As the cost of holidays goes up the idea of self catering becomes an option. Sometimes a self catering is a good idea for the first few years, or just to have a change. Making sure you have the right essentials wherever you stay and that you have packed the right stuff makes it all so much easier. Once you are there you can breathe and relax.
Staycation or vacation?
Is self catering with a young family a good idea? Isn’t it just more work? The same work but in another house that’s not yours and doesn’t have all your bits and pieces to hand? Getting away from it all can be through a staycation or vacation. What are the essentials when looking for somewhere to stay? Sometimes we forget that there are great places to visit for a break . Or a family obligation means we need somewhere to stay.The thought of a hotel just didn’t always work for us, especially when the little one was a fussy eater. .
This is another story. Pack it all into the car and hit the road. Go by train or coach if it is easier or quicker. Kids and little ones just love a journey on a train and can get very excited about the trip. If you can book your seats nice and early you can get the space you need. But then you need to pack light, and that is not always easy to do! plan your journey
Travelling overseas can be just a bit easier if you do self catering. The choice is really whether you want your own space or want to go all inclusive. If you are flying then at the other end you need to look into hiring a car. It’s also vital knowing where to get the basics when you need them. You shouldn’t need to pack to many nappies – you can buy them everywhere you go!
One thing to certainly make sure you have if you are going overseas is medical insurance. And no matter where you go always have a first aid kit. You never know when you are going to need that Calpol!
Making family self catering work
So who are are you going with? Just you and the kids? Or your family/in laws or a mix of family and friends? It is essential to think about who you are going with, and if it really will be a vacation for you. We’ve tried each mix. Sometimes it works and sometimes you just can’t wait to get home! When it was just us and the kids we spent a week away, and we did potty training at the same time! We also went to a beautiful Gite in The Dordogne, close to a great village market with amazing food but a little difficult at times with an 18 month old and grand parents who liked long lunches in high end restaurants. The killer was that we only had one car – there was no escape!
The latest was a family stay in the Lake District. It was amazing with a great big garden, two kitchens and 4 bathrooms. The family meant that there were baby sitters on hand and cousins as instant playmates. Everyone had brought their car so no one was really stuck and we could all go off on excursions – trips to the lakes, or to the nearest pub, while others went on a bear hunt and then ended up finding Peter Rabbit!
- Parking – make sure there is enough parking available, and not in a restricted area where you need to pay. Off road right by the villa/cottage/house is best.
- Outside space – it makes it so much easier if you can let the kids run around in the garden and not have to worry. The safest is a walled garden, or a space that is enclosed. Check for streams and ponds – these are trouble for little ones!
- Bedroom layout – you want to be close to the kids and still have their rooms away from the living space so that you can have some fun after their bedtime! Bunk beds work really well for little ones, and a smaller bedroom can still be shared with a pop up cotbed so that siblings can keep each other company.
- Child friendly interior – the last thing you want to have to do when you arrive is make the indoor space child safe. Ornaments and antiques are lovely to look at but any damage will be taken out of your deposit!
- If you want to cook- a decent and well equipped kitchen is a must! Just ask for the itinerary for the kitchen before you go. You can make sure they have what you ned or bring it with you. Just don’t forget to take it home! Most self catering places will have a microwave and a small equipped kitchen. The larger the space the larger the kitchen and the higher end spaces will have coffee machines and wine fridges.
- Time savers: when you have little ones and you want to have a holiday you absolutely must have washing machine, dryer and a dishwasher! It makes it so much easier to clear up after cooking. And a washing machine means you can wash away and mishaps and won’t have a huge pile to do when you get home!
A packing list for little ones
Traveling and staying away with little ones can be quite daunting, but if you have the right kit with you it makes life a lot easier. If your little one likes using the travel kit then that makes it even easier. My kids get very excited when they see us getting the kit out and they know they are going on a trip away.
When we first bought each item of kit we put them together and let the little ones just get used to them in the home, before we used them out and about. we found this made meal ties, bath time and bed time less stressful for all of us. This in turn made our holiday’s so much happier and more relaxing!
So here is our list of items in our travel kit – for babies aged 1 month to 4 years old:
- Stokke folding travel bath
- Mothercare travel high chair
- Koo-di foldaway crib
- Aero-moov travel cot
- Travel steriliser bags
- Lindam travel gate
- Black out blind
So now you have everything you need to have a great self catering holiday here are some sites to give you some ideas as to where to go: