Eurocamp - the essential guide

Children on water slide at Eurocamp site

Trying to find a holiday that suits everyone can feel like an impossible task – so we put in some hard yards to see whether Eurocamp could take the stress out of family holidays (you're welcome)

Sometimes nothing makes you need a holiday more than planning a holiday. So when Eurocamp asked MNHQ to review a self-catering family break, it felt like a bit of a challenge – could taking young children abroad ever be an opportunity to relax? It turns out the answer is yes – as long as you do your research.

So what is Eurocamp anyway?

Whether you harbour fond childhood memories of summers spent at European campsites, or you've only just heard of Eurocamp now that you have children of your own – the first thing you need to know is that this isn’t Hi De Hi! The company has 180 holiday parks in 10 countries – most are in France, but Spain, Italy and Portugal are among the other popular destinations. What's complicated is choosing where to go when there is so much choice.

Most Eurocamps combine all the good things that self-catering has to offer, and you’ll get to have a family getaway with a certain amount of independence. There are no hotel breakfasts to wake up for, and no fixed menus that your toddlers won't touch. Most locations also have the added benefits of shared amenities such as cafes and swimming pools.

It's Eurocamp though – does that mean we'll be camping?

If you're strongly averse to spending the school holidays sleeping in a tent with your children, we don't blame you – and you've still got options. With two and three bedroom caravans, Eurocamp isn't just about camping anymore. The accommodation is surprisingly spacious, and means you can do your holiday meal prep in a kitchen – should you wish to cook that is. You'll also get the luxury of your own bathroom which, let's face it, can be very welcome with an only-just-potty-trained two-year-old.

What facilities and amenities will I find at Eurocamp?

Each Eurocamp is different, but most have indoor and outdoor pools and a shop. There's often an on-site restaurant or cafe, as well as all the usual shared facilities you'd expect when you're camping. What's great is the communal atmosphere. If you're lucky, the kids will make friends around the pool and be entertained by their new friends for the whole week. Many Eurocamps also have playgrounds, kids' clubs and evening activities such as that holiday favourite – the mini disco. Thought you'd forgotten the Macarena? Oh, it will come back to you in no time…

How do you choose which Eurocamp site to book? Eurocamp site

It's possible to lose days of your life trying to choose a family holiday, and so it really does pay to do some research before diving in and looking at different sites. First of all, get everybody's wants and needs clear. Decide on some basics – do you want to be near the sea, or are you after some mountain air? How far are you prepared to drive? It's wonderful being able to fill up the car with all your home comforts, but spending 12 hours in said car with children asking if you're nearly there yet could be enough to make you want to turn around and call the whole thing off.

Does it matter when we go?

You're going to pay less if you go out of season, but it's worth checking whether all the facilities are still going to be open at the site of your choice. If you're going early in the season and it matters to you – check whether the outdoor pool is heated or not. Check whether there will be a shop or restaurant open too for the dates that you're planning on going. Some Eurocamps can get very busy in peak season, so remember that when booking.

So the kids will love it – what about me?

A lot of Eurocamp sites are very well set up for children, with separate splash or swimming pools and playgrounds. If you’re not sure whether you want them to spend two hours without you in the kids’ club (which, you know, is two whole hours you could spend napping/reading/relaxing on the beach), then there’s plenty that you can do with them for some precious together time. We’d say give yourself a bit of a break though and let them go a bit wild with the other young holiday makers while someone else looks after them. It’s a holiday for everyone, after all.