The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, which can only mean one thing; the summer holidays will be upon us soon.
The word holiday carries an entirely different meaning once you’re a parent. Katie Kirby in her book “Hurrah for Gin” refers to them as “hellidays”, but does that always have to be the case?
There is no denying, holidays with small kids are a VERY different experience to those laid back child-free vacations, but it doesn’t mean that without a bit of preparation, they can’t be a “different” kind of fun too.
If you’re planning a holiday of sun lounging, reading books undisturbed by the pool and drinking the bar dry until the early hours, then a holiday with kids will only disappoint you (or possibly leave you locked up in prison)! Likewise, if you spend your whole holiday comparing it to that kind of holiday, you’re going to be miserable.
Holidaying with small kids is different. Like with many situations that you have limited control over, I believe it’s best to roll with it rather than try to fight it. Or sweet talk some grandparents into babysitting so you can book your own child free escape.
However, most families holiday together and it often results in parents trying to balance time for themselves with entertaining the kids, but where do you draw the line? A hot debate recently resurfaced regarding whether you should EVER leave your child to sleep in a hotel room alone.
We are fortunate in this part of the world that taking kids out well into the evening is not frowned on at all. It is, in fact, supported by events like Summer Nights which allows families to share quality time well into the evening. The debate seems to be mainly a UK issue as culturally, Brits generally do not take small children out at night. Some seem to be of the opinion it is less neglectful to leave their child indoors, or as is the case on holiday, in a hotel room.
The infamous case of Madeleine McCann should be a deterrent enough, but it seems holiday relaxation can cloud rational judgement. Want a night out without your kids on holiday? No problem. Book a hotel that provides a babysitting service! Can’t afford that? Well, I spoke to some local mums to get their best advice on how to have a holiday which caters for everyone!
Flying with kids
Living in Gibraltar, we are lucky to be within driving distance of two, almost three countries (if you’re happy to take a ferry too). You can skip the hassle of airports and enjoy a holiday in Spain, Portugal or Morocco. There is something for every budget from camping sites in Tarifa to all-inclusive hotel complexes along both Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz.
However, if you do choose to fly, local mum Natalia Harrison advises choosing your flights to fit around your children’s nap times, or bedtime if it’s long haul. Equip yourself with phones/tablets and plenty of snacks!
If you’re travelling with an under two, you can make the most of the free flights as did local mum Parys Valverde who flew to Portugal, Thailand, Singapore, UK and Australia amongst others. When taking off, give your baby something to drink to avoid ears popping. If you don’t wish to buy a pricey buggy that fits within hand luggage limits, a baby carrier or sling is incredibly useful and frees up your hands for passport checks.
Where to stay
Camps seem to be divided over where is best to stay. Some plump for all-inclusives or cruises with waterparks/kids club/child-friendly spas. Aside from endless entertainment, another advantage is buffets for every meal which mean even the fussiest eater is catered for.
However, those who prefer to do things according to their own schedule and prefer to avoid the crowds, opt for renting villas, with the advantage of the kids having their own rooms allowing parents the opportunity to relax in the evening without the fear of waking them up. This option is often more pocket-friendly too. Camping is another option which is popular for those planning to holiday with a large group of friends or family.
Holiday with company
Want to bring the party to you? Hire a villa with friends or family! The tots can entertain one another while you get to have a good old chin wag! What’s more, if you holiday with another couple, you could even take it in turns to watch one another’s sprogs allowing each couple a date night.
Want some children’s entertainment with a difference? Then check out one of the many small boutique festivals that take place all over the UK during the summer. Camp Bestival put on plenty to entertain all the family and The Big Feastival is sure to delight any mini budding chefs with the delicious combination of music and good food to keep you rocking all weekend.
Now the pound doesn’t buy quite so many euros, some are opting for a staycation – and why not? We often take local offerings for granted. With six beaches to enjoy, a zoo, dolphin trips, the caves, the tunnels, med steps, SUP boarding, diving, summer nights, the fair – and who could forget the macaques? There is plenty to keep the family entertained on the Rock this summer.
So, there you have it, there really is something for everyone. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t have a holiday that the whole family can enjoy. My final tip: be sure to take plenty of photos, as these experiences are something your family will talk about for years to come.