Ahhhh, sun, sea and …OK so that got you into this mess in the first place.
Now what I was not prepared to do once I had birthed those offspring of mine – was give up on going to nice places on holiday. Yes – good for the kids – but not having them in my face all day. My face was to be upright pointing at the sun – or buried in a good book. If you don’t have that – it’s NOT a holiday. It’s what I call – same rubbish – warmer climate!
So how delighted was I, when the brilliant people at boutique hotel booking service Mr & Mrs Smith decided to extend their eye for a great place, into the family marketplace – with the launch of Smith & Family. And for you today my lovelies – I have an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Tamara Heber-Percy – the co-founder, all about holidays and travelling with kids. Let’s go….
1. What is your top tip for travelling with kids?
If there’s even the tiniest bit of a control freak in you, the journey itself can be quite stressful. For me (control freak and proud), I’ve had to train myself to regard it as part of the holiday – I try to see the experience of moving through an airport through my kids’ eyes: something fun, exciting and new. When my children were small enough to ride on Trunkis, airports became a great big playground to zoom around. Now they’re responsible for their own PaddlePaks, which they love. Planning ahead is critical, but the key is not to stress yourself out unnecessarily. I sometimes have to force myself to relax, but now I almost enjoy the travelling as much as the destination.
2. Where was your last trip?
Borgo Egnazia in beautiful coastal Puglia for Easter. We love spending time with our two children on holidays and would rather not put them in the kids club all day (well, maybe for an hour or two sometimes…). We took advantage of all the great family activities including the pasta-making class – cooking orecchiette was great fun, if a little messy!
3. What key things should one look for when selecting somewhere to take the family on holiday?
If you have active kids like mine, book a hotel that actively promotes itself as welcoming families to avoid being on edge the whole time. Some hotels best cater for babies; others are best for older children. Think about what you need: extra space for a cot, somewhere to warm milk or activities to keep an energetic seven-year-old entertained. But don’t forget it’s your holiday too: don’t settle for sticky tables, bad wine and fish fingers at the end of the day! Make sure the hotel can make adults happy too.
4. What do you look for when reviewing family-friendly holidays for Smith & Family?
Of course the hotel has to be right for the little ones, but it also has to be designed with families as a whole in mind: I like spending time with my children but I don’t particularly want to sit on a tiny plastic chair all day, doodling with them in a kids club. What fun things can we do together? It’s just as important that it’s great for adults: a decent martini at cocktail hour, a fabulous meal and a great wine list will make us feel like we’re on holiday too. Very few places tick all those boxes.
5. Self-catering or hotel?
Actually, both. The more I travel, the more I prefer stays with self-catering facilities and all the services of a hotel at my fingertips. That way my holiday is tailor-made for me: if I want to relax and cook my own meals, I can, but I can also get someone to do everything for me and load the dishwasher. It’s the best of both worlds.
6. Please share your packing tips for travelling with kids.
Trunki’s PaddlePaks are our current favourite travel bags for the kids; they’re just the right size for their soft toys, a few sticker books and games for the plane. I always take my much-loved weekend bag from Bottletop on the plane. It’s huge but beautiful and fits everything I need, from the essential wet wipes to snacks and extra clothing. And I never forget a four-gang plug, so we don’t fight over who gets to charge their iPad!
7. Where do you buy holiday gear for your kids?
For clothes, I love Lilly & Sid for their stylish stripes and prints. I Love Gorgeous has pretty girls’ dresses for special occasions. We recently took wetsuits made by Saltskin with us on a trip to Mauritius; they’re bold, practical and super cute. Our children also learnt to snorkel so we took our own fins and masks from Ocean Leisure, who have great kids’ gear for all weather.
8. How do you occupy your kids when going on a long journey?
I find iPads so helpful: I load mine with a few new educational apps before a trip, so they don’t just watch films the whole way. A stash of healthy snacks can help keep them busy, and I’m a fan of Anorak’s products – our four-year-old daughter loves their colouring books.
9. The best place I have been to with my kids is….
Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali. We had an incredible trip there last year. It’s such an architecturally striking building, with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. We had an incredibly spacious villa and nothing was too much trouble. We’ve also had a wonderful time with the children in Italy; it’s such a welcoming place for families.
10. The place I would most like to take my kids to is…
Japan: I love seeing them experience a new culture for the first time. We’re also hoping to do a Californian road-trip in a campervan with the kids later this summer; Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur is outstanding – it won Best Smith Hotel at our first hotel awards last year – so we’re hoping to stop off there en route. It overlooks the Pacific from the cliff-edge, has one of the best spas in California and boasts an incredible ranch-style restaurant. Heaven!
Inspired? I am! Sign up here to receive your free copy of the new Smith & Family Annual 2014. Smith & Family match best available rates, offer loyalty money back on every booking and a free family-friendly extra on arrival. To book visit smithandfamily.co.uk or call the expert Travel Team on 0845 313 9007.
Thank you SO much Tamara! So whilst the weather here is rubbish – get busy and think of balmy days, sand underfoot, a nice cocktail and kids in a Kids Club. Bliss.