Sunday, 20 October 2013

Holidaying abroad - will it be worth it in the end?

With two days left of our Welsh holiday this summer, I was cooped up in Merlin's soft play centre just off the Haverfordwest bypass, with rain lashing down outside, children sweaty and hyperactive, and I took advantage of the free wifi to look at holidays in the sun for next summer.

Five minutes later, quite unexpectedly, I had actually booked a holiday, and not for next summer, but for the next half-term holiday.

For admirable but annoying environmental reasons, Tom hasn't allowed us to leave the country (by aeroplane at least) for seven years.  So these were the hasty actions of a woman on the edge - an environmental rebel.  And in just two months' time we would be leaving on a jet plane!

I then had to break the news to Tom, who was at that moment squeezing through a tunnel  full of dirty coloured balls, five metres above my head, being jeered at by a bunch of eight year olds, while in pursuit of Dolly.

Once he was safely back down on ground level and drinking a Fruit Shoot, I nervously told him that I had just booked us all a holiday to Mallorca.

He took it surprisingly well, after all, I had spent a few rainy summers regularly pointing out the unfairness of inflicting his self-denying principle on the rest of us - plus I think the Fruit Shoot had gone to his head, and he would have agreed to anything.

So we leave this Wednesday, and now I feel like my head is going to explode with all the things that I've got to do, coupled with the worry that Gove might fine us for daring to take our kids out of school for a couple of days.

International travel - and school rules, come to that - and the passport application process, thinking about it - have all changed a lot in seven years, particularly when you opt to fly with a budget airline. Gone are the days when you would simply book your holiday and get sent a ticket in the post, and pack whatever the heck sized bag you wanted with virtually anything in it.

You now have to do EVERYTHING yourself.  They don't even check you in at the airport any more - you have to do it online and print your own boarding passes, insurance documents, flight confirmation, car hire vouchers, accommodation vouchers, car parking vouchers, toilet vouchers... I'm half expecting that we're going to have to fly the bloody plane as well.

You seriously need to have your wits about you, particularly if you are taking hand luggage only.  In hindsight we should have paid the extra £60 to have a much larger suitcase in the hold, but I couldn't get over the fact that it would have cost more for my suitcase to travel than for me - so we're stuck with these miniature bags.

I've spent most of the day worrying about things like making sure all finger and toe nails are cut (no scissors allowed on flight), finding a lightweight hand bag that I can squash into my mini suitcase, buying zipped 20cm x 20cm freezer bags (heaven forbid if the bag doesn't have a zip) and tiny shampoo and toothpaste, and powdered Calpol. The whole experience is an uncomfortable mixture of irritating and surreal.

We're going to look like a family of fat giants, wearing dozens of layers of clothes at the airport (in order to keep below the 10kg weight restrictions on the bags) and carrying our tiny bags.

And there's a good chance we are going to have a really smelly week with one towel and a tiny bottle of shampoo for the whole family, plus Tom and I have no choice but to share a deodorant.  Honestly, anyone would think that they don't want us to leave the country.

Still, the excitement of digging out sun hats and flip flops, and the smell of the sun cream as I squeeze it into several 100ml plastic bottles from Primark, on this dark and wet October afternoon in Blighty, is almost too much for me.

As long as the sun shines, it will be worth it. I just hope we don't spend the week hankering after our old and trusted (and logistically straightforward) friend, Wales.


Annie said...

Very funny read - have a great time!

Unknown said...

Hi Annie, thank you! :)

nappy valley girl said...

I think it's admirable that you've stayed in the UK for seven deserve some sun! As one who has flown quite a lot with kids now, all I can say is, the older they are, the easier it is. Mine just watch the movies now and are good as gold. Hope you have a marvellous time.

Unknown said...

Hi NVG, thank you! I am now beyond excited - just being in an airport again will be exciting enough - oh dear... it's been way too long! xx

Unknown said...

nice info. annie...........

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