Monday, October 04, 2010

My Dream Vacation… With Kids

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My husband and I balked at going on vacations with our children for a long time, reasoning that traveling with children in tow is just a “trip,” not a “vacation,” so why bother if it just means that we’ll work twice as hard to be twice as frustrated as at home. Fortunately, I am blessed with parents who are overjoyed at every opportunity they are given to spend time with their grandchildren, so we were able to take at least one vacation a year, just the two of us, for our first ten years of parenthood.  Totally spoiled, right? Yeah, those were the good old days.  When we moved to Europe last year, however, we resolved that we would travel as much as we could as a family for the duration of our two or three years that we will live here.

We have followed through on this resolution and even though the trips have had their ups and downs (probably a few more downs than ups), there are always enough cherished memories at the end of each calamity-ridden voyage to make them seem worth the effort and expense. Venice and Scotland may never recover, but we have!

So, as we start our second year here in England, our children poised at the ages of 4, 8, and 11, I have been pondering how we could make an “Ultimate Family Vacation” happen, a vacation that is truly relaxing and vacation-y for us AND the kids. A vacation where I cast aside my personal inclination to educate myself and expand my mind through museums, architecture and art. *Aggrieved sigh* A vacation where I finally embrace the reality of having three young boys that must be not only entertained, but positively run ragged by exerting themselves physically all blessed day.

In short, a beach vacation. But a beach vacation that won’t bore me to tears because it is in… Africa.


This photo was actually taken in Mexico, but you get the idea. 

I have spent hours online, scouring vacation web sites looking for family-friendly resorts and think that Mombasa, Kenya looks like the best place for us.  We’ll need an all-inclusive resort on the coast that has child-friendly excursions and activities-- a godsend for parents who’d like a few hours of alone time during the day. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* It will have buffet meals, which are also, in my experience, the best thing for traveling with kids (no complaining! no waiting! everyone gets something they want!), nanny service if we really need it (and we will), and multiple pools (for when your boisterous boys need to be relocated after disturbing other guests or just for the sheer pleasure of running between), and, of course, proximity to white sandy beaches with coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving for the older boys and tidal pools for the younger one.

One of the factors that makes traveling more difficult for us, is that we are a family of five. Apparently, hotels around the word have conspired to make families of five pay through the nose for their sins against over-population, because it is almost impossible to get one room to accommodate five. Scratch that, the rooms accommodate five easily. The hotels decree that the rooms are not intended for more than four. Even when you are paying extra for a suite or a “family room.” It makes me crazy, but there isn’t any way to get around it unless you are cheeky enough to lie when you make a reservation and then sneak in the fifth body when you get there. Which seems like a better solution than me sleeping in one room with one or two of the boys and my husband sleeping in a separate room with the others, right? Maybe if we booked far enough in advance we could get adjoining rooms, but so far we have never been able to make that happen.

How does everybody else deal with this? Have you given up on hotels and only rent villas or apartments? They fit the bill body-wise, but then you end up having to do all the cleaning and more cooking, so they can kill the “vacation” feeling, I think.

Since this is my “ultimate vacation,” though, and money is of no concern to me while I imagine the possibilities, my other requirement is that we are able to stay in a villa that is part of a hotel.

And it will come with a butler.

So, we’ve got the beach part covered. We’ve got the water-based activities covered. We’ve got the hotel covered. We’ve got the food, nanny and butler covered.

Now, this is why I want to go on a beach vacation in Kenya:


Because a beach vacation in Africa equals a safari vacation for photographer mommy.zebras-safari-kenya

I dream of going on a multi-day safari where we all stay in luxurious tents out in the bush, something like this, maybe:

But if that weren’t in the cards, and after some research it looks like you are often required to rent out entire encampments if you are travelling with children under 10 years of age, we could make day trip safaris from our beach-front hotel. Like so:

My husband says I am nuts for wanting to go to Africa with the kids while the littlest one is still so young, so maybe this will be the vacation that I plan for the next five years and when the boys are 10, 14, and 17 it will be the perfect time to go. We'll see. The wheels are turning in my brain, I am motivated, and, most importantly, I am skilled in the art of rationalization and manipulation. I'll keep you posted.

Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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