By Ferdi Burger on 15 October 2014

"Are we there yet?" "But I don't want to go!" "I feel sick..."

Ah, the joys of taking the little ones on holiday, eh? You've saved up all year for this holiday, paying the hiked up out-of-term-time fares through gritted teeth, yet the kids are not sharing your enthusiasm.

We asked the nation's parents for their advice on keeping the kids calm on holiday, so the whole family can enjoy their break. Here are five of the best tips:

Pick a child-friendly resort

The main aim of a family holiday is for you all to have a wonderful time. Recharge your batteries a little, be waited on a bit and create some long-lasting memories. To achieve this aim, it makes sense for you to pick your resort very carefully - one which puts on kids clubs and activities so that the kids won't have a chance to get bored or agitated.

Mel, mum to Adam, aged 11, says: "Sounds obvious, but take them somewhere that caters for children. Let them use up their energy in a pool and run around any green spaces. Don't take them somewhere with only adult stuff to do then moan when they play up."

For those with very young children and babies there are other things to consider, like safety inside and around the accommodation. Specialist operators like visit, review and handpick child-friendly villas and cottages to give parents peace of mind. Founder Wendy Shand promises: "No other family holiday company goes to such extreme lengths to give you peace of mind and a fabulous family holiday." 

Pack little surprises

There will be times during the holiday where the kids get upset, fidgety, hot and bothered or throw a strop, such as on the journey to your holiday destination. Don't rely on the airport or ferry terminal for entertainment, though - make sure you provide plenty of welcome distractions.

One of our customers, mum of two Sally, told us: "I pack a bag full of new bits and pieces that they haven't seen before like colouring books, craft bits, and jigsaws, and we also play games on the journey like 'Spot the yellow car', which seems to keep them amused. Well, for a while anyway. And then I resort to sweets!"

If you want to go one better, another Columbus customer suggested: "Pack a bag with lots of miniature wrapped surprises. It needn't cost the earth, either. Little plastic figures, boxes of raisins and little games can easily be picked up for less than a few pounds, plus the kids will love them." 

Keep them busy

Guess what - kids like to be occupied. They won't want to lounge on the beach quietly or admire a view. To keep them calm and avoid cries of "I'm boooooored," you'll need to find ways to keep them busy in every situation.

Tania, mother to eight-year-old Evie and six-year-old Leo, says anything water-related usually goes down well with her children: "Water pistols, balloons and buckets can all be taken down to the beach," she says.

If you're holidaying at home, mum-of-two Becky suggests keeping the children busy by giving them a task, such as looking after a pet or watering all the plants every day.

Another mum offered a final suggestion. "If nothing works, then there's always the iPad miracle," she told us. Thank goodness for modern technology - just watch those roaming charges!

Provide 'quiet' toys

To encourage calm, you really don't want to give your children any games or activities that will over-excite them, and many of the parents we spoke to said that they always pack quiet toys.

These are items which require focus and concentration, like puzzles, sticker pads and story books. If you are trying to get the kids off to sleep, try to resist the iPad as research reveals that using electronic devices before bed can (here's the scientific bit) interrupt the body's natural circadian rhythm.

To translate, the light stimulates the brain and makes it think it's still daytime and not night, causing your little treasure to stay awake for longer. 

Factor in some 'chill out' time

There's nothing like a fraught bedtime ordeal to ruin a lovely day on holiday, right? The kids are fighting and don't want to get into bed; perhaps there is too much noise outside or it's too hot.

Persuading children to sleep in a strange bed in a strange room can be exhausting, and everyone can end up feeling thoroughly frazzled. So why not factor in some chill-out time at the end of each day?

Here's one last tip from mum Becky - she's a firm believer in this technique, giving her twin boys time to calm down and feel sleepy after a great day. "Keep to a similar routine to that of term time," she says. "Don't do lots of late nights or lie-ins."

Taking a teenager away? Here's our parental guide to holiday romances

Finally, here's our guide to dealing with problematic children on flights

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