In the first of my Best and Worst Holidays series for 2019, we are hearing from the lovely Kirsty at World for a Girl. She is sharing with us both their worst and best holidays with kids. Over to Kirsty.
Our Worst Holidays with Kids
Before we had children, my partner and I used to travel all the time to exciting and exotic locations around the world. After, our eldest was born, we continued as usual with epic road trips around Iceland and eurorailing around Italy until… we realised that we were coming back from our holidays exhausted, frazzled, kaput.
So we listened to our friends – the sensible, settled ones who seemed to have it together as parents. We listened to them and booked our first ever all-inclusive package holiday. It’ll be so relaxing, they told us. You just stay in one location and go to the beach everyday. You’ll come back so refreshed. You’ll be converted.
Our chosen destination was Boa Vista, one of the stunning islands that make up the island nation of Cape Verde bang in the middle of the Atlantic. Exotic but on Greenwich Mean Time (no jet lag for the baby!) and an excellent choice for some winter sun. On paper, it sounded perfect so off we flew.
As soon as we arrived at the huge, all-inclusive holiday complex, we felt trapped. At best the resort was a luxurious concrete prison thirty minutes drive from anywhere. Thousands of tourists fought for the ‘best’ tables to eat in an overcrowded buffet restaurant where all the food was imported and of dubious quality. Half of the resort was adult-only with these tourists going out of their way to avoid contact with us and our baby.
Only two days prior to flying to Cape Verde, I had discovered that I was pregnant with our second child. Unlimited alcohol and seafood buffets were suddenly off the menu for me. But constant nausea and extreme tiredness were in. As for our toddler within hours of consuming his first buffet meal, H had picked up a bad stomach bug. Each morning, we were waking up to find out that his nappy had leaked in his baby sleeping bag. The hotel maids getting more and more annoyed with us as we soaked soiled laundry in the bathtub.
Being February the winds were up. My partner’s scuba diving was cancelled, the pool was too cold for our toddler to play in and on the beautiful, secluded beach sharp sand grains flew in your face and hair. After two days being trapped in the ‘island prison’, we managed to use the dodgy wifi in reception to book a locally-run island tour. The awesome guys that ran this tour company were the saviours of our disastrous holiday to Cape Verde. They took us around the island in their jeeps showing us magnificent sand dunes, shipwrecks and explaining us how the mass tourism trade was ruining local communities and causing huge economic disparities between locals. At last, we got to see something of the real Cape Verde.
Finally after a week we flew home to the UK realising on the plane that in an entire week we hadn’t spoken to anyone apart hotel staff and our awesome tour guides. Have we been on another package holiday since then?
Don’t be silly, of course not!
Our Best Holiday with Kids
One of our very best holidays ever was a 10 day trip that we took over Christmas 2018 to Myanmar. It was exactly the opposite of our disastrous Cape Verde package holiday. We organised it ourselves from scratch, travelled between multiple locations, explored the country and engaged with locals and other tourists. It was exciting, adventurous and inspiring.
Last year, we spent a lot of time travelling in Asia but Myanmar really stood up for us because it is less developed and less touristy than its neighbours. There were so many interesting things to see and do in Yangon, Inle Lake and Bagan that our days were busy. Every single day, we woke up to the most beautiful clear blue skies knowing that that day we would go and see world-class sights. From the most ornate golden stupas glistening in the sunshine to crumbling ancient temples for exploring, the sights and sounds of Myanmar were captivating for the whole family.
Initially, we were concerned our children were a little young to travel around Myanmar at 3 and 5 years old but we needn’t have worried. The Myanmar people were so kind and generous to the children. Often the children would walk out of shops and restaurants with their arms packed with gifts (bags of oranges, souvenirs) that the owners at bestowed on them.
We carefully selected flight times that worked for us, hotels with nice swimming pools and planned our days to include lots of fun and lots of rest. Fortunately, our children ate really well in Myanmar. They love chicken and rice, stir-fried vegetables, fresh fish and of course, the odd plate of french fries.
I would highly recommend any family considering a holiday to Myanmar to go. It’s easy to plan independently and you’ll bring home so many amazing memories – as well as souvenirs!B
Kirsty is a British family travel blogger currently living in sunny Malaysia. She has travelled to over 100 countries including 20 with her young children. When she’s not reading books about women’s history, she blogs about family travel with a dash of feminism at World for a Girl. Her goal is to inspire girls to be fearless global adventurers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter!
If you’d like to feature in my Best and Worst Holidays Series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.