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So much changes when you have kids, particularly with everyday little things, but also with the big experiences. And one of the biggest experiences is going on holiday.
No matter when you decide to go, whether alone, as a couple, with friends, or as a family, it’s pretty exciting.
We haven’t yet planned our first abroad trip, but we have definitely thought about the places we want to go as a family. We want something that is going to interest everyone and be a great experience for all of us.
For us, that means Italy.
Italy has a really significant meaning to us as it was our first abroad trip together as a couple for Dann and I (Rome in 2010) and was the main country for our honeymoon.We inter-railed from England to Paris, and then to Italy, visiting nine cities across the Italian landscape. It was probably my favourite trip to date, and not just because we’d just gotten married.
So I would really love our first trip as a family to be in Italy as well. And top of my list is a return to Tuscany, and for a family we definitely need a rental villa in Tuscany*. The thing with having a family is ensuring that although you’re on holiday, you also need some home comforts and a really good home-base, which is what a villa or apartment offers, far better than a hotel room. Particularly when you have small children having a place to rest up, get daily naps in, and ensure you have some homely,”normal” foods and routines.
When we didn’t have any kids, things like a base location just weren’t so important. Sure you need somewhere to rest your head, but it wasn’t so important how homely it felt, it just needed to be comfy and safe. Nowadays we need a home from home so Henry (and the to-be little one) can feel secure and keep to a routine, even whilst away from home.
Tuscany holds a lot of sentiment for us too as we have been to Piza and Florence whilst on honeymoon, so we really want to visit and have a truly memorable first holiday as a family – probably of four. And Florence is a must revisit location for us as we just couldn’t fit it all in the last time we were there!
But with planning a big trip comes a lot of planning, and that planning is so very different when you’re planning it for you and little ones.
You need to consider your transportation, and times of flights. Do you travel at night and hope they sleep for the duration, because the other option is being kept awake ALL night if they won’t settle. Or a daytime flight and hope they don’t fidget too much. Plus you need to consider the flight time. Up to 3 or 4 hours is probably do-able with a toddler and a baby, but longer and it might leave you pulling your hair out mid flight and reaching for the mini vodkas!
And what about time zones? Depending on the time of year, Tuscany is 1-2 hours ahead of the UK, so a really manageable time difference and shouldn’t throw the little ones off schedule too much.
Then there’s the amenities at your chosen location. A villa or apartment is going to have pretty much everything you need in one place, and at no extra cost. Whereas a hotel room will cost you extra for cleaning clothes or getting food to the room instead of just making your own.
Plus a villa and apartment gives you a comfortable evening in, which lets be honest is going to be a priority after a long day exploring the local sites with small feet in tow.
You also don’t want to go somewhere that is too hot or too cold, because kids in extreme weather just isn’t going to be a fun experience if they aren’t used to it.
I have to admit, there’s a lot to consider. And it never entered my mind before having kids how much more work would be involved in planning a family holiday. I knew pretty much everything would be harder, but holiday planning is always so much fun, but is a very much more serious business when you have kids to think about too.
Just our UK holidays have been a consideration in themselves, so planning an abroad trip is just a little more daunting.
But I know it will be oh so worth it.
I’ve seen so many other families, and especially bloggers, sharing their family trips abroad, and they always seem like such a great experience for everyone. And it’s something I think is really important for children. Teaching them about travel and other countries is a vital part of parenting for me, and giving them as many experiences as possible whilst they are growing up.
So Tuscany, are you ready for this very excited family? We’ve said since the day we last visited that we needed to make a return, just this time with a few extra mini tourists too. We have more lists than you can possibly imagine (every trip needs lots of lists) and we’re so ready to get planning our first trip of a lifetime.
Full disclosure here
As a mother who loves to travel, I’d love to take Henry on a trip to Disneyland Paris someday. The trip won’t be cheap, but I’ve learned that I can buy or rent a Disney Vacation Club timeshare on the DVC Resale Market at a steeply discounted price.