Why we love to Holiday with our kids!
Part one……..how to cope getting there!!
I don’t know whether it was the glimpse of summer we had a few weeks ago or the fact that I am in the midst of packing all four of us up for our next adventure, but I thought I would write about our experience of going on holiday abroad as a family of four. I often get asked by friends for advice and tips so thought this was a good space to share our experience.
Both my husband and I grew up travelling Europe with our families in our touring caravans and taking short haul flights to Balearic Islands as our annual family holidays. Looking back at our family pictures you would have thought we knew each other back then, they look so similar! And I think both of us having such strong emotional ties to family holidays, we both wanted to recreate the same memories for our girls.
Last year Lucy was 4 and Emily was 18 months old when we booked our holiday to Majorca through Simpson Travel, a holiday company specialising in holiday villas around Europe. We had previously used them the year before and were blown away with their service we couldn’t fault them! And for me, when you fly with a young family it is so comforting to know you will be looked after when you get to your destination. I would describe them as having the service you expect to receive in a hotel complex, but in the comfort of your own private villa!
But before we get into the nitty gritty of the amazing villa, we had to get there! Don’t be fooled, travelling with kids is hard! I don’t know how we ever thought that flying with just Lucy was ever difficult, there was two of us to juggle the resposibility back then, giving the other one time to breathe and collect themselves before being handed back the gauntlet! Travelling with two is a mission (and hats off to all the parents who do it with more than two kids!) For this holiday we invested in a Babyzen YOYO+ pushchair which completely revolutionised our flying experience! This pram folds up into the size of hand luggage and can be taken ONTO the plane with you, which if you have ever travelled with young children you will know that with any other pram you can take it to the gate of the plane, but then it is taken off you and stored with the luggage, which is great while you are in departures………but when you get to the other end you can sometimes find yourself having to walk miles to the baggage reclaim area carrying your child and everything else you had on the plane for what seems like miles. For us it made it so easy to secure Emily into the pram the minute we were off the plane, leaving more hands to cope with hand luggage and keeping Lucy safe!
So once you are through check-in the next hurdle is getting through security! My tip here would be to be ready! This time we had both kids, ourselves, a pram and hand luggage to get through – I know, sounds easy doesn’t it! But no matter what we do it’s always a mission!
#TIP – DON’T WORRY ABOUT TAKING FOOD/DRINKS/MILK FOR BABY/TODDLER THROUGH SECURITY – I really worried about this the first time I flew with kids. The restrictions are there for a very good reason. But if you have drinks, milk or food for the baby/toddler, simply hand them over the security team (the people near the scanners when you get your tray). They place them all in a special machine and always quickly find you and hand it back. And they are always very nice about it too!
Once threw security you have the long wait before you are called for your flight! We always try and keep our kids awake, optimise any chance of sleep on the plane! It may be hard – but trust me, so much easier to control a tired grumpy child in the departure lounge than a confined space on a plane! So first thing we do is go and eat! If the plan works and they do fall asleep on the flight – they won’t miss out on a meal! I also try and choose a few things for them to have in the airport and keep other entertainment held back for the flight. I recently heard a friend say that she packs something to hand out every hour of the journey – which I thought was quite a good plan and something I may try on our next holiday! Just remember to go with the flow, nothing ever goes to plan, everyone gets tired and hungry and bored! But all in all this time the flight went relatively smoothly – it wasn’t as if we kicked back and relaxed, it was constant entertaining with little moments of clam when Lucy would be happy playing on her tablet and Emily slept at the same time! Those little moments were ones we treasured!
#TIP - INVEST IN GOOD LUGGAGE! It doesn't have to be anything expensive or fancy, just good! We were recommended IT Luggage by a number of people so last year we invested in a set from Matalan, but the incredible, life saving thing about them is that they all click together in one long caterpillar chain so my husband can pull the whole lot together by himself, leaving me free handed to handle the kids!
Once we arrived at Palma airport and got through customs there was a Simpson Travel Rep waiting for us in arrivals. They help you with your luggage and kids to the car rental and don’t leave you until you are completely happy with everything. It is then a quick game of Tetrus trying to fit the car seats and all the luggage into the car (and you are so thankful you upgraded to a bigger car!) start up the Sat Nav, maps on lap and the adventure begins!
#TIP: PLAN YOUR ROUTE BEFORE YOU GO! Although it is almost a running joke in our family now, my husband always prints off the maps of the route we need to take from airport to our destination and even close ups of the roads nearer the villa. The villas are often privately owned and nestled in the middle of the most beautiful villages and surrounding areas and won’t be obvious from the road. Simpsons Travel also send you written instructions on how to get there too. So do your homework before you leave! Believe me, it saves marriages!
When you arrive you are greeted with a beautiful welcome package often filled with everything you need for the first day – including wine! (And you wonder why we booked with them a second year in a row!) There was pasta, sauce, milk, wine, lots of fresh fruit, bread, jam, biscuits……. Everything to make that first day easier! No mad dash to find the nearest supermarket!
After we had dragged the cases into the villa, run round and claimed rooms, it was time to breathe and take in the views and realise why you go to all the trouble of taking two young children on a plane!
I hope you enjoyed our take on travelling with our kids - make sure to look out for part 2 when I’ll go into more details of our villa and keeping the kids entertained while on holiday and what we loved to do in Majorca!
Simpsons Travel: www.simpsontravel.com
Where we bought our Babyzen YoYo+ Pram: www.naturalbabyshower.co.uk
Matalan IT Luggage: www.matalan.co.uk