To say I was nervous for this holiday was an understatement. I never get nervous for going on holiday, flying or being in a foreign country, in fact I love it. But this time was different. Not only were we travelling during a global pandemic, not only was I taking my baby girl abroad for the first time, but I’d also booked and organised it all myself. I’d taken up an opportunity during lockdown that allowed me to book my own travel and earn commission from it, alongside doing valuable training that will help me travel for less in the future. I’d booked a few trips within the UK using this program, but this was my first abroad trip. A couple of days before we flew, I felt sick with worry. Everything was going round in my head – what if somethings wrong and we can’t fly? (I triple checked everything), what if my little girl gets ill when we’re away?, what if we can’t get home because the travel rules change?! It was all swirling round in my head. We were travelling with our friends and their little boy as well, I don’t think I fully believed we would get there until a couple of days before we flew, and even then I was still certain something would go wrong.
We’d initially booked to go in early 2021, but due to red lists, amber lists, travel reviews etc. we ended up moving it 3 or 4 times in total. We’d booked to stay at the Bahia Principe Fantasia – which looked amazing, especially for children, however unfortunately it wasn’t available for one of the dates we were due to travel. So we moved the holiday to the Riu Buenvista in Tenerife. It had recently been refurbished during 2020 and the pictures and reviews looked great. Thankfully the time we moved it to November was for the final time.
So, it got to the week before and I thought I better start packing! I’d put all of Marlie’s holiday clothes to one side after the summer in the hope we would get away, so she was pretty easy and sorted. She also isn’t a fussy eater and is on cows milk so we took minimal bottles/cutlery/food for her (we didn’t even use her bowl or spoon) and her bib. I took all of her nappies, swim nappies, wipes etc. but you could get them out there if you needed to. My biggest worry was packing for the plane. I think we did OK in the end. We packed a few small toys, but ones that would keep her occupied such a stacking cups, books, a colouring pad (I’d take a sticker book next time and books with pull out bits as she loves them), snacks – ones that take a while to eat like rice cakes, fruit pouches were a god send on the way home (and would also be useful taking off if needed), oat bars – things like that. We also had a n iPad backed up with downloads from Netflix. She was really good on the flight out there, she slept for about an hour and was easily entertained. On the way home it was a bit harder as she only slept for half an hour but it wasn’t unmanageable (although towards the end I was getting a bit fed up of being touched and stood on). TUI flights are not very spacious at all – never mind with a toddler on your knee as well. But all in all there was no major kick offs or meltdowns, so that was a win.
When we got to the hotel (we were first drop off from the transfer bus too – that never happens!) I was pleasantly surprised with the hotel. It had a large reception area with lots of seating overlooking the hotel pools and the sea. The decor was lovely and it felt all new and clean. The lady checking us in made a remark about our rooms and how great they were. She wasn’t wrong! We were at the back of the hotel and our balcony looked out right over the adults pool and then it was just endless sea. Ideallyic (and much better than some views we could have ended up with 🤩). We’d read great reviews but I just think you never know until you get there. It was all really clean too (i know that should be a given but sometimes it’s not). My only downfalls with the hotel were buffet style restaurants and the pools were freezing cold!! I don’t know if it was the time of year or the fact they were salt water but 🥶🥶. It says something when one of Marlies new words from her holiday was ‘cold’! But it was OK once you were in 🥴. All of the food was lovely, but it felt very samey-samey by the end of the week. Even the restauants you had to book in were buffet style as well. That being said, there was a Grill, Asian and Italian on site. We tried the Grill first, and I think that was our downfall, it was in one of the restaurants we ate breakfast and lunch in, so it didn’t feel much different. The Asian and Italian however were both brilliant. I really enjoyed them – even though Marlie woke up as soon as we got to the Italian so Scott and I had to take it in turns to eat (more on that later!). We ate out of the hotel on a couple of nights too and it did feel nice to be waited on rather than have to take it in turns to get the kids food and then our own. We went to a lovely Thai in Las Americas called Thai Botanico and I’d really recommend it. We went twice to Las Americas, it was about €20 in a taxi about 15 minutes away from our hotel. We also went to Siam Park one day – that was really good too, under 3s are free and they had a great time!
So the first night started off really promising… then I said something you should never say… ‘I can’t believe it’s all going so well’ as they slept peacefully in their prams whilst we were eating dinner. The next minute Marlie started having a coughing fit, she coughed so hard she then proceeding to projectile vomit all over me, the floor, herself… luckily we were sat outside the restaurant on the very end row. But then that was it, I couldn’t settle – was it a bug? What if she’s sick again? What if she chokes? Panic set in and I googled emergency numbers and the full hotel address just incase (I’d do this in the future for anywhere I went now anyway). Thankfully though that was it, I think she’d had some bad milk from the hotel bar that had sat heavy on her tummy. So from then on it was supermarket milk only!
After that, she continued to wake up most nights just as we were about to eat. We’d made reservations for 8.30pm for all of the restaurants in the hope they would both be asleep. But Marlie knew this obviously and wasn’t missing out on the fun! All in all it wasn’t so bad, I felt guilty as some nights she was up quite late but it was only for a short period of time. We’d bought a travel pushchair before we went – the Chicco Cheerio- which was really good, other than the footrest didn’t come up flat. I’d definitely make sure we got one that did in the future because I’m sure she can’t have been very comfortable and that contributed to her waking up/not going back to sleep. In fact we didn’t strap her in one night so she could move around but she woke up as we sat down to eat and just slid out of the bottom of the pram 🙃. She was great though and would go straight off once we got back to the room and she was in her cot.
It was such a lovely break. It even felt like a break too, I think because we went with friends, which was a godsend and it had been a long time coming, we were so appreciative to be there. I even managed to read the majority of a book which I didn’t think I’d manage with a toddler. I’d totally recommend going away if you’re able too!
Tips for travelling at the moment, and with a toddler (Marlie was 1 and a half when we went);
• check and check again the requirements or the country you’re travelling too (vaccination/testing requirements/passenger locator forms etc.) they can change at any moment. Have your passport and flight details to hand when filling out the forms.
•pack light for the airport especially if travelling with children- a few toys (ones that are small but keep them occupied), snacks, iPad etc. We also had a trunki with a change of clothes, extra nappies etc in just incase.
•get to the airport early, (or bag drop before hand) especially if you want to shop! We got there two and a half hours early and we barely had time to grab a bite to eat! (terminal 2 at Manchester has had a right make over – I could’ve spent the day there!)
• save emergency numbers/hotel address and perhaps some emergency phrases just in case, it’s better to be safe.
•check the requirements in the country you’re going too. You’re still required to wear a face mask inside/crowded spaces in Spain.
•take something like a dooky for the pram for shade and to prevent nosey children waking up and wanting to see what’s going on!
•Don’t feel guilty about later nights for the children (I really did!) but at the end of the day it’s a holiday and they will catch up eventually.
•use snacks/toys/iPad to keep children occupied on a lounger so you can have some chill time!
• we used P20 sun cream on Marlie. You apply it in the morning and leave it to dry for 15 minutes and the protection lasts all day, even after swimming (it advises it will last through 4 x 20 minute pool sessions!). It was really good. I would still too her up every few hours with child’s farm factor 50 – just for my own sanity more than anything.
• buy milk from a supermarket!
• and finally, don’t hesitate! Just do it. It felt a lot more normal than I was expecting and we had the best time – travel is back ✈️ ☀️