5 Brilliant Reasons to Travel in Peak Season (if you have kids)

Ok, ok I know this is a bit controversial. Why on earth would you choose to travel to a popular destination at the same time as the world and his wife? And (worse still) their feral kids? With the entry of Thing 1 in to mainstream education last year we resigned ourselves to restricting travel to (mainly!) school holiday dates. This means higher priced flights and accommodation. It means crowded resorts and long, long queues at the popular tourist attractions.

BUT

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Our hotel in Ras Al Khaima had 7 swimming pools!

Which is Better – Villa or Hotel?

I’ve had 4 or 5 people message me recently and ask about my thoughts on which is better – villa or hotel?

The short answer is that I don’t really know and I think it depends a lot on you as a family, if you are travelling with other people and where you are going. That being said, the following list might help you when making your decision if you bear the various factors in mind: Read more

Explorers

7 Tips to Limiting Weight Gain on Holiday

How easy is it to go on holiday and gain those pounds as you over eat, eat out and maybe have a tipple or 2 (or 3). I’ve definitely had ups and downs weight-wise this year and the holidays have not been kind to my waistline!

Jen from Just Average Jen is quite the inspiration having lost over 10 stone (that’s 140 pounds or 63 kilos if you operate in those metrics) including while she was on holiday. Just check out her phenomenal before and after pictures here:

 

What an inspiration!
What an inspiration!

I’m so thrilled that she agreed to write this guest post for me: 7 Tips to Limiting Weight Gain on Holiday – all about how to make more sensible decisions while you are away. I really love the last tip about how sunscreen can help you lose weight!

So without further ado….here she is:

 

Holidays are all about indulgence aren’t they? Whilst we want to enjoy our holiday though we don’t really want to come home a stone heavier and unable to do up our jeans do we?! Here are my top tips for staying as healthy as you can on holiday!

1. Start the day well

Do you need a fry up every day or could you have some fruit to start the day? Making the choice of fruit will make such a difference and if you are abroad the choice may be different to what you would have at home.

2. Explore new places on holiday

Don’t just stay in the resort when there is so much to see, have a walk to see what is nearby and burn off some calories in the meantime!

Explorers
Explorers

3. Stay hydrated

If you are somewhere hot it is easy to drink more alcohol than you normally would just because you are thirsty, take a bottle of water everywhere with you and stay hydrated.

4. Self catering

If you have a self catering apartment make the meals you eat there fun but healthy, that way you can enjoy your meals out whilst knowing it is a treat and you have been making healthy choices too.

5. Smart Ordering

When you order meals make sure you have vegetables or salad with them. This way you will partly fill up on low calorie items and still enjoy the pizza or kebab you are having!

6. Keep Moving

If you are near the beach or have a pool do plenty of swimming, even if like me you can’t swim just walking around in the water, playing piggy in the middle with a beach ball or similar is great exercise without even realising it!

Always active
Always active

7. Avoid The Burn

Use plenty of sunscreen, whilst this doesn’t sound like something that would stop you gaining too much weight on holiday it will keep you healthy and just think, if you get sun burnt you will feel sorry for yourself if you’re anything like me and then eat more! So in a round-about way it is actually going to help you keep a healthy weight!

Living Proof

Whilst I am no expert by any means I have lost over ten stone by eating healthily and even lost weight on a 2 week holiday to Majorca! My motto is very much that you should enjoy your life and never deprive yourself unnecessarily.

Bikini ready!
Bikini ready!

Follow Jen

My Blog, Just Average Jen, is about my weight loss, my journey trying to stay slim, happy and healthy including my relatable tales of when depression gets in the way and I comfort eat! We are all only human but if we want to be healthy and lose weight then we can.

You can find Jen over on her blog and on social media using the links below. 

www.justaveragejen.com

www.facebook.com/justaveragejen

www.twitter.com/justaveragejen

www.instagram.com/justaveragejen

www.pinterest.com/justaveragejen1

www.youtube.com/c/justaveragejen

Bags All Packed!

How to prepare kids for travel

Do you know how to prepare kids for travel? Do you bother? We’ve just told the Things about an impromptu trip we are taking in 3 weeks’ time. I say impromptu, I mean Mr Wanderlust and I have been talking about it for weeks but it was only this week that we finally pulled the trigger and agreed on destination, dates (within the confines of half term dates) and hotel.

Mr Wanderlust are beyond excited to go to…..THE MALDIVES!!!! I couldn’t believe how they just nonchalantly agreed that a trip would be exciting. There’s no worry or anxiety for any of us. Let me tell you, we have come A LONG WAY. (And this is clearly going to bite my in the backside – prepare for a post in 3 weeks about our DISASTROUS trip lol).

Do you need to prepare your kids ahead of a trip?

It got me thinking though… We’ve done our fair share of travelling with the Things and we’ve had some great experiences and some not so great experiences. While not a guarantee of a good holiday or well behaved Things, I do find our Things have a tendency to misbehave more when they feel unprepared or don’t understand what is going on. We are so good at preparing ourselves for travel. Are we any good at preparing them?!

 

A Moment of Calm in a Stressful Holiday
A Moment of Calm in a Stressful Holiday

Are Holidays Stressful for Things?

On the one hand you look at a holiday and wonder what could possibly make kids want to misbehave. I mean you’re on holiday! Both parents are going to be around when they aren’t usually. There’s no school with its rushed mornings, homework and after school activities. You’re doing (hopefully!) fun things and eating out more… What’s not to love?!

Of course, when I take a step back, it stands to reason that a holiday could invoke anxiety in our Things. We are taking them out of the security and safety of the family home. They aren’t sleeping in their own beds and they don’t have their usual toys around them. They are out of their familiar routines and away from their friends. The concept of holidays is still something that is quite new for them. A holiday probably doesn’t yet have that connotation of ultimate relaxation that we associate them. That’s all pretty scary stuff for a Thing.

Holidays Are Filled With New Experiences
Holidays Are Filled With New Experiences

What can we do?

I mean its not like there is a formula or anything… but here are a few things you can do to prepare kids for travel. Its important to remember that all Things are different so please take all this with a pinch of salt and adjust it according to your Thing’s needs, age, emotional development, etc.

1. Pre Travel

Telling them about the trip

Some Things need lots of preparation. Some like to look forward to the adventure. More anxious children might not benefit from lots of advance warning as it will give them time to worry. Babies obviously don’t need any notice at all. Teenagers might need more time to organise their homework schedules or social calendars. In general, at some point you need to tell your Things about where you are going and when. For babies and toddlers this might be a day or 2 before. For older kids maybe a week to a month is enough. For teenagers you’ll probably talk to them about it at the time of booking.

Preparing for the trip

If you haven’t done much travelling with your Things before, you might want to read books about going on a plane / train / coach / car journey. its also good to talk about what happens (even in step by step terms) about the trip. For smaller children it can be fun to read books about journeys and about where you are going. Or you could look at photos online so they know what to expect. You can talk to them about the activities that you are planning for your time away.

As our Things have grown a bit older we have started to talk to them a bit more about where we are going. We talk about the culture as well as the language that they speak there. It made me smile every time they said “terima kasih” (thank you) in Bali and how whoever we spoke to would smile and say “sama sama” (you’re welcome) in return.

2. 72 – 24 Hours Before

Packing

If you have a baby then prepare yourself to pack an unprecedented amount of clothes and equipment. Depending on their age and their interest in their clothes, involve your Things in the packing. Thing 1 (at age 5) could not care less what I pack for him, even now. Thing 2, on the other hand, was once furious to discover I’d packed some clothes that she apparently hated and left other things at home. I now involve both of them but this means no advance packing as it makes them think we are leaving imminently. There are only so many times I can answer the “are we going on holiday now?” question lol.

We also now ask the Things to pack their own carry on which includes their iPads and any toys that they want to bring. We have learned the hard way that this activity needs to be supervised closely and all items will require a negotiation!

Bags All Packed!
Bags All Packed!

If you need some tips on packing you can find my top 7 here.

Behaviour

If you think your Things are old enough to understand a conversation then discussing how to behave on a plane or train is definitely worthwhile. Here are some talking points:

  • Talk about the fact that there may be lots of people around and it is important to stay together. Talk about who your Things could ask for help if they get separated from you and what they should do.
  • Discuss the difference between inside and outside voices. Consider how other people might not want to hear them shouting or talking loudly.
  • Explain how certain behaviours are not acceptable. For example seat kicking, running, shouting, keeping things out of the aisle.
  • Talk about rules on the plane. Example include the requirement to wear seatbelt and to have the window shade up for take-off and landing.

3. On the Day

Reiterate the behaviour discussions that you have had previously and discuss the stages of the journey again. Talk about the next stage of the journey as you’re completing the previous one so your Things know what’s happening next. You may want to have something such as a treat or small toy to mark the transitions between stages of the journey and to alleviate boredom. If there is anywhere to play (some airports have playgrounds) or just to have a run around to burn off some steam that can also help.

4. During the Vacation

When they were little we tended to focus more on routines to help them but as they get older they need a bit more. Even now, we tend to focus lots on the journey and not so much on the activities we do while we are away. The reality is that they still like to know what is going to happen and what we’ll be doing. Now that they’re older this is more of a family discussion rather than a decision made just by us. If you can talk to them about what they’d like to do (and will be able to do it!) then that helps them feel they have some control over what’s happening to them day by day.

When we were in Italy over the summer, there were times when we didn’t decide what we were doing until the day itself or, at the very least, the night before after the Things were in bed. In future I think I will talk to them about the fact that we haven’t decided what we are doing yet so that they understand there isn’t some big plan that they aren’t part of.

5. Departures

It can be quite the shock to a Thing to find out that this holiday is suddenly coming to an end. We try to prepare our Things a day or 2 in advance that we will be moving on. Over the summer this was all quite complicated – staying in 4 places with 3 different groups of people…

We tried to keep it simple. We were pretty good at telling them that we were leaving and going on another plane. We even told them about the next group of people that we would be seeing in the next place. We took it for granted that they would conclude that that meant we would be saying goodbye to the people we were with at the time. It came as quite the shock to them to say goodbye: Both asked a couple of times where those people were and if they were coming on to the next place with us!

Saying Hello and Goodbye Can Get Confusing
Saying Hello and Goodbye Can Get Confusing

Lessons For Me – COMMUNICATE!

My biggest lessons learned have actually crystallised as I have been writing this post. All the things that I take for granted about travelling are things that I know because I’ve learnt them over the years or are things that I know because I have done all the planning for the trip. There’s often no way that the Things can know what I know! So it is unfair to expect them to be prepared if I haven’t let them in on the plans.

When you're a parent you don't go on vacation. You just take care of your kids in a different location.

Travelling with sick kids – what to do?

So I’ve had a few conversations with people recently about nightmares of travelling with sick kids. I know people who have had to postpone departures for it. “What do you do?” a friend asked me. “Do you just take them anyway or do you stay at home?” Another friend recounted the horrific tale of losing their security deposit after the kids threw up all over a hotel room in Muscat for an entire weekend. I know people who have had scares in far flung places. They’ve had to navigate the health system of a foreign country in a foreign language. Sometimes they’ve been delayed returning home.

We’ve had our fair share of bad experiences…

Travelling with sick kids is no fun. We ourselves have had our fair share of holiday illnesses and injuries:

  • Thing 1 fell and smashed his chin on a diving board in Greece last year not once but twice.
  • That same summer his sister managed to fall over and cut her eyebrow open.
  • Thing 1 also got ill in Italy with a terrible temperature 4 years ago. We were told off by an Italian doctor for not going straight to see them as soon as he spiked a fever. I felt like the world’s worst mummy that day!
  • Thing 2 had a fever for 3 days this summer in Sorrento. In a separate incident in Sicily, she spent a night vomiting (luckily it was a short lived bug and didn’t spread).
  • Oh… and Thing 1 got bitten by a spider (we think) in Miami once. He had a shocking temperature for 48 hours before we got on a transatlantic flight.

It’s not just us… is it?!!

Casting around for comfort that I’m not the only one travelling with sick kids, I discovered the following from my followers and fellow bloggers:

“Elijah cut his head open falling off a climbing frame in Cyprus, his sun glasses cut into his eyebrow 😕 ….. We ended up at a terrifying stitch em up and shove them out medical centre which resulted in a traumatised 4 year old and the crappest stitches you’ve ever seen . He was so scared they threatened to remove me from the room and have security hold him down to get stitches 😡😡.”

“We were in paradise with a wonderful old friend for a long weekend, staying on the beach and Mia had flu. The beach is the worst place to be with flu: wind, sun, all combining to make it very uncomfortable ” – Cecilia

“We went on our very first family holiday this April when Willow was just 15 months old. She didn’t eat for most of the week we were away and had the most horrendous cold, struggling with her breathing and a yucky snotty nose. We went to see a night time pharmacist who prescribed her medicine and we just made do. As soon as we came home, she seemed like her old self again, eating and drinking properly.” – Tattooed Tea Lady

My daughter got sick over Thanksgiving because her cousin was sick. I didn’t really care because I’d rather see them on a big holiday and deal with the aftermath than miss that time with them. Anything other than a big event would upset me.”Home Makers Journal 

“When our son was almost 18 months old we went to Lanzarote for our second family sun holiday. It started off brilliantly but on day 5, two days before we were due to fly home, he came out in chicken pox. We were grounded for an extra 3 days and couldn’t leave our room until he got the fit-to-fly cert. Thank the Lord for travel insurance and available rooms in our hotel. I wrote all about it in our Holiday Diaries. It wasn’t the best end to a holiday!” – Battle Mum

“We’re currently in Spain and have had a very grumpy toddler. She’s had prickly heat and has cried for days over the heat. Wouldn’t sleep or eat.We’ve been keeping her cool inside and even ventured to a Spanish pharmacy to get some calpol to see if it would help. It’s not been the most relaxing holiday but she is feeling a lot better now!”Little Bargain Hunter

“It seems whenever we go away, one of our children is sick. We stayed in a gorgeous Welsh pub this year and my youngest just could not stop being sick! I stayed in the room with him and watched out of the window as my husband enjoyed a pint in the beer garden whilst our other two children played. I was VERY jealous! But Jack wanted his mam so I drew the short straw.” – North East Family Fun

Are we scarred for life?

Well… I mean this metaphorically haha. Clearly from the above stories, there are some literal scars too including one each for Things 1 and 2. I know people who won’t travel far because they are traumatised from experiences. For the most part, though, you all told me that you are still travelling far and wide.

Lessons learned

“So what have I learned? Carry a proper med kit with me including butterfly stitches. They would have done a better job than the stitches and Elijah wouldn’t have such a terrible scar on his head . Poor boy.” – Sarah

I’d definitely recommend travelling with a first aid and medical kit. Almost unanimously everyone who has experienced travelling with sick kids recommended taking Calpol (kids acetaminophen for those non-Brits among us) and kids neurofen with them. I even suggest taking some on the plane with you to avoid problems when flying. I just know that the day I forget it will be the day we have a sick kid on an aeroplane. Anna even came up with the brilliant idea of buying it on the other side of security at the airport to save her relying on translations of the equivalent. I’d add that flavours can vary between countries – we found out the hard way, Having medication with you that you know your Thing will take is a massive bonus. No-one needs to be force feeding medication to a sick kid.

What else should I take with me?

I feel a follow up to this post should definitely be a first aid and medical kit. In the meantime Laura at Life with Baby Kicks has compiled her must have essentials. If they don’t work, it’s best to make sure you have  adequate travel insurance to make sure you get appropriate medical help.

When you're a parent you don't go on vacation. You just take care of your kids in a different location.
When you’re a parent you don’t go on vacation. You just take care of your kids in a different location.

Want to know how I avoid taking the kitchen sink with me on a trip? Check out my top 7 packing tips!

Fussy eater meme

15 helpful tips for travelling with picky eaters

So after the success of my Facebook post asking for help with our 6 picky Things in Sicily, I wrote a post with my Top 5 Meals for Picky Eaters which also went down really well – yay! And then I thought I should really write a post with tips on how to travel with picky eaters, not just how to feed them food that you know they will eat (although obviously I hope that’s helpful too!).

DISCLAIMER – these are not fail safe methods. Every single one has worked for me at one point or another but they’ve all backfired on me too… Read more

Top 5 Meals For Travelling With Picky Eaters

I asked a question recently on my Facebook page about what to do with picky eaters on holiday. Let me set the scene for you: We had 6 Things on this part of the vacation, all with their own little quirks and preferences. I’ll be honest with you, mine drive me bonkers at the best of times – one will eat scrambled eggs, the other won’t. One will eat baked beans, the other won’t. One will eat ravioli, the other won’t. One will eat salmon…. you get the picture. Read more

10 ways to take amazing holiday photos!

This is a guest post from Rebecca Allen of Becca Allen Photography on taking great holiday photos. 

I was so happy when Emma asked me to share some suggestions for beautifully capturing your holiday moments! I am committed to documenting the everyday moments for our family and I love the fun I’m able to take photos when my kids are home from school and we’re spending more time together.

Whether you’re having an adventure-packed, see-the-world kind of holiday or an easy breezy few months at home, you’re making history and memories that deserve to be documented so you and yours can relive and enjoy them for years to come! We are only given 18 summers with our children and gosh – 18 is not a lot!

Give some of these tips a shot and see how beautiful your holiday can look in photos!

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Facebook Worthy Holidays 

A post by another blogger and some comments from friends got me thinking: the blogger asked about the other side of holidays – the bits that we don’t show on Facebook.

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