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Haven Holidays – MNers feedback thread – non testers – add your top tips for family holidays with toddlers for a chance to win a £100 voucher. NOW CLOSED

(124 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 28-Mar-14 11:03:54

This thread is for the three lucky MN families who are going on a Haven Holiday across the Easter period.

Haven say "At Haven you'll find plenty to keep all the family happy and some things we think you might not expect including climbing walls, fencing and archery. We also have some exciting new activities with professional players from the BBL Basketball team teaching ball skills during the school holidays. But when the big kids are at school our parks are just great to take your tots.

This year we have some lovely new interactive sessions with the Seaside Squad, our very own fun loving characters. All parks have heated pools many with flumes, water slides, lazy rivers and space bowls and plenty of additional fun like Aquajet Racers and Water Walkerz.

At Haven it's not just about activities... there's plenty of green space to run around and many parks have beautiful nature walks and trails to explore and access to some stunning coastal walks."

For more information: check out the new Haven pages on Mumsnet

Testers are visiting Seton Sands, East Lothian during w/c 31 March, Hopton, nr Great Yarmouth during w/c 4 April and finally to Kiln Park, Tenby during w/c 21 April – check back to this thread to find out how they are getting on.

We have asked testers to add feedback at least three times - before they go, when they are there and when they get back home.

Non testers: Haven would love to know your top tips for holidaying with a toddler in tow – add your tip to the thread and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one lucky MNer will win a £100 Love2Shop voucher.

Please note tips and comments may well be used by Haven on their pages on Mumsnet as well as possibly elsewhere (including on social media, in the press etc). Your MN name will not be used.

Testers – please share on this thread your overall opinion and experience plus your responses to the following questions.

Before you go

Where are you going? How far it is from your home? Who is in your group? Have you ever been on a Haven holiday before?
What are you looking forward to most? What are the DC looking forward to?
How was the booking process?

On holiday

How is it? What's the weather like?!
Describe your accommodation
What else are you doing outside of the park?
Have you been to the pool?
Have you done any of the activities?
What's the food like?
What activities have the kids enjoyed?

When you are back

Overall opinions from you and others in the family

How would you rate/ describe...

Things to do for adults
Things to do for children
Would you return/ try out another Haven park?
What did you think about the value for money – especially compared to other family holidays?
Any other comments?

Please also do add a review on Mumsnet to the Self Catering pages


PS prize draw for the £100 Love2Shop vouchers: Monday 29th April 2014
PPS have 'highlighted' the testers posts on this thread so we can see them!

KateOxford Tue 01-Apr-14 16:48:26

Preparation is key to my holiday success! I now have a typed packing list on the computer ready to print off for a winter holiday or a summer holiday. I can then tick things off as I put them ready/pack them. When I think of new things we need to take I keep my list on the computer updated so that I don't forget them the next time! I start putting some things ready about 2 weeks before. As we always holiday in the UK we have to take clothes for every weather eventuality.
For things to do I take any mini packs of lego (free with newspaper) I have collected so that he has a new toy when needed on a rainy day. I borrow books from the library so that we have books we haven't read before for bedtime stories and I take a few new treats like this time I have an I-spy book of nature for my son to take out on a walk. I always take a pack of plasticine - it doesn't take up any room and as we don't play with it at home its something different. I save the free Lego club comic my son gets in the post before we go and take that so that he can look at it in the car.
I take some snacks for the children so that they have a couple for each day;things like different flavour yo yo's, raisins, goodies bars - otherwise if I buy a multipack on holiday they just end up with the same things each day. For our baby we take some frozen meals in an ice box which we keep in the freezer until needed on holiday, one for each day so that we don't have to cook so much on holiday. My son is older and can eat fish and chips etc with us.
We put a couple of new apps on the Ipad and take a Peppa Pig DVD. My son chooses his favourite pieces of Lego to take on holiday in his lego suitcase and packs those before we go. He also has his rucksack in the back of the car with him with some things he has chosen for the journey like mini etch a sketch.
I also now put nappy bags in the back pocket of the car seats in case of requirement for car sickness! and lots of baby wipes and a change of clothes for each child.

RedKites Tue 01-Apr-14 17:30:40

Non tester... If you will have access to a washing machine and tumble dryer, then you don't need to take emergency spares of everything just in case.

andsmile Tue 01-Apr-14 17:56:05


Make use of climbing frames in the evening, they will eventually fall asleep. Be relaxed about bedtimes, the campsites can be a bit noisy - especially if in tents. I dont mean parties etc but you may hear noises that you wouldnt normally hear at home. Then..... Spa sells wine.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Tue 01-Apr-14 19:09:53

Take a good medical kit - paracetamol, ibuprofen, dioralyte, plasters etc. Suppositories are great for sick toddlers.
Take plenty of clothes and a small amount of detergent so you can wash some of the clothes too.
Take crayons and paper or some small toys.

MakkaPakkasSponge Tue 01-Apr-14 20:25:18

My tip is plenty of entertainment for long car journeys, toys, singing etc.. And try to time the journey with a nap if possible.

My boy needs a really dark room to sleep well so I'd try to sort that out.

Activities for the kids are all well and good but I like to spend some time doing things that me and DH want to do, as it doesn't have to be about the kids all the time.. As long as DS gets a chance to run around for a bit, he'll be fine doing we want on occasion!

themitch21 Tue 01-Apr-14 21:40:46

Non Tester

Pack spare outfits for each day for your toddler, especially if you're going to a holiday park. They WILL manage to get dirty/ spill food/ roll in mud within five minutes of getting dressed and the on site launderettes can charge extortionate prices.

miljones1 Tue 01-Apr-14 21:40:55

I'm a top tips would be:
Keep it simple - don't try to do more than 1 outing a day
Limit restaurant meals to one a day - try to do self catering if possilble
Accept that nightlife will be limited on a holiday with toddlers!

tinypumpkin Tue 01-Apr-14 22:43:45

Pen and paper are a must as are some favourite (small!) toys.
Picnic where possible. It's cheaper and easier to eat on the floor with toddlers.
Go for days where they can run rather than feeling that you have to pay top prices to entertain them.

whattoWHO Tue 01-Apr-14 22:51:59

Non tester.
Take ingredients to cook evening meal on your first day. The DC will want to race outdoor and explore, not sit still in a restaurant or spend ages looking for a supermarket.
Take a few toys, crayons etc but to be honest they're generally unused because there's do much else to do.
Take some washing powder.

TheFabulousIdiot Wed 02-Apr-14 08:00:06

I am one of the lucky testers and we are off to kiln park on 21st April. I'll post again with my 'before you go' review nearer the time. Really enjoying all these tips.

crashbangboom Wed 02-Apr-14 09:32:17

Research activities and talk about it with partner before hand. Saves arguments on holidays.

Do a shop when you get there at local supermarket. I do take bottles of ketchup, marg , sugar that are half used at home as happy to ditch them at end of holiday,

crashbangboom Wed 02-Apr-14 09:33:26

And I always take a wok for cooking chilli's, curry' and stirfrys in.

BellaVida Wed 02-Apr-14 10:55:19

I have four children including a set of twins and have travelled a lot in the UK and abroad.

- make a packing list and do a final check before you leave.
- take a complete first aid kit including thermometer.
- remember favourite cuddly toys!
- take drinks & snacks for the journey. Put ice cubes in drinks bottles to keep them cold.
- if you are still toilet training, place an open nappy or folded towel underneath your toddler in their car seat.
- keep a complete spare change of clothes with you at all times.
- take enough essential shopping to last the first 24hrs- milk, tea, coffee, cereal, bread, eggs, butter, etc.
- take a pushchair and don't forget the rain cover.
- have one main activity planned and improvise the rest. It takes the stress out of trying to fit too much in one day.
- a tired child sleeps, so include some general running around play time, that way you get to relax in the evening too.
- paper and pens goes a long way, especially if it's raining.
- if your toddler doesn't like showers, take a baby paddling pool to fill from the shower head and use as a bath.
- have realistic expectations. A holiday with a toddler can be unpredictable!

Ledkr Wed 02-Apr-14 13:03:02

Non tester

Make a nice breakfast in the van so that lunch can be small and simple as there are activities on all day to fit in.

Study the entertainment guide and decide what you want to do in advance so you can a organise your day.

Get to the kids disco/entertainment early to get a seat near the front so too can relax and have a drink and keep an eye on the children.

Take a cloth,tea towel,cleaning stuff and some bin liners.

Ledkr Wed 02-Apr-14 13:03:52

Take a scooter as all the kids have them.

dandelionsRflowers Wed 02-Apr-14 13:40:20

Wash and dry all your clothes, towels and swimwear in the huge on site machines, you will appreciate it when you get home!

sharond101 Wed 02-Apr-14 13:53:03

On holiday

How is it? What's the weather like?!
It's really fun. We are at Seton Sands and the entertainment complex is brand new with lots to occupy the children. There is an amusement arcade, softplay, outdoor playground, swimming pool and showbar with organised entertainment which our Son loves. There are characters which are dressed up and the younger kidds just love them. The weather is not so great. Cold, windy and yesterday was wet all day. I think this place would be fantastic in the sunshine with the beach just across the road.

Describe your accommodation
We have a spacious 2 bed caravan. One is a twin room and the other a double with en suite. The living area has lots of room for the little one to run around and the kitchen is well equipped. The decor is pleasant for holidays and the central heating has kept us warm.

What else are you doing outside of the park?
We are going into North Berwick today for a stroll, to the museum of Scotland tomorrow and Edinburgh Zoo on Friday. It is our holidays after all!

Have you been to the pool?
We went to the pool yesterday. It's pretty busy most of the time. Our SOn loved it. Was a good temperature although we did get cold after a bit. There weren't enough changing rooms and that meant we had to wait over 10 minutes to get changed. There are only 2 family changes and around 10 small cubicles. The lockers were poor too. We had to go and get help as it swallowed up our money. The showers were intermittently warm then cold then nothing came out at all. Wasn't the best experience but actually being in the pool was good.

Have you done any of the activities?
We have been to the tiny tots club activities. A sensory class and a stomp session. We love the nighttime entertainment for tots and our toddler is hypnotised by the characters. The entertainment team are full of energy and very kid friendly. This I highly recommend.

What's the food like?
The food is really nice. Family favourites like fish and chips, burgers, pizza, pies etc. Nothing fancy but good portions and reasonable value.

What activities have the kids enjoyed?
The characters have made our toddlers holiday He loves the entertainment programme with the tots club and night shows. Unfortunately he is too young (22months) for any of the proper activities (fencing, archery, water games, karting, football, treasure hunts etc) so our activity passes have not yet been used. Probably not worth buying for kids under 3 years old. Older school age kids would love all of the activities.

When you are back
Friday is our last day. We wouldn't want to leave if the weather was better.

Overall opinions from you and others in the family
We found the site really well equipped and super family friendly. It has'nt felt like a special holiday but more of a time out really. Our Son has had a great time and has met lots of little friends so that has truly been worth it. There are some areas in need of improvement, the pool changing area and showers (as above), our caravan looked clean on first sight but closer inspection showed some grimy, dusty and crumby areas. The highchair had not been cleaned either. The roads are uneven and flooded yesterday making walking around difficult. Areas that are excellent are the entertainment for children and the facilities like the playground and softplay. Some adult treats would be nice (beauty treatments??).

Mummyto3tobe Wed 02-Apr-14 15:06:42

non tester

Make sure you bring some comforts along from home - the favourite pillow, teddy etc and take things with you that you can easily take out in the evening if going for a sit down meal - drawing book/pens/small cars. maybe buy a few things from the pound shop that are new and exciting to keep them entertained.

Other than that the on site entertainment does the rest!

momscribe Wed 02-Apr-14 15:48:16

Non tester here :
Holidaying with a toddler means you need to be more prepared than usual. Always a checklist of what you will need for your little one tops the priority list - pampers, medicine, tissues, spare cloths, etc. A first aid kit is a must. And always checking the weather of your place is also best - you might need a sun-cream or a weather proof coat depending on the choice of your location. As for the toddlers food, something which lasts for long is the best. And more importantly to keep the toddler entertained, I carry some crayons, papers and thanks to the technology now (mobile/tablet apps).

mjmooseface Wed 02-Apr-14 16:07:49

Non Tester:

I hope the 3 lucky families have a fabulous time on their holidays!! Can't wait to read their feedback.

I have yet to go away with my toddler. We are hoping to go away later in the year just before his 2nd birthday so I am looking through these tips in preparation!

The things that I would hope for to make holidaying in the UK (as that is where we will be hopefully going) easier is to have access to cots, high chairs, push chairs etc, especially as we don't drive or have access to a car and would be travelling by train or coach and wouldn't want to be dragged down taking all of that stuff with us. I think being prepared for the weather to turn so making sure there is plenty to do outside and inside. Researching the area you are going to to see what other attractions or less obvious places there are to visit. And like supergreenuk said, it won't always feel like a break away for the parents, I'm sure, but enjoying every moment of it anyway!

BobaFetaCheese Wed 02-Apr-14 18:39:58

Non-tester; Bring their bedding with them (so it's not too different).
Don't expect too much from them in terms of days out, we went away with our then 20m and 1month old boys and planned to do an activity in the morning or afternoon, not both.

Bring grandparents. Babysitters on tap grin

Research, research and then research some more, check opening times of high streets, cafes etc and when fairs, markets or road closures are planned.

threepiecesuite Wed 02-Apr-14 20:18:59

Non tester.

Make sure both parents get some me time- it is their holiday too. I get up and take dd to the playground while dp has a lie-in, then vice versa.
Be flexible in your expectations for each day.
Make sure everyone gets to stop and eat before they get too hungry, and everyone has a wee before any car journeys.
Socialise with other families - they may give you tips and advice and your children can play together (we only have one dc sadly so we try to encourage her to make holiday friends).

MERLYPUSS Wed 02-Apr-14 20:19:42

I've been to a few caravan parks with toddler twins. I can recommend taking the following..
pre cooked bolognaise for the first night and fresh pasta as it takes less time.
new pound land toys
sandwich bags and foil and a knife that actually cuts an onion rather than skidding off it. Also I have to take my own chopping board as I have issues with glass ones.
a pack of cheap t towels that can be used for things like bath mat and chucked. BTW a Pringle lid fits over a plug hole in the shower for toddlers to splash, the weight of the water keeps it in place.
microfibre cloth in zip lock for days out. Can be rinsed be out and used again. Wipes are a bit sticky.
Hooded poncho towels for drying them off in the dining room whilst the other ones take their showers.
Make a list whilst you are there of what you wished b you had taken for next time.

Purplehonesty Wed 02-Apr-14 22:58:33

Time travelling with nap time
Take plenty of snacks
Bring the kids own bedding so its similar
F p

Purplehonesty Wed 02-Apr-14 23:00:12

familiar not similar

Try not to worry and get stressed and go with the flow a bit. It doesn't matter if the kids are in bed a bit late or don't eat properly - a holiday puts your routine out of the window.

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