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Our First Holiday as a Family of Four – 3 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

11th October 2019

In August 2019, we went to Andalusia in Spain. It was the longest we’d been abroad with our first born Dexter, who was three and the first trip abroad for our baby, Felix who was 8 months old at the time.

Looking back now, I have so many happy memories of our two weeks in Spain. We spent the first week with the boys’ grandad, in his gorgeous home in a tiny village in Andalusia, before moving on to a rented apartment in the mountains with stunning views over Lake Viñuela and a short twenty minute drive from the beach.

But at the time, it was hard. Like, really, really difficult. Being in a different country with a toddler and a baby with the heat, the lack of routine and the late Spanish nights, made things really difficult for my husband and I. We snapped at each other, we moaned and groaned and despite trying to do everything we could to try and have a holiday, the fact of the matter is, travelling with kids leaves hardly any time for you to enjoy yourself, unless you’re on the ball.

If we had our time again, would we do anything differently? Absolutely! We are so lucky that we had the luxury of staying with family for the first week and that our kids are generally really easy to deal with, but next time we go away, and boy I do hope there will be a next time (although the husband may need some convincing) there’s a few things I’d change.

Neil and Felix in the pool in fuenete camacho

1. Meal planning

By the time we got on our holiday, Felix had been weaning for two months and you’d think after going through this whole process with Dexter that we’d be dab hands at it by now – not so! I felt on edge about what to feed Felix most days, worrying about the mess we were making in my father in law’s home and panicking about salt and sugar content. I even resorted to a baby jars a few times which isn’t like me at all, yet giving them made me more comfortable that he was getting his usual daily dose of vitamins and minerals.

If I’d made a meal plan, like we usually do at home, it would have been so much easier to stick to our usual schedule but because Felix’s sleep was all over the place thanks to the late nights and hot days, as soon as he became hungry – I’d panic. I also really missed my freezer stash of batch cooked meals, so if I had my time again, I’d do a big batch of cooking on day one, so he would have lots of healthy snacks and finger foods for the whole week.

2. Insisting on sticking to routine

As I alluded to in the last paragraph, Felix’s routine was all over the place with him not going to sleep until really late at night and not sticking to set meal or bottle times. Although I have always been baby led when it comes to my children, they have both developed their own routine during the baby months with a specific number of naps, bottles and meals and a strict bedtime of 6-7pm which Dexter still sticks to now at three years old.

Felix sat in his pram outside Alojamientos Huetor with a big smile on his face

I wish we’d stuck more to this routine as we found that we were stuck next to a sleeping baby most of the day and trying to soothe him into the late evening meaning we didn’t get much of a holiday ourselves. Our babies have always thrives on routine which means whenever something doesn’t go to plan it results in a grumpy baby which isn’t fun for anyone!

3. Renting a bigger car

I totally and utterly cheaped out on the car hire and of course because of this we ended up with a tiny Toyota Yaris that was about twelve years old. Not only did we struggle to fit all the things we brought with us in the car, but it was impossible to drive in the mountainous region we were staying in resulting in some scary moments! Next time, I’ll definitely pay more to get a bigger, nicer car!

Del Paso car hire vehicle

This may sound like simple changes to make, but I bet next time they will make all the difference. Will we make it abroad again in 2020? Who knows! But, if we do, I’ll be making sure we are much better prepared this time!

29 Comments

  • Karen Barrett

    11th October 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Anglo bubbly

  • Iain maciver

    11th October 2019 at 4:31 pm

    cola bottles

  • Susan B

    11th October 2019 at 5:06 pm

    A small and lightweight buggy is essential.

  • Solange

    11th October 2019 at 7:21 pm

    A robust, child-friendly camera, a device loaded with apps and games and a collection of toys such as handheld puzzles, colouring books, stickers, wordsearches etc.

  • Lisa Perry

    11th October 2019 at 7:27 pm

    My vote is the same as at home.. baby wipes. You can never have enough of them 🙂

  • Heather Wild

    12th October 2019 at 11:13 am

    Really enjoyed your blog post on Felix’s first holiday. I love the idea of a SnoozeShade and this will come in really handy next Summer (our baby boy is due in Feb).

    1. Nicola | Mummy to Dex

      15th October 2019 at 4:01 pm

      Thank you Heather. How exciting! Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy 🙂

  • Angela treadway

    12th October 2019 at 3:15 pm

    baby wipes or hand gel! x

  • Carys Thorp

    12th October 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Mine would be a sick bucket as my daughter gets car sick!

  • Alica

    12th October 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Baby wipes, the same as when at home lol

  • Elizabeth Gaskell

    12th October 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Hat and sunscreen

  • Margaret Gallagher

    12th October 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Wipes and sunblock

  • Anonymous

    13th October 2019 at 9:27 am

    A DS is the thing that keeps my son happy so we always charged and ready for any journey!

  • paula cheadle

    13th October 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I have always got baby wipes, they are everywhere

  • belinda porter

    14th October 2019 at 11:08 am

    sun cream is a must

  • stuart hargreaves

    14th October 2019 at 11:15 am

    HEAD wear plus sun cream are essential

  • Janine Phillips

    14th October 2019 at 11:46 am

    Wipes and plenty of them and lots of suncream x

  • Emma G

    14th October 2019 at 1:50 pm

    A Swimming costume

  • Laura Pritchard

    14th October 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Suncream & wetwipes

  • Jessica Powell

    15th October 2019 at 12:29 am

    Wetwipes, so many wetwipes! In general you can never be overprepared with young kids.

  • Tracy Hanley

    16th October 2019 at 8:13 am

    Suncream

  • Kim Neville

    18th October 2019 at 6:49 pm

    comfort toy and a spare one in case they lose, sun cream, sun hat, wipes and swimming clothes and toys

  • Adrian Bold

    19th October 2019 at 12:14 am

    Suncream and insect repellent sprays.

  • James Rowlands

    19th October 2019 at 8:22 am

    It would have to be a sun hat

  • Charlotte G

    19th October 2019 at 12:01 pm

    I always take handheld fans and plenty of batteries, the fans that clip onto the pram are the best 🙂

  • Hayley Todd

    19th October 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Wetwipes, sun-cream, sun hat and swim vests

  • Emma Gosling

    19th October 2019 at 4:38 pm

    A small lightweight buggy is a life saver

  • Janis Mcalinden

    19th October 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Sunscreen and a hat essentials

  • Rich Tyler

    19th October 2019 at 11:54 pm

    Snacks, Suncream

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