Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children


BC (Before Children obviously not Before Christ although it sometimes feels that long ago) I was lucky enough to travel widely.  Places like Namibia, Bali, Texas, California, Fiji, Cook Islands, Australia were all visited, loved and explored.

Beaches were lay on, Bahamas vacation home booked, cocktails were drunk and books (lots and lots of them) were read. I was obsessed with holidays and this didn’t change when we got married. We honeymooned in Nepal trekking to Annapurna thinking it could be our last adventure for a while and I was right as I returned from honeymoon pregnant with our eldest. Our last holiday BC was to Barbados when I was 4 months pregnant and we lay on the beach, hubby drank cocktails, I read books and we wondered how life and travel might change? We resolved to travel far and wide with our Mini Traveller (singular) and not let having a family change our travel plans. Little did we know.

Annapurna to Gangapurna

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Our first holiday with our eldest daughter was to the Cotswolds when she was 5 months old.  We hunted out beautiful accommodation, there was no chance we were going to Centre Parcs, we weren’t changing our holiday ideas (so we thought!)! We had already decided that we would go somewhere exotic in June, why wouldn’t we, other travelers could put up with our baby on the plane for a few hours!!.  So we went along in March full of excitement and with a case full of books as usual but I didn’t read a thing and the holiday wasn’t good. In fairness the place was lovely and you can read a review of it here, but the holiday itself wasn’t in line with my expectations. I was very very sick and that didn’t help at all, but the real problem was that it wasn’t a holiday.

With a tiny baby a stay away from home is just that. It’s the same shit/delight/joy depending on your feelings, just a different location. You still have to change the nappies, feed the baby, get up 3/4/5 times a night , you just do it in somewhere that’s not your house and often somewhere that is not set up as well. So you need to make sure you pick the right place to stay and you need to change your expectations. You will not and I repeat not, be having lazy mornings, be sipping cocktails on the beach whilst the baby sleeps soundly and you will not be reading lots of books. It will not be like any holiday you have ever had before.

Adjusting Expectations After Children
What you will be doing is making memories, very special precious memories, but you do need to accept that your holiday won’t be the same. Once you’ve adjusted you can actually start to enjoy your holiday and cherish it for the wonderful time it will be.

Adjusting Expectations After Children

To do this I have worked out that I have to acknowledge that the holiday is about the little ones. If they are happy, you will be happy. So think farm holidays, kiddy activities, child friendly swimming pool (I’m afraid this doesn’t usually equate to an infinity pool), kids club (depending on age) other children and and your attention.  They mainly want you and your time.  They do not understand sunbathing, cocktail drinking and book reading (unless it is reading The Gruffalo/other favourite book!) This was the hardest thing for me to accept, which I know doesn’t make me a particularly good person, but they really do just want your undivided attention.

Adjusting Expectations After Children

So turn away from the cocktails (until after 7pm anyway, I am of course not suggesting a sober holiday) put away those i-Phones, forget about those books, and book a child friendly holiday destination where you can lavish your attention on them. You will then have a wonderful time.

OR maybe take the grandparents!!!!

Adjusting Expectations After Children

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Adjusting Expectations When Travelling With Children

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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!

Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.

14 thoughts on “Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children”

  1. Great post and so true. Holidays with kids are not holidays in the way they be, at best they are a holiday from some of the cooking and cleaning (depending where you go!) and like you say its more about making memories than really relaxing! Xx #sharewithme

  2. Yes! *Always* take the Grandparents!! I don’t think I’ve had a longer period in my life without setting food outside the UK ever! It’s been four years now and that was only a package holiday to Menorca with a one year old (supposedly our honeymoon!). We had the baby sleeping in the same room with us in a travel cot for a week and only got a couple of afternoons off while he was with the creche for two two-hour sessions. Since that (and having another baby, now aged two) I have considerably changed my expectations – we now go on UK based holidays which are a car drive away, stay in family friendly cottages and have lots of day trips. On the other hand I am reading *tonnes* of reviews of the Mark Warner resorts by other bloggers at the moment. Most of them are rave reviews which describe how it’s possible to send your darlings off for the best part of the day to a fun club they’ll really enjoy while you sip cocktails by the pool. The one thing they don’t mention is the price. I just did a quick check to see how much it would cost for me, my husband, 2 year old & 5 year old to go to one of their summer resorts (Rhodes) in August 2015 for a week and my quote was £5286 !! I think we’ll be sticking to Devon…

  3. Hello there, you are sooooo right. It really is the same o same o just in a different place! However, aside from the stress of trying to remember everything and not have any mishaps, we do like taking little man away. He has now developed a love for bed and breakfast establishments! We haven’t taken him on a long haul-he is very, very lively so may wait a while! Really enjoyed your blog, and looking forward to reading more. #sharewithme

  4. Holidays are definitely different with kids and traveling with kids is a whole new ball game. I just traveled from the uk to the west coast america with two tots by myself and I can defintieyl say it’s a challenge but one that is so worth it. The memories we made and the things we experienced together are there forever. I do miss traveling with just my hubby but I also love doing it as a family too. Such a catch 22. I think it gets easier as the kids get older. Great post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  5. Hi
    Yes, totally agree.
    What I’ve had to learn is to pace myself. Pre-baby I would work myself into the ground knowing I could recharge on holiday. Now I know holidays / Christmas are for family time & new experiences, not much opportunity to relax. I try to build in regular chill out times throughout my year (e.g an hour with a magazine & feet up in the garden).
    And, I tell myself it’s not forever. Enjoy the farm, the park, the beach in the rain with your kids & take lots of photos. Some day soon you will be sitting with your cocktail & lots of great memories when the kids grow up!

  6. I’m with you here! The thought of Center Parcs made me cringe, yet here I am two years in a bit of a secret fan, purely for the fact I get to breathe a few minutes while the toddler is distracted!!

  7. Our holidays were never much about book reading and cocktail drinking, but seeing things and visiting interesting places. To tell the truth… even after we had our 2 girls (now 2 and almost 4) we’re still seeing things and visiting interesting places. We only prepare much more now, look for good accommodation, travel slow and make sure our holiday has at least 2 or 3 of these elements for at least a few days to keep everybody happy: beach, swimming pool, trainride, ponyriding… there are so many countries to choose which have these elements making our kids happy kids. They also love visiting temples and churches and castles, so we try to add a few of these too. 🙂 Been to India twice, to South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Baltic States, but also Portugal and Spain. Next summer we’re off to Georgia.

  8. Hi Karen,

    I hope you are doing well. I went through the different blogs and was impressed by the kind of work you have done. Especially Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children blog was neat. Great post and so true. After having children, the travel should be planned in such a manner that the kids can enjoy too. And what else a parent want if their kids are having a great time. As you rightly said, “I have to acknowledge that the holiday is about the little ones. If they are happy, you will be happy.” Great piece of work.

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