Travel has always been a passion of mine, the excitement of exploring new places and cultures. Since having children, this passion has only grown further. I love our family adventures and showing the children all about the world around them and what it has to offer.
Baby Mack coped well with his holiday earlier in the year to Coombe Mill Farm in Cornwall. I thought long and hard about what would be the right type of holiday for us for our Summer adventures with a 6 year old and a 8 month old baby.
After much deliberation, we decided on a family road trip to Holland, with a stop off in France on the way home. My brother had taken his children last year and commented how family friendly it was. After doing some research, it seemed like a great choice for us too. We stayed at Landal Vet Hennebos, similar to a Center Parcs style forest holiday camp. Landal have camps all across Holland, each with a different style from lakes to beaches and forest lodges.
Landal Vet Hennebos was perfect for us and was only a 3.5 hour drive from Calais, where we arrived from England on the Eurotunnel. I’m going to write a separate post with more information about our stay in Holland and what we got up to soon.
Initially, I was a bit wary about a road trip style holiday with children and how they would cope with the journey. However, I liked the freedom of having our own car to stop when we needed to and not have to worry about fitting everything into suitcases for a flight.
I’ve pulled together my top tips from our first family road trip experience with young children to share with you.
- Take some change for the toilets. All of the service stations we used in France and Belgium charged for their toilets. Some allow children to go in for free but we still needed coins for us to go in too. Mini loved the toilets in a service station in Belgium that had a child sized barrier for little ones to climb through to go to the toilet.
- Pack lots of drinks and snacks for the journey. Before we left I had raided our local market for plenty of snacks. I made sure that I kept one bag of food accessible in the car and another in the boot for later on in the holiday. This saved us quite a lot of money as we were able to take snacks with us for days out rather than paying high prices at attractions and service stations. However, if travelling to warm countries don’t pack chocolate to avoid finding sticky, gooey melting snacks like we did!
- For a family road trip using just the car, pack in bags not suitcases. We used the large laundry style bags, that easily fitted well along the boot of our car. I packed one bag for each of us so it was easy to find our things. I then took an extra bag to pop all of our dirty laundry in together. There would be no way we’d have fit four suitcases in the boot.
- Pack plenty of things to keep the children occupied in the car. Mini has an Amazon Fire kids edition, which kept her entertained for most of the journey. I had also bought her some new sticker and activity books from The Works. I hid them in the pocket of her chair in the car to find as a surprise for the journey.
- Before you go try to learn some basic phrases in the language of where you are travelling. This is a great idea to involve the kids with too to get them learning new languages. We also found the Google Translate App really helpful. You hold your phone over text and it will translate it into your language. This was particularly useful in restaurants, so we knew what we were ordering!
- Have a good plan for your travelling and stop when needed. We travelled from Birmingham to Folkestone in one afternoon and stayed overnight in a Premier Inn. We were then able to wake up refreshed the next morning for the crossing on the Eurotunnel and drive down to Holland. On the way home we stayed in Dunkirk, France for 2 nights. As Dunkirk was close to Calais, this again allowed us to break up the main bulk of the travelling.
- Research the best type of accommodation for your family, be that hotel, holiday park or Air BnB. We found that an Air BnB apartment was best for us in France over a Hotel. This meant that we had much more space rather than all sleeping in one hotel room. Mr Mack and I even managed to watch a movie one night in the living room. Our apartment also had great kitchen facilities if you wanted to make your own food to reduce costs.
- Research if your accommodation has parking available, where it is and how much it costs. You don’t want to be dragging bags halfway across town if there is no parking directly available at your hotel or apartment.
- Research how family friendly the places you are travelling to are. You can find plenty of tips on google searches, lonely planet website and Facebook groups for family road trips. We found Holland to be very well catered for families and it was easy to eat out with children. However, we experienced that France wasn’t as well suited to family dining. Not all places had children’s menus and restaurants typically don’t open until 7pm.
- When travelling with a baby take enough supplies if you have the room in the car. We took our own nappies, wet wipes and baby food. I’m glad that we did as we found that these items were much more expensive in Dutch supermarkets compared to at home.
I hope my tips have been useful for you. We all had a fantastic time on our family road trip, and I have already started planning our next one, which will be even more adventurous.
Please let me know what your top tips are for a family road trip adventure.