Time to Embrace your own Inner Child!
Travel gets an undeservedly bad name when it comes to our nippers. But I want to show you that traveling with children can be fun, fun, fun. It’s a chance to chill out, go with the ebb and flow of the Mediterranean tide and re-discover your inner youth.
Here are my 10 best things about travel with kids, and how actually, a small shift in our all too often sensible adult perspective can make those family-oriented holidays an absolute blast:
1) Jet Set Go
Let’s start off with The Biggie. If you are flying, you have to be brave. No more squeezing your husband’s hand during takeoff (or was that just me?) No more hyperventilating into the paper bag when you encounter turbulence. The presence of children on a flight is the fastest way and best distraction to overcome your fears of hurtling through the air in nothing more than a pressurised cabin at 38,000 feet. Sticking pirates and fairies (preferably onto paper, not the seatbacks), colouring giant clowns with googly eyes, and watching episodes of Peppa Pig on re-run might bore you to tears at home on a rainy afternoon. But on a flight with the kids they could fast become your new hobby.
2) Late Nights
If it’s destination Med, take a leaf out of the Southern European’s book: Let them stay up late! Surely that carrot dangle of a lie-in is enough of a tempter? A holiday is no time for fretting that the kids aren’t bathed, sufficiently sleep-induced with milk and in bed by 7.30pm so that you can whizz up a halfhearted pasta dish and eat it on your balcony with a glass of cheap plonk ‘in peace’. This is your kidlets’ holiday too! If you wanted Quality Time With The Hubster, wouldn’t a city break in Paris have been more appropriate? Life in the Med is about the laid back, the late night promenades with The Fam, meals en masse under a velvet sky and full moon, children running around the table and making friends with other children. Embrace the lifestyle. Blend in with the locals. Your offspring will be the happier for it.
3) Attention to detail is heightened
Kids delight in the smallest of pleasures. How many times as an adult have you stopped to marvel at the beauty of a shell washed up on a beach? Or a praying mantis crawling up your table’s parasol as you enjoy your morning coffee? Take a moment to look at nature through a different lens; that of your children.
4) The Freebies
Without wishing to sound anti any shade of hair colour, blonde-tressed children are such a fascination to native Mediterranean folk. As a brunette I used to scour at my younger sister for the free birthday cakes with sparklers she was given when she turned 7 on the island of Kos, and then again at 8 when we were holidaying in Mallorca. My parents however were only too happy to oblige. And if it wasn’t free re-fills of milkshakes after we’d spilled them for the umpteenth time in a row over the artisan lace table cloth, it was complimentary pud and even a free family visit to a water park (okay in return for looking at a timeshare; but we never turned up). You’re always likely to get given more freebies with children in tow.
5) Traveling Light
With so much paraphernalia to remember; the medicines (just in case), the goggles and swimwear, the X number of Factors of sun creams, the baby wipes, the nappies, the formula milk, the pre-prepared pouches of baby food (because of course these don’t exist anywhere near that campsite in the Lake District), you actually pack lighter. At first glance, this statement doesn’t make any sense. But what I mean is, you pack your own stuff lighter. Gone are the days of having to stress over which pair of kitten heels goes with which dress, which earrings compliment the skinny knit three quarter length cardigan, and which perfume is the most citrusy for day-time usage. Now you just fling what fits into the case, and off you go. Never has travel been so liberating! Packing a million outfits just doesn’t seem important when all you need is a swimsuit, your kids and a smile.
6) Hugs with Mickey!
You finally have the excuse you’ve always been looking for to visit Disneyland Paris!
7) Ice Cream Dream
If your kids are particularly fussy eaters… well shucks, you’re just going to have to visit that mouthwatering Gelateria in the little Tuscan town you have wound up in at lunch time. Only 100 flavours to choose from! Or perhaps you could spare yourself the dilemma by wolfing down one of those 4 scoop monster cones for 8 Euros? And it would be cheaper than the Trattoria next door… Being with your children means you get to indulge a little more in passions you might normally shy away from.
8) New Friends
Children are so accepting of strangers. No, I’m definitely not advocating they go off with the funny looking lady who offers them pink sweets from a paper bag. It’s children making friends with other children I am referring to. As adults we have so much to learn from our Little Ones. They are open, receptive, non-judgmental and kind to their peers, regardless of the language barrier or creed. Play acts as their natural bond. And it’s a beautiful thing to watch your kids splashing about with children of all nationalities in a pool together, especially if it’s your turn to enjoy the all-inclusive’s Cocktail of the Day today because your Other Half is on pool duty…
9) When in Rome
You’ve secretly always wanted your hair braided/portrait painted/caricature created. Somehow, the fact that your teenage daughters want theirs done too by the local artistes fringing Charles Bridge in Prague, well, it just gives you the courage to step outta your comfort zone and get yours done in the half price deal too.
10) Blast From The Past
Children are the perfect justification for re-living holidays past. Take them to Blackpool, Bognor, Benidorm and Brittany. Do the things you did with your parents as children. Go back to the attractions, re-enact the stories. Create your own memories.
You see. I told you it wasn’t all frantic lists, ‘Are we there yets?’ and in-car bickering. Travel with kids is as blissful as you decide to let it be. And I totally forgot about the fun and games of trying to catch your toddler who refuses to let you put sun cream on his neck because its too tickly, the local lad who is making eyes at your twelve year old and riling your husband up something chronic, and the tent neighbours whose Little Darlings keep ‘calling’ for your sons to play football at 8am.