This post is a guest post by Jenny at PortugalHolidays4U
It’s that time of year, the time to start planning your holiday for next year.
As any parent of a toddler will understand, this plan has two lines of thought, absolute delight in planning an idyllic family holiday, with sand castles, fun and happy memories and then the reality of sunburn, food struggles and late nights.
Holidays can be both fun and stressful when you have a toddler. Will you be able to buy the food they like, will your chosen destination have the brands you know and trust and most importantly, will the people in the hotel room/apartment next door be another happy family or a raucous bunch of holiday makers disturbing your peace?
There is a simple solution to these problems that will make your holiday go far more smoothly.
Have you ever considered booking a private villa?
An all inclusive holiday sounds ideal, when you are a busy mum. No cooking, no cleaning and everything being taken care of for you. But in reality, you are often in a large complex where you can spend your whole time stressing about your children.
This article will give you an idea of the difference being in a private holiday villa, can make.
Most parents of a toddler have a routine that suits them as a family and keeps the toddler happy. However, the routine for one toddler is not the same as it is for another toddler (sometimes, even if both are in the same family!).
Going on holiday should not mean a disruption to that routine. Bedtimes, mealtimes and nap times are important, nothing is worse on your holiday than an over tired and over excited toddler.
Staying in a complex often means having set meal times, whereas in your own private villa, you are able to continue with your normal routines.
If your child has a set bedtime, staying in a hotel can upset this dramatically, with doors banging and people returning to their rooms at all times of the night and in many different stages of inebriation.
You also have the added disruption of being in the same room as your toddler, even if you have a balcony, the noise can be disrupting (not to mention the mosquitoes that will then fly in through those open doors).
Now imagine staying in a villa, a home from home, where the children can go to bed at bedtime and you can close the door in a safe house, feeling as secure as you do at home, whilst you get to relax and enjoy your adult time.
Maybe one of the biggest battles many parents have with a toddler is meal times, and what they will and won’t eat. That delightful time in a child’s life when they first discover the power they have over you and how quickly they can turn you into a jibbering wreck.
This can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks on a holiday. I know of parents where the child would not eat anything as it was so different to what they were used to. Even if you have a buffet meal available to you, there is a chance, some children will not eat anything on offer.
This is one of the biggest benefits of being in a private villa, you can do your own shopping.
In many tourist areas, you will often find that the supermarkets will have a continental aisle, which sells a large selection of foods from many countries. This means that your toddler can have the same food as s/he has at home.
You are also able to rest in the knowledge of how it has been cooked and whether tap or bottle water has been used.
This may not sound like a relaxing holiday for parents, but believe me, having your toddlers happy at meal times is well worth the extra effort.
Also are you aware that many private villa owners can give you the contact details or arrange for local chefs to come and prepare a meal for you? (once the children are in bed).
This way you can have the perfect family holiday, your own chef, amazing food and happy toddlers.
You have worked hard all year (whether at a job or in the home as a grandparent, I still can’t decide which was the most demanding!) so you should be able to relax on your hard earned holiday.
Can you imagine waking in the morning, surrounded by peace and quiet, eating your breakfast on the patio, in your own time with your own choice of food, overlooking your own private pool?
Compare this to queuing to get in the dining room with lots of other people and children who may not have the same good table manners as yours do. Not knowing who has touched your food before you fill your plate?
Or in the evening when the children are in bed, and you can sit with that glass of sangria and plate of tapas on the patio, listening to your pool lap gently by your feet. That pure moment of relaxation that is often glimpsed, but always slightly out of reach in normal life, is standard in a private villa. Knowing that nobody will be going past your window on their way to their own room.
I’m sighing with the feeling of relief as I write this…
No holiday in the sun is complete without a swimming pool, you can see it sparkling from your window when you awake, you can also see that all the good sunbeds already have towels draped over them!
That relaxing day by the pool, is not so relaxing if you are lying near the deep end and you have a toddler to contend with.
The pool is often filled with the inflatables of other children along with their beach balls for games in the pool. Making sure you can always see older children whilst being in the water with a toddler can be a scary experience.
Compare this with waking to see your private pool, with your sunbeds exactly where you left them, knowing they are waiting for you at whatever time suits.
For safety reasons, many private villas also have safety railings in place to prevent children from accessing the pool. This will put your mind at rest, so you can continue relaxing on your holiday. Just knowing that no beach ball is ever going to land on you, your drinks or your food is such a pleasant experience.
The local area
Even though you may have the dream holiday accommodation, you may still want to visit the local area and who better than a local to tell you where to go for the best food, local parks, quiet (or busy) beaches and amusement/water parks.
Many private villa owners often live nearby or will give you contact details so that you can ask these questions. They will know the best time to visit the amusement parks and will tell you the best mode of transport.
Unlike many resorts, the private villa owners are not on commission to sell activities, they just want you to have the best holiday you can.
Travelling with a toddler often means you will always have your hands full, buggies, bags and toys.
If you stay in a large resort this will mean either using the lift or the stairs, unless you have ground floor accommodation, which can mean people passing by your windows at any time of the day or night.
By holidaying in a child friendly private villa your life could be much simpler. You could choose a single storey building so no stairs or lifts. Or if you choose a two storey building you can check that there are safety gates in place at the stairs.
Many child friendly villas will also have toddler packs available, such as cots, highchairs and a selection of toys and inflatables (which will all have been cleaned before you arrive) you will not be sharing these items with other families in the dining room or the pool.
An important aspect of your holiday is actually travelling from the airport to your accommodation, with most package holidays the transfer from the airport to the accommodation is provided, again this sounds like an easy solution.
But do you really want to be waiting to get on a coach with all your baggage and your toddler? And you can almost guarantee you will not be the first drop off.
If you book a private villa, many owners will be able to provide private transfers, ether by the owner themselves or a local transfer company that they know and trust.
This means that when you leave the arrivals at the airport, you will not begin your holiday stressed before you start, but relaxed knowing that your toddlers are in appropriate safety car seats and you are on the quickest possible route to begin your holiday.
Whatever holiday you choose, we hope you have a truly wonderful time and make many happy memories.
Jenny Lovett is a mum and grandmother who travels often. She is also the founder of Portugalholidays4u.com. An advertising portal for holiday accommodation in Portugal and a source of information on all things related to holidays in Portugal.