The best family holiday is one where you leave the children at home

Nearly five years have passed since I became a parent. That s 13 holidays and short breaks, 10 tortuous flights, approximately 48 claustrophic hours spent in cars crammed with rubbish, one bottle of Calpol that shattered in the suitcase (and a resulting three days in clothes dyed a mottled purple), and a lifetime s worth of 3ams spent pacing rented rooms with an infant whose body clock is battling the time difference1. On one such late night, I was bouncing my sleepless baby around an Airbnb house in Skopelos2 when I finally reached the kind of sleep-deprived, hallucinatory state ripe for revelations. Mine was this: the best family holidays are the ones where you leave your children at home.

The Best Family <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Is One Where You Leave The Children At HomeIn an Airbnb house in Skopelos, Hattie Garlick had a revelation Photo: OLIVER SMITH

A couple of provisos: when I say holidays, I mean short breaks – trips away from the home that last roughly three days and two nights. And when I say family, I mean those with small kids.

Different rules apply when you reach the stage where you can take your children to the Uffizi gallery free from the anxiety that they might scribble on a Caravaggio with a Crayola. But if your children are under six, here s why you will all – kids included – get more out of a brief trip that doesn t include them.

The benefits for the grown-ups

The journey

Child-free breaks start at the very moment you tip them through Granny s front door, wave a cheery goodbye, and leg it. Parents of small children are the only known demographic for whom queuing for airport security can be a mildly thrilling experience, zen-like even, simply by removing from the equation a tantruming toddler tearing at the tensile barriers.

The Best Family <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Is One Where You Leave The Children At HomeWithout the children, queuing at the airport is a relaxing bit of Me Time

Plus, when you make it through to the other side, you can browse WH Smith in the departures lounge at your leisure and buy a magazine that a) doesn t include any superheroes or princesses and b) you might actually get to read on the flight.

The time

A quantum leap occurs in the space-time continuum when you go away without your children. Evenings, for example, actually exist. You can stroll from bar to bar in the balmy night, rather than perching on your hotel bed watching foreign sitcoms with the lights and volume turned low so as not to wake the twitching forms in their travel cots. Mornings, on the other hand, don t have to even rear their heads. Hello, lazy lie-ins.

Afternoons stretch out in a spontaneous, elastic fashion as you take in galleries, views, sounds and smells without short legs and attention spans spoiling things.

The chat

Abroad, without your kids, no-one knows who you are. You could be a mad, bad, dangerous or glamorous couple. Which means you can strike up conversations with strangers about subjects other than schools and sleep. More importantly, you can talk to each other about other things too, without interruption. This is good for the kids, too: happy Mum and Dad, with a healthy relationship, means happy children and a healthy family dynamic.

This takes us to…

What s in it for the kids?

The journey

Far shorter and more agreeable. Who likes being strapped to dad s lap and locked in a wrestling hold while your ears pop and your legs struggle to race up and down the plane s aisle3? A quick drive to Granny s house, during which The Parents are in such a bizarrely buoyant mood that they let you watch the iPad and eat jam sandwiches. Hooray.

The time

Granny has loads of time for you. At Granny s, your penchant for waking at 5am for pancakes and cartoons is considered cute – or, at least, acceptable.

Entire afternoons can be devoted to Lego. You have her undivided attention instead of sharing Mummy’s with the guidebook, a map, the view-finder of her camera and a 16th century fountain. Granny is so much more focused than Mummy. Come bedtime, your legs won t be aching from being dragged round heritage sites, your brain won t be buzzing from the lurid slushy drinks your parents had to bribe you with, and you will not be dragged to a restaurant when it s clearly 90 minutes past your bedtime and there s no way you can hold it together. Granny puts you to bed with a hot chocolate and yes, OK, one more book. Lovely Granny. Why can t Mum be more like Granny?

The chat

Granny finds your story about Power Rangers scintillating – the first time, the second time, the third and the fourth… right up until its 47th retelling in the afternoon of the final day, when you notice Granny s superhuman powers of enthusiasm starting to wilt. This is about the same time that you begin to remember that, actually, Mum and Dad have their good sides.

And they have that special way of tucking you in at night. Meanwhile, in an Italian airport, Mum and Dad have lost the battle not to talk about the kids and are gushing about how lovely you are and buying you lurid tat in the airport shop. Soon everyone will be back in their rightful place, with happy memories, but sighs of relief.

Need some inspiration?

Check out our list of the world’s most romantic hotels4, or, if you can’t be bothered with airports, head to London5 – you may not get the same views as you would in Paris6 or Venice7, but with cosy fires, candlelit dining, and four-poster beds, you’ll get plenty of R&R, and will return to the children refreshed.

References

  1. ^ battling the time difference (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ Skopelos (www.discountholidays.info)
  3. ^ your legs struggle to race up and down the plane s aisle (www.discountholidays.info)
  4. ^ the world’s most romantic hotels (www.discountholidays.info)
  5. ^ London (www.discountholidays.info)
  6. ^ Paris (www.discountholidays.info)
  7. ^ Venice (www.discountholidays.info)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*