and it may happen that they will want to push us such a hotel that pays them the most, or one that needs to be filled.
So how can we independently verify a particular hotel?
Assuming that we already have a list with hotels we like, it’s worth checking each of these hotels either on Booking.com or on TripAdvisor – there you can read reviews of people who have stayed at a particular hotel (this applies to Booking.com, because on TripAdvisor anyone can add an opinion). We especially recommend you the option to preview photos that are added by people who have spent time in the place, because then we are actually able to assess how the hotel looks like, the rooms, the food and what it offers.
We here already have some so-called lessons learned collected, because, unfortunately, often only on the spot some things come to light, and only then do we begin to look at things and aspects we had not thought of before.
One such aspect is that whole environment entitled attractions for children, which we find in hotel facilities. When we flew to Mexico we depended on a hotel that would be suitable just for children, would have a lot of attractions, safe descent to the water, swimming pools, paddling pools and slides or playgrounds. The one we finally chose seemed ideal in this regard.
We read reviews, looked at photos, familiarized ourselves with the hotel’s website, and also previewed on satellite images what the property looked like. Unfortunately, it turned out on the spot that one of the aspects that decided to choose this and not another hotel, namely the very cool children’s pools are available, but only for older children. Previously, we did not find such information or simply did not look for it.
So something that was supposed to be one of the most interesting attractions in the hotel turned out to be a problem for us, because Olive wanted to go to that particular pool every time, where there are cool slides and water attractions, and we couldn’t really use it at all. Another example also related to water attractions and playgrounds are places that are not covered and in no way protect the child from the sun. Note that often paddling pools or just playgrounds are located in full sun, so using them for a large part of the day is impossible.
So, we encourage you to do thorough research if you are determined on a certain hotel. It’s worth inquiring, being persistent and checking whether those attractions that are offered on site are already for your children and whether they will actually be able to enjoy everything.
It’s also worth finding out what the food on site is like. We specifically leave out here the issue of alcohol, which I guess is immediately associated with the all-inclusive option, but we personally are not interested in that at all. However, pay attention to how the children’s meals look like, taking into account, on the one hand, the preparation of the restaurant for children, that is, whether there are, for example, chairs, whether there are some cutlery and plates for children, and on the other hand, what and how is served, so that we can be sure that our child will actually eat something there.
As a rule, in these better hotels the choice is really huge! We, for example, were very surprised by a hotel in Mexico, where there were special lowered buffets for children, where they could put their own food on their own, there were plastic cutlery, plates and bowls. Seemingly a small thing, but we saw that the kids liked it terribly, and eating then is more fun, too. Don’t be afraid to ask about such things :)
If you or your children have any food allergies or intolerances, also ask how the hotel approaches this issue. Are there special corners with food for allergy sufferers, are the dishes properly described?
What else? If you are setting your sights on an active vacation, for example on site, i.e. you want to use kayaks, bicycles, pedal boats, ping-pong tables, volleyball court, tennis courts or whatever the hotel offers, it is worth asking about the conditions under which you can rent equipment and who of those can use the equipment, because again, it may turn out that, for example, you can not use most of the attractions with a child. It’s also a good idea to look at what the beach looks like, whether there is a safe descent to the water, a separate and guarded swimming area, and whether there are deck chairs (whether they are paid).
Also, check exactly what is in the room amenities? Do you get a crib for the baby? Will there be an additional cost. Is the balcony/terrace safe? Is there enough space to stand a stroller, lay out some toys for the baby?
We’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth taking a look at what a particular hotel or resort looks like on satellite images – especially the immediate area as well. See if you can go for a walk in the area, walk into town, how far the beach stretches, etc. etc.
We know that probably many of you are now thinking to yourselves that we are crazy if we make you ask all these questions to a travel agency :) No, that was absolutely not our intention.
First of all, we are aware that nowadays holidays are bought online and often there is not even the opportunity to ask these questions.
Second, we encourage you to consider them when choosing a place for your luxury stay. Not everything we have described here will apply to you, or not everything will be relevant to you. So consider these as hints to help you make good decisions!
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