A guide to travelling with your children at Christmas
Posted Oct 18 2012 4:51am
‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, sang Andy Williams – and he may have been right, but you can’t help but feel he was neglecting a few other key adjectives. ‘The most unbelievably stressful time of the year’ might also have been quite appropriate, though perhaps not as catchy. Then again, Andy probably never had to experience a day of juggling sugar-addled children, a kitchen full of food in danger of burning, ‘helpful’ in-laws, and the one relative who overdoes the mulled wine without fail every year. Christmas might well be something kids dream of, but it’s fair to say that hosting it can be a bit of a nightmare for the adults.
It makes sense that many parents choose short breaks for some time away from home at Christmas, whether over the holidays or on the day itself. A holiday in the UK is perfect for getting away from it all, particularly for city-dwellers, and for experiencing new surroundings without travelling too far. But as much as Christmas at home can be an ordeal, spending it away brings fresh challenges too. Don’t panic; here are some vital ‘dos and don’ts’ for a festive break away.
- Think about the journey. Even if not a particularly long one by your standards, children can get bored on car journeys quickly (and you’ll get bored of being asked how long it is until you get there). Packing a few car games and toys should remedy this.
- Try a holiday village. If you want to escape suburbia for the countryside but don’t want to lose any of the amenities (which can be important with little ones), holiday villages like Center Parcs are the perfect option. There are restaurants and supermarkets on site, as well as masses of activities for the whole family which takes away the stress of trying to keep everyone entertained. Each village is set within 400 acres of beautiful woodland, so even though it may not be too far from home, it feels like another world. At Christmas time Center Parcs also offer magical Winter Wonderland breaks with festive entertainment and activities.
- Meet other families. A lot of parents crave contact with other parents but don’t know where to start with befriending them. Christmas breaks can provide a great environment for both adults and children to make friends, thanks to the relaxed atmosphere and option of group activities.
- Let someone else do the cooking. Preparing Christmas dinner can be one of the most taxing tasks of the holidays. Having your meal out can take a huge amount of pressure off, not to mention the fact that it means you can spend more time with your family, rather than in the kitchen.
- Take some time for yourself. Christmas is a family holiday, but it’s also your break too. Make sure you schedule some ‘you’ time amongst all the excitement, whether it’s treating yourself to a relaxing spa treatment or just curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book.
- Stay in just because it’s chilly. Packing warm clothes is always important for a winter break, and making sure you and your family are wrapped up cosily means you can enjoy going out and taking walks in the crisp winter cold. It’s a great family activity and if you’re staying in the countryside, the scenery will be beautiful and more than worth enduring the weather.
- Sacrifice family traditions. In other words, if there’s something you’d do at home and things won’t feel like right without it… do it! Christmas away should still feel like your Christmas. So if you want to pack your favourite tree decorations to bring along with you, or watch Doctor Who together on the day, you should.
- Forget the essentials. Remember to pack medicine and various basics, but also other necessities like comfort blankets and favourite toys, books or DVDs. A holiday, particularly at Christmas, can be a big upheaval, and you might need the right emergency tools to counter a little homesickness.
- Plan too rigidly. While having activities to do is a good idea, organising every minute of your time in advance is just asking for trouble – and it probably won’t work. Don’t fret too much, and most importantly, have fun.