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.

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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!)

 

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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.’

 

**COMPETITION**

We have teamed up with APH to offer one lucky reader the chance to win up to one week’s airport parking for one car and a free stay in a UK airport hotel.  This is the perfect way of taking the stress out of travelling to the airport for your holiday’s this summer, and even better no ridiculously early starts as you can stay the night before hand.  To enter just follow the rafflecopter entry system below.  Terms and conditions are below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The prize is a stay in a UK airport hotel for one night for up to two adults and children and up to one week’s airport parking for one car. The winner must use all elements of the prize on one trip. The prize must be booked and used by 31st December 2015. Prize will be supplied and selected by APH from its current range of Hotel & Parking packages on sale on APH.com and is subject to availability. Winners are solely responsible for all expenses not specified in the prize description including those associated incidental expenses associated with claiming the prize.  No substitutions and no equivalent cash value are offered.  Neither APH nor its employees or any sponsors shall have any liability in connection with the acceptance or use of any of the prizes awarded herein. This giveaway ends 11.50pm on 19th April 2015.

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/airport-hotel-stay-and-car-parking#sthash.gjOyvkdR.dpuf