Top 10 holiday tips for keeping calm and carrying on…

From the stunning, rustic countryside to the fashion-forward, cosmopolitan cities, it’s not surprising that Brits are preparing in their thousands to cross the channel and take in the sunshine and scenery.  So with travel and your authentic French cottage booked, how can you best prepare to have the perfect family holiday?

In our last France Fan Club post we introduced you to Selena Hay, who hit the road with her family to enjoy a week in Normandy.  She, along with Louise Bull, Pam Stace and Jayne Lewis, took part in our Holiday Happiness Challenge with their families, revealing the highs and occasional lows that are part and parcel of a family break together.

Now the families have had chance to unpack and sort out their holiday photos, we’ve caught up with them for their top tips and advice on how to have the ultimate relaxing break.

So forget all your worries, forget all your cares and get more out of your travels.  Here’s how:

  1. 75 per cent of holidaymakers who are planning to drive abroad find packing the car stressful.  Make sure you do your research well in advance so you’re not caught short and note the recent introduction of breathalysers that anyone driving in France from July onwards will be required to carry.  For details on what you will need to legally drive in France check here:http://bit.ly/KphoHw.
  2. One in four people find trying check in at the airport on time the most stressful part of their holiday. Make a schedule for your departure day and don’t forget to factor in extra time to account for traffic delays or the unexpected.  There’s no such thing as being too organised!
  3. Navigating abroad is one of the most likely causes for rifts in relationships whilst on holiday.  Sometimes investing in a reliable Sat Nav really is worth it!
  4. Catering for different age groups and tastes can be a challenge.  A self-catering break offers the freedom and flexibility to visit restaurants or cook at home to suit your mood, which helped 50 per cent of families keep the peace when choosing a menu.
  5. A turn in the weather is the biggest turn off for holidaymakers.  So don’t rely on it!  Take a guidebook and have a couple of indoor activities in mind for rainy days. France is home to some of Europe’s best museums, galleries and cultural attractions, so there is something to keep everyone busy.
  6. Whether your choose to drive door to door or pick up a car hire on arrival, having a car really is the easiest way to discover rural France.   However, securing the return of a car hire deposit causes stress among 1 in 4 holidaymakers using this service.  It’s not a guarantee, but it’s surprising how a quick clean up can instantly improve first impressions – always try to hand over the car as you would expect to receive it and you stand the best chance of receiving your full deposit back.
  7.  Packing and travelling on the way home is considered much less stressful than when setting off.  Avoid last minute panic packing and get in the holiday mind set from the start, remember your trip is supposed to be a thing of leisure, so leave enough time to do the essentials at a relaxing pace.
  8. Every region in France has something different to offer.   Read reviews so you know which areas will suit your interests best and don’t forget it’s worth exploring the surrounding areas to get know the country a little better.
  9. The Eurotunnel has been voted the least stressful way to cross the channel – give it a go next time you head to France.  Passengers and those travelling by car can catch a crossing from Dover to Calais, while those using the UK rail network might find the high-speed Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris more convenient.
  10. Kids can be stressful! Sorry, there’s not much we can do to help you avoid the moans and groans coming from the kids, so plan a few activities to suit different age groups, and pack a couple of family games such as garden Jenga to keep spirits playful.

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