We have recently returned from a sunny week in Gran Caneria. We’ve been away a few times since having a child and the last time we went away wasn’t the greatest holiday experience. I blogged about the realities of a holiday with a toddler here.
However, our holiday last week completely restored my faith in the possibility of having a great relaxing holiday with a toddler in tow. We booked our holiday to Gran Caneria at the beginning of the year and decided to opt for big hotel rather than self catering. Both options have their pros and cons but we decided to give the hotel a try. As the holiday drew closer I got more and more apprehensive about how it would go. How would the 4 hour flight be? What would we do in the evenings? Would Zara sleep? Would the weather be good enough? I felt like I just kept hearing people joking about how tricky holidays can be with children and how they always come back more tired than they started. I wasn’t feeling overly positive.
Fortunately I was completely wrong to be worried and we had the most fantastic time. Here are some of the ways we managed to achieve a relaxing today with a 2 and a half year old.
- Staying in a hotel. We stayed at the most incredible hotel and this made everything so easy. There is something about having everything done for you that makes life much more relaxing. We didn’t have to lift a finger for a week. Every meal was sorted, the room was made immaculate again every day and nothing was too much trouble for the staff. I’m not sure a holiday is a holiday if you cannot summon up a mojito from your sun lounger!
- 2. Choose the RIGHT hotel. I can imagine that there are probably lots of hotels that would not be right for a family. We stayed at Lopesan Baobab Resort in Maspalomas. The hotel was HUGE and had an African theme which was perfect for a little person who loves to explore. It had a huge lazy river winding through the grounds of the hotel with lots of peaceful little areas to relax as well as a dedicated area for the children where they could safely play whilst parents watched from the sun loungers. The whole hotel was just beautiful and felt like wandering round a botanical garden. The restaurant a buffet style but changed the theme each night. We have found that the buffet works brilliantly with a toddler because they don’t have to wait around for ages for every meal and if they are being a bit picky about food in their new surroundings (which Zara was), there are so many options and you can select a few different bits for them to try. There was a mini disco after dinner for the children and Zara was so excited each night about dancing with the kids entertainment staff and her beloved Panshi (the dolphin). Before we went one of the biggest concerns was sleep. Zara sleeps well at home now and I didn’t want to come back exhausted having had no sleep all week. Although sharing a hotel room isn’t ideal it really did work well. The room had great black out curtains so we could easily put her down for a lunchtime nap and settle her at bedtime. The hotel were able to provide a proper cot and cot bedding so it didn’t feel too different to home. The balcony door even opened silently and we had a huge balcony to hang out on once she was asleep!
3. Be prepared for all weathers. One of the stressful things about our previous holiday was that the weather was very unpredictable and we hadn’t really gone prepared for anything other than sun. Although Gran Caneria should be sunny we went prepared for the weather not being so good. We were really lucky with the weather but did find it a little bit chilly first thing in the morning and in the evenings. We also have some really good sunny weather gear for Zara. We didn’t want to stressing about her getting burnt. She has 2 long sleeved long legged UV swim suits complete with the little matching waterproof hat and of course we were constantly smothering her in factor 50.
4. Fly from somewhere local if possible. I know this one wont apply to everyone but we live pretty near a small airport. It doesn’t fly to a huge amount of locations but we try to choose somewhere that it does fly for a holiday…especially if we just want a relaxing break away. Our flight was at 8.10am and we left home at 6am, leaving us just enough time for a quick coffee and croissant before boarding the plane. We were home within an hour of landing despite the bags being quite slow to come out. We really appreciate being so close to home when we land and not having an extra time in our travels.
5. Take lots of toddler entertainment. Now that Zara is 2 she did have her own baggage allowance which meant we could be quite flexible with the amount we took. We needed entertainment for 4 hours on the plane plus entertainment whilst we were away. We found sticker books to be an absolute saviour. I think we had 5 or 6 different sticker books with us and they kept Zara entertained for ages. I hate to say it but we also bought her a Peppa Pig magazine and that was absolutely amazing. It took her about an hour to complete on the plane and came with little figure toys that we loved and played with throughout the holiday. (Incidentally stickers also saved us whilst we were taking a very long time finding everything for a wardrobe in the IKEA warehouse a couple of days ago). We took a little rucksack for Zara that she could then take out and about and packed a few different bits in it each day so she could play whilst we were attempting to relax at the side of the pool or on the beach. Snap cards were also a bit hit (although Zara majorly cheats at cards).
I try to be honest in my blogs and on social media and am the first to hold my hands up and say I don’t find this parenting thing easy. However, I think its also good to say that sometimes things just go well and life is good.