#AD: HOW TO GO ON HOLIDAY WITH YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY
Design blogger Sarah Akwisombe has some very useful advice...
What happened when design blogger Sarah Akwisombe went on holiday with her entire extended family? By ‘extended family’ we mean her husband and daughter, her mum, her brother and his girlfriend, her sister and her partner plus their three kids, one of whom is a newborn. As part of our #TripsXYZ project with Airbnb, Sarah managed a holiday to Nice, France, with her party of 11, and lived to tell the tale. Here she and select members of her family give their top tips for how to make a multi-generational holiday work...
I’ve been trying to get my family to go away on a big group trip for aaaages, and now we’ve done it. Organising a 11 person-deep fam holiday to Nice was pretty intense, and we learnt many lessons along the way. So much so that we have vowed to do it again, but only if we consider said lessons. I’ve called on three of my family members to share their experience and their tips on how to have a successful (and peaceful) holiday.
1. THE ORGANISER
Sarah, (that’s me! 32, mum to Marley, 4)
I had such a great time on this trip that I’m going to try to start as a new family tradition. My husband and I got some much needed downtime – our daughter is an only child and the fact that she had three other kids to play with all holiday long meant that we could stop the need to keep her constantly entertained (or feel super-guilty).
I got to know my brother’s girlfriend on a much deeper level than during an hour over a curry at home. Talking of food, it was her birthday on the second day so we went to a local restaurant down the road from our Airbnb. It gave the kids (and us!) a chance to try French food native to the region and it was incredible. Deep friend courgette flowers? A MUST. I can still taste them now. Thank god she is French Canadian and could interpret the menu (and the fish counter at the local supermarket) for us! The big family meals on our garden terrace were a highlight.
My sister, brother and I stayed up late cracking jokes and giggling like we used to when we were little. My mum and I got to do our favourite thing, cook together. And last, but not least we all got a little bit of a tan, which let’s face it is THE SOLE REASON US BRITS GO ANYWHERE, EVER.
My tips for organising a holiday with your extended family
- Get someone to take lead. It was much easier for my busy family members to make a choice once I limited the options for dates and accommodation.
- Find out if you’ll need a hire car. Our Airbnb host was super helpful in the lead up to our stay and gave us a friendly piece of advice that a hire car or two wouldn’t go amiss. Had we not followed her advice things would have been a lot more tricky and we probably would have spent a fortune on cabs.
- If your sister’s two-year-old is having a tantrum during take-off, make sure you keep smiling at her and telling her it’ll be ok. Once she calms down said child, ensure to give her lots of praise and adoration for being a kickass mum.
2. THE GRANDMOTHER
Beccy (my mum, 54, mum to me, 32, Annie, 29, and Will, 25)
The chance to go away with my three grown-up children and their other halves, plus the four grandchildren, was one I wasn’t going to turn down. My children know me very well, and are used to me needing my own space, but I did make sure that I reminded them that me disappearing off to my room was not me being a bore, but more me re-charging my batteries and having some time alone to read my books (I’m a typical bookworm and holidays mean the chance to get through a few novels).
The holiday for me, was a fantastic success story. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few tense moments, especially the bedtime routine time. It was a juggle between trying to be helpful but also knowing that sometimes it’s best to walk away and leave the parents to it.
The best moments were splashing around in the pool with the kids; preparing dinner as a group; having loads of cuddles with my 8-week-old granddaughter; and a very special moment was lying in bed reading late at night and hearing my three children taking the piss out of each other and shrieking with laughter. It was a wonderful sound and took me back to them being small.
The worst bit… Trying to get on to the unicorn inflatable in the pool! At 55 years old, I was not exactly graceful. The grandchildren now know that, although their Nana knows a lot, she can’t for the life of her get on to an inflatable.
Beccy’s top tips for travelling with an extended family
- Warn your children that you won’t be a babysitter for the entire trip. I was more than happy to help out but I also needed my downtime too. I am a working nana and I too wanted to escape the stress of day-to-day work life with a nice holiday. Set the expectation before you go!
- Practice your inflatable boarding routine in private before everyone is up for the day for maximum elegance and minimal embarrassment.
- When travelling with your two-year-old grandson, who is screaming his head off at take-off, look the other way and tut loudly, and no-one will ever know that you are his Nana.
3. THE MOTHER OF THREE
Annie (My sister, girlfriend to Steve, mum to Ralph, 5, Bear, 2, and Delilah, 8 weeks
Nice was our first holiday together as a family of five and it was brilliant (apart from the travelling part).
Steve and I were totally unprepared for the possibility of our toddler not enjoying the traveling experience. 'He will love the flight,' we said. ‘He will nap on the plane,' we thought! But poor little Bear had a total meltdown and didn't enjoy the plane one bit. He screamed and screamed, like, ear-piercing screams, the whole flight. And yes, there was lots of staring from other passengers which didn’t help.
But the week at our Airbnb in Nice was lovely. The boys played in the pool every day and Delilah was an absolute dream. We had all my family staying with us which was great as we had so much help and extra support with the children.
The villa pretty much ticked all the boxes for me, it was absolutely beautiful and had everything a young family needed. Highchairs, baby bath, changing mat, toys, books, a dishwasher and my personal favourite A WASHING MACHINE! Sarah thought It was pretty sad that I was so excited about the washing machine but, for me, being able to come home with no washing was heaven!
I've come home feeling really refreshed and full of so many happy memories with the whole family. It's a week I will never forget and I really hope this will be the start of a new family tradition.
Annie’s top tips for travelling with kids
- Brings lots of supplies to distract your kid/s from an in-flight meltdown. Things like new toys (little bits from the Pound Shop will do the job and be affordable), downloaded videos on an iPad, and treats will help to distract them from having a fully-fledged tantrum.
- Make your life easier and pick an Airbnb with a washing machine and equipment for kids/babies. It’ll save you having to pack up all the extra bits and bobs. Even without all that stuff we had four suitcases. (extra tip: there's a 'family-friendly' search function on Airbnb so you automatically get a list of which properties are more suitable for little ones.)
4. THE ONE WITH NO KIDS
Claudia (my brother’s girlfriend, 25, no kids)
As a fairly new addition to the family, the idea of spending a week with the ‘in-laws' in an isolated part of Nice should have been daunting - but it wasn’t. I was actually excited by the idea of getting to know everyone on a more personal level.
The challenging part for me had to be the kids. As most people in their 20s probably admit, I don’t like kids and kids don’t like me. I first assumed that they would not be a major part of my holiday and vice versa, but then, they started calling me by my name in the way kids do, which surprised me and, in turn, warmed my dissociative millennial heart. I always thought that they had no idea who I was or why I was occasionally present at family gatherings - and I was fine with that. But then the fact that they recognised me made me feel so special and, in those moments, I truly felt like I was a part of the family. Throughout the week, I constantly found myself amused by the things they did and the way they interacted with each other. Having them around 24/7 for an entire week also made me realise that I swear way too much.
All in all, it was a great week and I cannot wait to go on another holiday with everyone. And, for any childless person reading this, brace yourselves for the airport if you are planning on travelling in a group with kids - it is gruelling.
Claudia’s tips for travelling with kids who aren’t yours
- Embrace the chance to bond with your partner’s family and their children by being the fun one who pushes them around the pool or plays games on the lawn. Be the cool one!
- Practice using substitute words for swear words.
- Bring headphones and some kind of magazine to bury your head in for when the kids have a meltdown on the plane.
:: Follow the #TripsXYZ project on Instagram for more influencer holiday pics and travel tips