My top 10 travel must haves…..
I have been so fortunate to have been able to travel the world and it’s something that I feel has shaped me, moulded me and made me grow as a person. The love of travel is something that I would like to pass on to Bear and I dream of the places that I could take him.
My top 10 travel must haves have changed so much. Once upon a time, I would have wanted to know how far away the nightlife was so that I knew if I could enjoy all that was on offer.
Then, I wanted to know what there was to see and do in a more cultural sense.
Could I ski to my lodge door, could I scuba dive with Great White Sharks or Manta Ray (yes to both but in different parts of the world) and how far away from the nightlife were we (so that I could avoid the noise and get some sleep)?
Now, times have changed. I have changed. It’s not just me, now it’s we and it’s a different looking ‘we’ than the majority of families.
My top 10 Travel Must haves are:
I have been so lucky that I have been able to take Bear to Spain, to stay at my family’s villa but whilst we are there, I am his playmate. I am the entertainer. I am the one who drags toys and floats and the huge bag of ‘stuff’ that you need for a full day on the beach. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this. All I ever wanted was to be a Mummy but in my situation, a holiday can leave me broken.
Mark Warner resorts are renowned for their holiday clubs. Children don’t just play in an air conditioned play group with a paddling pool in the back – they can jump in the waves with fully qualified, British nannies by their side, safely, in sheltered bays, play on the beach or pool and try new activities and gain confidence.
I wouldn’t want him to be in club all day every day, but half days would mean that I could rest and recharge, ready to make the time that we do have together, memorable and get the most from the resort.
My family’s house in Spain is brilliant and I am so lucky to have been able to visit but it is an hours (self driven) drive from the airport and 15/20 minutes away from the beach. The thought of having the beach on your doorstep and a transfer that I don’t have to drive myself sounds like heaven. Even though I’ve been a passenger many a time and driven the route plenty of times, I still manage to make some questionable choices of direction when trying to get to and from the airport in Spain.
Mark Warner summer resorts have been handpicked for their fantastic beach locations and only one resort transfer takes longer than 30 minutes, with 2 being only 15 minutes. That’s more time having fun and enjoying the sun.
Those that have travelled with young children and babies, will know that no longer can you have a whole suitcase for your collection of bikinis, sun dresses and sandals or shirts, shorts and sun hats. You’ll be lucky if you can squeeze your belongings into a carry on bag with the boat load of child related paraphernalia that you need. Even if you choose to cold water sterilise when away, you still need a lot of things and the odd toy (entire collection of Disney cars cars) and if you’ve got a fussy eater that only eats certain food or a weaning baby that you want to feed familiar food such as pouches from the UK, being in a hotel can be an absolute nightmare. Have you ever tired to puree spaghetti bolognese with a fork? I have. As I’ve always had to entertain my son myself, I once took my biking mad son’s balance bike abroad in the suitcase to help fill the gaps between food times and the beach.
Mark Warner resorts have parents kitchens, fitted with microwaves, kettles and sterilisers so that’s more room for (your) their clothes and as the creche’s are filled with toys, you’ll only need pack the absolute essentials.
Once upon a time, I travelled the world, tasting the local cuisine but on our usual self catering holiday with friends, we have tended to eat quick and easy meals that we can cook as soon as we drive home from the beach and something that we know everyone will eat – pasta and salad, pizza and salad, chilli and salad………
All of the Mark Warner summer resort restaurants serve a variety of international and local dishes, freshly made with local ingredients and the ski chalets offer home cooked hearty meals to fuel you on the slopes. Food tastes so much better when you don’t have to cook it yourself and for me, it saves my energy and leaves me able to give that time to my son.
Every family is different and the main players in mine on a daily basis are myself, my son, my mum and my sister although my dad and brother in law support us as well. As a single mum, going on holiday on your own can be daunting but Mark Warner recognise this and if your children ditch you for the clubs, there are so many activities that you can do from tennis to water sports, cycling and fitness. If like me, you’ll take the opportunity to relax, there are adult only areas – some resorts have quiet beaches or pools where you can relax and recharge.
Carrying on from family, if you’re traveling alone or as a single parent, the evenings can be lonely and you can feel separate from all the couples and more conventional families but Mark Warner hold a social dinner where you can meet others who are also holidaying alone or as a single parent. They also have relaxed and lively bbq’s which create a fun atmosphere, just like in the bars where it’s easier to socialise and meet new friends.
When I have gone on holiday, either my parents have come with me to help me rest by taking over the childcare duties for a while, or I have holidayed with a friend, leaving them at home to relax and take a break from helping both myself and my son. A holiday essential for me (or more of a dream really) would be to be able to take my mum (and maybe dad if there was room!) abroad to relax. I’d love for her to be able to play with my son, enjoy some lovely weather and surroundings and be able to relax knowing that my son is happy in the clubs and that I am resting as well. Some of the resorts have indulgent Spa’s and I’d love to treat her to a relaxing massage to say thank you for everything she has done for me.
In stark contrast from relaxation, adventure is big on our list, Be it finding a new park to play in, using our imagination and turning a not-so-secret area into a secret garden or a quiet bay into a pirates cove, we don’t need to go far to spark an adventurous mind. However, in the Mark Warner ‘Sun’ destinations of Greek Islands, Sardina and Corsica, you can find archeological sites, street markets, vinyards, fishing villages cobbled streets, Roman ruins and stone fortresses to name a few.
My self catering holidays mean booking everything separately – flights and car hire with sometimes hours in queue’s after landing when it seems that everyone else on the flight booked hire car with the same company. All this on top of a 3am wake up to get the only flight out or landing back home in the early hours, freezing cold with a cold and dark journey home.
When you book with Mark Warner, everything is sorted. Your hotel, convenient flight times, transfers, childcare club place and when skiing, your lift pass, ski equipment and even your child’s place in a recommend ski school, can all be booked in advance meaning that less time is wasted when you arrive.
I think we all agree that holidays are precious. We build up so many expectations for this one or two weeks of family time and when something goes wrong, it’s more than just being let down. It’s a years worth of saving, of sacrifice, of dreaming and using this break as a reason to keep going through the hard times. The more I hear about holidays being ruined, the more I worry about whether I can trust a company. In fact another blogging friend was let down by a massive package holiday company and a replacement holiday with Mark Warner saved the day and has converted her.
Mark Warner have such a long standing reputation for providing excellent holiday experiences that even if we are not chosen to be ambassadors, I will try and save to book a holiday with them as I want to experience what everyone raves about.
So these are my top 10 travel must haves. There are so many other things that I could have picked, such as sun cream, sunglasses, camera, calpol, baby wipes, HUGE beach bag for the thousands of other things but the 10 I have chosen will never change. We may look for different things from it, but location will always be important. The adventure and entertainment that we look for will change as my son grows but we will still want both of these, even if it’s the dreaded wifi and a coach trip to a water park. You get my drift.
One day, I hope to be able to take my son to ski but until my health improves and he gets that little bot older, chasing the sun is where it’s at, for me.
This is my entry to get the peeps at Mark Warner to notice us and hopefully choose us to be 2017 ambassadors. I’d like to be a #markwarnermum.