Our Family Holiday in Portugal
Last month we were lucky enough to take a break in Portugal for 9 nights. We went at the end of May, if you have kids it’s a good time to go – the weather was fabulous but not too hot. Mind you it was very windy at night time. I stupidly forgot to pack anything like a denim jacket for the evening time. We stayed in beautiful Sagres. I’m familiar with Quinta De Lago but I don’t recall it being as windy there.
We’ve been to Portugal a few times now. I love it as a family destination, it’s easy to get to and it’s perfect for families. Aer Lingus fly directly from Dublin to Faro – flight time is just over 2 hours.
Ive been asked dozens of various questions about it all from where we stayed, what I packed, tips for flying with kids & the most commonly asked question: “What tan did you wear?” (us Irish gals are all the same!!)
So I’ve broken this down into sections to make it as easy as possible to read as there’s lots of different information & points i have to share.
*Flying with kids*
Flying with kids is a totally different experience compared to flying solo! Ollie is now 4 and Louis has recently turned 1. Both of them have flown a lot, including long haul. Before I’d done it the thoughts of flying long haul with a child frighten the life out of me. When Ollie was 2 we flew to LA (without my husband!) it was a 13 hour trip that included a stop over. Okay it wasn’t the most relaxing day of my life but do you know what? It was actually grand. I put that down to being as prepared as possible and to being as calm as possible myself. If you’re very nervous about the thoughts of this I suggest taking some Rescue Remedy… or have a large drink!! I’m joking (drink responsibly!) but in all seriousness I think the more relaxed you are the easier it’ll be.
I get so many messages from mothers saying they want to go on a summer holiday but the the thoughts of travelling with small kids is too daunting. I totally get & understand that. No one wants to be that person on a flight with a baby having a melt down but really, who cares?! Kids are kids, you can’t control everything. It’ll pass and you’ll all survive.
On our recent holiday to Portugal we flew at midday. Louis missed his morning nap (he typically has two a day now – one at 10.30am & one around 2.30pm) so by the time we took off he was overtired but at the same time totally distracted by what was around him. 30 mins in and he started to get really agitated with tiredness. I gave him some milk, rocked him but still he couldn’t go to sleep. At this stage he’s red in the face, roasting and screaming!
Eventually he dozed off sprawled out on top of myself & my husband. I got a few sympathetic smiles from fellow Mums (they knew the score & got it). I have on previous occasions gotten the look of “eh will you shut that child up” – most likely the said person wasn’t a parent! Point being, keep your cool & have a breezy attitude towards it all. Be prepared as possible yes! But know that you can’t control everything.
Here are some of my top tips for surviving plane journeys with children.
*Snacks! Snacks! & some more snacks!
I bring things like rice cakes, liga, raisins, yoghurts in the sucky pouches.
*If you need to carry milk, water, food for your child yes you can do so through airport security. Just try to keep it to a minimum. Only bring things you really need (without leaving yourself short). Have your baby bag neatly packed – know where everything is. Don’t forget to bring wipes, bib, spoon, extra nappies (They love to have poop explosions on flights!), disposable nappy sake bags, change of clothes, favourite teddy/comforter.
* I have found bringing a few new toys they’ve never seen before a really good way of keeping them entertained longer. You don’t need to spend a lot – go to a pound shop (sorry a Euro shop!!) or Dealz! Pick up some little toys that aren’t big and wont weigh much. They’ll be excited to see them for the first time. Don’t give everything all at once. Space them out!
* If you have an older child it’s worth bringing an iPad. Start to download some cartoons or movies the week before you go. Don’t leave it until the day before! Have it fully charged and don’t forget the earphones.
*Ollie loves the excitement of bringing on his own little bag. I bought a Paw Patrol bag on wheels a few years ago from Mothercare. They’ll love the independence of being able to pack their own toys (you can filter through it quietly later!)
*Buggies. This is the first year we didn’t bring a buggy for Ollie away with us. Last year it was handy in the evenings to have one for him too, but now he’s just too big & tall. Plus he wouldn’t want to go into it. “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy”.
For Louis I bought a City Mini Jogger last summer. I can’t tell you how much I love it but I’ll try!! I have a Stokke Xplory & a scoot, love them but to be honest they aren’t convenient for travelling. So I wanted something I could fold up & down with one hand, and that would be light but sturdy enough to be thrown around a bit.
The City Mini ticked all the boxes, it folds with one movement. It reclines right back for sleeping. It has a hood that practically covers their whole body. Plus it has UV protection 50. There are smaller, lighter ones on the market but I felt you wouldn’t get years out of other ones. This one will do Louis for years for sure. It’s obviously not just a travel buggy. You could use it all the time. It’s a good one also if you’re into walking a lot with a buggy. I got it from Bella Baby.
I always get it tagged at check in & bring it as far as you can go just before you board. Airport staff will take it from you there and stow it away
*Car seats. With Portugal in mind I’ve never brought our own car seats. Once we hired a car, we’ve gotten taxis & most recently our hotel provided transport & the car seats. You can hire car seats really easily. A lot of taxis have them too. So I personally wouldn’t go to the trouble of bringing my own from home. Portugal is a huge family destination so they are well prepared.
*Where we stayed*
We had heard so much about a resort called Martinhal. It’s a luxury family hotel & resort – there have two in Lisbon & two in the Algarve. We stayed in their flagship resort which is situated in Sagres. About 1.hr 15minutes from Faro. The resort offers a choice of accommodation from hotel rooms, to beach villas to 2/3 bed self catering houses. We decided to go for a 3-bed house. Meaning we’d have a bedroom each and plenty of space.
The house was perfect, it was on two floors. It had 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and living area. A small garden on the ground floor. A balcony upstairs, which we loved in the evenings when the boys were in bed.
It had a washing machine too which I was thrilled to see- Parents with kids you’ll get my joy at being able to wash and dry some clothes before you even get home! (God I sound so old!)
Around the resort you have 4 restaurants. Most mornings we’d go to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The buffet was excellent. I loved going there as the views of the sea and beach were so good. Some mornings we wouldn’t want much so we’d eat at our house. There’s a little mini supermarket on site too – very handy and had all the essentials. Plus anything you’d need for a baby like nappies, formula etc.
At lunchtime we’d eat at the poolside restaurant. The food here was very good too. What was most impressive was the selection for babies right up to teenagers. The entire resort is aimed at children, keeping them happy and entertained – which in return gives mum & dad a break & relaxing time too, hopefully!
Every restaurant has a supervised play area so kids can get up at any time and play/colour within your eye line, while being supervised by a staff member.
They have a kids club for all ages, they do different activities throughout the day. You can join in for a couple of hours a day (for an additional fee). Ollie wanted to stay with us and swim everyday so he didn’t go in although he kept asking about it as he could see the kids going on different excursions – I think he was that bit too young & nervous. There’s also a Creche that takes babies from 6 months old. We didn’t use this either. I did speak to parents who left one in creche & one or more in the kids club for two hours each day & they all loved it. There was a little square in the resort where they have bouncy castles, trampolines, play areas – overlooking that there’s a bar, restaurant , games room for older kids. There are 3 different swimming pools available – one is indoors. You can hire bikes, play tennis, football! Basically it caters to families with children of all ages.
All in all it was a fabulous resort & they’ve really thought of everything when it comes to families. You wouldn’t even need to bring a steriliser, extra stroller, monitors – they have it all if you need it. We only left the resort twice to go into Sagres, we ate in a couple of nice restaurants. One was a lovely Italian called D’italian. I highly recommend it, the pizzas were amazing.
I packed way too much ! There’s a surprise. Portugal in general is so casual. Our resort was even more casual then Quinta though. I didn’t even use the make up I brought, which was amazing. It was a real holiday that I actually relaxed on. Back to clothes though. You will not wear high heels, anything with sequins! Or anything remotely dressy.
I wish I’d brought more shorts and t-shirts for the evening times. I totally misjudged how windy it would be. I missed having something to throw over my shoulders. When it came to the boys, I probably brought too many outfits, thinking they’d wear two a day. Really they only wore one. In the mornings, they put on their swim gear with something over it (like a towelled hoodie) then in the evenings they changed for dinner. I’ve listed some summer outfit ideas for the whole family below.
So I am white white with lots of freckles. I don’t bother trying to tan my fair skin plus I think it’s dangerous and aging – so I’m not a sun worshiper. Instead I like to fake it before I go away. Before I go away for the two nights previous I’ll apply fake tan all over my body. One layer each night, that I gently shower off the following day.
This time I used the James Read Bronzing Mousse (I know this is very in demand & hard to get right now! I should of gotten myself a few bottles before I started to snap it last week!) I’m sure Cloud 10 Beauty will have it back in stock soon. That and the Vita Liberata mousse are both firm favourites in terms of lasting well for a holiday. I didn’t top my tan up once in Portugal – all I did was apply some gradual tanning moisturiser once in the 9 days. For the face I only use a specific tan for the face. I find body ones too drying. I like the James Read mask , the Vita Liberata mask & the Charlotte Tilbury mask. All are excellent – you’re getting the benefits of an over night face mask as well as waking up bronzed. Perfect!
My hair isn’t naturally blonde (imagine!!)I get it coloured every 2 months. I also have the rapture hair extensions from Peter mark (they’re like little pieces of tape, I love love love them & wouldn’t be without them now. They’re great fillers for your hair. Easy to manage. I can easily tie my hair up. Jadore!) I also style it a lot between blow drys & waving so you could say it goes through a lot- like most women these days. I’ve been using the Paul Mitchell range a lot recently – I particularly like this range for coloured hair as it helps to fight fading hair & maximise your colour. It helps to strengthen & repair your strands. It’s gentle enough for daily use and the mask from the range I use maybe twice a month.
See www.paulmitchell.ie for stockists. For traveling I just dispense the products into my Penneys containers – super handy for any type of liquids.
I always use a high factor. This year I tried the Pure Mineral Spray from Image, which I loved. I never burned & the smell, oh my god! I always use the Prevention+ SPF cream for my face all year round. I think the NUXE range is excellent also. Their hair protection spray is super. For the boys I like the Bioderma SPF50.