Our Dad columnist Olly Lemon decodes the family holiday
I look back fondly at holdiays spent in Brittany with my parents and my brothers, chasing crabs through rock-pools and building elaborate sand castles. I don’t remember any of the actual accommodation we stayed in, it was just a relentless flow of fun.
Upon questioning, my parents revealed the trials and tribulations they faced on those early Northern France trips: sleepless drives through the night so that my brother and I could snooze in the car, dirty hotels with rickety old cots that might disintegrate if you sneezed, and day-upon-day of endless rain.
Still, that’s for them to remember… And that’s my point. So, just what makes a good holiday with kids?
My wife and I tried a few combinations in our three-and-a-half year parenting career, which have been met with varying degrees of success:
- Rented house in France with extended family (wife’s). Would have been great but the house was about as baby-friendly as a James Bond baddie lair. Within a few minutes of arriving our toddler set the kitchen on fire and we found a newly-shed snake skin in the play room. I was waiting for one of the chairs to spin round to reveal a bald man stroking a cat.
Kid rating: ★★
Parent rating: ★★
- Rented house in Cornwall spend with extended family (mine). Tried it twice. First time ended up with the same type of family tension usually reserved for Monopoly at Christmas, the second worked a charm. The key was for everyone to understand that lots of kids make group activity planning entirely pointless, and to just enjoy whatever chaos ensues.
Kid rating: ★★★
Parent rating: ★★★
- Family resort style hotel in Portugal. I used to frown on resorts. I’d turn my nose up at them in favour of some niche unexplored surfing adventure or fun loaded road-trip. Not anymore. SHOW ME THE RESORT, BABY! Two words for you: day care.
Kid rating: ★★★★★
Parents rating: ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
- Staying with grandparents in the UK. Three words for you: free day care.
Kid rating: ★★★
Parent rating: ★★★★★★★
- Rented villa in Thailand resort. Great on paper, but ended badly. Like, really badly. The resort seemed totally deserted and was, as it turned out, not very clean. In an utterly absurd turn of events, we found a tiger chained to a tree in the garden next to the pool. A FUCKING TIGER. WTF? 5 month olds and tigers don’t mix. On top of that I got some sort of super stomach bug.
Kid rating: ★
Parent rating: ★
Conclusion? Screw any sense of adventure: it’s all about entertaining the kids. Maybe in years to come we can dust off the Lonely Planets and load-up the backpack. But for now it’s nappy bags, printed itineraries and Sophie-the-bloody-Giraffe.
Written by: Olly Lemon.