If anyone deserves a holiday, it’s us mums. But before you start fantasising about far-flung locations and chic hotels, remember that with a baby or toddler in tow, you also need to put a lot of thought and planning into the details. That way you can have the calm, relaxing and ah-mazing break you’ve earned
Consider your accommodation
While you may have been happy in shabby-chic hotels or budget B&Bs when you were a couple, now you have a baby, it’s worth thinking about what your accommodation can offer you. ‘Hotels aren’t always the best option when you have a young baby or toddler because they may not have kitchen facilities and some parents worry about a noisy baby keeping up fellow guests,’ says Wendy Shand, director of TotsToTravel.co.uk. ‘Plus, with a hotel, you’re often confined to one room once the children are asleep, so there’s no space for you to relax as a couple.’ Holiday cottages, villas or cabins are quite good as they provide your own enclosed space with facilities, but there are other rooms for the adults to relax in once the baby is asleep.
Spend money in the right areas
When you go on holiday with your children, chances are you’ll spend more time in your accommodation than did before – especially in the evenings. ‘It’s worth spending a bit more on your accommodation because realistically, that’s where you’ll spend a lot of your time,’ says Wendy. ‘You may head to the beach or have a short trip to town, but with young children, it’s best to have a comfortable base to spend most of your time in.’ You’ll probably save money in other areas such as expensive trips out or lots of dinners.
Think about safety
This is especially important if you book quite a bit in advance. ‘If your baby isn’t particularly mobile now, but may be on his feet by the time you leave, looking at whether the swimming pool is gated and if there are stair gates or a busy road nearby,’ says Wendy.
Location, location, location
Yes, everybody dreams of white sand beaches and year-round sunshine, but you can get that without having to take a young baby on a 12 hour flight with layovers and time zone changes. ‘Remember, there are short haul destinations that have a high sunshine count such as the Canary Islands, Southern Spain and France,’ says Wendy.
Make it simple
Aim for the simplest transfer possible. ‘Whether that’s being picked up by your hotel or villa owner, or choosing a car hire company that’s based at the airport, you want to make the transfer process as smooth as possible because you’ll probably be feeling tired and grumpy after your journey,’ says Wendy. ‘And see if you can fly from your local airport, rather than using to a London-based one – the least amount of pre- and post-holiday travel you can do, the better.’
Do no underestimate the power of the beach
So long as you’re careful on the safety front, picking a holiday location near a beach is a great idea because there’s plenty to keep your toddler entertained and space for him to run around while you keep an eye on him. Just remember to keep him well protected and stay out of the sun when it’s at its strongest (11am-4pm).
Pick bite-sized activities
You’re not going to want to drive for hours to reach a tourist hotspot when you’ve got young kids. ‘Simple activities such as a walk to the nearest town to buy a baguette or to the local play area is enough when you have a young toddler,’ says Wendy. ‘The expensive and tiring activities such as theme parks and castles can be held off until your child is a little older.’
Draw up a list of equipment
There is soooo much stuff you need when you have a baby – sterilisers, cots, highchairs. Sometimes it seems like the list is endless, but make one up and you can work out what you really need and what might already available in your holiday accommodation. ‘And if they don’t have a piece of equipment that you think you’ll need such as a potty, it’s always worth asking if they’ll be able to provide it,’ says Wendy.