Our ‘what’s in your suitcase?’ feature is back. This is when we interview a mum or dad about their holiday experience with kids and get a sneaky peek into what they like to take away with them in their suitcase. This time it’s Helen Barker co-founder of Away With The Kids and a busy mum to 3 gorgeous children …
I’m Helen Barker, Co-founder of Away with the Kids – an online family travel directory which features a diverse collection of those hard to find holiday gems, that are truly child friendly. Also expanding to incorporate breaks away without the kids – soon to be re-launched as Grownup Getaways. I am mum to three beautiful children and (more times than not) happily married to Dave who works in the Telecommunication business.
Favourite type of holiday to go on with Kids
Our best holidays have been UK farm holidays where the kids have had the freedom to go off and explore the grounds and we have felt secure in the knowledge that it was safe for them to do so. The daily animal feeding and the kids being up close and hands on with the animals is such a joy to watch. It also seems to help kids bond quickly with other holiday chums. One of our all time favourite farm holidays has to be Coombe Mill in Cornwall, with North Hayne Farm in Devon second and Gywnfryn Farm in Wales a close third.
Are you going away this year?
Yes luckily we managed to book the last remaining week free in the school summer holidays at Lower Wood Farm. A lovely cottage complex in glorious Norfolk with an indoor swimming pool, lots of open space to run off steam, with kids play areas indoors and out. And within two miles from sandy beaches it is perfectly placed for some fabulous days out – near the Norfolk Broads, Great Yarmouth, Holkham and BeWILDerwood. The cottages have the luxurious touches to keep parents happy and are beautifully decorated and equipped. It also has a couple of Shetland ponies, a duck pond and currently a resident barn owl. I know with or without the sunshine it will be a fabulous family break.
What’s your best / worst / funniest holiday experience?
Not one particular holiday but in general I find flying abroad with children is just so stressful. The kids do behave beautifully if you pack and plan well in advance. However I always seem to forget that the most likely source for my stress seems to come from my largest kid – my husband.
He is a seasoned business traveler, which to him means getting to the airport 5 minutes before the gates shut is the norm. And although this may be ideal for him, when travelling with 3 young kids in tow, its certainly doesn’t work for me.
But I do admit I am a bit of a control freak and when things deviate from my plans, that’s when it goes horribly wrong. There’s the time when we arrived at the airport with 3 hours before take off, only to find we were at the wrong terminal. I crumpled in a heap on the pavement in floods of tears waiting for the airport bus to take us 5 min down the road.
Do you have a top travel tip to share about going away with kids?
I always check if the place I am traveling to has laundry facilities, as I have a habit of overpacking and I know my kids will remain in their favourite outfit several days in a row. If I know there I can do a wash load half way through the week it helps cut back on taking too much. After you have spent two weeks meticulous packing for the whole brood, there are some things you can’t avoid. Like your dearly beloved getting in late the night before your precious family holiday and shoving his favourite jeans in the wash. Then you have to sleep in sub tropical temperatures (and that’s before you left home turf) with the radiators on full blast to get them dry in time.
What’s your favourite game to play in the car with the children?
We do like the old favourite i-spy as everyone, even Alfe our youngest, likes to join in.
What 3 things would you most like to take away with you in your suitcase?
My holiday is the only chance in the year I have to actually sit down and read a good book. So I always take a selection of the recent bestsellers. I can never travel anywhere without my Tweezerman tweezers – don’t know why they are so high up on priority list but just feel lost without them. And I also don’t feel like I am on holiday without a pair of Birkenstocks in my bag.
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