Our first trip abroad as a family (plus nanny, grandad, uncle and auntie). Done. All in a flash.
The excitement of the build-up, the shopping beforehand for things we kept forgetting, the packing, the anxieties around a toddler being out of routine and not even having a second chance to think that you’re actually taking yourself and your entire family thousands of feet up in the sky in a metal can. Ugh, we used to be such relaxed holidayers...
I made sure before we went away to make a list of my fears and anxieties and compare them to the reality…
The departure day.
Anxiety-. The flight was due to leave at 3pm. This means we would all be in the car by 11am and be expected to keep going until we get there (he definitely wouldn’t nap once we get to the airport). That means he is awake up until we get off the plane, get through passport control, then collect the luggage, then the coach journey to our hotel. And THEN settling into the room. This would be way past his usual bedtime at home. I was silently terrified that the family would see a whole new realm of toddler tantrum.
Reality- It all went so much better compared to how bad I thought it could go (in my head). Once we got to the airport he was straight in the sling (he’s still quite dinky so I love to babywear) and between us we all dealt with the luggage. My advice for first time travellers with babies/toddlers is don’t worry about the sheer amount of luggage you have. You literally have to get it from your car to the departure gate then it’s gone until you arrive at the destination. You carry it for all of ten minutes or bung it on a trolley.
We had lunch, shopped a little and then it was time to board the flight. It all goes so fast there is no real time for them to get bored. That is, of course, unless you have a delay. We got on the plane, all going to plan and then we were sat there for an hour not moving. This was when 'the fear' set in. He got fidgety. He does it in the pushchair if he’s stationary. He needs to be moving. We plied him with food, treats, new toys and stickers that we had saved for the flight. All of this lasted approximately four minutes until he wanted the next thing, the next thrill, the next snack.
Then like some sort of answered prayer, we took off… and he was mesmerised. Thank god for loud engines and g-force. Be prepared for this situation. Toys, magazines, stickers or foods they don’t have often at home are perfect to distract them. Also the CBeebies app… he loves it so we limited his usage of it before we went away so that it seemed new and fresh on the plane. We were very lucky to have four additional family members there for him to flit between to keep him amused.
It was only a two hour flight but we got there later than planned and the pushchair took a while to arrive through the conveyor belt. But all in all he was an absolute superstar. He was wide awake until we checked in and he was amazed at everything he was seeing. All the trees, the sea, the fountains. Then we got to our room. Cue next anxiety...
The hotel room.
Anxiety- There wouldn’t be a cot in there like we had requested. The windows wouldn’t be blacked out for him to sleep. It’d be noisy. He’d never sleep.
Reality- There was a cot in there. And it was dark when we arrived and he was way past his bed time so in reality of course he would sleep. There was no noise what so ever apart from the gentle hum of the air con. We had a lovely family suite so he had his own bedroom. It was perfect. In the morning, the cold light of day, he went nuts in the room (in a good way!). He was so excited to explore and check out every cupboard door. His rooms curtains though, were not black out... So it was a trip the Supermercado to get some tin foil (please tell me we’re not the only ones who tin foil the windows in the kids room whenever we go away to black them out? Best. Trick. Ever.)
No real routine/staying up later.
Anxiety- We’re on holiday. I want him to party, to stay up and enjoy everything. But I know full well he doesn’t work well on little to no sleep.
Reality- Yup, he stayed up. And no, he didn’t melt down. Call it some sort of Mediterranean Magic™ or something, but somehow he managed to go to bed about 9/10pm each night and still wake up at 7am, ready for another day of beach action. It was a miracle. This wouldn't happen at home i can tell you.
It was such an amazing hotel, tailored really well for kids of all ages. I can’t recommend the Magic Life in Cala Pada, Ibiza enough (this is not an ad, but I am MORE than happy for Thomson to fly us back out there to review it again).
We didn’t really get much rest. But i was prepared for that. What I don't think I was quite prepared for was how wonderfully happy it would make me to be away with my boys and creating these memories with all my family there. It was definitely a new holiday experience for us. There was no laying out in the sun, but I got a pretty decent tan standing in the pool for over an hour at a time while he went up and down the slide :)