Family holiday top tips
Here are some of the best choices for toddlers, tweenies and teenagers.
TRAVELLING WITH BABIES: 5 TIPS
1 Double-check everything that's included in your package -- the less you need to bring, the better. Find a baby-friendly hotel or resort with sufficient cots and supplies in the room.
2 Want to avoid screaming during take-off and landing? This is a good time to feed your baby, as the swallowing helps to equalise the pressure in their ears.
3 Buy a full-body, UV-protective swimsuit so you don't have to worry about constantly re-applying sunscreen (though you'll need a strong sunblock for any exposed skin).
4 If possible, try to book suites with a separate bedroom so you can put the baby to sleep without whispering for the rest of the evening.
5 Buy a cheap portable pushchair before departure -- you won't want to get yours ruined in transit, and they're invaluable for daytime naps.
BEST FOR UNDER-THREES
Travelling with children needn't be stressful, particularly if you find a place that loves having little ones around. At the Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel (Martinhal.com) on the Algarve, the accommodation is adapted for families, and particularly for babies. There's even a baby concierge service where you can pre-book almost everything you'll need to save on suitcase space.
Martinhal's 'Baby's First Beach Holiday' includes a 'First Water Experience', spa treatment for mum and two hours of childcare every day.
Book: The package costs €2,445 for seven nights B&B during June, excluding flights.
Toddlers need constant entertaining, and there's no better place than the Sensatori Sharm El Sheikh. As well as the Playhouse for older children, there's a supervised nursery where babies can play and even spend the night if you want a little time alone.
Book: Thomson (Thomsonholidays.ie) have a week in August for a family of four starting at €3,904.
If your baby makes up only part of a larger group, then a villa could be the answer. Scott Dunn (Scottdunn.com) has a great selection of villas that include a nanny and private chef, so you'll really be able to relax.
Try the super-luxe Canderosen overlooking the Formentor Peninsula in northwest Majorca -- there's a fully stocked playroom and an impressive infinity pool with a safety fence available.
Book: Rates start at €1,806pp for a week, based on full occupancy of 12, full-board, excluding flights.
Below: Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel on the Algarve is so family-friendly it has a baby concierge
BEST FOR TWEENIES
They're just hitting the age when they want to break free from mum and dad, but you want to keep them close at hand. So a holiday with plenty of activities on-site is ideal for the tweenies. At the 4-star ApartHotel Paradise Island in Lanzarote there are five swimming pools, an on-site waterpark (dinosaur-themed, natch) and even go-karts.
Book: Thomas Cook (Thomascook.ie) has a week in May from €2,362, all-inclusive.
If there's one thing that France does really well, it's a campsite, and the Yelloh! Village la Petite Camargue is a perfect option. You'll stay in fully equipped tents, and there's plenty to keep everyone occupied on-site, including a large swimming pool, a spot of horse- riding and a nightly disco.
Book: Canvas Holidays (Canvasholidays.ie) has Maxi Tents starting from €618 from June 28, sleeping up to five, if booked before January 31. Take the ferry to Cherbourg with Irish Ferries (Irishferries.com).
There's an excellent selection of swimming pools at the Holiday Village Rhodes, but for those who want to stay on dry land there's a huge array of activities from archery to an aerial adventure ground.
Book: Thomson (Thomsonholidays.ie) has a week in August for €3,350.
BEST FOR TEENAGERS
If you really want to impress a teenager, you should take them to New York. They'll be so won over with the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple that they'll forget that they're stuck with their parents. Explore the High Line, or take in a show at Shakespeare in the Park while you're there.
Book: Clickandgo.com has a four-night family break for €3,999 in July, staying in Midtown, with flights from Dublin (note that the €1 deposit offer does not apply to this trip).
Here's something really interesting -- in the wilds of Sweden, you and your family can hand-build a timber raft and pilot your way down the Klaralven River, a historic logging route, for five days. There will be no time for iPads as you make your way on a family adventure that will be hard to forget. You'll finish in a hotel for three nights, with a canoe at your disposal and an evening elk-safari tour.
Book: The trip costs from €835pp with Adventure Holidays (Adventure-holidays.ie), excluding flights to Stockholm which start from €155pp with SAS (Flysas.com).
If your teens are looking for more of a beach flop break, the Dream Villa Tagoro ApartHotel in Tenerife could fit the bill. There's evening entertainment and discos, or they can chill out at the pool tables.
Book: Direct Holidays (Directholidays.ie) has a week from €2,637 for a family of four, all-inclusive, departing July 6.
BEST FOR BIG FAMILIES
If you're a big family, it can be tricky finding a holiday to suit you all. Your best option is finding a resort that has plenty to offer on-site, from clubs for the little ones to activities for the teens. Adjoining rooms can be a lifesaver too, giving older children a feeling of independence. The 3-star Apartments Casa Luis in Santa Eulalia in Ibiza have two bedrooms and two sofa beds, so you can sleep up to six.
Book: Thomas Cook (Thomas cook.ie) has a week departing July 11 from Dublin. The start price of €2,248 is based on a family of four.
Cinco Plazas Lanzarote has apartments that sleep up to eight, as well as three pools, daily activities, a children's club and evening entertainment.
Book: Thomson (Thomson holidays.ie) has family breaks that start from €2,042 for four in August.
If you want a big brood under one roof, a villa rental is your best bet. James Villas (Jamesvillas.ie) has a selection located in holiday hotspots around the world, both private and part of resorts. Try Casa Grande in Tenerife, in the hillside resort of Roque del Conde. There are four bedrooms and three bathrooms, a private pool and an outdoor terrace that even comes complete with sofas.
Book: A week in July starts from €1,920, excluding flights.
3 BEST KIDS' CLUBS
A good children's club is a lifesaver on a family holiday. Find a good one, and your kids will be off playing happily from sunrise to sunset, making new friends and having a ball. Sands Beach Resort in Costa Teguise, Lanzarote, has a great schedule of activities every day, from volcano-making to Quidditch. What kid wouldn't love that?
Book: Clickandgo.com has a week in July from €1,949 per family, with flights from Dublin.
The ApartHotel Alcudia Pins in Majorca has a lively kids' club, with activities during the day as well as evening entertainment such as magic shows.
Book: Thomson (Thomsonholidays.ie) has a week during August for €2,143.
In Tenerife, the Abama Golf and Spa Resort (Abamahotelresort.com) is a swish hotel in the hills, with a pristine private beach. The daily Abami kids' club takes place in a brand new facility, with eight zones designed to nurture young minds. There's a scientific area and planetarium, as well as a library and Wii. Good luck trying to get them home.
Book: Nightly rates start from €270, half-board, with one child up to the age of 12 included free of charge. A second room for children up to the age of 12 receives a 30pc discount, with a maximum of three per room.
STAYCATIONS 3 FAMILY HOLIDAY IDEAS IN IRELAND
If the thought of restricted luggage, airport check-in queues and turbulence leaves you cold, why not stick around in Ireland this summer? Children will go crazy for Fota Island Resort (Fotaisland.ie), and during the summer there are daily kids' camps (€10 per resident child, €8 for the second and €5 for the third), with many activities. Of course, you'll also have to pay a visit to the Wildlife Park and the impressive Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens.
Book: Midweek rates start from €275 per room per night, with an interconnecting room for children an extra €160 B&B per night.
Kelly's Resort Hotel and Spa (Kellys.ie) in Rosslare repeatedly comes out on top for family holidays at home. While you're relaxing in the pool or spa, children are running wild in the Pirates' Club. They even offer complimentary childcare from 6.30pm to 9pm so you can enjoy your meal in peace. There are large family rooms available, or interconnecting ones, which can sleep two adults and up to four children.
Book: Rates start from €253 in low season, and bookings get very busy during the summer.
There are plenty of fantastic self-catering options throughout the country that showcase the amazing sights right on our doorstep. You'll find registered accommodations at Discoverireland.ie, where you can search through an incredibly extensive database. Why not head for the coast of Co Sligo, for example, and take to a surfboard with the kids while you're at? Or how about basing your holiday around a summer festival?
Book: Organise a staycation during the fabulous Galway Arts Festival, for example, which takes place from July 14 to 27.
3 BEST ALL-INCLUSIVE
At the Corcyra Beach Hotel in Corfu, you can choose from the Mediterranean buffet and dine al fresco or mosey up to the show cooking station to watch the food prepared before your eyes. There's a Greek night once a week, and an Asian restaurant on-site too, so you have plenty of grub to choose from.
Book: Thomson (Thomsonholidays.ie) has an all-inclusive week in August from €3,233.
Beaches by Sandals pride themselves on an extensive and child-pleasing all-inclusive plan. Their resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos have swim-up pool bars for children, pizza-making classes and self-serve ice-cream kiosks. There's a huge variety of restaurants too -- as many as 16 per resort.
Book: See Caribbeanholidays.ie
It's ice-cream central at the Sandos Papagayo Beach Resort in Lanzarote. The only time of day it's not available is at breakfast, which saves you from being the bad guy. Set on the border of the Papagayo Nature Reserve, the hotel is in a beautiful location and there are two freshwater swimming pools just for the children.
Book: Falcon Holidays (Falconholidays. ie) has a week from June 23, departing from Shannon, for €2,622 including one free child place.