Holidaying Abroad With Toddlers - The Dream vs. The Reality

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I've been on holiday to Mallorca recently with my family. Free poolside wifi meant that lots of heavily filtered photos of cocktails, sea views and hot dog legs appeared on my social media throughout that particular week - sorry/not sorry etc. The last time Jack went abroad he was 18 months old and it was hellish (he was ill, I was stressed and it rained a lot) but he's three now and I had high hopes for this trip. At three he is old enough to be excited rather than overwhelmed, old enough to be reasoned with or at least bribed into behaving himself at the dinner table but still young enough to fall asleep in his buggy for a few hours during the afternoon leaving us free to soak up the sun and enjoy a sneaky Singapore Sling. In short, everything was going to go perfectly and it would be effing awesome.

Damn you, foolish optimism. Of course I expected the odd tantrum and on the whole he actually coped quite well with the change in routine, the blazing heat and the late nights. But the holiday wasn't without its hitches and further proved to me that no matter how well prepared you think you are going on holiday doing ANYTHING AT ALL with toddlers in tow is a minefield and 100% unpredictable. For anyone travelling with toddlers this summer, here are the idyllic scenarios you'll be dreaming of and the unfortunate realities that you'll probably end up with.


Dream: You will make lists and be organised weeks in advance. Cases will be weighed, electronic devices fully charged and pre-printable boarding passes safely stored alongside passports in your special travel wallet from Paperchase. Hell, you might even have enough time to pop for a quick mani-pedi before the taxi to the airport arrives.

Reality: Forget to buy suncream. Panic in case suncream isn't sold in Spain. Make a frantic, late night dash to Tesco to buy suncream. Spend an obscene amount of money on miniature toiletries and forget suncream. On the morning of departure realise a little too late that you're going to be wearing swimwear with legs that are pricklier than Christmas trees and a bikini line that gives the illusion that a family of spiders are living in your gusset. You're still hacking clumps out of your legs when the taxi pulls up.

The Flight

Dream: Arrive at the airport in plenty of times and avoid queues thanks to checking in online #win. Congratulate self on being super organised. Drink wine. Board the plane. Child promptly falls asleep and stays that way until ten minutes before landing when he wakes up cheerful, refreshed and excited to begin his holiday.

Reality: No time for wine. Child, who has spent the past 2 months telling everyone he meets how excited he is to be going on an areoplane, is suddenly terrified at the prospect of air travel and screams 'WANT TO GET OFF!' repeatedly as you board. Flight is fractious. He wants to run around and can't seem to understand that there is NOWHERE TO RUN IN THE SKY. He finally falls asleep ten minutes before landing and is deeply unhappy when woken and dragged into the blazing Spanish sun.

The Pool

Dream: Child will don his armbands and take to the water like a duck...well, to water. He'll spend the next seven days making poolside buddies and you will supervise from the comfort of your sun lounger while sipping the cocktail of the day.

Reality: Child is scared of the water. He can't comprehend that it's actually OK to get his shorts wet. You spend the whole holiday berating yourself for never taking him to Water Babies. Just as he's gaining confidence and paddling almost up the the knee, a bigger boy splashes him in the face and you have to deal with hysterics as your cocktail of the day goes warm.


Dream: The all-you-can-eat-hotel buffet. A perfect opportunity to enjoy some authentic Spanish cuisine in a relaxed environment. Child will behave impeccably, eat his vegetables and holidaymakers will smile at him over their paella and congratulate you on having such a well behaved child.

Reality: Something akin to feral hysteria takes over child at mealtimes. Eating is not considered. Ice cream is thrown, yoghurt is spooned into glasses of juice, slices of Swiss cheese are posted down the gaps in the table. 'Frere Jacques' is sung. Loudly. You wolf down a plate of chips then remove him from the dining room before the horrified glares of onlookers make you cry. Child lives on a diet of Cheetos and Cornettos for the entire week.

Nights Out

Dream: Enjoy some 5* cabaret entertainment at the hotel before venturing out to a swanky cocktail bar. Child falls asleep in his buggy on the stroll and you spend the evening getting merry on strawberry mojitos while gazing wistfully out to sea ala Kate Winslet in Titanic.

Reality: The hotel entertainment turns out to be a surly, aging Spaniard playing electric keyboard over dinner. You venture out. Child does not fall asleep in buggy. Arrive at swanky cocktail bar. Child still does not fall asleep. Beer mats are thrown. Quickly becomes obvious that non-sleeping, beer mat throwing children are not welcome in swanky cocktail bar. Leave. Within minutes child has fallen asleep in buggy.

General vibe

Dream: Going on holiday with your family is great isn't it? What a perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together. Everyone is happy and laughing, sharing stories and telling jokes. There's a chilled out vibe aaaaaand....parents on holiday = reliable babysitters. Magaluf here we come!

Reality: Bickering begins before take off. By day 3 nobody is talking to one another. You daren't ask your mum to babysit and you're never awake past 11pm anyway. At 28 you accept that you are practically prehistoric and the bright lights of Magaluf are no longer for you.

We all hate each other

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha ha! Been there. Brought the T Shirt! LOVE the photo on the plane. Really really made me laugh! xxx