Tag Archives: family holidays

Things to do on your family holiday in Portugal

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend your next family holiday, look no further than the Algarve on Portugal’s southern coast. Here, the stunning golden beaches and friendly towns offer endless activities and entertainment for you and your kids no matter what their age.

The key to keeping the kids entertained, of course, is variation. A day at the beach is essential, but spend too long and you’ll be battling boredom and sunburn. Portugal holidays promise plenty of fun if you know where to go, so here’s some inspiration for what to do on your trip to the Algarve:

Zoomarine

There’s a reason why Zoomarine is the Algarve’s biggest attraction. As if dolphins, seals, and an impressive aquarium weren’t enough already, the park offers a daily schedule of presentations and shows. At the same time as enjoying a fun day out, the kids might even learn a thing or two here – and so will you!

dolphinleap4

Image by Jonathan Pagel, used under the Creative Commons Licence.

Slide & Splash

This is the Algarve’s largest water park, and kids who like to swim will love it here. The slides, rides and pools will keep you entertained for hours, and there is even a designated area for younger kids. If you need a break from the water, the park is also home to some impressive birds of prey, and shows are held throughout the day.

Mini golf

Whether you like real golf or not, there’s nothing like a round of mini golf to stir up some friendly family competition. At the Family Golf Park in Vilamoura, near Faro, you can play your way around two 18-hole courses. The picturesque park is themed on ancient Rome, and afterwards, you can visit some real Roman remains in Vilamoura.

Karting

If your kids want do to something a little more fast-paced, spend an afternoon at Hot Wheels Raceway, an indoor karting course in Albufiera marina. There are ordinary and junior karts on offer to suit all ages, and you can choose from 10, 20, or 30 minute time slots.

Lagos Zoo

No matter how many times you bring your kids to the zoo, it never really gets old. The small but well-maintained zoo in Lagos is home to over 100 different animal species, so there is plenty to see. Time your trip carefully, and you will even get to watch the primate and meerkat feedings.

Grivet Monkey Family Grooming

Image by Eric Kilby, used under the Creative Commons Licence.

This taster of what the Algarve has to offer is enough to see that southern Portugal’s famous holiday destination is just about as family-friendly as it gets, so why not give it a go?

What are your favourite things to do with the kids on holiday? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday

Going on a family holiday can be quite an experience, and a world apart from trips you might have made before you had kids. There’ll be a whole lot of laughs, a whole lot of checking up on the little one(s), perhaps a complication or two along the way, and plenty of joy too.

Of course, the added bodies among the travelling party will have one other important impact – the cost of your family holiday will be a good deal higher. It obviously depends how young your children are, and costs for toddlers will be a whole lot less than those for older children. But with things inevitably becoming more expensive, it is all the more important to find ways to get the most bang for your buck, without negatively impacting on the levels of fun and enjoyment.

Here are 5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday…

Give tours a miss
They’re convenient, they’re all organised for you, and they’re often trumpeted as the ‘only way to see (insert name of destination)’. However, tours like these also tend to have a hefty mark-up on them too, and with an entire family to pay for, it really can get expensive. So rather plan your own trips and excursions. There are even peer-to-peer websites around whereby you can get locals to show you around for a fraction of the price. Chances are, the experience will be more authentic that way too.

Be a proper local
Doing as the locals do is an excellent way to save money, and avoid being caught out by tourist traps. This way you can avoid overpriced eateries, activities and tours, and immerse yourself in local markets and culture too. The best thing to do is to mingle with the locals, make some friends, and find out what the best things to do are. Just put yourself out there – and chances are the whole family will make some great friends along the way too.

Get clever with accommodation
It isn’t a universal truth, but hotels really aren’t likely to be the best way to go as a family. True, there are some good package and all-inclusive deals out there, but booking through Airbnb, or similar websites can save you a truck load compared to booking two hotel rooms. It also tends to be more conducive for family activities and eating too. With a kitchen facility of your own, you can eat what you want and when you want; and you’ll probably get some great inside information about the city or town from your host too.

Get familiar with your destination
The last thing you want is to regularly end up lost in a destination city with no idea where you are, and where to go. The kids will get restless, the stress levels will rise, and invariably an expensive taxi ride will be the default method of getting you from A to B. So put in a bit of time beforehand to familiarise yourself with where you’re going, and download some navigational apps like Pocket Earth to your phone. Getting around by public transport and/or walking really can save a chunk of budget.

Budget carefully
Again, you don’t want to scrutinise every penny to the point that you no longer even enjoy your family holiday. It’s a break you all no doubt need, and it’s important to make the most of it. But plan ahead with a daily budget, taking into account all planned an unplanned excursions, and try stick to it. And if you’re using finance in order to fund the holiday, that’s okay too. But be sure to shop around on price comparison sites for the best-value loans you can find, with repayments that suit you. You don’t want a cloud of expensive debt hanging over you while having fun with your loved ones.

5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday

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Travel: Essential family holiday packing & travel tips

A straw poll of my friends tells me that most of them will be taking a family holiday this year. During the winter months, I can’t think of a better time of the year to jet off for a winter sun break; warm your bones and enjoy some time away from the hectic festivities. A summer family holiday can come in all shapes and sizes. We like to hire a cottage in Cornwall for a few weeks, or hop on a plane for some guaranteed sunshine. 

Sadly, I often think that trying to grab a break away with the family can feel like more trouble than it’s worth. By the time I’ve done all the washing and sorted out all the things you need to pack, I’m almost entirely fed up with the idea of going away.

Travel: Packing & travel tips for your family holiday

Whether you’re going near or far, here are my top tips for packing and also keeping your kids entertained on planes, trains and automobiles.

Packing for your family holiday – 

1. Keep a packing list on your computer, the things you always need to take, clothes, underwear, hairbrush etc. print it off and use it each time you go away as a check-list.

2. Travel light, or as light as you can. If there is a washing machine available you can plan to do a wash or two while you’re away. Yes it’s a domestic chore but I’d rather wash than pack half of my wardrobe.

3. Check the weather forecast before you go, it won’t be 100% accurate, but you’ll have an idea of what kind of weather to expect and consequently what kind of clothes you’ll need to pack.

4. Wherever you go in the world they will most likely have shops there. So it’s not the end of the world if you forget to pack toothpaste!

5. Don’t forget to bring a few of your child’s favourite things to help them settle. A book, a toy, a puzzle and their favourite snuggly for bedtime!

Entertaining kids on a journey –

If you’re in your own car then it’s often easier. You have your own space and you don’t have to worry so much about disturbing other passengers. We’re big fans of audiobooks and CDs for the car so we can have a family sing along. Planning a “spotting game” is always good. Ticking off when you see a bus, a lorry, a smoking chimney, that kind of thing. When all of your efforts are exhausted, we break out the portable DVD player. Nearly 2 hours of battery life and a pair of headphones are enough to restore tranquillity to the car.

Trains and planes are good for quiet games, such as the Shopping List game from Orchard Toys, Dobble or even Snap! If the kids are old enough some quiet time reading their favourite book can be good. 

Whilst we do try and generally limit screentime; playing a game on a tablet, smartphone or hand-held gaming device could be a good way to wile away a bit of a long journey. Plus it will give you a break from endless games of I-Spy and Snap!

Travel is always a great learning experience for children no matter what age they are. Talking to them about where you are going and why, as well as what you might see or do there.

Getting the kids involved and invested in the planning of day trips and things to do whilst you are there is a great idea. It can help minimise whining if they’ve had to plan it. Showing them pictures of the famous landmarks in the area and maps of where you are going is good fun. Talking about currency and what the exchange rate is are all fantastic things to do. These not only get them prepared for their holiday but can also help to develop a whole range of skills and knowledge for later on.

Travel: Packing & travel tips for your family holiday

Are you going away this year? What are your plans? What are your family holiday packing essentials?