Top tips for taking the stress out of a family holiday

The overwhelming stress of travelling with children is taking the enjoyment out of holidays for Britain’s parents, as 44% claim it has put them off booking a holiday entirely.

In 2018, families with young children went on an average of four holidays, with half being taken abroad.

But holidays abroad require a lot of forward planning and organising, not forgetting the often-stressful ordeal of getting to the holiday destination, with children and luggage in tow. 

In fact, a new survey commissioned by the leading ferry operator DFDS has found that parents can become so daunted by the thought of travelling to their holiday destination with their children, that more than two in five (44%) have put off booking a family holiday altogether. 

The top five most stressful factors of the journey cited by parents were: 

• Keeping children entertained (46%) 

• Keeping everyone happy (36%) 

• The worry of children disrupting fellow passengers/travellers (26%)

• Having snacks and drinks prepared (16%) 

• Sitting together when travelling (15%) 

Steve Newbery, On Board Commercial Director at DFDS, and parent of two children under 10, told this website: “A holiday should really begin from the start of the journey, when bags are packed, and the front door locked. The ease of ferry travel means all the highlighted stress factors are eliminated, with enough space and entertainment on board for all the family to enjoy, so the holiday really does begin before you get to your destination.” 

More than a third (37%) of parents claimed that airport queues and the confined space on board an aircraft, create unnecessary stress at the beginning of a family holiday, while over a quarter (26%) of parents say they argue with their partner before even arriving at their destination.

One key factor contributing to the negative feeling toward a family holiday, according to the survey findings, is the process of getting there, as 31% say they love a family holiday but hate the journey there. 

As an advocate of ferry travel and getting the most from a family holiday, Katy Hill, TV Presenter and mother of two under 13, added: “I’m passionate about exposing my children to the world around them, and while adults tend to treat the travel element more of a getting from A to B – for kids, it’s often a massive highlight of the trip which shouldn’t be under-estimated.”

She added: “Ferry travel was a huge part of my childhood and first holiday experience, as our family would budget our way around Europe every summer – always starting with one of my top moments – a ferry from Dover to Calais. The excitement as we’d arrive into Dover was palpable, the smell and sounds as we drove onto the ferry so unique and we always had breakfast as soon as we boarded!”

Newbery added: “In 2018, DFDS welcomed over 129,000 families on board, so catering for the needs of all families is a big priority for us. We anticipate a steady increase in bookings in 2019, as we connect families to Europe and beyond, while we continue to invest in our fleet to ensure the whole experience remains as stress-free and enjoyable as possible, so families can focus on making memories.” 

With 60 daily departures connecting the UK to continental Europe, DFDS ships offer a wide range of onboard entertainment and facilities, from kids play areas, children’s entertainment, arcades, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and wildlife educational programmes by marine wildlife charity ORCA, depending on the route. Plus, there are large outdoor deck areas where everyone can explore, enjoy the fresh sea air and do some ship and wildlife spotting. 

DFDS, nominated Europe's “Leading Ferry Operator” at the prestigious World Travel Awards for the eighth year in a row, sails from Dover to Calais from £49 each way and Dover to Dunkirk from £45 each way, based on up to nine people sharing a car; and from Newhaven to Dieppe from £90per car and four people. The ferry operator also sails from Newcastle to Amsterdam from£45 per person each way, based on four people sharing a car and en-suite cabin. 

For more information on DFDS, visit: www.dfds.co.uk 

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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