Melissa Hoyer has travelled around the world with her son. She tells Family Travel what she has learnt about the experience of travel with kids.
We need to get a few things straight.
It would be heavenly to think a couple or a single parent and a child or children could spend two glorious weeks on a fabulous island somewhere, doing basically nothing. (Remember that holiday you used to have before kids came along?).
But things change, big time, after children. You need to think ahead and ensure there’s enough for kids to do as you attempt that long-awaited holiday ‘rest’.
I remember taking my son on island holiday – just me and him as I am a single mum. While the venue was spectacular, he was still a little bit too young to appreciate the luxe, the glam, the relaxation and the downtime that ‘mum’ wanted and needed.
He got right into windsurfing, snorkelling and swimming but there wasn’t really much for him and I to do together. (You can probably read into that, he would rather be doing it with kids his own age or on his own!)
So, with that in mind, parents or a parent taking the kids on a vacay really need to choose a place where there is as much to do as possible. Yup. Doin’ it for the kids.
Let’s face it, us adults are happy to lay around, eat, sleep, swim, read and have a few bevvies. But kids are like perpetual Action Jackson figures.
They want to be pretty much occupied all morning day and night – which unless you have the luxury of a nanny or perhaps some help that you might be able to hire on the vacation island for a few hours every day – serious rest is not going to happen for ma & pa..
I think we have to remember that a holiday for kids isn’t the same kind of holiday as us grown-ups have.
We basically want to be complete sloths – well that’s pretty much true in my case! But kids want to be doing things ALL DAY.
As parents, we really can’t complain. We decided to have our beautiful precious bundles of joy – many of whom are now in their teens – so it’s a matter of making vacay play while the sun shines.
To try and do as many activities with them as we can – whether that’s snorkelling, swimming, surfing, sailing on a catamaran or whatever.
Because the day will come when kids won’t want to be with us at all as they all carve out there own new life after school.
I have found that places like Bali, Hawaii, week-long or 10-day cruises, ski trips and activity-fuelled islands (with lots to do) are the way to go when it comes to holidays with younger kids.
Anything that has a kids club, the potential of being able to hire a beautiful local to look after your younger kids while you have a little nap are perfect.
To be honest, taking three kids on a big discovery tour around Europe when they are only 8,9 of 10 seems a waste of time. Are they really that interested in monuments at that stage? Art Galleries? Exquisite parks in Paris? A coffee and a croissant on Boulevard Saint Germain?
As much as I would love to say of course they are, I just don’t think they appreciate a trip like that until they are quite a bit older. (And probably without mum and dad in tow!)
Melissa Hoyer’s top tips for holidays with kids
Take into account any jet lag you and the kids may suffer – this could make for a few cranky days at the beginning of the holiday
Check out what kinds of activities are included in the price – otherwise, you may end up spending hundreds and thousands of ‘additional’ activities
Check the resort, holiday house, Airbnb or cruise that there are some ‘kid-sitters’ so parents can have a night out
Embrace your time together – it doesn’t last forever!
Use the time with your kids to bond and forget about thinking about getting back to work. Get into the family holiday spirit!
*You can follow Melissa Hoyer on Twitter, Facebook @melissahoyer
Melissa Hoyer is a lifestyle travel and entertainment writer; TV & radio commentator; consultant; speaker and digital producer/journalist. You can see her regularly on Seven’s Sunrise program.