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Travelling with children can be complicated enough, so having someone take care of important details such as transfers is really reassuring.

With the kids back at school and the holidays just a distant memory, Holiday Hypermarket has conducted a comprehensive survey of 2,000 parents looking into how the UK’s families feel about travel in 2015.

Here are some of the key findings:

82% of parents find holidays improve family bonds

Reassuringly, travel doesn’t just seem to broaden the horizons, it also seems to bring us closer to the ones we love. As well as the overwhelming majority saying that their family was a tighter unit after a trip away, over two thirds of those asked also felt that their family communicates better or more openly while on holiday too. Most parents said that this was down to their parenting style being more relaxed than when they were at home, and that they were able to leave work at home.

With plenty of time to spend with their children, most respondents were also able to have quality time with their partners on holiday, with over 73% of interviewees saying they make time for each other while holidaying with the family. This is perhaps because the majority of interviewees chose hassle-free, all-inclusive holidays and many took advantage of free childcare facilities. Which brings us on to…

75.85% of families opt for package holidays

It seems that package holidays are on the rise, with holidaymakers keen on such advantages as the convenience of booking everything together, a huge variety of destinations and flexibility on dates and travel times.

All-inclusive holidays were the most popular among those surveyed, with 32.65% saying that it is their preferred choice of trip. Self-catering came next with 26.80%, followed by half board at 16.40%. Combined, this was 75.85% of respondents – well ahead of the 18.30% that said that they would look to book their flights and accommodation separately.

The increasing popularity of package holidays is backed up by the Office for National Statistics, which recently revealed that the number of Britons taking package holidays abroad is on the increase - from 15.3 million in 2013 to 15.9 million last year.

According to Holiday Hypermarket, their own bookings of package holidays by families have seen a much sharper increase, rising by close to 17% year on year.

Over a third of parents are undecided about medicating children while travelling

Travelling – and in particular flying – with young children is something of a minefield for the UK’s families. Getting the kids to sleep on a long haul flight is a particularly controversial area, with 36.40% of parents saying that would or would consider using medication such as sleeping tablets.

76% of children now using digital devices whilst travelling (but “I spy” is still going strong)

iPads, mobile phones and portable game consoles may be ubiquitous among the nation’s youth, but it appears that some of the most popular methods of entertaining children on a family holiday are the oldest. Many respondents did indeed resort to digital devices, but 45.60% said that imaginative games like “I spy” remained firm favourites. Interestingly, 5.20% said that they used no method of entertainment at all.

Commenting on the results of the study Ian Crawford, representative for Holiday Hypermarket, singled out the vast majority of families that feel closer after a holiday as a positive finding.

“Holidaying is a special family time where everyone has the chance to let their hair down and our survey shows that it’s not just the kids who benefit from holidays, but that they’re an opportunity for everyone to feel closer. We think this is an important thing to remember – even if sometimes the stress and strain of travel can get in the way.”

“I think it is a really special time going on holiday for lots of reasons, mainly for the fact that most of the rules and routines go out of the window,” added independent family travel expert Steve King. “That’s not just for the children, but the parents too – they end to be a bit more relaxed, you don’t have to worry about school runs or bedtimes so much.

“Modern families today, we spend less and less time around the table together, mainly because of people’s schedules. To be able to have three meals a day together and have the chance to eat, chat and even be silly is really important.”

Referring to the popularity of package holidays, Crawford went on to say that the convenience was very appealing to families.

"Travelling with children can be complicated enough, so having someone take care of important details such as transfers is really reassuring.”

The knowledge that everything has been paid for up front is also another advantage, says King.

“On holiday, the kids are always going to want an ice cream, or knock over a drink. With an all inclusive package that doesn’t matter.”
However, on the subject of medicating children to make travelling easier, he was far less positive.

“For me, it’s an absolute no-no – I’ve never done it, and I never would do it.

“I have heard some stories of parents giving their children medication such as Piriton to make them drowsy when flying. But I think with some careful planning, you don’t have to resort to these kinds of measures. You can book flights – even long haul – for the mornings. It will be a really long day for them, but they will be excited – it’s a holiday!”

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