British Airways prepares for busy February half-term

British Airways is expecting over one and a half million passengers this February half-term as British holiday-makers seek a break from the chilly weather.

According to the airline, the busiest days for air travel fall on Friday, February 13 and returning on Sunday, February 22, with over 120,000 people travelling on each date with the airline.

The popular long-haul holiday hotspots for British Airways customers and families looking for a break this half-term are Orlando, New York, Dubai, Los Angeles and Tampa. The top places for short-haul breaks are Rome, Barcelona, Tenerife, Malta and Fuerteventura.

Stephen Humphreys, British Airways’ head of UK&I sales and marketing, said: ‘The half-term holiday, whether it’s a long-haul flight to the sun or a quick city break to Europe, is becoming more popular each passing year, and 2015 is no exception.

‘British Airways has plenty of places to choose from to escape the chilly winter weather so families can jet off and enjoy some quality time together.’

Families and other travellers can also choose from British Airways Holidays’ last-minute breaks to destinations, including: New York – three nights at the Holiday Inn Midtown from GBP649 per person, travelling on February 17; Fuerteventura – seven nights at Hotel Castillo de Elba from GBP879 per person, travelling on February 14; and Malta – five nights at the Seabank Resort and Spa from GBP359 per person, travelling on February 17.

New family-friendly short-haul routes are set to launch later this year and include services to Bodrum, Crete, Dalaman, Madeira, Rhodes and Seville.

Following British Airways research, which showed that 60 per cent of parents feared they would not be able to keep their child occupied for over 30 minutes, the airline conducted a social experiment, where scientist and TV personality Dr Robert Winston observed the toys and games that kept youngsters most occupied during a flight.

Top tips from British Airways to keep both children and parents happy during travel include: carrying the children’s favourite food in a sealed container, downloading plenty of games for children to play on a tablet or smartphone, engaging children with skyflyer activity packs, packing less for the journey, and wearing loose fitting clothes, among others.

 

Top ski destinations for half term

Half-term is fast approaching and for a lot of UK families, this means a holiday is on the horizon. Skiing is one of the most popular things to do on a half-term break, but with so much choice it can be hard to know exactly where would make the best family holiday.

Here are a few of the top ski resorts for half-term:

St Anton in Austria

If you’re looking for a snowy paradise, St Anton could be the place for you. It boasts of being ‘a modern holiday resort that has retained its traditional appeal’. This means that it caters for all ages and levels, offering colossal backdrops of the peaks and skiing mountains as well as the comforts you expect to find from an international holiday resort. If you’re travelling by car, it’s important to know that a road tax sticker is obligatory in order to drive on motorways and on the S16. Alternatively, St Anton is just a stone’s throw away from Arlberg Rail Station. You can find some great winter deals with packages that include a 6-day lift pass, as well as half board and full board options.

Zermatt in Switzerland

Zermatt is a hugely popular skiing resort and is recognised as a family destination. Zermatt was awarded the Families Welcome seal of quality in 2013, which is given to holiday destinations that specifically target and cater for children and their families by the Swiss Tourism Federation. Wolli Park, close to the Sunnegga train station, is one of the best places to learn to ski, because it is sunnier and protected by the wind. Chalets come in a range of sizes to cater for both larger and smaller groups.

La Plagne in France

France is often the must-visit place for skiing. The stunning Alps and pockets of resorts dotted across it make it the ideal place to find your inner-skiing enthusiast. Not only is it great for adults but it can be heaps of fun for children as well. You can snow-board, trek, bob race, sledge and more at this vibrant resort.

Families can choose from a range of accommodation including the six separate high-altitude resorts which is perfect for keen skiers, or the picturesque villages which offer charm and the atmosphere of traditional Savoyard hamlets. Finally, there is the valley where families and holidaymakers can be in the heart of a preserved natural environment.

There are a number of things to consider when going on a skiing holiday, from the lift passes to the height of the slopes, but one thing you will want to make sure you don’t have to worry about is insurance. Ski insurance is specifically designed to cover you should you have an accident or if anything goes wrong on your skiing break. This offers peace of mind and ensures the only thing you’ll have to worry about is having fun.

February half-term: cut the costs of a family holiday

Everyone with a family knows how expensive it can be to take your kids on holiday, especially if you can only bring them away when school has broken up. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how you can cut the costs of a family break this February half-term, so you can have a trip away together without breaking the bank.

1.       Enjoy a staycation

Many people instantly think of a holiday abroad with sun, sea and sand when they hear family getaways. But we want to prove that you don’t need to jet away to a sunny location to enjoy yourself – although, this is, of course, sometimes nice too!

We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fantastic places in the UK to visit, from Wales and Scotland to Dorset and London. Whether you want a city break where your kids can soak up some culture or you are more interested in spending some time in the fresh, open air, you’ll find something that will pique your interest in Britain. So, why do you need to go anywhere else?

Just think of how much money you will save on aeroplane tickets, particularly if you have a number of children to pay for!

2.       Visit friends or family

These days, lots of people have friends and family all over the country – we know we certainly do! So a school holiday like February half-term is a good opportunity to make the most of these connections and visit your loved ones.

If the kids’ grandparents live in different areas of the country, we’re sure they’d love to spend time with your little ones. This could be a great chance for them to bond with one another – and also give you a break for a few days! But if you’re planning to visit friends, we would check that they’re OK to have your brood around for a week or so, as you don’t want to outstay your welcome.

3.       Stay in a home away from home

You don’t have to just stay with relatives or close mates to enjoy seeing the beautiful sights in the UK, as you can rent a cottage, farmhouse or barn and relax in a home away from home. These types of accommodation are particularly popular among families, as you can completely relax in a property of your own, with the kids’ toys strewn in the living room, the children being noisy early in the morning and appliances such as a TV and DVD player on hand.

With hotels and B&Bs, you are forced to pay for lunches and dinners out for the entire family every night. However, with self-catering accommodation, you can save a lot of money by whipping up something for dinner yourself. We think this is particularly useful if you have kids with fussy palates, and will mean you don’t have to budget so much for your trip during this busy school holiday period.

What’s more, if you have siblings with children too, you can pitch in for a large holiday cottage in Wales from Sykes Cottages or somewhere else in the UK, and split the costs of the accommodation and food between you all, which will save you quite a bit.

4.       Get active and creative

You might have grand plans of taking your youngsters to many museums, galleries and activity centres during the February half-term, but it is not cheap to do this, and with every extra child and day spent away, the costs can spiral out of control.

We’d recommend finding things to do that don’t cost a penny. Bring your bikes along and you can go for long rides through the countryside, which will enable children to enjoy being outside in the fresh air. But, this is February and if the weather takes a turn for the worse, it is a good idea to have a back-up plan. In this case, we’d whip out paint sets, crayons, reams of paper and any other crafty bits you can find. You and your kids can have hours of fun trying to make something – just be sure you are able to clean up all your mess afterwards!

British holidaymakers warned of ‘visa traps’

British families travelling to long-haul destinations this half term have been warned that they could face substantial extra costs on arrival or departure from their destination. Costs they hadn’t bargained for, according to a new survey.

 

New research from the Post Office has revealed that compulsory tourist visas and taxes can set a family of four back as much as £145.

 

The US requires UK visitors to pay $14 (£9.27) for each ESTA visa, which needs to be purchased before travelling, allowing families to factor this into their holiday budget.

 

However some popular winter destinations collect payable visa and tourist tax charges on arrival or departure from the country.

 

Tourists in Antigua must pay £20 each in either Eastern Caribbean or US dollars before leaving the country. This means a family of four with children 12 and over must hand over £77.76 in foreign cash at the end of a holiday, when spending money may be limited.

 

Travellers have also been warned to be aware of hidden visa charges in holiday hotspots: Kenya, Turkey, Egypt and Mexico.

 

Families of four could be set back as much as £145 when visiting Mexico; the country charges tourists 700 pesos (£36.28) when leaving the country.

 

Sarah Munro, Head of Travel Money at the Post Office has said “families looking for a low-priced half-term holiday may get a nasty surprise if they have to pay tourist taxes on top”.

 

She added “This is likely to be particularly problematic for people who are on an all inclusive package, as they may not have budgeted to take foreign cash to cover the charge”.

 

“Unfortunately the issue of visas and tourist taxes is a confusing one and it can be difficult to find out what the charges are and how these have to be paid”.

 

Recommending that holidaymakers get in touch with their tour operator or airline to check whether their destination has tourist taxes, who must pay them and in what currency they need to be paid in.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Where to take the kids for a fun packed half-term

Travelling with kids may quickly turn from a list of minor annoyances to a never-ending nightmare filled with cranky children and annoyed parents. There are two schools of thought on how to deal with this. The first one dictates that you should give in to the fact you’ll never be as carefree as you were before you started doing your share to populate the planet, and drinking your way to the bottom of a bottle of Chardonnay while going over the holiday pictures of those golden years will do nothing to change that fact. And then there’s the school of thought that suggests that if we adapted our way to the top of the food chain, surely we can manage to put together a holiday fit for adults and their offspring that will preserve the sanity of both parties.

First thing to keep in mind in order to achieve that goal: location, location, location. The farthest away your destination, the biggest the headache involved. And if you’re considering travelling across time zones, that’s a bold and ill-advised move that will no doubt haunt you for many sleepless nights and days filled with temper tantrums. Specially if you’re new to the whole family vacation thing, you might want to start small and go from there.

The UK has a never-ending supply of destinations that can cater to both children and grown-ups for far less expense and inconvenience than travelling abroad. Driving a car hire to Milton Keynes, for instance, for a day at the Woburn Safari Park is a fabulous idea. You can’t compete with cute jungle animals roaming wild. For a relatively small journey, you get a wonderful family experience that will be both entertaining and educational. If your children are Willy Wonka fans, driving your car hire to Birmingham for a trip to Cadbury World is a great way to spend a day filled with goodies. As a downside, that trip will probably prompt back-to-back reruns of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but at least your kids will be entertained, leaving you free to pursue other activities.

Theme parks are also a great way to keep the whole family entertained. The Waterworld on Stoke-on Trent is the best choice for water enthusiasts, and if your kids are more of the thrill-seeker type, then the Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Lancashire is just the thing!

The key to a successful family outing is to make sure you can find activities that will bore neither yourself nor your kids. Find a middle-ground and use it as an experience to bond with your children! Maybe you can no longer go trekking in the Himalayas as before, but that’s no reason not to have a great time out!

Easter holiday: Take three days off and get away with 11

Thanks to the way the bank holidays have fallen and the extra day off for the Royal Wedding, this Easter will feel like a much longer holiday than usual. Especially if you take three days off in the middle, this will give you an extra long break of eleven days.

Thanks to Good Friday falling later than usual, April 22, followed by the royal wedding on the 29th and then the May Day bank holiday on the 2, many of us will be escaping the office for longer than usual.

In fact take three days off , April 26 – 28, and you’ll end up with eleven days of Easter holiday.

For many children and parents the school break has already started, with this weekend predicted to be busiest of all. Short haul destinations over to Europe are most popular at Easter, with Rome, Venice and Barcelona being top, reports British Airways.

Paul Furner, boss of TravelRepublic.co.uk, said: “Sales are up by an astonishing 59.3% over the same period last year.

“The run of bank holidays and the fact that the royal wedding is being screened and celebrated in lots of places outside the UK, has been too much to resist.”

But Mr Furner added: “We are also seeing strong demand from those wanting to escape the ­celebrations completely.”

If your planning on spending the extra long Easter break at home, the forecast is looking good – dry and fair for most of the eleven days.

Tesco’s Trevor Datsun said: “This is the earliest in the year we’ve ever had major demand for BBQ food and charcoal. The great weather has created a feelgood factor and got the whole nation anticipating a BBQ weekend.”

The hot weather is also expected to tempt many to the seaside.

The AA said: “We expect an increase in traffic due to early Easter holidays and a rush to the beaches. But a day-trip to the beach will cost 14p a litre more than it did just 12 months ago.”