Have kids, will travel

Plan a March Break getaway with your kids' interests and your time in mine. (Shutterstock)

Plan a March Break getaway with your kids' interests and your time in mine. (Shutterstock)

LINDA WHITE, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:19 PM ET

Kate Pocock has been globetrotting with her three kids and seven nieces and nephews for more than 20 years.

Memorable moments include bedding down in a knight's castle in Ireland, swimming with stingrays in the Caribbean Sea and riding horses in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

For 10 years, Pocock wrote her Family Fare column for the Toronto Sun. She's the author of Fodor's Around Toronto with Kids and wrote 14 chapters for National Geographic's Guide to Family Adventure Vacations.

Who better to share tips on planning a March Break getaway? With so many choices -- from cruising to an all-inclusive resort to a do-it-yourself package -- there's certainly plenty for families to think about, says Pocock (familytravelink.com).

When planning, consider the following:

1. The ages and interests of your children. "Tap into their interests and encourage them to help plan your trip," says Pocock. "A teenager probably won't want to get up early in the morning but would likely appreciate a place with teen clubs at night. Toddlers get up early so you consider a place where you can look for shells on the beach in the morning."

2. Travel time. Especially if travelling with young children, consider flight times and how long it will take to arrive at your final destination - including flight and travel to and from airports. "An extra couple of hours can be difficult with young children and can mean the difference between starting your vacation off on a good foot or not," says Pocock.

3. Snow much fun. "So many Canadians think about going south for March Break to escape the cold but some of my family's best vacations have been winter vacations," says the Toronto resident. Smugglers' Notch, Vermont, is among their all-time favourite destinations. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, your family can enjoy dog sledding, snowshoeing and tubing.

4. Biggest bang for your buck. Worried about the cost of getting away? Be creative in stretching your dollar, such as staying at a hostel instead of a hotel. "Hostels aren't just for young people and backpackers. Many also take families," Pocock says, pointing to the Ottawa Jail Hostel in our nation's capital as an example.

All-inclusive resorts can be a good value but make sure you understand what is -- and isn't -- included, such as all restaurants and drinks. "All-inclusives can save you money but you have to do your research," says Pocock. Many of us book online but working with a knowledgeable travel agent can be helpful and will also save you valuable time. Sometimes, it's cheaper to buy airfare, hotel and meals separately.

5. Is there something for everyone? "All ages will have a good time on a cruise," says Pocock. "If you're a parent with young children or babies, some ships have nurseries and activities so you can even have dinner as a couple."

If choosing an all-inclusive, become familiar with amenities. Some of the kids' clubs, for example, feature nothing more than a room with computer games.

Last-minute club

If you haven't yet booked your March Break getaway in hopes of finding a last-minute deal, you may be disappointed. "There really aren't any deals per se," says Allison Wallace, media and communications manager with Flight Centre Canada.

"We've actually pulled most of our March Break advertising because the prices are so high "¦ If it's a question of getting people down to a sunny destination, there is limited space but it's not a deal," she says. "A limited number of the cheapest economy class seats are available on any flight and of course, these tend to sell out first leaving the higher priced options for (travellers) that wait until the last minute."

If you're flexible in your departure dates and destination, you may be one of the lucky ones to find a deal too good to pass up. If you do, be prepared to book it immediately.


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