So, in 3 weeks time we’re off for our first threesome family holiday…and to say I’m excited is an understatement! We’re playing it safe and not venturing abroad just yet, I literally can’t imagine anything worse than attempting a flight with Jacob who literally can’t stop still, ever, instead we’re heading to our local Centre Parcs! What could possible go wrong….

We’ve visited Centre Parcs before and we’re big fans, the past few times we’ve been to the Sherwood Forest location and really loved it, but this time we’re staying closer to home and visiting Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, a short but sweet Friday – Monday break. A few friends have said that this one is probably the better for smaller kids as it doesn’t get as manic in the pool etc. Let’s hope the little one agrees!

Heres my tips and how I’m preparing…


  • Select travel appropriate to your child’s needs. Save yourself a headache and if you know they don’t enjoy the car – stay somewhere fairly local. If you know they can’t sit still don’t go anywhere that requires a long flight and wait in the airport, there’s plenty time for these holidays when they’re bigger and you’ll all enjoy it.
  • If you’re travelling by car make sure you have drinks in a non spill cup and snacks on board and easily accessible – but also make sure they aren’t a choking hazard! Entertainment is also important, CDs, a selection of safe toys, ipads/tv if your child is a little bigger.
    Sounds obvious but make sure they’re comfortable and safe before you set off. Remove extra layers, ensure tops aren’t riding up, make sure seat is secure and there aren’t any twists in the straps.
  • Plan your journey – not just directions but where you can stop for a break when the going gets tough!

Our little guy isn’t great in the car. He’s much better now he has his ‘big boy’ seat, but still car journeys are sometimes rather stressful with him screaming and husband threatening to jump out of the car! The journey takes 1 hour 48 minutes so a stop will definitely be in order. I intend to give him a good breakfast, change then leave around 9am – that way we ought to miss rush traffic and, if he’s up since 6, he’ll hopefully have a nap in the car. I’ve researched a decent Tesco around half way (48mins) into the journey with a café and changing facilities so the plan is to stop there for a coffee and to stretch little mans legs. However, if the going is good and he’s sleeping we’ll plough onto Carlisle and do Sainsbury’s instead! For snacks I’m thinking crisp puffs which he likes, they just melt in the mouth, are a finger food and usually keep him quiet for a while. Still deciding what toys to take but I’ll probably buy something new specially for the trip and toys he doesn’t normally play with in the car – just to mix it up a bit! And his Sing and Sign CDs are always a winner.


  • Most places are good and you can see the rooms before booking, obviously this is going to be a new experience for your little one so make sure you can be nearby at all times, especially when they’re sleeping. It’s also probably a good idea to allow them to settle in and explore their new surroundings, particularly where they are going to sleep before its actually bedtime.
  • Make sure you take their home comforts to make the place more homely – teddies, special blankets and the likes.

We’ve chosen an apartment sort of like a posh bedsit so we can always be in the same room as the little man. We know we’re going to be confined to the room from 7:30-8pm each night so we’ve selected one with a balcony and lake view. That way when he’s asleep we’ll sneak off to the balcony for some wine, snacks, books & some much needed R&R! But crucially we’ll still be able to see him and won’t disturb him.


  • Check out what entertainment is on offer, it might be nice for you to visit somewhere totally secluded, but boring but toddlers!
  • If necessary book activities in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • If your chosen location has a swimming pool get in a few trips to the pool in advance to get your child used to the water. Being away from home isn’t the right time to introduce your baby to new potentially scary things and experiences.

I’ll be taking a bag of toys from home and hope to visit the pool and parks most days. I’ve also booked the Baby Owls experience which I think he’ll love plus pilates for me and husband is going to do the tree obstacle experience!


  • When looking at booking your holiday set yourself a budget at try to stick to it.
  • The same applies to spending money, if you can try to find the nearest restaurants and take a look at the menu prices and that there’s something your monster will actually eat! Self catering is a good idea for fussy eaters check there’s a supermarket nearby then you can get in what you know your child will eat!  Buffets are brilliant as there’s usually something everyone will like. Half board is great for little ones as you can feed them and yourself up at breakfast and dinner and you know you won’t have to fork out extra for evening meals. If your kids are older perhaps consider all inclusive then they can eat and drink till their hearts content without costing you a fortune.
  • Same applies to entertainment, check out what’s included and what is extra and therefore should stay away from.

Centre Parcs is rather notorious for being expensive. We’re booking just one activity each and will definitely be making use of the pool, parcs, and soft play which are included in the price. Planning a stop at a supermarket an route is also the way we plan to keep costs down, we can stock up on essentials without having to pay their on site grocery shop prices, and maybe do a home cooked meal or two


  • When packing try to break it down into sections. So, mealtimes – bibs, spoons/pots. Bedtime – pjs, blanky, dummy. Changing – nappies, cream, wipes etc. Arrange outfits by the day. Remember you probably won’t have access to a washing machine. And there’ll be increased opportunity to get dirty!
  • As well as the essential don’t forget the first aid – plasters, sun cream, calpol, savlon, you might not use everyday but could be a potential life saver in a stressful away from home situation.

We’ll be trying to travel light but plan to take a spare vest, pyjamas, t-shirt and trousers. Last time we were away darling son spoiled all his babygrows in 2 evenings and there was no-where to buy any.

My most important tip, and what I’ll be endeavouring to do whilst away, is to keep as far as possible to our normal routine. Nap times, bed times & snacks particularly, that way over tiredness and tantrums will hopefully be avoided!

If anyone has any other hints and tips is be happy to hear them! Will let you know how it goes in a few weeks 😬

A Mum Track Mind

9 thoughts on “Preparing for a Centre Parcs holiday with a 1 year old! Tips and how I am preparing for the trip.

    1. Goodness – lots of camping for you then, put them all in one huge tent!!
      Thank you, and thanks for stopping by.

  1. I’m so jealous! I love center Parcs. I live about 5 minutes from Sherwood Forest and would go back tomorrow if I could! Have a fab time #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Oh lucky you living so close, think I’d be there every weekend if I were you! We love the Sherwood Forest one.
      Laura 🙂

  2. This is such an amazingly informative post, I love centre parcs and am considering taking my 5year old as it is such a lovely family friendly place. I read that journeys take almost a third extra time with little ones..I hear that! I think it is a great suggestion to look at what is available for the children and pre book to avoid disappointment 🙂 If I am driving I always try and pack extra clothes as combined with sun cream and sandpits you get through so many clothes! #fortheloveofblog

    1. You definitely should I’m sure your 5 year old would love it! hehe, yes they can be messy little monkeys!
      thanks for your comment.
      Laura 🙂

  3. A great piece full of useful tips. We had our first holiday at Center Parcs about an hour from us (which was perfect as we ended up having to come back to the docs as I got ill). The apartments are beautiful and it was really relaxing in the countryside. We loved the outside play area and the fact that the restaurants delivered take aways!! Have a fab time #fortheloveofBLOG

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