Most holidays with the kids are a combination of excitement, fun, worry and stress and if you’re going abroad, there’s lots of extra things to think about! One family who have just returned from their first holiday abroad with the kids are the Mleczec’s from the Aberystwyth area; Emma and Barry and their sons Steffan and Rhys. Emma has decided to share her experience with us and offer some useful tips for parents who are travelling abroad with the kids this summer.
We’ve just returned from our first foreign holiday with the kids. Steffan is 9 and Rhys is 6, and after listening to Steffan begging us “Pleeeeeease can we go to Spain like all my friends”, we decided to give in and plan our first holiday abroad.
We usually go away for a weekend in October to coincide with the kid’s birthdays, either to Legoland or Drayton Manor, but in truth after paying for the tickets, hotel and everything else, it’s easy to spend £500 for a weekend. It’s usually a stressful weekend of rushing around, and not really much of a break or holiday!
I was the one who decided that this year was a good time to go abroad, I spoke to Barry and we decided to work hard to save as much money as we could. Barry and I hadn’t actually been on a foreign holiday since our honeymoon 12 years ago, so we decided to use a travel agent in Aberystwyth and let them arrange it all for us. We decided on Tenerife as it wasn’t too far, it was warm and there were lots of things to do with the kids. The agent booked the flights, hotel and transfers. Easy! I’m sure it is cheaper to do it online, but this was our first big holiday and we wanted it to be stress free from the start!
After weeks of planning, packing and excitement, the big day was finally here and we all jumped in the car and took the two-hour drive to Manchester Airport. This was the most stressful part of the whole holiday for me as I was worried I’d forgotten the passports, the paperwork…and I don’t travel very well! Seeing the boys faces and smiles made it a lot easier and I knew that all the saving and hard work was worth it, and we hadn’t even left Wales yet!
I think that 6 and 9 is a good age to go on a foreign holiday for the first time, as the kids are independent and they can help. Steffan and Rhys love the water and the fact that there was a really nice pool at the hotel was a god send! The sun loungers, buffet and bar were right by the pool too, so I could keep an eye on them and relax at the same time! Heaven!
I felt more relaxed than ever! I was lying there reading my book in the sun, while the kids were in the pool having fun. I literally had hours of peace and quiet every day! As I looked around, it was obvious that the parents with younger kids were having a different experience! They couldn’t relax as the toddlers were running around the place and those with kids in nappies looked stressed the whole time, they were worried that the babies would have a poo in the pool! It looked like really hard work and I felt sorry for them. I know that everyone is different, but holidaying with a baby or young toddler doesn’t look like fun to me!
We had chosen a large hotel complex, the ‘holiday village’, as it had lots of activities for the kids, as well as pool games and night time entertainment in English and Spanish. Steffan and Rhys were happy all day and I loved hearing them practicing their Spanish. Rhys said Hola to the cleaner every morning!
I honestly can’t think of anything negative to say about the holiday. The boys have had so many amazing experiences; flying for the first time, learning about Tenerife and lots of fun in the pool. I’ve also had a real opportunity to relax for the first time in ages and it was so nice getting away from the crazy weekly routine of rushing to and from school and on to football lessons, swimming lessons etc!
This whole experience has taught me that it’s so very important for everyone to have at least one really good break every year, and we’ll certainly be taking the kids abroad again. The only difficult thing is deciding where to go next?
Tips for travelling aroad with the kids for the first time…(also useful for everyone else!)
1 – Create or buy simple games to entertain the kids in the car and aeroplane. Travel games are best like mini chess and puzzles.
2 – Don’t pack too many clothes! If you’re in a hotel with a pool you’ll all be spending most of your time in swimwear!
3 – Pack long sleeved rash vests for the kids – much easier than putting on the sun cream every two minutes!
4 – Don’t spend money on new and posh clothes for yourself – wear what makes you comfortable as you won’t know anyone and you can get away with anything, even short shorts!
5 – Don’t take towels if you’re staying in a hotel as they’ll supply them. Noted for next time.
6 – Invest in good sun cream and after sun.
7 – Buy some cheap cameras for the kids so they can photograph the holiday from their own perspective. Mine took most of their photos on the plane which proves that this was the highlight for both!
8 – Take a few good books to read. Go to your local bookshop and they will help you choose.
9 – As you try to decide where to go, think about what you want to get out of it. Our priority was ensuring the kids had a good time and that we could relax, so a holiday in a resort hotel with entertainment for the kids was perfect for us.
10 – Ask the advice of the reps at the hotel. They’ll help you choose where to visit and plan excursions for you.
TOP TIP – Start saving! Saving over a period of time makes it easier and if you manage to save £5 or £20 here and there, it all adds up. My husband was brilliant at saving and it’s worth going without a few treats every month in order to have a holiday that you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. Do it!
Mam Cymru would like to thank Emma Mleczec for sharing her experience and tips with us. We are counting the days until our holiday now!
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru
*Copyright Mam Cymru