Insiders Tips on how to save money on a Luxury Family Holiday

Quo Vadis for luxury family holidays

Saving families money on luxury holidays

There is no doubt that taking your family holiday firmly within school holiday dates costs heaps more than it does to skip school and travel during term time. There is also no doubt that family holidays are invaluable in terms of cultural experience, learning and family bonding. So, if you want to keep to the rules and your budget then you need to get savvy about how to book your family holiday!

Book your accommodation before flights

The whole school holiday debate exists as demand out strips supply so of course prices are higher on peak dates but booking early helps. From a Hotel owners point of view they are always keen to get some early sales to get a feel for how the year might unfold and so they often release some crazy early booking discounts. The trap that we fall into is that the no-frills Carriers, especially Easyjet often haven’t released their flights at this time so we wait for both, by which time you have missed the boat. If it is a popular destination with at least a few flights a week I would book my accommodation and then keep an eye out and nab the flights as soon as they go on sale.

Do I need an ATOL certificate?

Choose a memorable family holiday

Tips and ideas for family holidays

This brings me nicely onto the ‘ATOL’ certificate which is only given when you book a package holiday and not if you book flight and hotel separately. It protects you in case either the airline or the hotels fails and you are unable to go or complete your holiday. It is a nice-to-have but at what price? It is worth costing a package and booking your own flights and accommodation to see. If you are really spending your last beans on your holiday or taking a complicated tour where all the elements really need to fit together then the financial protection is essential , if you are taking a week or two to one well-known resort hotel then I would save the money and take the risk any day.

What I would not risk is booking direct with an overseas owner as there is ongoing some massive scams, most commonly in the villa sector. I personally know one very intelligent and sensible family who have lost thousands of pounds. Stick to a UK-based or well-known company with some company credential such as ABTA membership as you can be sure they are obliged to play by the rules.

Cheaper weeks

There are a few dates that are known to be cheaper; the last week in August in most hotels is significantly cheaper than the first 3 weeks, if the school holidays allow you to squeeze in a week before Christmas you will save heaps and those inset days when attached to half terms mean you can get some much better flight prices.

The Best value destinations

If you are just looking for some luxury, beach/pool and sunshine in a family friendly environment consider destinations that have good weather but are not in peak season. The Canary Islands are an excellent example of this with fabulous weather during our summer but excellent value prices, usually much cheaper than the Med as they consider winter their peak season.

Compromise

Well not too much, it is your holiday but don’t get stuck on the star rating too much. Often hotels have 5 star deluxe ratings as they provide lots of extras and facilities that might not be relevant to a family holiday. If I had to give star rating to hotels on family friendliness it would be as much about good value family suites, early suppers, warm milk, heated pools, space to play more than the provision of an iron in the room!

Don’t miss out on your family holiday, you really are investing in memories long after your children have grown up.

Jo MacGregor is the founder and owner of Quo Vadis Travel, The Family Holidays Company, www.familyholidayscompany.com which is an ABTA bonded travel agency specialising in Luxury Family Holidays, both packages and accommodation only.

Jo has recently written a Guide on the packed with holiday ideas for each of the 3 main school holidays and the 3 half terms. You can get your FREE copy whilst stocks last HERE.

Find information on Quo Vadis and lots of other after-school activities and holiday camps for your children at www.all4kidsuk.com

Posted in Family Holidays | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Rugby Is Great For Children

Rugby coaching for kids

Rugby coaching for young boys and girls

Rugby is an excellent sport for young children to take up, and the earlier the better. Children, both girls and boys, can take up rugby based classes such as Little Ruggers which is based around the South East of England. At these classes they can start to play from as young as 2 to 6 years of age and then go onto further their rugby skills at a rugby clubs at age 6 onwards. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions regarding rugby for children as parents may worry that rugby is all about scrums rucks and mauls and most of all big hits. It is natural for a parent to worry about this aspect of the sport however all rugby up until the under 9 age group will be non-contact, usually playing tag rugby. This then takes away the worry of your little ones getting hurt and at this age group both girls and boys will flourish.

It has been shown in New Zealand where children get involved with rugby at a younger age that girls and boys can become quite expert at the the basics of rugby before the age of 6 as shown at Little Ruggers Classes. This is because children at this age are like sponges and have the amazing ability to absorb the lessons learned. If a child then goes onto to join a rugby club then the clubs can work on more rugby honed skills rather than teaching the basics, essentially it’s a leap up for them to go on and achieve great things.
In the UK it seems the choices for team based sports is somewhat limited in the past for 2 to 5 year olds there were not many options available unless you chose to do football, however these days new activities based around rugby are springing up around the country which will inevitably get more children addicted to this great sport and increase the playing numbers in the country for both girls and boys sections.

Rugby is unique in that specific human qualities can be learned. It has been shown that rugby can help develop better concentration, discipline, tolerance and determination. They learn to work as a part of the team they are taught to respect the coaches and referees and thus learn great manners.

Rugby helps to build a healthy body, healthy mind and creativity is instilled in such a child who takes up the game at an early age and that child will often bloom into a player with an exceptional eye for opportunity.

Problem solving, learning to take tricky decision and having confidence becomes a lot more developed as anyone learns the game. Rugby has the power to help youths develop the capability of analysing and deducing some general principles of life while dealing with complicated problems often bolstering their developing mental, social and physical agility.

Benefits of learning rugby for kids:

Rugby classes for young kids

Rugby coaching for children aged 2-7

  • The moral and ethical level of a child is developed by rugby thanks to the rugby laws of the game.
  • Necessary challenges are offered by a game of rugby which is quite a good thing for those children seeking to exlore and test their ‘wings’.
  • Developmental thinking is be cultivated in a child through a game of rugby – especially social skills.
  • Underachievers are most likely to be helped by rugby which promotes healthy competition.
  • Rugby is able to teach a child about teamwork, boundaries, rules and/or responsibilities.
  • The communication power of the child is improved through playing rugby, as are various team skills.
  • The concentration level of a child is enhanced by rugby.
  • Powers of evaluation and analysis are developed and so is the ability to strategise.
  • Rugby incorporates discipline – control of emotions, anger and aggression is key.
  • A child learns that the game ends on the sports field – respect for the opponent is instilled.
  • Playing a game of rugby can give one a sense of accomplishment.
  • Critical thinking skills of a child can be developed.
  • The spirit of sportsmanship is enhanced.
  • Kids can learn problem solving through rugby and develop their own unique style of play.
  • It helps youths gain confidence.
  • Different patterns of play need to be recognized and it’s necessary for tactics to be learned and be developed by the child.
  • So come on give your kids a headstart get them involved in Rugby to get maximum benefit from sports and particularly in social and sporting skills. Contact Little Ruggers via their website www.LittleRuggers.com

Find information on Little Ruggers and lots of other activities, holidays and services for your children at www.all4kidsuk.com

Posted in Children's Rugby Coaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Get a £1000 Grant to Help Start Your Career!

£1000 grants available for those wanting a creative career that flexible, fun and fits around life as a parent

Would you enjoy helping to inspire children with a love of arts and crafts?

Do you dream of running your own successful business without having to sacrifice your family life?

You do? (Well, who wouldn’t?) Then you should seriously consider running your own Creation Station franchise.

The Creation Station is an award-winning organisation that’s dedicated to bringing fun, educational and rewarding arts-and-crafts fun to every child. Founded by mum to three and a multi award winning entrepreneur Sarah Cressall is passionate about inspiring imaginations and supporting other to run their own fun and rewarding business

It’s an approved member of the British Franchise Association – and, if you are one of the next lucky 20 who are awarded a ‘Licence to Inspire’ you’ll receive a £1,000 Government-backed business-booster grant to get you up and running. And, in the (unlikely) event that it turns out not to be right for you, they even offer a 100% money-back guarantee.

Rachel Simpson from Nottinghamshire worked as a teacher but wanted a change from teaching and more flexibility to be around for her own children

I came across The Creation Station and realised I could still work with children doing something, fun, and creative and providing positive experiences between parents/carers and children. Running my own franchise offered the chance to grow my own business and to have the flexibility to work around my family commitments.” said Rachel “It also provided lots of ongoing support with all aspects of the business and I was fortunate to gain the £1000 business booster grant too. Now I’m loving running my business and on top of all this, the Creative Hub team and network are are really lovely, friendly and encouraging people.

Due to the success of the ‘Business Booster Grant’, it has been extended for the next 20 people who train before May 2014. Individuals can receive the £1000 business booster premium support package which includes additional retail products for you to sell, as well as targeted marketing support to help boost your business.

With over 105,000 children and families already inspired the demand for the award winning Creation Station experiences continues to increase so there has never been a better time to join the inspiring fun and help to make a difference to others. It could be exactly what you are looking for.

Posted in Starting Your Own Business | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My love of owls has led to my career!

The 3 hour drive home had begun and on my lap sat a little creature who was now completely dependant on me; a 3 week old baby owl who I was to hand rear for the next 2 months and commit my life to for the next 25 years.

That little creature was Haru, an Asian Brown Wood Owl, captive bred in England by an owl breeder in Norfolk. He was parent reared for the first few weeks of his life and I took over the role of mum from then on in. As a result, Haru is completely imprinted on me, calls for me when he’s hungry or wants attention, when he sees me from his aviary, or hears my car pull up on the drive because I hand reared him from such a young age. But why do this, you may ask? Hand rearing baby owls allows them to create an extremely strong bond with you, makes them incredibly tame and comfortable around humans. Unlike the ‘wise old owl’ saying, owls are actually not very clever at all! And by hand rearing Haru, when I have come to train him to fly to me for little pieces of food, he wants to come, because he associates me with food and security.

I expect you’re also wondering how I came to own an owl in the first place? During my four year degree in fashion design, I started volunteering at a falconry centre and fell in love! Animals have always been a love of mine, particularly exotic animals, and I was beginning to wish I had pursued a career in that area. After graduating, I began looking for jobs, and the week after I completed my degree, I did a five day course at The Hawking Centre, receiving a Lantra certificate in falconry, a nationally recognised certificate that shows I have a good understanding of what is involved in keeping a raptor or bird of prey and that I have the commitment and enthusiasm in order to ensure that the bird of prey is looked after and handled with absolute care and respect.

After this I looked for jobs working with animals, particularly in falconry, but with no luck. Many falconry centres are small with a close knit team and if you are lucky enough to get a job in this area, you are unlikely to leave it! I was at a loose end, desperate to pursue a career with animals.

And so Owl About Art was born! I started my own business combining art and crafts with a live owl and I now travel around Kent and the South East visiting schools, nurseries, clubs, birthday parties, craft fairs and fetes, with my mobile art and craft workshops and Haru. Our most popular workshop is the ‘make your own’ sock owl workshops where little ones enjoy stuffing socks, decorating their sock owl with felt wings, feet and beaks & cute button eyes! Above all the workshops are fun and interactive, combining educational talks and arts and crafts with a live owl, a completely unique learning experience of which I am very proud.

Owl About Art are available for:
BIRTHDAY PARTIES ~ SCHOOL AND NURSERY VISITS ~ RAINBOWS AND BROWNIES ~ BEAVERS AND CUBS ~ CRAFT FAIRS AND FETES ~ WEDDINGS, FUNCTIONS AND EVENTS ~ PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART CLUBS EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIVE TALKS

For bookings and enquiries call Natasha on 07729012278 or email natashaclairewelch@live.co.uk Please visit our Facebook page and website http://www.owlaboutart.co.uk for more information.

Natasha Welch & Haru ‘OvO’
Owl About Art

Birthday parties for kids

Art birthday parties for boys and girls

Posted in Children's birthday parties | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping the kids fit in the garden this summer

Well it looks like we might have had our summer judging by the current weather outside. The recent heatwave got us all outside enjoying the sun and having as much fun as possible, but how can we keep our children fit during the summer?

The family garden is a great place for children to play learn and interact, whilst it also gives you the opportunity to keep your kids safe.  The majority of back gardens now have a trampoline, which can keep the kids occupied for hours and help to improve fitness levels, but not everybody has the space or the kids eventually get bored. There are a wide range of garden games available to suit every budget, but which are best?

One of my all time favourite games as a chid and even now is Swingball, it’s such an easy concept to pick up and can be played by all. It’s also portable too, it can easily be packed away, taken to any location  and  then quickly reassembled. Swingball is also great at family BBQs, not only to keep the kids occupied but the adults as well.   

Cricket has always been popular in our household but playing with a wooden cricket bat and a cricket ball were an instant no, unless we were on the field. But using a foam cricket bat in the garden meant practicing was safe and helped me to improve my bowl and batting skills. Due to the bats being made out of foam less damage is being done to your lawn keeping you and your children happy.

We’ve all seen giant garden games such as chess and snakes and ladders but they are often costly. If you’re looking for something giant to keep your child’s brain working then the giant playing cards are a much cheaper option. There not just for playing the classic Bruce Forsyth’s higher or lower game but can help to exercise your child’s brain.  The fact that the cards are giant makes them much more enjoyable to play with in the garden.

As children the one thing we loved was getting wet, particularly on warm days. I remember once at primary school the head teacher rounded us up into the playground and drenched us with the fire hose (I doubt health and safety would allow that today). At home we use to shoot water from water pistols (the bigger the better), chuck it out of plastic bottles and cups and even had a crazy daisy which got us all running around and watered the garden too.

Obviously they are so many garden games available it’s hard to list them all. No matter what garden  game your child is playing it’s sure to help improve both their communication and coordination and help them stay fit and healthy. There will be days where the weather restricts outdoor play but many improvised games can be played indoors which do not involve watching the television or games consoles. The classic one I remember was shark attack, where the sofas were safe zones and the floor being the ocean.

All4Kidsuk.com, the family Directory online, offers a wide range of products and services including trampolines, swings, climbing frames and other garden equipment.

Posted in Children's Outdoor Play Equipment | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ways to entertain the kids this Summer

Summer is here and the kids are on their summer holidays! So, we’ve put together some ideas and handy ways to keep the kids entertained …

A trip to see Wicked
What better way to treat the kids this summer than an afternoon at London’s Victoria Apollo where you can see the award-winning musical ‘Wicked’, now in its sixth spellbinding year. Take the whole family on an adventure to the enchanting land of Oz where you will discover the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Adapted from Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, ‘Wicked’ tells the story of two young sorceresses who meet at Shiz University and form an unlikely friendship; the lovely Glindaand the green outcast Elphaba. Once the best of friends, their lives take very different paths when the meet the Wizard of Oz as Glindabecomes Glinda the Good and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. With spellbinding songs and spectacular effects, ‘Wicked’ is a musical spectacular you and your family won’t want to miss! For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Teddy Bears Picnic
When you go down to the woods today… It may only be in your back garden but why not set up a fun picnic area for you, the kids and their friends (whether these are fellow play mates or in fact some teddy bear friends!). If the sun is shining, put some large picnic blankets out with some personalized name tags for all of the guests to make them feel special. You could even create some simple teddy bear ears for each child to make it a really authentic teddy bears picnic! And then tuck in to some delicious food and enjoy.

M&M’s World
Are you a lover of chocolate? And more specifically do you like M&Ms? Well, why not check out the huge M&M store in Leicester Square? This 35,000 square feet store selling M&Ms products and merchandise is the largest candy store in the world!

The Making of Harry Potter
A new attraction in London: the Warner Bros. studio tour of the biggest film franchise of all time. Venture to the home of ‘Harry Potter’at Leavesden Studios in North London and take a tour of the original sets and costumes. Go behind-the-scenes and let the kids see the world of their favourite wizard come to life and discover what secrets the tour promises to reveal.

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London is full of interesting facts, dinosaur models and cavemen to keep the children entertained for hours. In the Kids Only section, there are plenty of fun activities to do in there including volcanic games, dinosaur quizzes, hair investigations! Not to mention the Natural History Museum is free to get into.

Baking in the kitchen
There are loads of simple recipes you can try out with your children. Why not try making chocolate crispy cakes by melting 200g of milk chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water with 25g of unsalted butter and leave until melted. Then simply add 75g of crispy rice cereal, mix and add to individual cake holders. Or you could go for the bar approach by adding the mixture to a shallow cake tin with greaseproof paper. Chill in the fridge for a few hours and serve, although you may want to cut up the mixture into individual bars if this is the style you’ve gone for. Simple! You can even decorate these for extra fun by adding marshmallows or icing on the top!

Kew Gardens
A magnificent World Heritage Site covering 300 acres with over 30,000 species of plants; plus the tropical Palm House, the Temperate House and the Princess of Wales conservatory. Families will enjoy the human-scale badger sett, the fish in the Marine Display aquarium and the Climbers and Creepers indoor play area. Plus, Kew’s latest attraction, the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, will be an instant hit. This is a path lined with examples of different timbers as it leads visitors below ground to the Rhizotron.

Build a den
Another activity that doesn’t cost any money but is extremely fun to do! Even the grownups will enjoy it. All you need is a large and light blanket or sheet and some cushions to create your little hideout in the house and let them pretend they’re in a tropical rainforest, a cave up in the mountains or somewhere similar. A large box is also a great idea for a cave – this is likely to entertain them for hours and if you’re feeling particularly brave, let them decorate the box so they can personalize their den!

Family Entertainment

Posted in Family Days Out | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fun 4 families in Five Counties

Staycations are the latest trend and there has never been a better time to skip the airport queues, avoid paying over the odds for stowing children’s kit and clobber in the hold and escaping in a more leisurely way to the West Country.The South West has everything that the foreign beloved destinations of choice also have but there is little risk of sunburn and more chance of being understood by the locals.

Families love the West Country for many reasons, there is plenty of fresh air, open spaces and a temperate sub-tropical climate which suits young children well but the main draws of the South West for families are:

    1.  The beaches.  The bright red bucket and spade combo, the stripy wind break and the moat digging are all part and parcel of spending time on the South West peninsula.  There are over 600 miles of coastline and over 300 beaches to choose from between north Somerset and the fossil rich Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in East Devon and Dorset to the south.Water sports enthusiasts will love the opportunity to try surfing, body boarding, kayaking or even kite surfing which all add adventure to the coast. The entire coastline is enchantingly pretty with unusual featuers like the Durdle Door arch and Lulworth Cove in Dorset and the spectacular fairy tale castle perched atop an off sea island at St Michael’s Mount on the South Cornish Coast.  Children will marvel at the tales of pirates and mermaids that are rife in the West Country.
    2. The attractions.  Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and The Cotswolds are chock full of family fun all weather attractions from the Land’s End theme park and picturesque Minack Theatre in Cornwall to the Bird Land Park and Gardens in the Cotswolds.  Devon has some brilliant farm parks such as The Big Sheep and Somerset has the incredible Wookey Hole and Cheddar Gorge.  Add in an Enid Blyton style trip around Corfe Castle in Dorset and you can enjoy lots of all-weather fun in the West Country.
    3. The food.  The tasty food of the West Country is comforting, tasty and easy on little tummies.  The abundance of dairy farms means that the creamy handmade ice cream of the South West and unctuous and rich clotted cream add luxury to any meal.  The original D shaped hand crimped Cornish pasty is a ‘must’ when in Cornwall and the cheddar cheese from Cheddar in Somerset is s cupboard staple that children will recognise and enjoy.  Fussy eating need not be a problem on a trip to the West Country.

Every family needs a home from home when they go away so choosing a beautiful cottage will turn a good holiday into a great holiday and provide lasting memories forever.  Holidaycottages.co.uk are specialists at finding the perfect cottage in the perfect location for a getaway in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and the Cotswolds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Family Holidays | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Feeding Kids Healthy Food

Feeding your kids healthy food that they will enjoy can sometimes be a bit of a headache, we’ve found a few recipes that we’d like to share with you that hopefully the whole family will love!!

If your kids are mad about PIZZA try this … Cut muffins in half put 1 teaspoon of sauce (pesto, passata, sweet chilli sauce which ever they prefer), 2 tablespoons of pizza toppings (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, pepperoni, ham, sweetcorn, olives etc) and 1 heaped tablespoon grated cheese. Put in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and muffin is slightly toasted …delicious and healthy!!

HUMMUS can be made in minutes and is a tasty dip that goes really well with both raw veg and toasted pitta: Put 200g canned chickpeas, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 crushed garlic cloves, salt, 4 tbsp water, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp paprika in a food processor and blend to a creamy purée. You can add more lemon juice, garlic or salt to taste.

SALMON is often on a special at local supermarkets and is high in omega-3, this easy, quick recipe will be a hit with everyone: 450g pasta, cooked according to packet instructions, drained. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil and fry 1-2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 chopped red onions until soft, add 3 x 150g skinned and cubed fresh salmon fillets and 300ml double cream, season and cook gently until salmon cooked through, then stir in cooked pasta.

PRETZELS are a good alternative to crisps for a healthy snack. Also, cookery classes are a great way to teach kids how to feed themselves and introduces new and fresh tastes

Do you have any easy, healthy recipes you’d like to share with us? Email your recipes to information@all4kidsuk.com

Posted in Children's Healthy Food | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Camps for Children

Looking for something different for your kids this summer? Funtech Summer Camp Has Kids Building and Programming Robots!!

Kids are firing their imaginations and learning valuable new skills at FunTech’s summer camps. The camp features challenges like the Lego NXT robot programming course where children aged 7+ are building working Lego robots and navigating them through challenge zones, competitive races and (simulated) bomb disposal missions! While they’re engrossed in the process of designing the ultimate robot, they’re also learning valuable ICT and programming skills.

Meanwhile, over on the FunTyper course a series of fun and creative games are teaching kids valuable touch-typing skills. With more advanced courses as kids grow in confidence, FunTech’s summer camp equips kids for the future without them even knowing it!

To find out more about children’s summer activity camps, visit All 4 Kids UK

Posted in Children's School Holiday Activities, Children's summer camps | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sleep Advice for Parents of New Babies

Hot nights don’t help babies and infants get a good nights rest and lets not get started on parents needs!! All 4 Kids UK have a Parenting Resource page that offers an insight into baby’s sleeping patterns and sleep problems. Every child is different, but one thing they all have in common is the need for a good nights sleep whether they need 8 hours or 21 – a rested baby is a happy baby. Have a look at this page HERE and if we’ve missed something out, perhaps something that works for you at bedtime, then please contact us and we’ll share your news, we’d love to hear from you

Posted in Baby Sleep Problems | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment