Where to go on holiday with a toddler

I’ve really put the hours in for this year’s family holiday. I’ve been through and am still going checking the local suspects of travel web sites in search for just the right amount of excitement and relaxation for our 2 + 1 family. I’ve found lots of beautiful hotels and apartments but my jaw has dropped to see the prices being quoted for family style package holidays. With 27 days leave still left to take over the next 7 months I’m desperate to get away with the family and relax a little, away from day-to-day work (at home and at the office).

One of the things I love to do is to travel and before getting married I ventured as far afield as Hong Kong and Thailand. I loved the feeling of excitement when experiencing new cultures, tastes, and attitudes.

For our honeymoon, my husband and I booked a last-minute trip to New York with a 5 day cruise around Canada in between. It was blissful even though we changed hotels in New York 3 times (long story) and nearly caught a sickness bug while on the cruise (any long story). It was exciting doing whatever we wanted and on a whim, with no real plans. We would lie on the grass in Central Park watching the world go by while the sun was high and then seek out restaurants and cafes we’d either seen on American TV shows or had always wanted to visit. Some days we’d relax in bed all day and other days we’d walk for hours trying to take in as much of the chaotic beauty of the city as we could.

Fast forward 3 years and our post-marriage post-baby selves have ventured within Europe, Malaga and Lisbon, and have also tested our nerve with a week in Chicago. As it happens Pumpkinella loves travelling and was remarkably well-behaved while on all the flights to and from. In fact, having enjoyed the most recent holiday to Chicago so much we’ve now also booked a trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles next year. We’ll be spending a few days travelling between both cities, stopping off in some haunts along the way and really soaking up the American experience. I’ll be writing more about this trip shortly.

One thing that the Chicago trip taught me is that those days of museum hopping, sightseeing buses and window shopping for hours on end, are well and truly over – or at least on hold. I love my shopping trips and would often spend hours in shops while on holiday but that was a luxury I now see I should have cherished more than I did as now my daughter, Pumpkinella, absolutely loathes shopping and won’t let me near a shop while she’s around, unless it’s selling ice cream or some fruit. As a result the type of holidays I would normally go for, city breaks, seem much more like hard work and I no longer look forward to them like before.

One of the other things I used about a city break was staying a boutique style hotel with all the creature comforts. A typical hotel room is open-plan with a seating area, and bed in the same room and a bathroom just round a corner. With a young child in one of these rooms my night is pretty much over once Pumpkinella settles to sleep. So on a particularly exciting day where she’s asleep by 7:30pm I’m not even able to keep the television on and watch a movie as she likes no light and complete silence.

I’ve since decided that if we have to stay in a hotel, it should have a separate room/ sleeping area for Pumpkinella. The idea of an apartment makes me nervous as most mean a self catering option which means I’d end up being a housewife again doing chores and making meals throughout the holiday. This isn’t my idea of a fun time as you can probably intimate from the way I’m describing this.

On recommendation from Katie at mummydaddyandme.com and other bloggers, I had a look at Mark Warner holidays. On their website their videos make the resorts look so inviting and relaxing. Yummy food, a choice of sports activities and lots of beautiful beaches. Katie’s been on two holiday with them and her posts are so detailed that I felt like I was at the resorts myself and really took an interest. Unfortunately, after showing one of their resort videos to my daughter, the dream was dashed away as he said he didn’t like watersports or group sports. I love all of those things and so does Pumpkinella but at only 21 months old shed be too young for many of the activities and it would cost close to £200 to have a join a crèche with other toddlers over the week there.

Dreaming away about Mark Warner holidays, I would love to try snorkelling or even wind surfing but I can’t see how I could wrangle this if my husband is just left by the beach under a shade waiting and watching. Therefore this holiday idea is on hold for a while till I can convince someone who might like it as much as I do to go with me.

I’ve also tried looking at James Villas holidays thanks to recommendations from Vicky at www.honestmum.com. While they look very tempting, I think I’d want the high-end option of a private chef so mealtimes are, however the prices for this would only be possible if I worked in an investment bank or was q high earning celebrity. As I’m planning to go on holiday in about 4 weeks time I’ve also realised that late deals with them are hard to find and beyond what I’m comfortable spending on a weeklong holiday.

So I’m asking myself at this point Why is it so hard to find a holiday for 2 + 1 for £1000 or less? Even though Pumpkinella isn’t yet 2 years old and flights are free at this age, I’m only just starting to realise how expensive it is to plan things like this when you have a young child. You want the very best for them but when they’re at a very young age there really isn’t much in the way of ideal holidays that all will enjoy. In saying this I’m sure Pumpkinella would be happy with a kids pool and a park, so maybe if I concentrate on finding destinations which include these nearby then I’d make a little more progress.

Thomson, Thomas Cook, Kuoni, Virgin Holidays – I’ve gone through them all and have nearly fainted at the prices when travelling from Cardiff airport to any European destination. I guess the airport isn’t established enough and it’s been taken out of private hands and is now owned by the Welsh government, they’re very little invest marring going on resulting in a lack of interest from most airline companies. Thank God for Vueling and KLM as there the two major airlines there are the moment. There’s a bus that connects the airport to the city centre but I have never, in 2 years, seen more that 2 or 3 people in it at any one time.

I’m not posh, wasn’t a raised by wealthy parents, and am certainly not what you might class as wealthy by most people’s standards, but when I’m on holiday, I want to sleep on a bed better than my own at home and feel as though I’m in real luxury. I don’t want to feel like I’m at home. However after spending circa £2000 on a holiday booking, once I start thinking of spending money, it’s not long before you the current holiday options in finding become just another unattainable dream that normal folk like me can only dream about.

My brother has 2 children, one already in his teens so I’ve now enlisted his help. Costa del Sol and the Algarve are his suggestions for me and on just a quick last minute.com search, I can see why he recommended these. However with only 4 weeks till we’re due to go on holiday, prices still seem quite high and the late deals I was praying for are not appearing.

I’ll keep you posted on how I get on with the search but if any of you parents can help me out with ideas for hotels, apartments, destinations etc… I would be very grateful for your advice.

Happy holidays!


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    I’d suggest going into the travel agents and asking them to look for you. We’ve got an absolute bargain for end of August through our local independent travel agent.

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