We’ve just come to the end of our second family holiday, on a farm near Abergavenny. I’ll be posting more about all of the fun stuff we’ve been up to!
However, any parent will know that a family holiday can be a bit of a logistical nightmare if you don’t prepare well. So, here are my tips for preparing for a holiday to make it as stress free as possible so that you can focus on all the fun!
1. If you’re travelling by coach or train or any other kind of transport except your own car, book as far in advance as possible. Firstly, it’s then sorted and you don’t have to worry about it. Secondly, it spreads the cost of your holiday a bit. Thirdly, it’s cheaper the earlier you books, unless you’re the spontaneous, live-on-the-edge type and you’re happy to book a last minute ticket, I hear this can also be cheaper, although I’ve never tried it myself.
2. If you are travelling by train, as we did, or by coach, as we have before, simply the excitement of being on the way to their holiday destination is going to keep your child occupied for all of ten minutes. Then there’ll be another few hours potentially of bored whining and the age-old ‘Are we there yet?’ repeated until everyone feels like they’re turning into the Hulk. I advise bringing snacks, a drink (although make sure that’s it’s not all gulped down at once as you’ll want to avoid using the onboard toilets if you possibly can – small children attempting to walk/run/skip and moving vehicles don’t mix well) and stuff for them to do. Think it through well though. Don’t bring books and chocolate if you’re child is likely to get travel sickness. Oh and even if you’re child doesn’t usually suffer with travel sickness, pack a set of spare clothes, some nappy sacks or other small bags and wet wipes.
3. Plan your packing and make use of your local launderette. We have no tumble drier and usually rely on the British weather or our radiators to dry our clothes. However, on that basis I do laundry almost every day. Needing a week’s worth of clothes ready, which of course is actually two weeks worth of clothes for Pip who could well cover herself in mud/food/some other staining contaminant at least once a day, is tricky. Especially when one remembers that there’ll need to still be clothes left for the day you arrive back home, tired and not really in the mood to immediately start a load of washing. So I pop to my local launderette, maybe to using their gigantic washing machines but definitely to use their tumble driers. As an added bonus, using the launderette is a great way to claim you’re doing a chore, when in fact you’re reading a book and occasionally checking the clothes for dryness before popping a coin in the machine.
4. Let your child pick a toy to take with them. Going on holiday is fun, exciting and wonderful for a child. But it might be good to have something recognisable and comforting. While Pip has never had a comfort blanket or toy, she has always had a favourite toy, although it has changed a few times. The latest is her bear, from Build a Bear Workshop, called Clara.
5. Don’t plan too much. I made a huge mistake on our Butlins holiday a couple of years ago by planning out every moment of our time. Then, pretty stupidly, it seemed frustrating to me when Pip wanted to spend hours and hours in the toddlers’ fairground when I’d planned out other things to be doing. It was the third day of our trip before I realised that if she’s having a good time then I should just be happy about that. This time, we had an idea of what we were doing but were much more led by how everyone felt at the time.
6. Don’t rely on a weather forecast. Take sun cream, waterproofs & wellies, warm clothes and lighter clothes that could be layered up. You don’t want to be stuck indoors because you weren’t prepared for a shower or because your child’s going to get burnt without the protection you forgot to bring.
7. Make it a learning experience. Even if you’re staying in your home country, you’re going somewhere new and that should be taken full advantage of. There are always new and exciting places to see and learn about – these could be wildlife habitats or museums or historical places. Show your children that learning can be so much fun!
I hope these tips are helpful and make your next holiday a bit simpler and more enjoyable!