I’m pretty sure that 2020 will not be high up in the “favourite years” of most people for obvious reasons. For me, I became a solo parent to my then 18 month old daughter in January when I split with my daughter’s father. Then the whole world fell apart just weeks later. Yes I had definitely had better starts to a year.
I have always loved travel and visited many places for holidays and for work – perhaps one of the benefits of becoming a mother later in life. In her first 18 months Pippa travelled extensively too so I was determined to continue this, even if it did mean one less pair of adult hands to help. Well we’d continue as soon as we were allowed to travel.
I think that travel with a toddler/young child is a challenge at the best of times – so many different things you are looking for from a holiday than before – but there’s another level to it as a solo parent and that’s why I’m sharing my thoughts with you all and hope to encourage other single parents to embrace travel with their child/children.
Pippa is now 3 and loves her holidays – we recently returned from our first completely solo overseas holiday to H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens and we had an amazing time. Hand on heart, I would recommend anyone in the same position embraces it and goes it alone.
H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
We travelled with Jet2 and stayed at this lovely 4-star hotel which is completely geared up for families. I did “play it safe” in that we had visited the hotel before as a family of 3 when Pippa was 9 months old. This made me feel happier about the whole travelling alone thing as I knew the lay of the land and had enjoyed the previous holiday. For example, I knew it was a short transfer from the airport, the resort was buggy friendly, we liked the hotel and there was a pharmacy on site.
Airport and Flight
Even though Pippa is 4 this year, I always travel with the buggy. This stops her complaining that “her little legs are tired” (honestly, her words). Plus, it means that you get to use the family lane at UK airports which can save time and is less stressful. Having the buggy means that I can put our rucksack on the handles and just carry my small handbag which holds all the travel documentation. I recommend using a rucksack as your hand luggage as it means that it’s easy to carry when you are “buggy-less” at the arrival airport – personally, I’m resisting multiple requests for a Trunki as I don’t think I could handle an extra piece of hand luggage when Pippa inevitably gets bored of pulling it.
The actual going through security is a little tricky but airport staff, when seeing I am alone with a small child, are generally helpful. I always have our electronics in a separate carrier bag in the rucksack and our sub 100ml liquids in a sealable bag ready.
I booked the airport lounge for our trip directly with Manchester airport when they had a Black Friday offer on. I am one of those that likes to be checked in at least 2.5h before the scheduled flight time so for me, I thought it was worth it for being able to have a base to relax before our flight. I like booking the lounge because I can then pick a seat where Pippa can stay watching her Ipad whilst I nip to get drinks and food. We had a morning flight so our time in the lounge covered breakfast time so we both had plenty to eat (and I may have snuck in a mimosa too). I also used it as an opportunity to refill our water bottles and grab some fruit for snacks for the flights.
I picked Jet 2 as I had previously flown solo with my daughter a number of times to my parents’ place in the Canary Islands. I think they are a great airline, and their staff are always super helpful right from the check in desk through to the dedicated staff they have at the destination airport. Most times I’ve flown with them they have been able to allocate us a full 3 seats together if the flight wasn’t full and this has made the flight an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
We flew at 10am approximately and this worked perfectly for us. I think as I’ve got older, I am less inclined to fly at silly o’clock in the morning. In addition, I wouldn’t fancy dragging a tired 3-year-old around the airport either. This also applies to flight times on return – I have on a couple of occasions flown with Pippa when we have landed significantly after her bedtime. My experience is that, even with a sleep on the plane, it means she is out of sorts for a good couple of days after our return. By “out of sorts” I mean epic meltdown/tantrums which really undoes any relaxation you’ve managed to get on the holiday!
Lanzarote airport was a smooth experience and our luggage was waiting on the carousel after we had cleared all customs and Covid 19 documentation checks. (Tip: always print things out so you can have them in your hand rather than trying to find documents on your phone!) From here, it was straightforward to find our transfer bus and we were on our way to the hotel.
H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens in Costa Teguise
H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens is in Costa Teguise which is approximately 20 mins drive from the airport. Costa Teguise is very much a purpose-built resort on the east coast of Lanzarote centred around Playa de Las Cucheras beach which is a lovely sandy beach where you can swim if conditions allow (it was January, we decided it was way too cold!). The hotel itself is only a few minutes walk from this beach and it was relatively easy for us to take the buggy as there are wooden walkways built down into the sand.
Hotel Staff and Rooms at H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
The hotel reception staff are extremely personable and helpful. I had booked half board as the supplement to all-inclusive was £360 for myself and my daughter for the week. We both like our food and though I’m quite partial to a mojito or two, I didn’t think we would get the value. When checking in, I asked about upgrading to all-inclusive directly with the hotel. The receptionist offered 7 days for the price of 6 and free for my daughter (obviously unaware just how much ice cream she can consume) so it came in at a total of 180 Euro.
I had requested a ground floor room as the 3-storey hotel does not have lifts and a room with a sunny balcony. We were happy with our room which overlooked the gardens at the back. The balcony was huge and had 2 sunloungers and a table and four chairs. It got the sun most of the day but such was the size that it would have been easy to seek shade too.
With regard to choosing hotels, personally I will not book high rise when travelling solo with Pippa – I just know I wouldn’t relax at all when she was on the balcony and I’d be worried about cleaning staff leaving the balcony door unlocked and me not realising.
One of the fantastic things about this hotel is that the entry level rooms can class as a “suite”. There is a living area with a sofa (which can be used a double sofa bed) and in one of the cupboards there is a mini kitchenette with a fridge (with freezer box), kettle and microwave. Even though we were all inclusive, I wanted to be able to grab drinks and be able to give Pippa milk. The microwave came in handy when she was a baby as I used it to sterilise her bottles using the reusable bags from Amazon. I think if we travelled here again, I’d be tempted to bring a basic 2 slice toaster too in my luggage as there were days where we could have happily had toast in the morning or had a slice as a pre-bedtime snack.
Having a living area and a separate bedroom worked well for us as it meant I had somewhere to relax after Pippa went to sleep. The beds were really comfortable and the rooms had blackout blinds so we managed to get a few lie ins (which in my world is 8am). There are a range of rooms available for bigger families in the Bungalows which are dotted around the complex.
The hotel has a couple of self service washing machines and dryers too which were helpful. Rather than buying washing powder there, I popped a few tabs in a Tupperware and brought them with me.
Kids Club at H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
One of my main reasons for coming to this hotel was the kids club. The facilities for kids are amazing and include a creche from 6 months up right up to teenager activities.
Doing my research, I found that this was one of the only hotels I could find in my budget that offered a kids club for ages 3 up. Many hotels kids’ clubs start at age 4 and offer creche like facilities for those under 4 or normal kids club under supervision. My main aim was for Pippa to be able to enjoy kids club (she’s a sociable kid that goes to nursery) and for me to able to have a small part of the holiday lying on a sunlounger reading my book. Well, it certainly delivered on both counts.
The kids club that covers age 3-5 and 6-9 has its own shared area with a lockable entry and exit gate and its own designated building where you sign the children in and out. There is also a pirate themed playground and Zip line in the same area that you are free to use anytime. The kids club runs Monday to Friday 9.30am to 1.30pm and 3.30pm to 5.30pm. During our holiday we didn’t need to book as the hotel wasn’t at capacity.
The baby area is in a different location and closer to the dining room. From memory, I think the baby club was only open in the mornings Monday to Friday and parents were welcome to stay with their kids if they wished. Near the baby club was a small toddler park area with a climbing frame, slide and swing and this was gated but open to use at any time. This was also where the teen club room was but with us holidaying in school term time, the guests predominantly had kids 5 years old and under.
The kids club and the staff were fantastic. I went to check on Pippa 1 hour after first drop off and was greeted by Snow White complete with fairy princess face paint. I was promptly shooed away by Pippa who was in her element and had no plans to hang out with Mummy. My original idea had been for her to go in the morning and then we’d spend the afternoon together, but she wanted to go back most afternoons. Oh well, more time on the sunlounger for me.
As the week progressed, we found a pattern of a couple of hours in the kids’ club in the morning and 1hr-90 mins in the afternoon (not every afternoon) worked well for us. It’s a drop off and pick up whenever you like.
Every evening, except for Sunday, there is a mini-Disco at 7.30pm which was the highlight of the evening for all the kids. When we visited Lanzarote had recently been moved up a grade on the Covid restrictions due to the level of the cases on the island (well below UK levels) so the mini disco was held outside rather than in the huge indoor hall designed specifically for entertainment. This worked fine as the hotel had a large decked outdoor area which was used for exercise classes during the day. Luckily for us, the weather stayed dry and if wearing a hoody/jumper we were warm enough.
The highlight of the kids’ disco was without a doubt the appearance of H10’s kids club mascot, Daisy. Daisy joined the kids towards the end of the disco and danced with them all, much to their delight. Daisy was also on hand to give out the certificates for the day for the various activities available for both kids and adults. Pippa’s certificate for her involvement in an art activity is still pride of place on our fridge.
Adult Activities at H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
There was a full programme of adult activities available – ranging from yoga, boules, darts, aqua aerobics and probably much, much more. I participated in none of them. Me and my kindle and a sunlounger were very happy together when Pippa was occupied at kids’ club!
In the evening there was entertainment in the form of singers and flamenco dancers. The entertainment did not start until around 9pm though so by that time we had headed to our room for a well-earned sleep after all the activities of the day and the mini disco.
Swimming Pools at H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
The hotel has 3 swimming pools. The largest with the pirate ship and slides isn’t heated so we didn’t go into that one and we didn’t see many people in there at all. There is a decent sized pool which was heated but I wouldn’t say it was warm for kids so I tended to put Pippa into her wetsuit so she would enjoy longer in the pool. The hotel has a strict no inflatables policy but this didn’t apply to rubber rings and other flotation devices for smaller children. I do get why they have this as its not a huge pool and the hotel tends to attract families with young children.
The last pool is the baby pool and this was heated to 28 degrees and was the warmest of the three. It is cleverly built too and the wall surrounding it acts as a wind break. The weather turned a little towards the end of our stay and on one of our last afternoons, Pippa and I played in this swimming pool for several hours whilst eating Pringles. This pool was only mid calf level for me so it was perfect for Pippa to play in with her water toys.
Food and Drink at H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
I decided to upgrade to all inclusive at 180e for the 7 days – I was confident that Pippa’s ice cream eating abilities and my own inclination for a lager shandy in the sunshine and an evening cocktail or G&T would mean it was good value. It certainly worked out that way.
The hotel has one main restaurant and a snack bar close to the pool. In the main restaurant, it is a buffet style restaurant with plenty of choice of food and a dedicated kids area. I must admit that I found the restaurant to be the most challenging in terms of being a sole parent on holiday. Let me explain – we were allocated a table upon entering the restaurant so I would place some belongings (Pippa’s water bottle and my hoodie) onto the table so it didn’t get taken by another family. We would then go together to get drinks and take them back to the table. I then would take Pippa to the buffet to get her choice of food, seat her back at the table and get her ready to eat and then would go to get my own food. On the first couple of days, Pippa tended to then follow me whilst I got my food and one occasion I looked back to the table, couldn’t see her and panicked slightly. It was just easier if she stayed put whilst I grabbed some food.
The entire time we used the restaurant, I would grab whatever food didn’t have a queue or crowd forming waiting so I could get back to her table. On a couple of occasions, I would then be told that she didn’t like her initial choice of food and would end up getting up again to get her something different (at home I’d insist she ate what she had initially requested but in a busy dining hall I didn’t particularly want to have this conversation). Not the most relaxing experience and for this reason we did eat out a couple of times where I enjoyed the luxury of being waited on rather than running around a busy restaurant serving myself and my offspring.
The food quality was good but I think the experience of being solo meant that I, and Pippa, didn’t particularly look forward to eating in the restaurant, hence going out on a couple of occasions. In retrospect, I could have asked for a table close to the buffet and where I could see Pippa easily and if I returned, I think I would ask for a table to be reserved at our preferred eating time. If we had a toaster in our room, we would have had a more leisurely breakfast in our room at least a couple of times during the week.
We did use the restaurant once at lunch time and it was a lot less busy and therefore more enjoyable. The choice wasn’t as plentiful as in the evening but still sufficient. If staying at the hotel on a half board basis you have the option to switch your evening meal to lunch. If we had stuck with half board, I would have taken this option and then dined out in the evening or just had a snack later (lunch was served until 3pm so we could have easily made it our main meal of the day).
The snack bar was included in the all-inclusive and the food was mostly cooked to order and this became our preferred choice for lunch. The menu included chicken wings, burger, nachos , pizza, chips and sandwiches/salads. Sandwiches were freshly made in the morning and packaged in card so we grabbed a couple of them when we went to the beach for a few hours.
The drinks in the hotel are fantastic and include Estrella on draft aswell as premium spirits and mixers (most included in the all-inclusive). The hotel uses reusable plastic glasses if you are taking drinks away from the snack bar so it was good to see them doing what they can to reduce their use of single use plastic. One area they could improve upon though is offering water to all guests, not just all inclusive, as I saw lots of guests carrying water bottles from the local supermarket. I just used our existing water bottles and topped them up periodically.
Outside the hotel
With a lack of kids’ club at the weekend, I was on the lookout for things to do, especially as the weather wasn’t that great as we approached the end of our week. Ideally, I would have liked the kids club “days off” to be separated across the week but I am sure that the staff would be inclined to disagree with me!
Costa Teguise has a large promenade so we braved the increasing winds and went on a walk. We played on the beach whilst simultaneously being sand blasted. We also went to the Aquarium which although small, was great for spending a couple of hours. Most places in Spain treat 3 and under as babies so it was free for Pippa and 15e for me so quite good value.
There are plenty of shops and small supermarkets close by to the hotel to buy beach and swimming items.
A friend of mine recommended Rancho Texas park in Puerto Del Carmen and I think there are free buses from most resorts but we didn’t get around to organising it and instead just spent the days together meandering around Costa Teguise. If we return, I think I would check this out.
If you do fancy getting out and exploring the island Cabrera Medina car hire is located just near the hotel. I have used this company numerous times when visiting Fuerteventura and highly recommend them. Their hire includes fully comprehensive insurance as standard and child seats.
One of Lanzarote’s main attractions is the Timanfaya National Park where you can see the amazing volcanic landscape and witness geothermic experiments. At 3, this is a bit beyond my daughter’s interests (and to preserve my sanity from her being close to high ledges!) so this would be more suited for older children (or braver parents).
On a previous (pre daughter) visit to Lanzarote, I very much enjoyed visiting sites related to the Lanzarote born artist, Cesar Manrique. He created a Cactus Garden containing 450 different species of cactus in an old, disused quarry. Jameos del Agua is a volcanic tube which was transformed by Manrique and has amazing gardens, pool, museum, and restaurant. My personal favourite is the house that he lived in for 20 years and which is now the HQ of the Cesar Manrique Foundation. Today it displays many of his colourful paintings but what really took my breath away is the way he designed the house to use many of the volcanic bubbles in the landscape to create a pool and other rooms all interconnected by tunnels.
All of the Manrique attractions listed above involve a significant amount of stairs and walking. At age 3 and with “little legs that are tired” I decided against these sightseeing ideas. Give it a couple of years and I would take her as I think she’d enjoy the art, gardens and completely unique architecture.
Summary of our week at H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens
We had a fantastic week in Lanzarote and it was everything I had hoped for, minus the Calima on the last two days. I spent quality time with my daughter – we swam, played on the beach, danced at the mini disco and ate ice cream/drank mojitos. Pippa has time in the kids club so I was able to relax a little and read my Kindle. Pippa had an amazing time at the club and the staff there were all great and so friendly and happy.
I find travelling alone with her a pleasure and the most challenging element of the whole week was using the restaurant at the hotel. There are ways around this, and I really didn’t mind going out a couple of evenings when I had made a decent saving on the all-inclusive upgrade.
I suppose the test of whether it was a good holiday is if we’d go back again. Well, about a week after returning home to horrible January weather, Pippa looked outside at the never-ending rain and turned to me and said “Mummy, can we go and live in Lanzarote with Daisy?” so that’s a yes from her, and a yes from me.
Next on the overseas list is MarSenses Paradise Club Hotel in Cala en Bosch in Menorca. It was easier to select this hotel as Pippa will be 4 in July so the range of hotels with kids’ clubs is wider. However, wanting decent time flights, not high rise, in a main resort and catering facilities in our room and a budget constraint restricted the choice a little. We go in August for a week before Pippa starts school so I’m hoping the weather will be kinder than calima in January in Lanzarote.
Next on the list after that is Lisbon for our first city break in October half term – huge aquarium, Zoo, tram rides and boat trips. The plan is to stay in an Airbnb which will be a first for us whilst overseas. What can I say? We are a holiday loving duo!