Hi I’m Jude Peppis-Clay, 36, from Hampshire. My little boy, TJ is four next month.
Q1. How old was your child when you first went abroad/first staycation?
I took TJ on holiday when he was three-years-old, just the two of us. It was the first time we had been away just the two of us, since my relationship with his dad ended 18 months prior.
Q2. What was the journey like? Be honest good bits and bad bits?
I was really quite stressed about the travel – we chose Menorca because of its short flight and a package holiday with Thomas Cook (!) so transfers to/from the hotel were all arranged for us.
The worst part was holding onto TJ whilst loaded down with bags at the airport/when we arrived/when leaving the hotel! I had a big wheelie suitcase and a massive backpack so handling both of those and ensuring TJ didn’t get lost/squashed/wander off was difficult!
The best bit was the flight, surprisingly enough! My concerns were unfounded as he enjoyed the take off and landing and enjoying playing games on his Kindle during the flight itself! I even got a nap in whilst he was happily entertained!
Q3. What’s this best thing about travelling with kids?
The best bit for us was seeing a holiday through the eyes of a child. Despite the early start, TJ was running around and getting involved in everything from the moment we arrived. He said to me ‘mummy, I love everything about here, this is awesome!” within hours. We stayed up late most evenings to enjoy the evening entertainment – he even made us go back down one evening when we heard the band starting even though we had said an early night was in order. Everything was a first time experience for him from the wonder of the pool being outside to the array of food on offer in the restaurant. It made me appreciate it all more and realise how much we take for granted when on holiday!
Q4. What’s the worst thing about travelling with kids?
Coming home! There’s no way to explain to a young child (or not a child of TJ’s age) that holidays don’t last forever so the post-holiday blues for both of us were REAL!
The travel came with its own stresses in terms of getting to the airport on time (especially for the early morning flight) and also getting to the gate on time. They are, of course, usually pretty long walks from the shops/restaurants so leaving even more time is essential if you don’t want to arrive a sweaty mess with a grumpy toddler!
Q5. What are your must haves in your suitcase?
Snacks! An iPad or similar – which I restricted to only the flights. Headphones to use with iPad or similar. Colouring books – TJ used his loads when we were in the room and I was getting ready in the evening. Insect repellant – for both of you. Books for you – our hotel had a kids club which TJ enjoyed so, even as a single parent, time on my own to relax was a distinct possibility!
Q6. What are your travel plans for the future?
TJ and I had a great time – he’s asked many times to go back on the exact same holiday. Given the ease which comes with a package holiday, I would certainly do the same again and recommend it to other parents – single or otherwise – who want young kids to be entertained alongside some time to relax for themselves too.
Q7. What are you top travel trips?
Leave the schedule at home. Routine can go out of the window for a few days – we did and it all went without a problem.
Remember it’s their holiday too so include time to do things which will make them happy. I asked TJ every morning what he would like to do that day – beach, pool or kids club. Happy kids mean happy parents!
Don’t feel guilty for using a kids club either – TJ asked more than once to go there instead of spending time with me – and i didn’t take it personally (much!) – it just shows that the staff were doing a great job.
Have low expectations for how the journey may go and then, if only small hitches happen, it will be easier to cope with.
Enlist help if you need it, especially if travelling solo with a kid. You’re not proving anything to anyone by taking it all on by yourself if you dont need to. For example, I welcomed an offer from my dad to drive us to and from the airport!
Enjoy it!! We had one of the best weeks of our lives by just going with the flow, which is exactly what holidays are for.
Don’t forget to check out Jude’s blog here.