Phil and I are keen travellers and our mutual love for exploring the world was a starting point for our first conversations when we ‘met’ online. Our pre children holidays were adventurous, varied and full of spontaneity. Writing whilst on our first holiday as a family of four it’s… Less of those things!
Planning The Holiday
Let’s go on holiday. Where do we fancy? Anywhere.
Right, we need a kids club that accepts children under 3. A flight time of under 5 hours because Toby and confined spaces don’t mix. A 1 bed apartment so that Phil and I don’t have to hang out in the bathroom between the kids’ bedtime and ours. All inclusive so that we don’t have to stress about finding family friendly restaurants. Close enough to a town for things to do but not so close we’re surrounded by hen and stag parties. Somewhere pushchair accessible…
*Searches for weeks for somewhere that ticks the boxes and comes in on budget, then Googles and Trip Advisors it for hours to ensure the reviews match the travel agent description*
- Get to airport
- Check in and dump bags
- Eat and drink at a leisurely pace
- Get on plane
- Decide whether to read, watch a film, listen to music or sleep
- Alternate between all of the above for the duration of the flight
- Get off the plane
- Get to airport and immediately hunt down baby changing facilities to deal with a poosplosion
- Check in and dump bags, keeping hold of the beloved Trunki which has been fallen off of several times en route to the desk
- Eat and drink whilst breastfeeding the baby and blackmailing the toddler to keep him in his seat and Eat.Some.Fricking.Food
- One of you gets on the plane with both children (and the Trunki. Mustn’t forget the Trunki.) whilst the other folds the pushchair and makes sure it’s put on to the plane
- Pick up your book, immediately discard it, stick Peppa Pig on the iPad instead.
- Alternate between episodes of the aforementioned obnoxious little porky brat, walking up and down the plane, apologising to people, trying to ensure the baby’s head isn’t swiped by the hostess trolley during feeds, appeasing demands for chocolate and crackers, retrieving the toddler from the headrest of the seat in front and chatting to exhausted parents
- Get off the plane
Sometimes Phil and I had our accommodation booked in advance and we’d rock up, check in and either explore the area or chill in the room with a glass of fizz. Other times, we would arrive at a destination and wander around until we found a place to stay (we saw quite a bit of Siam Reap in 40 degree heat with heavy backpacks on thanks to this method)
Some of the things we’ve done on our pre children holidays include:
- Getting engaged in the ruins of Angkor Wat
- Zip lining through the Laos jungle 100 metres above ground level
- Sleeping all day
- Getting drunk
- Swimming in natural hot spas
- Exploring Christmas markets care free
- Rock climbing
- Riding quad bikes
- Eating amazing food
The list goes on. But then we’ve also:
- Ended up on a bus to Thailand with human traffickers
- Been bitten half to death by mosquitoes
- Had terrible sickness from dodgy food
- Been harassed by locals in Cambodia
- Nearly ended up homeless on new year’s eve
Some of the things we’ve done on family holidays include:
- Planning everything around naps, food and the midday sun
- Watching the same 5 episodes of Peppa bloody Pig every evening
- Going swimming but spending more time making requests for Toby not to run/splash unsuspecting passers-by/escape to the deep pool than actually swimming
- Eating food in the buffet restaurant that Phil accurately describes as “Wetherspoons in the sun” whilst Toby runs around like a mad head, high on luminous marshmallows
- Fallen asleep on the sofa before 9pm due to the effects of half a shandy
- Spent all our euros on extra kids club sessions
- Making sandcastles on the beach
- Paddling in the sea
- Having an hour in the jacuzzi
- Searching for crabs in rock pools
- Looking at dinosaur trees (AKA cacti)
- The kids’ first experiences of sand
- Watching Toby approach other youngsters make friends with them
- Playing chase together in the playground
- Phil and Toby kicking a football together
Our previous holidays were generally less stressful, more adventurous, involved higher quality dining but sometimes much lower quality accommodation. They were more carefree but also in many ways more dangerous, more adult-centric, more exciting.
But when it comes down to it, Phil and I most certainly are not all inclusive, cheesy entertainment and buffet food lovers, but we are parents and we will make every holiday with Toby and Martha as good for them as it possibly can be.
As they get older and a wider variety of destinations and hotels become accessible to us, we will show our children the world. We want them to experience Disney, rollercoasters, sky scrapers, mountains, wildlife, different languages and cultures and food. Swimming, diving, climbing, trekking, playing, exploring and every activity possible to enrich their lives.
How do your holidays differ as a parent to when you were child free? Have things changed as your kids have gotten older?