How To Take The Stress Out Of A Family Holiday In An Easy Step

How To Take The Stress Out Of A Family Holiday In An Easy Step

“We need to look into going home early” I said to Mr Wanderlust. I’m not sure exactly how far into our 10 day trip to Kerala we were but I’ll say it was around day 7. I couldn’t believe I was saying it. I’m a travel blogger. To be fair, I wasn’t then, but I was a travel addict and so was he. We had every intention of bringing up the Things with the same addiction. And here I was asking him how to get us home. I felt defeated and miserable. Aren’t holidays supposed to be fun and relaxing? Where was the manual on how to have easy holidays?!

Easy Holidays - Sunset in Thekkady

I would have done pretty much anything if someone had told me how to take the stress out of a family holiday in an easy step.

Beaten

On that holiday, in our infinite wisdom, we had planned to stay at 5 places in 9 days. The driving was chaotic and I was glad we had booked a driver. It took longer than we thought and on the “off” days we still had to drive to see the things we were there to see. Thing 2 was still not a great sleeper and the sleeping arrangements at almost every hotel were suboptimal despite us calling to double check them.

Easy Holidays - The Wanderlust and Wet Wipes family in front of a waterfall in Kerala - around 24 hours before I asked Mr Wanderlust to get us home early

Exhausted yet still smiling

Dramatic?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find holidays pretty hard work with the Things sometimes. Less so now but it can still be pretty tricky at times. When I wrote the post on Kerala it was easy to forget how exhausted we all were. When I wrote the post on Muscat it was easy to forget how feral the Things had been. Refusing to do almost anything we asked and having screaming tantrums… I remember I was at my wits end. And yet with rose-tinted spectacles I recall the fun we had in the resort swimming pools. We played table-tennis in Kerala and saw an old friend in Muscat. We made it to the Grand Mosque in Muscat.

Easy Holidays - the Things and I outside the Grand Mosque in Muscat

A short smiling instant in a traumatic weekend in Muscat

I forgot about the “picnic” in our room that resulted in soup being spilled on the floor and the blow out nappy in the car on the way to Kochin. I forgot that we only made it to the Grand Mosque for 55 minutes before retreating to the safety of our hotel. I do still remember that we do NOT count these among our easy holidays.

It wasn’t that hard was it?

Yes. Yes it was.

What was the alternative?

When Thing 2 was tiny we all went off to an all-inclusive style holiday to Gran Canaria.

Easy Holidays - the Wanderlust family on our first holiday as a four

First family holiday!

I say “style” because in my head all-inclusive involves sipping a few pina coladas. I’d be sipping said pina coladas on a pristine white sandy beach overlooking a sparkling turquoise ocean. This would be after I had been to the spa all day and maybe had a leisurely game of tennis. In the evenings I would stretch out on an enormous bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and sleep for a minimum of 10 hours.

It was not like that

This was not one of those easy holidays. I won’t mention the company because much of what happened next wasn’t their fault but it really wasn’t like that. For a start, we couldn’t afford a luxury all-inclusive holiday so that was the first consideration. And then came all the new aspects of a family holiday that we had to think about.

Mr Wanderlust was adamant that a family holiday needed to include 2 bedrooms. Sharing a room with our little noisy sleepers didn’t sound particularly enjoyable to me either. We opted for a 2-bedroom duplex so we had the options of warming milk and eating in the room if we wanted to. A sitting area would give respite from the middle of the day heat. Sun-loungers outside would allow us to sunbathe during nap-time without being several floors and a long corridor away from the Things.

It was our first family holiday staying in a hotel. I hadn’t realised that all-inclusive in some places means you are held hostage to the restaurant opening times. In this case, they were smack bang over nap-time for lunch and dinner started after my kids’ bedtimes (which are early to be fair but not that early).

Easy Holidays - Thing 1 on the beach in Gran Canaria

Are we in the Canary Islands or the UK?!!!

We weren’t even walking distance to the beach so had to rely on a shuttle bus from the hotel. Between finishing breakfast, nap times and bus timetables it gave us approximately 48.5 minutes to spend there one morning and of course we chose the day that was a bit cloudy and quite windy. Perfect British beach weather but absolutely not what I had had in mind when I imagined our little family outing to the beach.

It wasn’t all bad

Easy Holidays - Thing 2 ready for the pool!

Let’s go swimming!

I’m exaggerating of course.

Both Things had an absolute blast playing in the swimming pools every single day. They liked the kids club and exploring the hotel. Thing 1 got to eat ice cream every night for dessert (after being blackmailed with carrots of course).

Easy Holidays - Thing 1 wrapped in a towel after a long swim

Thing 1 on one of his 100 visits to the pool!

We went in winter so it was amazing to roll out of bed and straight outside with shorts and a t-shirt on. No hats, gloves and coats to worry about!

Easy Holidays - Mr Wanderlust and Thing 2 in the pool

Splish splash!

Thing 1 made friends with the little girl who was staying next door and who was conveniently almost exactly his age (they even went out to dinner together one evening!!!). We made an assault course by putting some of the furniture in the duplex in the garden areas (until we got told off by the staff and had to put it back). Thing 1 and his new friend thought this was TOTALLY brilliant. Thing 1’s friend also had a much more organised mummy and daddy who had come equipped with all manner of stickers and colouring activities which they were happy to share with us.

Mummy and Daddy Wanderlust were bored

I love the idea of an all-inclusive, really I do.

Easy Holidays - Mr and Mrs Wanderlust abseiling off Table Mountain

We could not have been further from lying by the pool on honeymoon!

The reality is that Mr Wanderlust and I are rubbish at sitting by a pool or a beach for a week. I think once we did it for a morning before we had to get up and go exploring or for a swim. Spending a week doing really not very much was pretty unfulfilling for us even in the Maldives after an international expat move! The truth is that easy holidays mean different things to different people (including the Things and us in our family).

Easy Holidays - Picture of a Maldivian beach

Paradise still takes work

A World Away

Now I find myself in a place where easy holidays have become a bit more achievable. Some of that is a function of the Things growing up for sure. Some of it is a function of me becoming more organised. We have learnt loads from our less than perfect holidays and even from the less than perfect moments.

Easy Holidays - Wanderlust family in the Coliseum in Rome

Bring on the adventure!

Now we know to focus more on balance. We know the Things get as bored as we do and we know we want to show them something new – be it a new place or a new activity. We know to prepare them (and ourselves) better.

So what’s the answer?

I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted someone to hand me a magic and show me how to have an easy holiday. In one easy step.

I mean the easiest step to take is just to not go away at all. I was pretty close to doing that after Keralagate and Muscatgate. We could have stopped travelling and just waited until the Things were older. Until it really was easier. (When would that be???)

Easy Holidays - Thing 1 and Thing 2 with their skis in the snow in France

Now adventure runs in the family!

But we didn’t. We persevered and we have absolutely reaped the rewards. The things that they have learnt from our holidays are priceless to us.

Things (in general as well and The Things) have improved immeasurably since then but I wouldn’t say they’re all stress free. Now I want all the convenience of an all-inclusive without the boredom. And (I know this is a #firstworldproblem), I want the adventure of a holiday without us being the ones who have to plan every move we make.

Easy Holidays - Me and the Things having ice-cream in the paddy fields near Ubud

Planning makes a good holiday but it is hard work and time consuming!

A different approach

A new concept holiday was introduced to me a couple of years ago as I complained about the logistics of holiday planning for active kids and travel mad parents. “Have you thought about a Mark Warner holiday?” asked my friend. She explained a bit more and the control freak in me (who actually quite likes to do the planning) decided it wasn’t for us.

Since then a few more friends have been on Mark Warner holidays and the Facebook photos all look epic! The stunning beaches were there and maybe a pina colada or 2 as well. But there’s so much more!

Watersports and other activities like tennis that can be enjoyed by the whole family. ALL INCLUDED. Childcare is available with super fun activities like treasure hunts… I actually think I would be begging my Things to leave the Kids Club to spend time with us! Meal times are offered at actual kid appropriate times and romantic dinners can be enjoyed courtesy of the evening listening service that’s also offered as part of the package.

A range of destinations

Offering sun holidays and ski destinations, Mark Warner Holidays have something for everyone.

Personally, I’m loving the look of their newest destination: Turkey. We really enjoyed Turkey when we went – it’s a super child friendly country with an awesome climate.

But I’m also not that decisive and have massive FOMO (that means Fear Of Missing Out mum). So I’m also pretty taken with their Greek destinations, particularly Lakitira Beach in Kos. Off the back of a great holiday in Greece in 2016, we would jump at the chance to go back.

If you’re more snow than sun, I’ve heard absolutely amazing things about their ski programmes too and wouldn’t hesitate to use them next time we go.

One easy step

So if you’re looking for that proverbial silver bullet… Looks to me like we might just have found it.

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Emma Morrell

11 Comments

  1. 6th March 2018 / 13:41

    The things will never get bored at Mark Warner, we had to beg Joe to spend time with us he had the best holiday ever and came home being able to sail and windsurf, it is incredible for families, best of luck to you all x

    • 7th March 2018 / 09:39

      Yeah I’m pretty sure we will be dragging them out rather than asking them to go in haha

    • 7th March 2018 / 09:39

      Yeah I’m pretty sure we will be dragging them out rather than asking them to go in haha

  2. 8th March 2018 / 15:50

    Love the look of Mark Warner holidays! It’s just not within my price range at the moment… maybe one day 🙂

    • 11th March 2018 / 15:35

      They look amazing don’t they!Definitely one day – aim high xx

  3. 8th March 2018 / 15:56

    I just love your honesty and your blog! You have a wonderful way of telling your travel stories with children. It’s refreshing to read and having travelled with children for 20 years, I can completely understand many of your good and bad points you’ve made. The bad is generally not anything to do with the holiday agents themselves but from the hard work of being a parent! I know now, the memories of both myself and my children of our past holidays bring only happy memories, and that’s what matters 🙂

    • 11th March 2018 / 15:36

      What a lovely message thank you so much! Travelling with kids for 20 years… I feel like you could teach us all a thing or 2. Would you be interested in doing an interview for my readers?

  4. 8th March 2018 / 17:11

    We’ve had a few ‘challenging’ holidays with our kids to say the least, but your far braver than we have been! I agree entertainment for kids and adults a like can make or break a holiday. X

    • 11th March 2018 / 15:37

      Totally true! I’ve come to realise that the challenging times come wherever you are so I’d rather have a tantrumming kid on the beach than in the rain outside the supermarket lol

  5. 9th March 2018 / 18:34

    Making sure the kids have plenty to do really is the only way for parents to also have a bit of a holiday 🙂

    • 11th March 2018 / 15:38

      Always keep them occupied lol! It’s good to have balance and then everyone is happy.

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