TRAVEL CLINIC: Are children's clubs worthwhile?

Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts, including a doctor and a lawyer

Do you have any experience of the free "children's clubs" run by big tour operators. We have heard conflicting reports?

Wing Cdr J. Palmer


Jill Crawshaw replies: for readers not aware of these clubs, some of the larger tour operators such as Thomson, Airtours, Cosmos, First Choice and others run free clubs, largely for the under 12s in popular family resorts such as Cala d'Or, Sa Coma, Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa in Mallorca, Es Cana, Cala Longa and Portinatx in Ibiza, Benidorm and Salou in mainland Spain, in lots of resorts in family-friendly Minorca and the Algarve, and increasingly in some of the Canaries, Tunisia, Greece and Turkey.

I can't imagine who invented the names they use; First Choice have come up wlth Nippers for the 3-6 year olds, Surf-Seekers for 7-11's and Beach Rounds for the 12-15's, with Inspirations it's the Roaring House Club for 3-6's and the Ministry of Fun for 7-12's. Panorama's 3-7 year olds are known as the Sunshine Gang, the 8-12's the Explorers. Thomson Holidays, one of the pioneers is rather prosaic with Tiny T's from 0-3, Little T from 4-7, Big T for 8-12's.

All these follow roughly the same pattern: Children's Reps or Hostesses, often disillusioned teachers or nurses with professional qualifications such as NNEB organise a couple of hours of activities on six days a week, and two hours in the evening three times a week. Activities may include face painting, fancy dress and sandcastle competitions, nature trails, mini olympics, discos and so on.

Run properly these clubs should keep children safe, happy and entertained, allowing parents welcome breaks for their own pursuits. Well, that's the theory, anyway.

Unfortunately when Holiday Which? inspected 36 clubs in Majorca, the Algarve and Corfu, their conclusions were that a quarter of them had safety problems, and about half were just plain boring. In the worst examples, clubs were held on a pavement next to a hotel service road, or in a dimly lit bar open to the public. Nineteen of the clubs had unsatisfactory premises, and in some the tour reps had no idea where their charges were. Seven clubs had inadequate supervision.

Eight clubs of the 36 had fun activities designed to suit the various ages, and twelve had safe and well equipped rooms.

The findings were sent to the tour operators who said they would review their arrangements. Tour Operators I approached all said they had taken on board the criticisms and set much stricter guidelines.

This year I have so far visited two clubs; a Thomson Club in Ibiza and a Panorama Club in Tunisia, and was satisfied that the children were well cared for.

Ultimately, whatever the promises, it is up to the parents to make rigorous checks themselves, on the spot. Question the qualifications of the staff and the numbers of children they are expected to supervise. Ask to see the premises and a programme of activities. I also suggest dropping in unannounced from time-to-time.

Before you go, you can ask the tour firms for name and addresses of families who have made use of these clubs previously - except of course they're not likely to give you any contact with people who were dissatisfied.

It would be nice to be able to be 100 per cent sure that all will be well before you even book - but that obviously can't be guaranteed. So you'll have to just keep your eyes open; better so than sorry.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.


I'm flying to Peru on 3 June for two months. I've had the usual injections but I'm getting conflicting reports as to whether I should take a course of anti-malaria pills.

Some people have advised me not to bother, because they are ineffective against some strains of malaria, and because Peru is not a malaria hot- spot. I'm going to the south of the country, and into Bolivia as well.

Should I: a) take the pills; b) take a mini-course in suspect regions (eg. jungle areas), or; c) not bother with them?

Charlie Taylor


Dr Larry Goodyer replies:

There is indeed some danger of contracting malaria in Peru throughout the year if visiting rural areas below 1,500 metres. The type is generally the form vivax malaria, which is different from the falciparum malaria found in sub-Saharan African.

Vivax is a variety of a so-called 'benign' malaria which, while rarely fatal to healthy people, can be unpleasant and if not treated properly can recur for years. It has not developed much resistance to drugs such as chloroquine.

This contrasts to falciparum malaria which can be rapidly fatal; in some cases death can occur as soon as 24 hours after non-specific symptoms. Travellers, unlike the indigenous population, will have no resistance. Chloroquine is not usually effective against this malaria on its own. Combining chloroquine with the anti-malarial, proguanil, used to be enough to overcome resistant strains, but in some world regions even this is ineffective.

Falciparum is found in some border areas of Peru. The recommended regimen is weekly chloroquine and daily proguanil, beginning a week before entering a malaria area and continuing four weeks after leaving. Follow the same regimen in Bolivia. Check your trip with a travel clinic to find the right regimen. No malarial drug is fully effective so take precautions against being bitten.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.


Could you please explain why it is necessary to have medical insurace as well as E111 cover when on holiday in Europe, with particular reference to Spain?

J. Henshall


Julie Philpott of Columbus Travel Insurance explains: The E1 11 medical system entitles British holidaymakers to free or low-cost medical treatment in Europe. Treatment received is the equivalent to the other country's state health care system but there are no common guidelines setting a standard level of service.

Holidaymakers should be extremely cautious about the travel insurance offered by the E1 11 system. The idiosyncrasies and bureaucracy of foreign health-care make the system unworkable in most cases. Medical cover is limited to emergency treatment at state run hospitals only and will not cover the cost of bringing a person home in the unfortunate event of a fatality or serious illness needing care in the UK.

The Department of Health's own leaflet, "Health advice for travellers", acknowledges that the cover provided by the E1 11 is often not sufficient. It states that "travellers are strongly advised to take out full medical insurance to cover the cost of the treatment. Even in countries with which the UK has health-care agreements, you will need a certain amount of insurance".

In Spain in particular, state hospitals are relatively few. In most resorts it is a standard practice to be taken to a private clinic - patients are rarely given the choice when being rushed off for treatment. Even when they are lucky enough to be taken to a state hospital, the patient can still be expected to pay about 40 per cent of all medicines prescribed for their condition.

In addition the E1 11 system deals with health care alone and will not cover loss of luggage and all the other features of standard travel insurance policies.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn