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

Wimbledon

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.

BITE-SIZED ADVICE

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

Dublin

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.

WHAT IS THE LOGIC BEHIND MEDICAL INSURANCE?

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

Pembrokeshire

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

News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
scienceHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Voices
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
and  

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

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried