Two noteworthy outcomes from my recent post about beach holidays with small children and how to not have a totally terrible time.
A surprising amount of people have said that they totally understood.
As one former work colleague succinctly put it, “it’s the same shit in a different location”.
Maybe I should have invited him to do a guest post.
There was even, in these conversations, a discernible sense of relief. Like I’d made them feel better somehow that it’s not just us that find holidays trying sometimes.
Which got me thinking, why don’t we all just be honest and say, “holidays with small kids are really bloody hard sometimes but here’s how to make them at least partially enjoyable”. Allow me…
Actual conversation with my (beloved) sister. We have been planning a holiday together with the boys in September:
Me (excited, optimistic): “so what are you thinking about Croatia? Have you seen anywhere nice?”
Her (cautious, careful): “yeah. About that. So I read your blog post, the one about holidays with children and we were kind of thinking, we, er, we might just go away on our own after all…”
Talk about shooting yourself in the flip-flop.
Can’t say I blame her. Exactly what they should do. But that leaves us back to square one with our summer holiday dilemma.
Where to go, what to do. And most importantly, where to stay.
Choosing your holiday accommodation wisely with small children is paramount. Let me talk you through your key requirements…
If you are going on holiday with small children and sharing a bedroom, a separate living space is a must, be it a terrace or a separate living area. Otherwise you will spend your time post 7pm sitting in the dark, reading a book under your bed covers by the light of your phone. I have done this. Friends have done this. It’s rubbish. That romantic idea you had of road-tripping around the UK staying in B&Bs, having a lovely jolly time, sand on your feet and wind in your hair? It won’t happen.
If you’re on the beach, aim for a sea-view terrace so you can enjoy sunset and a few drinks once the kids are in bed. It’s all very civilised. We lucked out when we stayed at Ammos Hotel in Crete. We had a ground floor sea view room with a little terrace. It was right by the hotel restaurant (it’s a lovely quiet hotel so this wasn’t a problem) and near enough that you almost felt like a normal adult sitting in a Greek taverna, in the evening, on your holiday. Remember those days?
In general, when you’re weighing up accommodation, space is king. The less you are all compressed together for any amount of time, the better.
In the very least you will need a fridge but a kitchenette is even better. We stayed at the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel recently and the rooms had amazing hidden fully-equipped kitchens. No dangerous cupboards or utensils lurking for curious crawlers.
You need to be walking distance to a convenience store and a pharmacy. Extra points awarded for being walking distance to a doctor and more than one restaurant.
We stayed in an amazing B&B last month. It easily satisfied the first two criteria since you got a whole floor to yourself with a fully-equipped kitchen but the location was also perfect; walking distance to all amenities while surrounded by countryside. Tip top. You can read more about our adventures last month here.
Other children. But not too many children.
You want your accommodation to be child-friendly and if it is, the likelihood is that there will be other little people there. This is good. The staff will be experienced and there’ll be other tantrum throwers to draw attention away from yours. Tip the balance and you’re in trouble. Remember, it may not feel like it at times, but this is meant to be your holiday. You’ve saved for this. You’ve earned this. And in your best dreams do holidays involve other peoples’ children (they might not even include your own but that is unavoidable I’m afraid)? Unfortunately this one is a bit of a lottery. Choose your times of travel carefully (i.e. don’t travel in half-term and the school summer holidays until you have to).
What have I missed?
What do you look for when booking your holiday accommodation? Have I made any glaring omissions?
I’m toying with the idea of adding childcare, or a kids club, but should it be a requirement that you can spend some time away from your children when you’re going on a family holiday together, I’m not sure?!
I’ve always liked the idea of a baby-listening service but I’ve never been anywhere that’s had it, who’s tried it? Does it work?
And of course, where should we go on holiday this summer? Where have you stayed which has ticked all our boxes?