Many people are impressed that we have just been on our second holiday abroad with our 21 month old daughter. Not bad in her short life! Most people think that a holiday in the UK is an easier choice – pack up the car with everything and go.
Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with holidaying in the UK, we are thinking about doing so next year but I just want to tell you all that it is not as difficult as you think if you want to go abroad.
My reason for wanting to leave the UK for my holiday was to guarantee sunshine, simple. This was after a holiday in London when I was pregnant where it continually rained!
Any way, here is my advice:
1. Short Haul/Long Haul – It’s up to you but I would say don’t go on too long a journey unless you really feel you have to. Last year we did 4 hours to Lanzarote, which wasn’t too bad with a baby who wasn’t even crawling yet. This year we chose a 2.5 hour flight, which was enough for a toddler and us in economy class.
2. Self Catering/Hotel – Both can work but I think that self catering offers a bit more with a toddler. Mainly a separate room for them to sleep in and a separate lounge to sit in when your toddler has gone to bed.
3. Accommodation – Choose Toddler Friendly accommodation. After much internet research, I came across Fonte Verde in Boliquieme in the Algarve (www.ultimatealgarve.com). It just made life so much easier. Apart from it being a lovely townhouse over looking a toddler and adult swimming pool, it came with a cot (yes a cot not a travel cot), shutters that made the room truly black for great sleeping, air conditioning, stair gates, baby monitor, high chair, toys, washing machine and line, and pool inflatable toys. You could have requested other things should you have been taking a baby on holiday. All of this just made packing easier and relaxing easier when we got there.
4. Flights – Choosing the right airline can make the difference. Both this year and last, we travelled with Monarch. Unlike a lot of other airlines, you can take both a pushchair and a car seat in the hold for free and your baby/toddler gets 10kg of luggage allowance.
5. Travel Times – Choosing morning flights helped us this year. Yes we had to get up at 3.30am but this was easier for my daughter than an afternoon flight that meant we landed close to her bedtime.
6. In Flight Entertainment – Things that kept my daughter amused during the flight were, eating lunch that we had brought with us, watching cbeebies’ programmes that we had downloaded from iplayer on to an iPad, playing some apps on the iPad (Lego Duplo is a current favourite), a learn to dress doll and a sticker book. We had bought kid friendly earphones, which she was surprisingly happy to wear.
7. Travelling from the airport to your accommodation – Last year we booked a coach transfer. Never again. Waiting for a coach to arrive with a 9 month old near to her bedtime was a nightmare, so this year we instantly decide to hire a car. The townhouse owners recommended a car hire company and when it arrived it came with a child car seat that looked in pretty good condition and securely in place. I have read that some people have hired them but not felt safe using them, so do choose your hire car company carefully, or take your own seat with you.
8. Packing – Pack carefully. It takes a bit of planning but this advance planning makes for an easier holiday. If you forget something, chances are you will be able to purchase it in the airport or in your resort. Most of all pack their favourite toy, it makes a difference. If like us you have a washing machine in your accommodation, you can take less clothes and wash them.
9. Relax and go with the flow – If they do something that you weren’t expecting, don’t worry, your on holiday. Mine decided that her toddler cups were not the thing to drink from any more. She only wanted a glass like us or to drink out of a mineral water bottle. Nothing to get bothered by. We got home today and her toddler cups were fine to drink from once more. Strange but true.
10. Take the grandparents along – If you get on well with your parents or in laws, invite them along. Not only will they jump at the chance of spending lots of time with their grand children but they are a very useful extra pair of hands. My dad came with us on both trips and just having him there to watch our daughter from time to time, and babysit once or twice was just so useful.