5 Kids, New Partner, Budget holiday - what could possibly go wrong?
You probably know by now that Gus and I love having inexpensive trips. We are masters of the low cost, high value holiday and we manage it all so effortlessly and with good humour! Well, as we are deep in the holiday season and we're all getting excited about the joys of heading off to places where we don’t need the central heating and a 13.5 tog duvet in the summer, I thought I would share a couple of snippets of wisdom gleaned from my most memorable family holiday to Lanzarote with my (then new) partner and our combined 5 children. Let me tell you, we have learned how to do this over a long time together, and it hasn't always been instagrammable smiles and light...
I shall pass on the vital lessons garnered on this important first, and, somewhat unbelievably, not only foreign budget holiday together:
1) Do not rely on your new partner to wake up at the right time for your cheap early flight. Not unless you have specifically talked about it.
They may be relying on you to wake up at the right time.
Because neither of you have specifically talked about it.
2) Do not pay to park at Gatwick’s ‘Purple Parking’ if you live in Forest Row. It’s roughly the same distance from the departure hall as Forest Row is.
3) If you are newly divorced you may have a different surname to your children. Your children will have a different surname to your new partner. He may have a different surname to his own children. You will have a different surname to him.
This can be confusing to check-in people before 7am.
3) When you have the peace and quiet to focus – at the point of booking the seven return flights- no matter what unearthly time that may be, just take a moment to read the actual information rather than totally high-fiving yourself over the price. There is a reason why the price box on the timetable says £34.99 for a ticket to a sub tropical island off Africa’s West coast when an off-peak return train ticket from East Grinstead to Newcastle is £222.50. And it’s not only due to the time you’ve chosen to fly.
You have not paid for any bags. None. Not even the two massive ones you have just hauled onto the weighy belt thing. You will now have to fill in a proper paper form with a real pen and pay £60.
4) When reaching security, people generally don’t mind if you are desperate and you say you are going to miss your flight and you lift up the tape and queue jump ahead of them. Unless there’s 7 of you. Then they get a bit angry. Especially when you drop your glass bottle of Rescue Remedy and it smashes right next to their Italian suede loafers.
**Oh God, you’ve dropped your Rescue Remedy** And they are taking the 120ml of Body Shop foundation that costs £26 away from you. And your partner has only seen you, thus far, in darkness without it.
5) No matter how busy you are with your actual normal life in the evening before the holiday flights, do not succumb to the temptation to allow your children pack their own hand luggage. You may find that your son has packed his small collection of antique brass bullets in your handbag. The scanning people don’t like this.
6 ) They also dislike the image of 5 glue-sticks in a row tucked into a small bag. Apparently they look like Semtex. My daughter thought we all might like to do some cutting and sticking. You will have to wait to talk to the floor manager. She doesn’t like light-hearted jokes loosely based on how you’re not actually a terrorist.
7) Remind your son that although his own family love him unconditionally, other people find it hard to listen to requests to go Go-Karting more than once every ten minutes.
8) Also, when booking a cheap flight be aware that the cheap flights often depart from a gate with a number so high that your youngest child may only ever have seen it written down when she found out what age Albus Dumbledore was.
This gate is situated through all the exciting, distracting, shiny shops and then over a bridge which seems only to have the Great Wall of China as a rival in length.
You must be good at running and have no pelvic floor weakness.
8) There will be those flat escalators available to mechanically propel you towards the far off end of the sky bridge, but please note that children running with loose shoe laces (as there was previously no time available to do them up) may find themselves being dragged by one leg into the thin black rubbery slit of the machinery while their siblings scream and / or laugh at them. Dealing with this will make you even later.
9) Throughout the flight remind your son that although his own family love him unconditionally, other people find it hard to listen to requests to go Go-Karting more than once every ten minutes.
10) Definitely pre-book a hire car if you need a 7 seater.
11) Remember that Google maps on your phone won’t necessarily tell you all you need to know about the one way systems in Playa Del Carmen. You may find that an image of your route would not be too dissimilar to the looping pattern made by the broken slinky you tried to untangle last week.
12) If your small daughter says she feels sick, don’t ignore her.
13) Other children will refuse to sit on the seat which has been vomited on. Even if you had the wet wipes to deal with it. The refusals will last the full week.
14) Remind your son that although his own family love him unconditionally, even they are finding it hard to listen to requests to go Go-Karting more than once every ten minutes.
15) No matter how brilliant your 2 bed apartment is upon arrival, you may find some creative solutions need to be employed to ensure happiness and fairness among the 5 children. These solutions may result in you sharing a single mattress on the lounge floor with your partner.
16) Always check the proximity of A&E services when making that recommended trip to the isolated beach where no one else goes because it’s 3.5km down an unmade track. When your 15 year old bites straight through their own face in a body-surfing accident exactly 3 minutes after you have sat down for the first time on the beach, you may want to get back into the vehicle and proceed calmly there. Make sure you are firm about who is in the vomit seat this time.
17) Perhaps discuss what your joint ‘new family’ emergency strategies might look like before you need to put them into play. Finding out that one of you needs super quiet and calm while the other needs to whizz around taking immediate action isn’t always conducive to the most harmonious results in a car full of sandy, wet children in an unknown location.
18) Remind your son that although his own family love him unconditionally, they may now kill him if they have to listen to a request to go Go-Karting.
But most important of all, enjoy your relaxing break away from it all!