QUITE a few times recently we’ve been told we’re “brave” for taking young children on holiday – to the point where two friends have actually said they tell other people about us. Is it really that unusual to take your children to different places? It’s not like we’ve been on a round the world trip with them, it just seems normal.
Me and Stew love travelling, and over the years have visited a fair few places. We’ve moved on from our first couple of “pool holidays” abroad, where we would stay in the resort the whole time and take our own PG Tips and Weetabix in case we didn’t like the food. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but since our gap year in 2007 we’ve been keen to move around and see more of the countries we visit.
We didn’t want having children to stop this, but at the same time we don’t want to be dragging them around places they’re not interested in just to satisfy our wanderlust. So how do you reach a compromise? Here are some family holiday ideas to consider…
You might have guessed by now that we love a cruise for so many reasons. Yes it sounds quaint and a bit of an elderly holiday, but honestly it’s not. How else can you see five cities in two weeks while sleeping in the same bed every night? There’s no way we would have visited Russia with a one-year-old on our own!
Port days are busy, fun, and sometimes exhausting, and the days at sea were a chance to chill out – so much so that our toddler Santi didn’t surface from bed until at least 9.30am, which is unheard of at home! There was no need to wake him up from his lie-in, no frantic rushing to get ready for work and nursery, and no strict bedtime routine. Just proper quality family time. During the last fortnight we were away they made us laugh, they made us proud, and of course they drove us mad at times – Ezra mostly with his determinedness not to sleep, and Santi with his “I can do it” attitude.
Last September we had our first taste of a Eurocamp holiday and I fell in love. We stayed in the South of France and hired a car so we could explore some of the region. It was beautiful and really didn’t feel like we were in a resort at all. The little towns around our site were quiet and pretty, and so traditional it felt like we’d stepped back in time.
It was a bit of an experience flying with two children under three, but of course if you head to the north of France you could drive and take a ferry instead. Then you have no luggage restrictions, which would be amazing, and the comfort of your own car when you get there. I don’t think Stew would consider it a highlight, but I still can’t help but laugh when I remember him kangaroo hopping the hire car out of the airport car park in Nice!
This year we’re going back to Eurocamp at the Duinerell site 40 minutes outside Amsterdam. We had planned to stay near Paris and possibly spend a day or two in Disneyland. When it came to actually planning the trip it was a minefield trying to get my head around park tickets and food packages, so we changed our minds and had a look at some other options. Although it’s not somewhere we had originally considered, there are loads of things to do in Amsterdam for children. The Eurocamp parcs have such good pool and sports activities that we’ll get the bonus of a city break and a fun family holiday at the same time.
This particular parc in Duinrell has an amazing looking swimming pool and a theme park on site! There are also pancake houses both on site and in the nearby town, which I can’t wait to try.
We’ve opted not to hire a car this time as it looks fairly easy to get from Amsterdam Schipol to the parc, but I’m hoping to hire bikes and cycle around some of the local towns. I do like to see more of the surrounding area when we go away. We’ll have a cot, high chair, potty, towels etc at our lodge, which really eases your mind when you’re packing … and creates space for lots of lovely outfits!
A staycation is another way of seeing new places without the stress of oversea travel, and there are so many amazing places to stay in the UK. Glamping is a whole new world of holidays to discover, and while we were looking for a yurt in Wales for the boys’ birthdays in June I was tempted by so many other options. I’m now desperate to spend a few nights in a tree house, a converted double decker bus, or in a plane in West Wales that I came across … yes, A PLANE! How awesome would that be?! It’s just amazing how many quirky places there are within a few hours drive, perfect if you just want to go away for a couple of nights.
Finally, not a holiday I’ve done but one I’ve enjoyed reading about on Cardiff Mummy Says, is a gite in France. Cathryn and her family stayed in converted farm houses in the Charente Maritime region. It sounds perfect for a family, and I’ve added it to my list of options for next year’s holiday. It’s so nice to stay in a house where you have your own kitchen facilities and don’t have to rely on eating out. It sounds like there were lots of other families in the same site too, which is fab if your little ones like to make friends on holiday.
*What are your recommendations for a family friendly holiday? Let me know in the comments, or over on my Facebook page