Over the decades, I’ve tried all sorts of different travelling approaches from adventure to backpacking, and five-star luxury to package holidays. And while each and every one of them has been uniquely different in terms of experience, there is one thing that has remained a constant – I am the driving force behind each and every trip.
As mentioned previously, I have this insatiable need to feel in control of my travel organisation and will spend days researching destination and accommodation options – seeking out the best deals, and trying to find the interminable balance between what is suitable for each member of the family. But I am often asked, why do I choose the places that I go to, and what makes the final cut?
There really isn’t one answer, and it can be as simple as being inspired by another blogger or even seeing a documentary on the TV or reading a magazine article that sets the wheels in motion. As you can imagine, the list of countries that I want to visit is long, but what makes my job – and travel – so exciting is that often, destinations that haven’t come under my radar, suddenly becomes the main focus.
Simpson Travel Greece
Much like our forthcoming trip with Simpson Travel to Zakynthos. I’ve had the pleasure to visit Greece many times, but not here. So not only am I looking forward to going on a family summer holiday that was planned quite last-minute (by my standards), I’m also excited by the prospect of finally letting go of the reins.
Simpson’s reputation for stellar customer service is second to none, so for a change, I’ve stepped aside to be looked after by their expert team – even at the planning stages. After I gave sales manager Dylan a wishlist of all the elements I am looking for us to be able to have an amazing family holiday, he soon came back with a recommendation of Periyali Villas. Impressed by his knowledge, I decided to go for it – and I am sure that Periyali will exceed expectations.
After years of travelling, there really isn’t a secret formula to the perfect family holiday – after all, what is perfect to one person, might be a cesspit of hell to another. However, I have learned there are a number of essential components or key ingredients that go a long way in helping us to have an amazing family holiday – and perhaps they will help you, too.
Use the experts
When and if you need them. If, like me, you thrive on the endless research and planning, then happy days. But how about when you’re actually away and arrive at the airport – it makes all the difference when there’s a friendly smile and a helpful person waiting for you, right? Or what if there is an emergency during your holiday. Or perhaps you just want a knowledgeable local on the ground who can point you in the right direction, both physically and figuratively. Yes, you can Google everything now, but by seeking some expert advice, it means less stress for everybody.
And I’m discovering this more as I continue to travel with the kids. I can’t always do everything, and actually, why do I need to, when there are experienced people such as the Simpson Travel Greece team who can help facilitate a more relaxing process from the beginning right through to the end of our trip.
Build the anticipation
It’s often the lead up to going away that’s the most exciting, well for us anyway. Monkey likes to ask a lot of questions about where we are going to and what will be there, and we always try to gather some fun information for him in order to get a feel for our new destination – whether it’s finding it on his map, showing him some pictures or telling him some facts. Inevitably we will then begin to count down how many sleeps it will be before we go. We find that by building happy anticipation, it starts the holiday off on the right footing before the plane has even left the tarmac.
Find a good location
For me, location is of the utmost importance. And there’s a fine balancing act which can affect the dynamics of a family holiday. Choosing somewhere too remote, or where it needs you to take endless cabs or car journeys, can become a huge pain, especially with young kids.
Even if we have a car rental, I still like the option of being able to walk to some shops and restaurants nearby – not only does this give you an easy change of scenery, but negates the need for a designated driver. This is one of the main reasons Periyali Villas stood out because we can stroll to several local hotspots. Hurrah! My husband and I can enjoy a beer at lunchtime, and not feel guilty about it.
Get some privacy
While both my husband and I are social creatures, there is something about having your own space that really contributes to helping winding down when we are away. And in large hotels and resorts that’s not always possible. I mean, it’s quite exhausting having to suck in my tummy the whole time! And that’s the beauty of staying in a holiday home, you have the flexibility to come and go as you please, and aren’t tied to any rigidity such as breakfast times. Definitely, a huge factor when it comes to feeling more relaxed and comfortable in your own space.
So another reason why we went for the Periyali was being able to have our own private villa and pool, all the while being on a family-friendly resort that also has a communal area. So if we do want some more conversation, then the option is there.
Consider a Kids’ Club
If you’re going on a type of family holiday where you’re staying in one resort, then consider making use of a kids’ club if they have one. In our case, Monkey has bags of energy and can become bored if he hasn’t found friends his own age. He adores going to kids’ club, and while I’m not an advocate of him attending all day, every day, it’s nice to have the choice – which keeps him happy – and gives us some time to relax. Meanwhile, Peanut has yet to go to one, but on the advice of Simpson Travel Greece, we have reserved an afternoon slot when we go to Periyali Villas and having read the rave reviews about the qualified nannies there – it’s given us a peace of mind.
Try not to cram too much in
As a travel blogger, this is one of the things I find most difficult to do. However, I am working on it – and succeeding. For me, the whole point of ‘travelling’ is to explore and discover. But as I grow older and much wearier, I am also fully aware of the need to step back, relax and be still. And that goes for the whole family.
Dragging the kids around sightseeing tours all day and every day of a family holiday isn’t going to be at all fun. Family holidays are all about spending time together and making happy memories, and lots of those won’t be in queues or sitting in the car for hours on end.
So choose wisely – if you’re on a beach break then spend some time splashing around and staying put, and perhaps choose some family-friendly things to do in the mornings before it gets too hot. If you’re on a road trip or travelling around to many places, then make sure you factor in some resting time in between.
* This post was written in collaboration with Simpson Travel, who have chosen me as one of their 2018 blog ambassadors. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.