Reality check: Holidays with a toddler are VERY different to without one

toddler taking first steps

Remember the days pre-toddlers when holidays were all about relaxation, cocktails by the pool and late night dinners by candlelight? You could choose from all manner of luxury accommodation on your disposable double salary income and the only thing that stressed you out was the overwhelming choice on the wine menu. 

Then you had a baby! And, boy, did holidays change. 

Luxury accommodation versus kid friendly 

Perusing the accommodation options for your next holiday, you linger longingly over that infinity pool overlooking the beach, the romantic tables set up for dinner and the private picnic day trip options. Then you move on – the ‘adults only’ resort embedded in your vision.

You continue to work your way through the options, lowering both your standards and expectations in line with your smaller budget.  

Accommodation options must now tick the following boxes; non-breakables in all rooms, kids club, babysitters, playgrounds, multiple swimming pools and loud buffet dining options where staff are happy to scoop food remains off every surface.  

Kids clubs versus night clubs 

Forget the days where holidays were all about night clubs and dancing until dawn.  With toddlers in tow, the only clubs that you’re now worried about getting into are the kids clubs.  Much like when you used to get those vital tickets early to get your name on the door, your suitcases won’t even be unpacked before you’ve located the ‘club’.  

You eagerly introduce your toddler and ask where you should sign them up for every possible activity that they can do. If some are age or height restricted, you briefly think about lying about their age or putting some platforms in their shoes so they look taller.

Early nights and early mornings versus late

Holidays pre-toddlers comprised of working your way through the cocktail menu, while enjoying the escape from schedules and routines. With no pressure to get up in the morning, time was of no concern. Staying up late and sleeping in was part of the package.

Holidays with toddlers comprise of waking up at sparrow’s fart and crashing down with the sun. Staying up past nine makes you start to twitch as you calculate the hours of sleep you’ll sacrifice if you don’t head to bed now.  

And keeping the kids up late for just one night or two ‘because we’re on holidays’ ALWAYS backfires.  Toddler tiredness on steroids anyone?

Non-stop activity versus relaxation 

When toddlers arrive somewhere new it’s understandable that they want to explore and do EVERYTHING at once. And that’s fun for us too. But when this exploration and relentless activity schedule feels like a two week boot camp, the novelty starts to wear off.

Unlike those lazy mornings of holidays past, on these holidays you will have done breakfast, sand castle building and life-saving swimming activities by 7.30am. Activities continue until you inhale lunch at 10am, and the rest of the day pans out the same.

It’s likely that the most relaxation you’ll get is sitting on the loo. You’ll return home more exhausted than when you left.

It’s not all bad

Despite all the above, holidaying with toddlers isn’t all bad. Watching them play in the pool for hours, exploring their new environment and making new friends is lovely to watch.

And remember – you don’t have to clean up and worry about food prep and the relentless activity does mean they will sleep well!

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