For someone who loves to travel and who goes away quite frequently, I am really unorganised when it comes to thinking of the practicalities. I let my mind wander to thoughts of cocktails on the beach, the waves lapping on my feet, and beautiful sunsets, and I forget about the important things to consider- like train tickets, parking and airport transfers.
I have on countless occasions gone to get train tickets only to realise they have gone up in price, and I have also done the same on flights and airport parking. In fact just a few months ago on a family trip to Rhodes, I kept leaving the airport parking until the last minute, checking it one night and then going on to book the next only to find it had tripled in price. That’s why when APH Parking got in touch to see whether we would be interested in trying out one of their Heathrow Parking and Hotel packages, I thought that it could only be a good thing.
APH Parking have been providing airport parking to travellers all over the UK since 1980. They operate out all of the main UK airports, including having their own car parks at Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham, and they have won the Best Airport Parking award at the British Travel Awards for 5 years straight. It isn’t particularly the most exciting part of your trip thinking about what to do with your car, but it is important of course to make sure that your airport transfers are as pain free and easy as possible, especially with young children. They also offer other extras like hotels, travel insurance, attraction tickets and car hire as well.
We used a parking and hotel package, meaning that we stayed the night in the Heathrow Holiday Inn Express before our 10am flight to Miami. It was much nicer to be there the night before our flight, it meant we didn’t have to get up ridiculously early and also meant that we started our holiday off with a bit of excitement for our two little girls- we went out for some dinner at Pizza Express in nearby Staines. The Heathrow Holiday Inn Express was fine- clean, modern and better than I thought it was going to be to be honest. APH take the hassle out of everything, it was all pre booked, even down to the hotel parking, which meant it was easy to check in and out.
We left the hotel the next morning and used the very easy map directions they had sent us to locate our car park- we were in one of their partner car parks, Purple Business Parking, which I have used before. It was just a few minutes from our hotel and again only a few minutes from the terminals too. Checking in was quick and efficient and there was a bus there waiting for us to take us straight to our terminal. It was easy, stress free and smooth- just what we needed with lots of bags and a four and a one year old.
On the way there, you obviously have the excitement of the anticipation of your trip, but on the way back you are inevitably tired, a little grumpy and just want to get home after a long flight- in our case almost 15 hours of travelling. We rang the number provided on our booking form as soon as we arrived at baggage reclaim in Heathrow, and by the time we were through customs a bus was waiting for us at our designated bus stop, armed with the keys to our car. Again it was quick, easy and painless.
Overall there is nothing we could fault about our parking package with APH. They take the hassle out of searching around for the best parking deals, with instant quotes on their website, and with parking requirements to suit all budgets. We will definitely be using them again in the future. (And not leaving it till the last minute again!)
Booking airport parking is just one way of taking the hassle out of travelling with kids. But we asked some of the top family travel bloggers to let us know their top tips for stress free travel….
Monica- Author of The Travel Hack…
‘My top tip for stress-free travel is to travel as light as possible. Having heavy luggage can make everything more stressful such as getting to the airport, using public transport and actually carrying the things! You’re more likely to lose things and you’re just creating more work for yourself. And let’s not forget that having a baby is like having an extra little suitcase, particularly at the airport if you aren’t allowed to take a pushchair all the way to the gate. You don’t have more fun on your holiday when you have an extra three pairs of shoes so leave them at home and travel light.’
Fritha- Author of Tigerlilly Quinn…
‘Always make sure you have an activity bag with you for the journey. I like to fill it with crayons, books and stickers! I also try to bring toys Wilf might not have played with in a while (so they feel ‘new’ to him), Tablets are great for kids’ apps for when boredom really kicks in.’
Katie- Author of Mummy Daddy Me…
‘Try not to stress too much about routine. I am a real stickler for routine such as bed time and nap times at home. But you are on holiday, just try and relax and go with the flow. On our first family holiday abroad to Rhodes for months before I said they were going to go to bed at 7 every evening as normal. They ended up staying until 9pm most nights and then having a long ‘siesta’ in the afternoons- this was perfect for everyone as it meant we could get some valuable sun bathing time on the balcony while they had a sleep. These things work out in the end- and it will always go back to normal when you go home!’
Penny- Author of A Residence and Parent Shaped…
‘ Upload some of their favourite apps or TV shows to an iPad – they are a great way of getting a bit of quiet time in on the plane or out at a restaurant if the food is taking too long to arrive. We take headphones too, so they can listen without annoying other travellers. Our youngest really struggles with queues, we discovered that an iPad and headphones allowed us to gently guide him through the entire airport process without a murmur of discontent, and without hitting his sister. Sticker books are also great for kids who find it hard to sit still, or a new magazine.’
Normally Heathrow….but would love to fly out of the South West more often.
Always had a good service with APH. Usually fly from Gatwick.
What airport do you usually travel from?…………..Cardiff Wales, now and again from Bristol
We usually fly out of Bristol!
Gatwick – Stansted is closer but never seems to have the right flights same as Norwich which hardly flies anywhere I want to go and are so expensive
Manchester, its nearer to my parents and they look after the dogs.
Various London ones – don’t really have a regular one
Birmingham im flying in july at 6am so this is perfect xx
I always travel from Gatwick Airport
either liverpool or manchester, they are about the same distance away
I have used them all, my top three would be Cardiff as it’s closest followed by Bristol then Heathrow.
Manchester, and ALWAYS use APH – they are fantastic
Any London one as I travel often but I prefer Gatwick
we usually fly out of Heathrow, better choice of flights, but wish we lived a bit closer
Short haul is normally from Gatwick but long haul is either Heathrow or Gatwick
Bristol airport if we can, if not Gatwick
I usually try to fly from Stansted as it’s the easiest drive from us…
Well we are flying from east midlands in may and birmingham in july so its hard to say
London Gatwick have used APH many times with good service and no issues.
Liverpool or Manchester
Heathrow is the usual airport
About equally split between Heathrow and Gatwick
Newcastle but are travelling from Manchester to Florida next year as a lot cheaper
The best Manchester
manchester or leeds
Depends, Gatwick when we go to the USA but Luton or East Midlands are convenient for short haul flights for us
stansted or heathrow
East Midlands or Birmingham
Birmingham if we can,if not then Heathrow.
Any in London, though preferably Heathrow!
Luton as it’s closest, but our next trip will be from Heathrow
Gatwick or Stansted usually and we often use APH at Gatwick.. they are excellent
Usually park at Gatwick for my girly trip to Gibraltar – APH are fab. Reasonable price, reliable and great bus service. Haven’t had the chance to stay over before a trip though, that would be fun!
we usually travel from east midlands were actually going abroad in may so this would be a lovely little extra 😀
Depends where we are off to but either Heathrow or Luton
Gatwick Airport 🙂 Would love to be considered would beat the 1am drives to the airport x
Usually go from Manchester
Bristol, but I’m flying out of Stanstead next 🙂
Although I live near Stansted, it’s usually Gatwick I fly from!
Cardiff or Bristol
mostly Gatwick, and always use APH, they are brilliant & very reasonable
Heathrow, but Luton for short-haul.
Stansted or Gatwick
Usually choose Bristol
Manchester or Leeds.
East Midlands in nearest, then Birmingham and Stansted are easy to get to. Heathrow is easy if I want to use public transport.
Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted
i always head to gatwick
Heathrow or Gatwick
Always Gatwick if we can
Birmingham if possible
Newcastle Upon tyne
Normally fly from Luton
Bristol or Exeter
I usually use those in the North – Manchester would be my first choice 😀
Any London Airport
London Stansted or London Gatwick. Stansted is closer but more holidays tend to go from Gatwick now.
East Midlands whenever possible
norwich and stansted
We are usually out of Manchester or Liverpool – Great to have such a good local choice of airports!
Gatwick but would prefer Cardiff
Birmingham or a London one as depends where im going
Southend on sea
Gatwick! And next time is very VERY soon eeeek!!!!
Norwich if possible – it’s os easy and relaxed
I try to fly from Biringham as much as I can, and avoid London airports.
We try to go from Stansted as much as possible as Heathrow can be really stressful.
Bristol or Exeter, they’re the closest to us down in Cornwall
Usually Heathrow or Gatwick but ideally we prefer Bristol
Usually Gatwick but occasionally Heathrow depending on the destination
Bristol or Any of the London ones
Normally Birmingham but occasionally Cardiff or Bristol
Mainly Gatwick as only up the road!
Luton is our nearest
Preferably Gatwick, but for some flights we have to go to Heathrow.
Gatwick. I always book with APH. IT’s quick and easy.
Generally travel from East Midlands airport
have used various airports in the past, depends on flight times and price.
Gatwick but sometimes Bristol too
Either Newcastle or Gatwick x
We usually fly from Gatwick as we go to the USA or Canada and no flights run to these destinations from our local airport (Cardiff) and its around £100 p/p difference to fly from Bristol – instead it’s cheaper and less hassle to just get the coach to Gatwick the day before flying and spend the night at a hotel at the airport.
Leeds or Manchester 🙂
Leeds Bradford is my 1st choice but I often use Manchester, as Leeds Bradford has limited destinations
Normally travel from Manchester or Birmingham
Stansted or Gatwick
Usually from Manchester
I usually fly from Gatwick
Brum for us
Have flown out of Gatwick recently and was a good experience, but the journey is awful! For that reason alone prefer Bristol or Birmingham as they’re closer
Bristol or Exeter
Prefer Stansted as nearer and smaller, but do seem to fly from Gatwick more often as I find flights cheaper and flight times better for us. Thanks 🙂
Usually try for Cardiff but I have to use Bristol more often to get the flights I want.
Gatwick or Stansted
Birmingham whenever possible
Bristol whenever I can
We normally fly out of Newcastle airport x
manchester airport everytime x
I usually fly from Gatwick or Heathrow
Usually from Manchester
We usually travel from Manchester Airport, a really good airport
We havent flown in many years, but we are due to go on holiday in 26 days. Leaving from Birmingham Airport on the 14th May.
Gatwick where possible.
Birmingham – close and convenient 🙂
Prefer Bristol, but flights can be limited out of season, so Gatwick’s good. Shame about the travel
Birmingham or Heathrow – depending on where we are going.
Usually Birmingham or East Midlands.
Gatwick or Heathrow
Stansted or gatwick