Family Travel Times Shares What Makes a Great Family Holiday


Family Travel Times is a blog run by Times journalist Sarah Ebner and her two children Jess and Rob. We asked them  what makes a great family holiday – daughter Jess shares her thoughts below!

Our family loves going on holiday. Granted, we probably vacation more than most families, but that’s what happens when you run a travel blog! With a dad who likes nothing better than taking it easy and relaxing, a mum who loves museums and beautiful views, a thrill-seeking brother and, of course me, who loves good food and culture, a holiday to suit all of us should be difficult.

However that’s far from the truth, and we always love the trips that we go on. So, just how do you make a brilliant family holiday that everyone will adore?

Firstly, planning is key. We plan our vacations months in advance, so that we can discover a perfect place to stay: after all, you never want to be bored on a rainy day.

We look up parks, restaurants and museums near where we are going, so that we always have something to do. We’ve even been known to spend a few hours in a local library when we were in very rainy Ireland – and searching through the hundreds of books there was actually really good fun. We also discovered some wonderful parks when we were on a visit to Paris and that allowed Robert to run about and have fun in between the trips to art galleries!


Some of our holidays (such as our lovely trip to Shropshire to visit Ironbridge, or to sunny Lanzarote to be close to a family-friendly sandy beach) have been based around one activity we know we would all enjoy. This means that we have at least one guaranteed place to visit, and helps us to decide where our accommodation should be.

Talking of accommodation, there are some simple things that make family stays so much better. Now that we are aged nine and twelve, Robert and I are not fans of sharing a bed and therefore, we find that single beds for children are very important. Our parents also like it when we don’t all have to share a room!

It is also best if the children’s room has thick curtains, as otherwise they (we!) will wake up at the crack of dawn due to light streaming through the windows. This is not ideal because a) it means that young children wake their holidaying parents up to play and b) older children don’t get enough sleep and so don’t enjoy their holiday as much.

It’s great if there is a restaurant on site or near where you are staying. If we are self-catering, we find that a local shop is essential – you don’t want to be totally isolated as you will always run out of things or find you suddenly need something vital, whether it’s plasters or food.

The best holidays we have been on as a family have combined all of the above suggestions, and one of my favourites ever has to be a trip to Strobl on Lake Wolfgang in Austria. Although we are not the sportiest of families, this was a cycling holiday and we were given bikes which we could use as little or as much as we liked every day. That was brilliant fun.


However, there was more to it then that, as all of us got what we loved: mum loved the culture and fabulous views, Robert had fun tobogganing down a mountain and sliding down a salt mine, I loved the Austrian pastries at the hotel and exploring Salzburg, and dad got to relax by taking walks and going in the pool. What could be better?

An ideal holiday depends on what your family enjoys. Even with a family as different as ours, we still find amazing places to visit that delight and excite all of us. I have used Austria as an example, but we are lucky to have been to many incredible places and our favourites include Tenerife, Paris, Jamaica and, of course, Orlando. With a little bit of prior research and the importance of taking everyone’s likes into account, the right options are endless.

Take a look at these handy guides to help you plan your next family cruise holiday!

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All images courtesy of Sarah Ebner


About Author

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.


  1. Katie on

    Totally agree with Jess that it really pays off to plan ahead and make sure some key things are there for each member of the family. In fact, sometimes I enjoy the advance planning as much as the holiday itself! I love researching places to go, how to get there, where to eat etc. Part of the pleasure of then actually being on the holiday is seeing how all the things I thought about months before work out in reality. As soon as I get back from one holiday, I can’t resist researching the next or even the next but one! I imagine Jess may be the same!

  2. These are very useful tips – I agree that planning is key, especially as children get older.

  3. Some great points made so eloquently by Jess. I agree about planning: it’s the part I most enjoy as it builds up the excitement about a forthcoming holiday. Getting the accommodation right for families is also crucial.

  4. fabulous tips and I agree it’s all in the planning. It’s great to have alternatives ready for bad weather days or for improvisation