My Top Tips For A Successful Family Holiday
Over the years we’ve had some very successful family holidays…and one or two not so much.
Any holiday, not just a family one, always has the potential to be a bit of a disaster.
I can recall two other really bad holidays that included snakes, robberies, a break up with a boyfriend, wasps everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and a toilet that flushed by itself 24/7. Constantly. For a week.
But when there’s kids in the equation, the scope for stress increases somewhat!
Our recent three day trip to Majorca was every bit the success and part of that was, I strongly believe, down to it being an impulsive one. More on that theory here if you missed it.
Stress free, happy holiday
memories…for the most part!
Having travelled with H since she was eighteen months old, we’ve definitely learned a few things along the way that help to make our family holiday memories happy and stress free ones.
Maybe with the exception of our first trip abroad with her when the airline assured me they’d placed our pushchair in the plane hold but had actually left it behind. Which we discovered at 11.30pm at night in Majorca as we watched the baggage carousel go around and around…empty.
And lets not forget when H went down with Swine Flu aged five whilst we were staying at a rented apartment in Spain. Never before have I wanted so badly to get an early flight home to be secure in the knowledge that healthcare in the form of the NHS is right there to hand.
But onto some ways that can help to stress proof a family holiday…accompanied by some recent postcards from Majorca.
This is purely our personal list of the things we value in a holiday, the must-do’s…and the non-negotiable’s.
7.00am airport check in!
Take The Easy Route
Making the journey as easy as possible when travelling with kids of any age ensures that things get off to the best start.
For us that means trying to avoid hideous’o’clock flights that require you to pluck your sleeping child from it’s bed in the middle of the night.
And if the flight is one that requires an early morning check in, we’ve learnt the easiest way is to book a Sleep Park Fly deal with Premier Inn and travel up the day before. Bye Bye M3 and M25 stress!
We’ve learnt to set expectations up front with H to ensure that we all get to do something that’s considered a treat.
For her that means as much pool time as possible, preferably jumping on Mr OS’s head and ducking him for the umpteenth time. Beach paddles, investigating local wildlife and ice creams come pretty high up the list too.
For us this time it was finding a shady spot in the town square to sample the local coffee and ensaïmadas. And on the last day, a stop in to Son Brull Hotel for a cooling, large (Hello European measures!), gin & tonic in the shade.
We each have to compromise to achieve the things that maybe the other one isn’t quite so keen on.
Setting the expectations ahead of the holiday, and sometimes resetting them whilst away, with a family chat seems to work for us. Most of the time.
Pairing back on my own packing
What’s that you say? Minimal packing? From you, the style blogger??
But, unless I’m taking work with me meaning I have to bring outfits to shoot for brands, I prefer to pair it right back on holiday and practically live in the same easy to wear pieces.
Maybe its the antithesis of normal work but the thought of not having to give headspace to which accessories go with which outfit feels refreshing.
Thats not to say I don’t care about how I look or dress in a bin liner all week but comfort, easy luxe and simplicity are my holiday watch words.
Relax The Rules A Little
Holidays mean relaxed rules for everyone as far as we’re concerned.
Bed times for H get a little later. If she wants extra time on the iPad in the shade (anything to keep her fair skin out of the sun!), then so be it.
If we want to be a little lazy and just chill out with no agenda then we will. When else in life do you get the chance for that?
I’m aware that all too soon will be a time when she no longer wants or has to come on holiday with us. Where are the years going?
At least no hard and fast one. Flexibility is key.
We don’t ever try and cram too much in to a holiday, especially when it comes to a week in the sun. Having realistic expectations of what kids are willing to endure is everything.
Because if there’s too much of what they don’t want to be doing, constant whinging in the midday heat does not a relaxing holiday make!
Been there, done that and have no desire to bring home that T-shirt.
Going It our own way
I think this one comes down to not being tied to an agenda again.
Having time and our own space to really relax in is probably the most important of all the tips for a successful family holiday.
With the odd exception, since having H, we’ve pretty much always gone self-catering. We’ve hired villas via holiday companies and this time around tried our first Airbnb experience.
The beach house in Colonia de Sant Pere was a huge success and we’ll definitely try Airbnb again.
For those that asked about the property whilst we were there, here’s a link!
Summer Holiday Avoidance
After going abroad in May half term this year we’re seriously considering long term avoidance of going anywhere warm in the six week school holiday!
Apart from the obvious usual eye-wateringly expensive flight prices in summer (half term didn’t seem quite as bad), the end of May temperatures, in Majorca at least, felt so much more bearable.
And where we stayed was so peaceful and quiet. Not a holiday hoard crowd in site!
Essentials & Daily Luxuries
Mr OS always laughs at my “just in case” packing. Particularly when it comes to my arsenal of medicines – its safe to say we can blame that one on Swine Flu Gate.
But going abroad with kids means being prepared for most eventualities. Then I can go away relaxed…and my local branch of Boots know they’ve hit their targets this year.
As well as the essentials I love taking a few affordable indulgent luxuries too. A scented candle, beautiful notebook and pen for scribbles and thoughts, a new book or two, a recently purchased zingy shade of lipstick and maybe a new white cotton dress.
What can I say? Current obsession!
Eat In & Out
Our preferred foodie formula on holiday is mixed.
As much as it feels great to dress up a little and go out to eat for a couple of nights, its honestly easier and more relaxed to dine at home when you have kids.
Outdoor eating on holiday is the best be it on a balcony or in the garden. If where we’re staying has a BBQ then Mr OS is one happy grilling guy!
The Family That Plays Together Stays Together
A no brainer really but soaking up the quality time on holiday is key.
I always love the little things…this time it was our nightly Uno tournaments on the balcony. Despite repeatedly losing to both husband and daughter.
Or seeing H tentatively try out her recently acquired Spanish basics on the locals.
Watching kids take in all the subtle lifestyle differences when they travel is a priceless favourite too. One of H’s first (and most used) phrases in Spain some years ago was “Ooh…never seen that before!”
Those will be the family holiday memories I’ll treasure when its back to just the two of us again.
Have you leant any top tips for travelling with your kids?
And where are you off to this summer?