So, in case you didn’t notice me banging on about it at every opportunity, last weekend my mum, Nan and I took my three children away to Spain for half term. Although I had been looking forward to a week in the sun, I was also fairly anxious about travelling to a foreign country with all three children.
As it turns out, I need not have worried. I’m not going to try and pretend my three were little angels the entire time, the older two fought and bickered as they do at home a fair amount, but overall the holiday went really well and I definitely feel I could travel with them again (which is a good thing really as we fly out to Santorini in a few months time for our wedding).
Now I know this is a bit of a taboo subject, as some parents don’t like to allow gadgets but I personally think the iPad helped a lot to keep the children distracted on the flight. Make sure you download some films onto it in advance (we had a couple on there from recent DVD purchases which come with the free digital download) and pop it on flight mode once you on board and wahey peace! The kids watched Sing and played on a couple of games on the flight and it was totally stress free.
Pick a Family Friendly Hotel
Ok, so I don’t think I’ve taken my own advice for Santorini as it isn’t a hugely child friendly island to be honest, however, the hotel we stayed at in Spain (Sunset Beach Club) was amazing for families. Not only were there four outdoor pools on site (including two shallow splash pools perfect for young children), there was also an outdoor sheltered play area poolside, which the children loved.
The hotel also provided activities throughout the day and in the evening as well, with many aimed at children. The evening entertainment went on a little late and we did think maybe it could have done with being an hour earlier, but generally we couldn’t fault the programme of events or the upbeat and friendly staff who ran the entertainment.
Cater for Fussy Eaters
Again, a bit taboo, but I would rather have happy children than forcing them to eat something they don’t like so we always had a quick peak at the children’s menu before going into a restaurant.
Being a typically British holiday destination, we generally didn’t have a problem finding something they would enjoy. Carly ended up eating spaghetti and meatballs almost every day of the holiday – but I don’t mind as she absolutely loves it and ate really well.
Consider Self Catering
We generally go for bed and breakfast when on holiday but this time we ended up self catering and to be honest, I’m so glad we did. The children don’t tend to like a cooked breakfast, and continental tends to be a bit hit and miss. Instead we stocked up at the very reasonable supermarket opposite the hotel on things like bread, butter, cereal and Nutella (and the occasional Magdalena cakes – yum) and had breakfast on our balcony overlooking the pools and beach each morning.
Plan Flight Times
As much as I didn’t appreciate an early flight there and back, when it came to flying with children it actually helped to be flying in the early hours. Our flight back left at 6.45am and Carly slept the entire 2 hour flight. I had been worried how Benjamin would cope with the flight but he was so chilled out, slept through most of it and even stayed asleep during take off and landing! I do think the fact I was breastfeeding him helped with the flight as if he seemed to get restless that kept him calm, although I’m sure a bottle would also do the trick if you’re not breastfeeding.
Stay in the Shade
This is a no brainer really, but it is so important, especially for babies, to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Most days we would go down to the pool until around 2pm before heading out to explore the local area. This broke the days up a bit and meant the kids never got bored of being in the water.
One day we had planned to stay by the pool longer and Carly actually asked to leave the hotel for a walk. I love that the children enjoy looking around their environment. We headed over to the marina on one day, to a local park and to an amusement park up in the mountains one afternoon.
Buy the Bottle
Ok, so obviously this one isn’t about the kids, but when travelling with three children you sometimes need a big glass of wine to de-stress….
My mum doesn’t drink but my Nan and I do and we soon realised that it was more economical to buy a bottle of wine than a glass each, especially as we were able to take the remainder of the bottle back to our apartment with us.