Farm-stays are an absolutely brilliant option for low-key, low-cost (in most cases) and eco-friendly family holidays and breaks. Particularly popular in the UK and France but also available in various other European countries (in Italy they're called agriturismi), they’re especially well suited to families with very young kids, who adore having friendly farm animals on tap and lots of space and fresh air to run around in.
On many farms with accommodation, guests are also invited join in with daily tasks, including animal feeding and egg collecting, and can feast on home-grown veg and other produce, available in on-site honesty shops. As such, a good farm-stay – Feather Down Farms being particularly popular with Takethefamily readers – can be the perfect example of sustainable and local travel.
Farm-stay accommodation is often in cottages converted from barns and other old farm buildings, but ‘glamping’ options such as safari-style tents and yurts are increasingly popular.
Don’t arrive with a carful of food. Many farms providing accommodation have honesty shops where you can stock up on its own and other produce, plus essentials such as matches and loo roll.
In properties with only a wood-fired stove, take a portable gas hob – lighting the stove and waiting for it to heat up just to make a morning brew or boil a pan water for pasta becomes wearing.
Find out about the availability of fireguards to place in front of log-burning stoves, and if none can be provided, take your own if this is a concern. Find out too what baby equipment can be hired.
Take some extra blankets in case what’s there isn’t sufficient.
Bring some toys and simple games (board games and low-key sports such as cricket and rounders), but avoid hand-held games, laptops and so on – farms are an excellent environment for kids to learn to play independently without the diversions of modern life, and for parents to learn to relax and let their offspring roam free to some degree.
Check extras you can book in advance – some farms let you, for instance, hire a rabbit for your stay so kids can get a taste of having responsibility for a pet.
Find out about activities such as farm tours and the chance for children to muck in, whether it’s milking goats or feeding the pigs their leftovers.
Think about bringing a telescope if none are provided – most farms are excellent places for star-gazing.
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