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Family fun in Portugal

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We’re settled back home after a week’s holiday in Portugal. 2 cases are unpacked, well when I say unpacked they’re opened with the contents flung everywhere over the spare bed. I’ll get to that mess and to the other two remaining bags later! I hate that part – the unpacking!

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I’ve had lots of questions about the holiday, mostly about travelling with kids.

I’m no expert but I’ll share my experiences on what I brought and what we did with the boys. I’ll also give some general info on the holiday too for those interested in some restaurant recommendations and places to go.

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We stayed in an area called Quinta De Lago. I’ve been to Portugal in the past but never to this part. My husband has been to Quinta numerous times to play golf and he always suggested that we go back together. To be honest I was never pushed as I just presumed it’s a quiet golfing resort with nothing much else to offer. Although it is a well-known golfing destination, I was definitely wrong about the rest.

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Our friends were going there to attend a wedding so we decided we’d all go along too and stay in the villa they had arranged.

There are plenty of villas available to rent in the area.

Having the two young boys, a villa was definitely the best option for us – it was easier than packing up to go down to a pool and it meant we could nip in and out from our pool to villa with Louis when he needed to be fed or go to sleep inside. I brought along our monitor which was brill so once he was asleep indoors I brought the monitor outside – we have one with camera so it’s great peace of mind that you can see baby as well as hear them if they stir.

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Here’s what else I packed for the boys:

Ollie – 

** On board **

I bought him a new bag in Mothercare, which he was so excited by. It was a paw patrol bag on wheels, he thought this was brill and kept practicing wheeling it behind him the day before we left. I asked him to pick 5 of his favourite toys to bring. He loved doing this himself and packing them into his new bag. I then included a sticker book – sticker books are brilliant for holidays, they’ve always worked well with keeping Ollie entertained. I also downloaded a couple of his favourite cartoons onto Brian’s iPad for him. We recently got Sky Q into our house, it’s brilliant, you can record up to 5 shows at once and watch different programs in each room at once, but apart from that you can download your recordings from your TV onto your iPad, once you have the app downloaded it’s so simple to do. He watched some paw patrol and Mickey Mouse on the flight. Then he had a snack, I packed some liga, raisins and a banana. By the time he had all that and went to the bathroom about 3 times (novelty on board when you’re a toddler), it was nearly time to land.

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He was so excited to be on an aeroplane that he was well behaved and sat on the chair properly with his belt on when he was told, which was brilliant. He was okay flying when he was younger but even last September when we brought him to Spain he didn’t get it as much as this time. I think the key to flying with a toddler is to be organised, have your child’s favourite toys and snacks. Colour with them or use their sticker books with them. Explain to them what’s going to happen before you go and run through the day with them. Ollie loves to know what’s happening. I didn’t do it this time but in the past I’ve wrapped tiny toys that he’d never seen before and introduced them throughout the flight. I think this works really well for young kids, especially if you’re going on a long haul flight. It’s also a good idea to bring your toddlers favourite teddy/blanket on board for some comfort.

**What I packed ** 

Now that Ollie isn’t in nappies anymore packing seemed so much easier. I hadn’t to worry about nappies or swimming nappies.

I just packed shorts/t-shirts/flip flops/sandals/ water shoes that he could wear swimming/ SPF/ all in one swim suits- I bought one in Dunnes Stores and one in Next/a sun hat that he wore in the pool, which kept his face, ears and neck well protected.

I bought a swimming jacket for him in Mothercare (like a life jacket) and armbands. Any pool toys we used, we bought in the local super market.

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We didn’t know whether to bring Ollie’s stroller with us or not. I thought he’d sleep in it in the evenings when we were out for dinner. He’s usually asleep by 7.30/8pm at home so I figured he’d be tired, but I needn’t have bothered as he didn’t really use it at all. He was too big for it and didn’t sleep in it once. He ended up going to bed most nights exhausted between 10 or 11pm and sleeping until 9.30am, which was super.

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I bought his stroller in Mothercare years ago, it’s pretty bashed up now but I love it for holidays as it’s so light, really easy to fold and it reclines right back for when they’re asleep.

Louis –

** On board **

Muslin cloths/a change of clothes/a light blanket /nappies/wipes/nappy bags .. I packed all of these into his changing bag . As I’m still mainly breastfeeding Louis I didn’t use any bottles on board but it’s perfectly fine to bring any liquid/food you need for baby on board. While we took off I fed him, I hoped this would prevent his ears popping. He was fine and it didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest.

The flight was about 2.5 hours long, he slept for the first hour and was happy enough for the remainder to sit on our laps. We had a poo explosion towards the end, which resulted in me just binning his vest, so definitely don’t forget to pack at least 2 spare!

** What I packed **

– Medela microwaveable sterilising bags (most large pharmacies) these are so convenient for travelling. You simply pop in your bottles or whatever else you need to sterilise – add some water and put into microwave.

– 2 tommee tippee bottles

– Aptimil formula & some of the ready to pour ones for convenience. There’s no need to bring more than a couple of days supply with you as you can buy Aptimil (didn’t look for other brands) in most of the large supermarkets over there.

– For clothes he mainly wore sleeveless vests, which I bought in next. They’re lovely quality.

I had some cute outfits for him but it was too hot so I left him in the vests during the day as this was most comfortable for him.

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Louis adapted well to being in a different country with such a climate change. I think Portugal was in a heat wave when we were there, it was unbelievably hot. He was obviously in the shade the entire time or indoors. I didn’t put him into the pool, I thought I’d rather wait until he at least had his second set of injections. He probably would have been fine but I just didn’t know what was in the pool and felt more comfortable not putting him in this time.

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I brought our Stokke scoot with us for Louis, I got an spf sun umbrella too which was a must for that heat – it worked out well. That’s all we brought for him in terms of seats etc.

We rented a car seat for him with the hired car, he loved this actually and happily sat in that a lot.

Speaking of cars I reckon you’d need one in Quinta, everything is a little spread out, having the car just made it so easy. We pre booked ours online. Beware of the deposit required when you get there though, before we took the car we’d to give €3000 deposit, which was held/frozen on our card.

*Restaurants*

– Bovino, a gorgeous steakhouse serving everything from steak to fresh fish. I absolutely loved this restaurant. The food was amazing and it was really family friendly. If you follow me on Snapchat it was the one with the bouncy castle in the garden.

– Parilla Natural, the most beautiful restaurant in an amazing setting. The food was spectacular. One of my favourite places I’ve ever dined in I reckon.

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– Pure, we had breakfast here 3 mornings out of the week. It was gorgeous, they did fresh juices and smoothies and the food was all made with healthy ingredients. The granola bowl was delicious.

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– The Shack, a lovely little restaurant situated on a lake. The food was great as was the atmosphere. It was full of families dining and enjoying the lake. They have lots of water activities there too, Ollie and the gang went out on a big swan paddling boat.

Other things to do there include crazy golf, Ollie loved this – I think he’s gotten the golf bug now. I played once too and really enjoyed it. It’s good fun, especially in the beautiful surroundings of Quinta.

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Across the road from crazy golf is a place called KoKo, they serve amazing frozen yogurt here!

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Another day we drove to Villamoura, this was much busier with lots of tourists. From here we rented a Sunseeker boat for the evening, this was definitely one of my highlights of the trip. The boat was stunning and going in the evening time meant it wasn’t hot for the kids and we got to watch the sun set. It was just beautiful.

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The week was over before we knew it and it was time to come home. We had an absolute ball- Ollie especially. He spent the whole time in the pool swimming and annoying his poor big sister Chloe to get in with him. He loves Chloe so it was great to have her come with us for the week, plus she’s such a good help minding the boys, I was lucky to have her too. I’m so glad we went now – I was a little hesitant when Brian suggested it to me first to be honest as I thought Louis would be too young but I needn’t have worried. He was fine and actually I think the younger they are the easier it is.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my post…

Much love

Px

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