There was an interesting post last week over on Have a Lovely Time where they asked the question, “Do larger families get a tough break on travel?”
I was asked for my opinion on this feature with regards to days out. It is a bug bear of mine that events or attractions very rarely cater for larger than average sized families such as mine. Families come in all shapes and sizes yet most places still offer a standard family ticket price of 2 adults plus 2 children. Occasionally, you may even see 1 adult plus 3 children, though generally the 2+2 still seems to be the normal savings offer.
What if you don’t have 2 children? What if you have three or four? I’ll accept that a family the size of mine is the exception rather than the rule but surely there must be three or four child families who like to visit places of interest or just have a fun day out?
My response to Have a Lovely Time was that while it would be impractical (and more likely quite impossible) to expect an entry fee based on every family type but suggested that venues and event organisers could perhaps adopt a standard family ticket (2 adults plus 2 children) plus a sliding scale entry price for each additional child. Surely to make it more reasonable for a large family to gain entry somewhere would be more beneficial for the venue in the long run? More people equal more drinks, more snacks, more souvenirs… more revenue in general. So why do so few places encourage them?
Have a Lovely Time then went on to discuss the difficulties that large families have arranging holidays. This is something else we are all too familiar with as too few places actually have accommodation large enough to cater for big families.
Both Haven and Canvas Holidays claim to offer options for large families but is what they offer good enough?
Haven stated that the cost of the holiday with them includes all entertainment, kids clubs and sports activities. However, their maximum occupancy for their largest models of caravans is for a total of eight people. This means that caravan holidays with them is out of the question unless we booked two caravans and split the family up.
I then had a look at Canvas Holidays. It is handy for us to be able to load up the minibus, get the children on and just drive away through the Eurotunnel to visit the rest of Europe. I was particularly interested to see what Canvas could offer as we are planning a road trip around Italy the year after next with a stop off in France (and possibly other countries on our outward/homebound journeys).
I was impressed that Canvas offered sites in eight European countries, with a great selection in France and a further three in our final destination, Italy. However, despite its site claiming to offer “… a choice of quality self-catering camping accommodation, designed to provide ample living space for the whole family, whatever your party size or budget. “, a quick search of the site and it became quickly apparent that a larger family actually had one, single option out of all the destinations and that one accommodated a maximum of ten people in four bedrooms. Hardly a choice.
Once again our only option would be to hire more than one accommodation and split our family up and that is not my idea of a family holiday. Generally speaking (and I’m not pointing the finger at Haven or Canvas because I don’t know whether they offer any options themselves), because there would only be one single adult and several children in each accommodation, quite often an extra supplement is required from some companies when this happens. I’m quite certain many places won’t offer me the second accommodation at half the price of the first, or would they? The option of renting to places to stay in is not cheap whether entertainment is included or not. All in all, it’s a lose/lose situation.
We are very fortunate in that because we homeschool we are able to holiday and have days out during the cheaper times of the year, during term times for example when prices are lower and places are less busy. Yet still I am constantly on the lookout for deals, vouchers or simply just somewhere to go that isn’t going to break the bank.
Having a Lovely Time’s article contained a quote from an ABTA spokesperson who stated that if there was a growing demand for holidays for larger families then in his opinion members would react accordingly. My question is, why isn’t there a demand that we know of?
The US seems to generally cater for the needs of large families far more positively than here in the UK where we seem to be penalised from everything to smaller “family cars”, houses with very limited room sizes and tiny parking spaces. Is there really no demand for more reasonable prices when it comes to having days out with more than an average number of children? Is there really no need to have holiday accommodation available for more than a party of four to six people? I’m interested to hear from anyone who has ever had problems or has some input on these points? You can leave your comments here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would also love to hear from any event organisers or day trip venues as to whether you already feel you take into account those with big families and what they offer, and if you don’t why not and do you think this is something we could work together to achieve?
Likewise, I’d like holiday companies to get in touch. How do you think you could better meet the needs of large families who wish to have some quality time together just like smaller families. Just because there are more of us does not mean we should be subjected to splitting the family up in order to take a holiday. It defeats the purpose of time away together if we’re not actually together. In turn you are losing a lot of potential revenue that these large families could bring you. There is a market that many of you aren’t reaching. Surely a compromise could be reached that would benefit everybody all round? I really would be interested in seeing if this is something we could pursue and bring about a positive change whether it’s a day out we’re after or a week away.