Summer 2014: Preparing for summer holidays [Linky]

We are on the countdown to our summer holidays. Last year we had an amazing holiday in Tenerife. This year we have been blessed to be able to return (thanks hubby for all your hard work in the last year!). Same country, same town, same hotel.

Look no armbands!
Look no armbands!

This years preparations have now begun in earnest. The lovely Patricia over at www.colorineswonderful.com has a lovely holiday linky up and running for bloggers to share their summer holiday 2014 experiences. Unfortunately the linky will be complete by the time I return.  For me, preparing for a holiday is as much a part of the holiday as being away (although I know which one I prefer!) therefore I thought I would get involved in the linky anyway and share some of my preparation for holidays 2014 and where possible throw in a few tips along the way.

There are a number of items that need sorting as early as is practicable for any break away:

1. Budget

Setting a budget for your holiday is essential before any plans are made. This will determine how far you can travel, what type of accommodation you can get and how much is left to bring away to spend. My husband is fantastic at budgeting and sets aside a bit of money each month to put in a “holiday fund”. So we are very clear from day 1 how much is in the kitty. The only downer is looking at all the fabulous exotic 5 star holidays that are so far off our budget! Some day……That said this year we are managing to get a trip to Tenerife again so I definitely can’t complain.

2. Travel arrangements

Wherever you decide to go you need to determine how to get there. For us there is no option but to fly. Flying with kids can be stressful. Then again travelling in general with kids is not exactly a walk in the park. Booking flights directly with the airline online is usually a good option and watching for offers. As we are in Ireland we tend to travel with Aer Lingus. There is generally a seat sale around March and we try to get our flights sorted then. Particularly if we are travelling in high season which we tend to need to now that two of our three kids are in school.

When the kids were younger travelling in early summer (May or June) or late summer (September) was a great option. Cooler temperatures, cheaper fares and hotel prices and less crowded. I would recommend anyone not tied to a school year to go off-season while you can.

3. Accommodation

Now that we are a family of 5 getting a hotel room is just not practical anymore. I cast my mind back to a holiday when our oldest was 11 months old and we got a standard hotel room and just requested a cot. With three kids now we prefer to go self catering and try to find 2 bedroom apartments to give us the extra space. This year we are returning to last years haunt the Sol Sun Beach Aparthotel in Costa Adeje, Tenerife. It is basic but has all the amenities we need and is in a great location.

Even within Ireland I look for hotels that have self catering on-site or if it is just for a weekend or couple of nights I may try to find a hotel that does large family rooms but it can be difficult. Just ask At the Clotheslines!

There are off course other options such as renting directly from owners of villas or apartments abroad or the ever popular www.airbnb.com

4. Travel documentation and requirements

These days most bookings require a print out of e-mail confirmations or reference numbers. There is however still the requirement to have a passport if going outside of Ireland. You will get away with a Driver’s License if popping across to the UK via Ferry. If you are Irish even more important is that kids now also need to have their own passport. It is no longer good enough to have them named on a parent’s passport. To get a passport takes a couple of weeks so check well in advance any passport requirements. This year I needed a new passport. It was due to expire the day after we are due home but I just didn’t want to take the risk. I also wanted to get my passport in my married name so I booked flights in my married name and that forced me to get it sorted.

ID-10077521Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finally, we get an annual travel insurance policy. For less than €100 we are all insured for any trips we may take throughout the year. This year we downgraded our insurance to Europe only and it cost us less than €60.

For other destinations there may be visa or vaccination requirements. Check all of these things out early to ensure they are out of the way.

Once the above are in place then holidays are happening! For us, all of the above are checked off the list so we are good to go!

While it is counter productive starting the countdown too early (don’t need to be hearing “how many sleeps until we go Mum?” for too long) I like to give myself plenty of time as it’s no mean feat to pack up for two adults and three kids. My general guide is at least 10 days in advance. At this point I can dig out the details of arrangements made weeks earlier and start the nitty gritty of the countdown.

1. Make a list

I live by lists. I am at my most productive when I have a list to guide me through what I need to do. Without one I tend to be like a boat without a paddle just drifting around and tend to procrastinate.  For holidays I will literally list out everything everyone needs to bring.

2. Stock take and shopping

Once I know what I want to bring I need to determine if there is anything I don’t have. With the kids growing so fast or needing things they would not normally have in their day-to-day wardrobe there is generally a holiday shopping list each year. Items such as UV suits, hats and sandals tend to be on the list to buy as, more often than not, last years pieces are too small. Other items such as bottles of suncream generally need to be bought too.I try to get the shopping done well in advance so there are no last-minute panics. Funny how each year I like to buy myself a few new pieces (even just a couple of vest tops or T-shirts) when I go away. Something about having a new item when on holidays (but maybe that is just me!).

3. Packing

Now comes the tricky part. Fitting it all in. These days with luggage as an extra cost we tend to try to minimise our load. This year we have included three cases with our flights so we get two-thirds of a case each. We also have a hand luggage each. I organise my packing in various categories and within each category will be each family members things.

ID-10082500Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Clothes

I tend to find the clothes bit easy (although I ALWAYS bring too much). Given we are going to a warm climate we are taking a stack of T-shirts and shorts and then some summer dresses and skirts for the girls (that includes Mammy) going out. Finally there is the swimwear (UV suits for the kids, bikinis for mum), underwear and hats.

  • Shoes

Again, with a warm climate I have learned from experience that bringing a pile of going out shoes is fruitless. This year I am literally bringing flip-flops for the pool and my wedges for going out. I will probably even wear my flip-flops out too on some occasions – so maybe I’ll bring a second pair! I may just wear a pair of runners on the plane but they might not see the light of day over there. For the kids I picked up some flip-flops in Lidl during my weekly shop about a week ago. At €2.99 I can’t go wrong and worst case scenario they will be binned by end of holiday.

  • Cosmetics

I have given up bringing makeup on holidays. Before I had kids I used to pack half my makeup bag and never use it, as after a day or two my face would have a tan and I wouldn’t need foundation or blush. So now I just go au natural. I will bring the basics – cleansers, toners and moisturizer, deodorant, hair brush and accessories. There is always the toothpaste and tooth brushes too being thrown in at the last-minute.

  • Medications and First Aid

Unless you are planning a trip to Outer Mongolia most places have pharmacies. Tenerife is no different but I like to have the basics with me just in case. Calpol, plasters, Savlon antiseptic cream, a bite cream, burns cream, Imodium in case of any dodgy belly and paracetamol for mum and dad – you know just in case we might get a headache for some reason!

  • Toys

I let the kids pick their own toys. They must fit in their hand luggage. I do filter a bit but only if I see it going out of control. At the end of the day they don’t play with them too much. I find having colours and colouring books and an iPad or two does us fine.

  • Food

We are going self catering and therefore I like to pack some basics. Mainly kids stuff like non perishable snacks – Liga, Tuc crackers, tins of beans and maybe a box of Weetabix or Rice Krispies space dependent. When the kids were smaller I would have brought jars of baby food as I found the baby food abroad not as good but that is all gone now. We will hit a supermarket when we arrive to stock up.

  • Everything else!

It is all the rest of the bits and pieces that are the hardest. Sunglasses, arm bands for the pool, beach towels, phones, iPads, chargers for the phone and iPads, camera, adaptors. There is always something to forget. And always too much brought.

4. Me, myself and I

I try to fit in a few minutes to sort myself out too.  There are nails to be done, bodily hair to be removed and skin to be pampered in preparation for its annual public appearance.  If I can get to a professional beautician I will try and get my hand nails done with a 2 week manicure – save me worrying about them for the whole holiday.  Everything else I will do in a rush, probably the night before we go.

So, with less than 10 sleeps to go with are getting into nitty-gritty mode. We leave on a 7am flight (ouch). It is the first time our baby girl gets her own seat on the plane so that will be interesting! Once we arrive we then get to enjoy 16 nights of chill out and family time. Can’t wait.

ID-100160537Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make sure to go and check out Patricia’s linky and see all the other great bloggers share their holiday experience.

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