Guest blogger: Katie is a self-confessed traveloholic. Travelling across Europe, Asia and Africa with her family has provided them with new experiences, new recipes and unforgettable memories.
I’ve always loved travel so becoming a mum wasn’t going to curb my enthusiasm for overseas adventures. In fact, it’s probably heightened it because now I get to share my adventures with my two little ones.
My eldest had her first trip on a plane when she was just three months old and my youngest managed to beat even that, boarding his first flight a month earlier. Despite the obvious difficulties of having to haul more equipment and luggage around with us, travelling with children has always provided more happy moments than frustrating ones. Besides, the baby and toddler years are some of the cheapest for travelling with kids because of the free seats, tickets and offers you get for young children.
Here are just a few of our favourite family holiday moments – some in destinations you might expect but others more off-the-beaten tourist trail.
Picnicking with penguins
|source – http://www.flickr.com/photos/graeme/4183094246/|
Boulders Beach in South Africa is home to thousands of African penguins. You can get an idea of the sheer size of the colony by strolling along the wooden boardwalk behind the beach. But to really get up close to these charming black and white birds, we clamber under and over boulders until we’re in the middle of the beach. Here, we sit within touching distance of the penguins, who watch curiously as we eat our sandwiches. They waddle clumsily down to the sea before plunging gracefully into the icy Atlantic.
Christmas snow at Disney
I know Disney is an obvious choice. But when it comes to magical moments, Disney certainly knows what it’s doing. We visited Disneyland Paris just before Christmas, meeting Santa in Frontierland, riding the carousel and watching the fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle. Just as we thought our day couldn’t get any more enchanting, it starts to snow as we walk down Main Street, which is all lit up with twinkly lights. Yes, Disney can even make it snow on cue.
Camel riding in Essaouira
Much of Morocco provides a mixed bag of experiences when it comes to travelling with little ones. But Essaouira, which sits between Casablanca and Agadir on the west coast, is more laid back than much of this intriguing country, attracting a more bohemian crowd along with water sports enthusiasts keen to take advantage of perfect conditions for wind and kite surfing. We didn’t take to the water, but lolloped along beside it on a camel ride. Our eldest was able to ride by herself while our little one rode along in front of me. It felt like we were in Lawrence of Arabia.
Drawing mermaids on Anna Maria Island
On a trip to Florida, we did Disney for a week before heading off on a Gulf Coast road trip for some R and R. Driving across the road bridge to Anna Maria Island feels like we’re heading back in time. The whole island evokes a 1950s charm, including the restaurants which are all incredibly child friendly. One of our favourites is the Sign of the Mermaid, where our two dine on a kids menu that includes broiled shrimp and mahi mahi fish, before adding their mermaid pictures to the children’s gallery wall. Hopefully, there are still two mermaids hanging in Florida with their names on them.
Back to nature in Andalucia
Sometimes you just want to get far away from the stresses and strains of everyday life – work, the school and nursery run, after school activities – and you don’t get much more get-away-from-it-all than the hills of Andalucia. While many Spanish resorts are tailor made for children, we head up into the hills near Comares, where we spend our days going for walks in the orange groves, seeing shepherds herding their goats, feeding donkeys carrots and jumping in our swimming pool – just doing what family holidays should be about, enjoying spending time together.