Symi, June 2019.
The Greek sun is hot and we are soon reaching +35C every day. As we spend a lot of time outside, at the beach, it hits me time and time again, watching many parents struggle when traveling with kids, that parents are making it hard for themselves and their children. This sparked the wish to write an article about how to alleviate things and make the holidays fun and relaxing for parents and kids. I lived in five different countries with my kids, and they are used to travel, speak many languages and I find it easy and fun to travel with them. They are now 11 and 14 years of age. I realized that we accumulated some know-how that I will share here with you.
- Plan and research.
Planning is alfa omega.
Ask yourself a few questions in order to plan for your best holiday ever (always).
What time of the year will you be traveling? Are you traveling during the school holidays, then the prices will be higher and many places will be more crowded, hence it will be more queues, longer waiting times at restaurants, longer time to get the keys to your rental car and so forth.
Remember for example, that northern Europe usually starts the summer holidays earlier than the southern European countries. In my family, we always try to start our European travels early in the summer, just because of this reason. Fewer crowds. As the incoming travel to Europe is increasing by the year, the most popular destinations get even more crowded. For example, I wouldn’t go to places like Santorini mid-July. I’d opt for May or September for that destination.
Ask yourself about temperatures. Do you want to travel when it is a bit cooler or you seek warmer temperatures? Southern Europe is very hot in July and August. Temperatures around 35 degrees are common. Think about these things. Do your homework. Speak to locals. Go and like some people on Instagram, who runs accounts about your destination and ask them your questions.
When it is too hot, you may not want to do sightseeing and hiking for example. So, don’t plan on an educational trip with your kids to Athens in mid-August. The risk is that you won’t even have the energy to climb the stairs to the Acropolis, as it is too hot. Instead you would maybe just like to live a very chilled out life by the beach on a Greek island…? We went to the island of Symi yesterday, traveling by boat from Rhodes, and the only goals we had were to swim in the St. George Bay and have seafood by the port. We will come by another time of the year for sightseeing and exploration. The educational, fun trip to Athens can be done in October instead.
If you travel with babies and toddlers you may want to avoid July and August as they are so hot and places can be very crowded, making it hard on parents and children. In southern France, for examples, you will have to have big patience when it comes to parking, by the seaside too.
If going in July and August you may want to opt for a good standard of accommodation, knowing that rooms will be air-conditioned, that there will be a pool and that you feel accommodated matching your needs.
Do some research about the place where you wish to go. Small things can make a big difference. For example, some people may love Greece, but don’t like pebble stones at the beach. Then Rhodes Town, where we are now, would not be your place, as the beach is full of small pebble stones. Then you may opt for another destination on Rhodes.
Read about the hotel where you wish to stay. You can easily check people’s reviews on Trip Advisor, Airbnb, and Booking.com. When we planned for Rhodes Town I read about hotels for approximately 8 hours at a total. First I asked about suggestions on areas in Rhodes town, on my Facebook page, from people who know Rhodes well, then I checked them out on Google Earth, then I read reviews. After that we booked.
Am I satisfied?
The hotel is 50 meters from the sea, the room is fresh, white and air-conditioned. We don’t have a sea view, because we couldn’t afford that at this hotel, but the proximity to the sea makes up for it. Living close to the sea saves us time and energy. We can be spontaneous if we want, to take an evening swim. If we lived more inland we couldn’t.
The breakfast buffet at our hotel, serves tasty food which is highly inspired by Greek food. I am a foodie so that is important to me. I hate it when you come to a hotel in southern Europe and you get a continental, “plastic” breakfast. Having a freshly pressed orange juice with local oranges is something I prefer, to juice from a tetra pak, as we got it at a hotel in Portugal once.
Also, when it comes to accommodation: YOU may love to stay at a cool boutique hotel with your partner, but it may not be very child-friendly. My tips for you is that you choose a child-friendly hotel, for example with a swimming pool. Cool boutique hotels can wait until kids are older or when you and your partner can go on a trip yourselves.
At our hotel, which is a bit fancy, there is, for example, quiet time by the pool between 3-5 pm, when kids are not allowed to play loud games. I think that is fair. But except for these times, kids can be in the pool and enjoy themselves.
If you have done your homework the risk is smaller that you will be disappointed at your accommodation.
2. Summer and seaside
This is what actually sparked my intention to write this article. How to be comfortable at the beach, with your kids, when it’s hot. I see so many crying babies and toddlers by the seaside.
First thing first, which would be a no brainer: apply sunscreen before going outside. Not at the beach. Use a high factor. My daughter has 50 and my son has 20-30. They have different types of skin.
Put a hat and sunglasses on your child! So many “holiday kids” are running around without a cap/hat and sunglasses. Also, cover their shoulders at the beginning of the holiday, so they don’t burn.
Children in buggies should be able to sit in the buggy so that they are in the shade. We see so many kids in buggies, straight in the sun, red-faced, crying. We feel for them.
At the beach. Gone are the days for parents of babies and toddlers when you could lay down and only think of your tan and a cool drink. Now is the time to check your child when you are at the beach. It is YOUR responsibility! Also, kids may benefit to sit under a parasol after their swim.
Give the kids lots of water, not to dehydrate.
Enjoy a lunch mid – day when the sun is at its hottest. Take a look at what locals do. They go home and have lunch when the sun is at its hottest. They don’t stay and sunbathe!
That’s it for now. Please comment and share!
Yvette Larsson, Rhodes, June 2019.