My first holiday with a baby was a big shock. We hadn’t planned anything more adventurous than a week of sun and sand in Sharm el Sheikh but I’d been excited about it for weeks. It wasn’t until we actually got there that it dawned on me that despite being on holiday, I still had a baby to look after. There would be no long lie-ins or hours of sunbathing. No afternoons spent snorkelling or evenings in a beach bar drinking cocktails.
It can be hard not to feel wistful when you look back at your holidays before having children. The days spent lying on a sun lounger reading 500-page books; the hours in museums one day, flitting between cafés and shops on the next. Holidays now I’ve got two children couldn’t be more different although I still refuse to travel without at least four chunky novels in my suitcase. I’m lucky if I finish one. I’ll lie on my sun lounger for five minutes before being interrupted with cries of “I’m hungry!” (But you’ve only just had breakfast!), “I need the loo!” (and it takes 10 minutes to strip them out of the all-in-one sunsuit that seemed like such a good idea in the shop), “I’ve got nothing to do!”, “I’m too hot!” and “I need help building my sandcastle.”
And then there’s the hourly application of suncream, the constant checks that they’re not drowning in the pool or the sea. You get back to your sun lounger for another few minutes and then war breaks out over the inflatable crocodile you bought to entertain them while you got on with the latest Hilary Mantel…
I sometimes wonder why I ever go on holiday with my children.
But then I remember that fantastic boat trip and picnic on a deserted beach when we pretended we were the Swiss Family Robinson; the times when all four of us splash about in the sea; and the evening meal when we all dug into a table of mezze, watched the sun set over the harbour and had a discussion about who was the better villain, Voldemort or Darth Vader?
Going on holiday with your children is a lot more fun than going alone. You know how Christmas loses some of its magic as you get older and it’s not until you have children that it becomes special again? It’s the same with travelling. You see the thrill and excitement through their eyes, whether it’s going on a plane, jumping over big waves, eating octopus for the first time or climbing to the top of a castle.
Family travel is not just about a summer holiday on the beach. It’s about walking a stretch of the South West Coastal Path with the dog. It’s about eating fish and chips on a rainy beach in Suffolk or dressing up as a knight at Dover Castle. It’s about seeing the Van Goghs in The National Gallery or watching a flamenco show in Seville. But most of all it’s about having fun and discovering something new.
Suitcases and Sandcastles is here to inspire and entertain you. I’ll be telling you about all the places we’ve been – the good and the bad bits – and sharing my tips for stress-free family holidays. I’ll be coming up with ideas for great trips whether you’re looking for a safari in Botswana, a beach holiday in Greece, want to know the most child-friendly museums in Paris or fancy a day out in a UK castle.
I’ll also be writing about books. Books to take on holiday for both the kids and the grown-ups. Books that take you travelling even while you’re stuck at home and books to get your children excited about reading. Stay awhile. I hope you enjoy it.
I’m linking this post up with the ‘My First Blog Post’ link-up with A Green and Rosie Life
COMING UP NEXT: The Dos and Don’ts of Travelling with Children