My 10 Travel Essential Wants And Needs

I adore planning holidays. I love researching, comparing reviews, checking blogs and making sure that those precious weeks escaping the rat race and spending time as a family are as perfect. As a large age range family this is no mean feat though, I have to make sure our break caters for everyone from preschooler to teenager with a pre teen in between. And then there’s me, chief holiday planner, cause if mama aint happy, ain’t nobody happy!

So lets say, for arguments sake, that I had to pick out 10 travel essential items which would ensure our holiday went as smoothly as possible. Where would you start? I know what mine would consist of…….


Friendly Holiday Reps

Having the security of well informed, friendly and happy holiday reps at your destination is a make or break for me. You’re in unfamiliar territory and having someone who you can go to for information, problems or just a cheery good morning should never been under estimated.

We’ve got that #fridayfeeling #mwmoment #summer

A post shared by Mark Warner (@mwholidays) on


Waterproof mascara 

Don’t think for one minute that I like to go out with my full war paint on during a break, far from it. But just a little mascara maketh the (wo)man and whether i’m swimming, sunbathing, sightseeing or skiing, panda eyes is not the order of the day.


Not just for me, this is an essential for all of us. I started encouraging my youngest to wear them last summer to protect his eyes. The older 2 are a little reluctant but I keep pairs in the car, at home and in my handbag. If I was to land in on a beach somewhere hot and sunny right now sans sunnies it’d be game over. THAT’s how essential they are!

Tangle Teaser Detangling comb

All that sun, ski and swim plays havoc on my barnet. A tangle teaser comb will go where no other comb or brush would dare to go. It’s also the best way for tackling my toddler’s bed head without any trauma.


Sun suit

Summer holidays should be all about relaxing the rules and enjoying the moment. So taking out any worry factors in a biggie. I love sunsuits which protect my toddler’s delicate skin. My tween and teenager are quite partial to UV tops too, luckily, as it stops any embarrassing moments of mum running after them with suncream to top up their backs. It’s a lesser of two evils.

I think that a sun suit is a travel essential for a holiday with toddlers

Universal iPhone charger

Yes, I know, holidays should be all about leaving your smart phones at home and spending quality time as a family, I get that. But iPhones are also really good cameras and rather than lug my bulky DSLR camera around, I’d rather pack my phone in my pocket and go. So a universal charger is a must.

A clean modern hotel or villa

….with family safety paramount. I’m hesitating at saying a home from home as a holiday is about experiencing something different form the usual. Comfy beds and clean bedding are a must. Have a peak at my Pinterest board if you need a little more of an idea of what I’m hankering for.

A pillow protector

“What?” you say “an essential, are you sure?” ummm, yep. To me it is. You see the thought of lying on a pillow with the drool remininants of the previous guests is a niggling yuk of mine so if I can put an extra centimetre between said drool and my cheek then I’m willing to sacrifice some suitcase space for my own pillow protector. That’s got you thinking now, hasn’t it!

P20 suncream

I use this sunscreen every summer. It’s a one stop shop in the morning to afternoon, I do top up though, I’m not willing to gamble sun damage to test out a theory to see if it does what it says on the tin (bottle.) 

Free wifi

(See iPhone charger above) I’m playing devils advocate here on what a family holiday should be. But let’s be honest here, anyone who’s holidayed with a teenager knows that they would crumble at the thought of not being able to Snap Chat their finest moments. It’s like a modern day postcard. I’d bargain some phone / iPad free time into the mix, but that free wifi will have it’s uses. Like getting inspiration for last minute things to do locally, or checking reviews on places to eat.

This is an entry to the Mark Warner Holiday Ambassador Programme. 


Why An Al Fresco Holiday In Aquitaine, France Is On My List

It’s time to get my holiday thinking hat on again. With spring in the air, I yearn for far-flung places, stunning sunsets and succumbing big time to the relaxed, holiday vibe. Living in a tourist hot spot it’s hard not to get holiday envy as you see all the families rock up in their over loaded cars ready for a week on the glorious Devon coast. Bizarrely, I’ve used the same reasoning as to why we’ve not been on many foreign holidays.

Who needs to travel to a beach when its right here on my doorstep?

But this year things are going to change.

I’m ready for sun on my skin, sand between my toes and not having to think about house chores and work schedules for a week or 2. 2017 is going to be the year of the holiday and the South of France is on my radar.

Getting there

Flying into Biarritz, a 20 mile car journey will get us to the Al Fresco toddler friendly campsite,  Yelloh! Village Le Sylvamar  at Labenne Ocean Aquitaine.  I’ve scoured, pondered and analysed every inch of what would be best for my toddler, tween, teenager and I.

That was no mean feat, believe me!

But if my calculations serve me correct a week sunning it up in the south of France, close to Biarritz’s chic surf vibe should see us right.

The nearby beach at AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN, in the South of France looks the perfect location for a family holiday with toddlers, tween and teenagers

Busy Days Al Fresco

With close access to a large sandy beach my older boys can spend their days learning to surf, (I might even join them, I’ve watched Point Break so can count that as the theory test. We might even have a try at windsurfing or buzzing around on jet skis. And while the big boys are playing, a bucket and spade will be enough to keep my toddler happy.

Sand is such a novelty when you’re use to a pebbly beach.

Looking at family holidays, I like the idea of Staying Al Fresco in AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN

When mooching about on site is on the agenda, then the water-park with a heated pool, lagoon, lazy river with buoys and a three lane water slide will offer enough entertainment for us all. The toddler can make the most of the new children’s indoor play pool with water games to escape the midday sun.

Looking at family holidays, I like the idea of Staying Al Fresco in AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN

The Icing On The Cake

In an ideal world I’d take along other family, being a single parent escaping to the jacuzzi or sauna would only be possible with some clever childcare swapping as well as biding me some time at the organised workout sessions. I need to get my thinking hat on as to who’d be the perfect holiday companions. I have a few friends in mind.

They’d be welcome company for an evening at the bar, creperie, pizzeria, restaurant or nightclub. Solo holidaying is always a  little easier with other adults I’m sure even a bbq on the decking will be a welcome change for more relaxed nights too. Just to sit outside on a warm evening would be a welcome change from the chilly British ones. Crikey, I’m really in the more now!

And when the kids are all swim, sea and surfed out. We can pop along to Hossegor – Europe’s surf capital, with it’s trendy shops just 10 miles away, to absorb the relaxed laid back atmosphere.

I think it’s safe to say that  Yelloh Village le Sylvama would make the ideal family holiday for me and mine.

This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Al Fresco Holidays and Tots 100.  


Family Holidays, Have You Thought About Mauritius?


I’ve got itchy feet. Not the nasty fungal infection type, the urge to explore and see more of the world type itchiness. There’s a whole new world out there which I know very little about so my dead cert plan for next year is a family holiday and my researching has already began, first stop is Mauritius.

Yep, I’m thinking all out sparkling turquoise waters and white sandy beaches and with a landscape of lagoons, reefs, rainforests, waterfalls, hiking trails and exotic wildlife. There’s a lot more to this small tropical Island than I actually realised. Not only is Mauritius full of beauty and luxury, it also has an array of exciting activities making it the perfect holiday destination for families. And being french speaking I can reignite some of my French GCSE as well as getting my 12 year old to practice some of his language skills. (I presuming a grunt is pretty universal?)



This isn’t a pin in the map job, although that has been a fleeting idea. What I’m craving right now is sun, sea and something to entertain my troop. As I’ll be travelling solo with a 2, 12 and 16 year old, some water sports which they can have a try at would take the pressure off me trying to keep them busy and will be a chance for them to try their hand at something new.

I never realised that mauritius could be a holiday destination for families until I read this

You’ve got the chance to get in the water and see Mauritius from the Sea so it’s only fair that you also get the chance to see Mauritius from the sky – and you can do just that at nature resort Chazal!

Tucked away in the valley in the South of Mauritius near the village of Chamouny are 6 zip lines, varying in height, length and speed, that carry you through and above the forest canopy, over streams and waterfalls, allowing you to admire your amazing surroundings!  How utterly amazing does that sound? The older two have zip wired over The Eden Project, which is almost like a trial run for the real forest, only warmer. An exhilarating activity like this is perfect for them, a real dose of much-needed adrenalin teenagers seek, as well as building confidence and family bonding.


As for the toddler, mustn’t leave him out. He’s a real animal lover so while the teens get to walk with lions, you heard that right WALK WITH LIONS, we could get to feed giraffes. While every inch of my mum senses tell me that allowing my boys to do that screams no, I know that it would only be allowed under controlled circumstances and would give the boys some serious mate bragging points.

And how awesome would it be to see dolphin in the warm Mauritian waters playing in the bay as the sun rises. My guys have already had a taste of swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove in Orlando but to see them in their natural environment would be something else.


Next year is all about making new memories and giving the boys a sense that things will be better. Plus, as I sit here writing on a cold, gloomy day, the thought of feeling the sun on my skin is even more appealing than ever. So that’s one idea for my must do destination list.

I never realised that mauritius could be a holiday destination for families until I read this


This is a collaborative post. 



Dreaming of Winning And Traveling?

There’s a little game I like to play now and then, one of those – I need a distraction or some happy thoughts before I drift off to sleep, type games, where I work out what I’d buy if I won the lottery.

If I’m feeling in a generous mood I’d split it between my family and friends. I get just as much pleasure out of giving as receiving and it’d be great to be able to take some of their money worries away. But on the days when I think stuff it, it’s all mine, mine, mine, I lay there mentally calculating what I’d spend it on.

So lets just say, for argument’s sake, that I’m feeling mid-range generous. I’ve dished out some to said friends and family and now it’s on to some serious spending sprees. And while I’m in the midst of a mid-life new me thing, my wish list has been given a whole new clean sheet.

You see,travel was never a big priority for the old Ali, sure I fancied some luxury holidays, weeks laying by the pool, chasing a toddler and probably stressing about taking time off work. But right now I have an urge to see more of the big wide world which I was blind to in the past. I’m feeling adventurous and much more confident that the boys and I can do this. Plus, the thought of getting them away from their computers, iPhones and games consoles would be amazing.

They might even make conversation!

dreaming about winning the lottery and traveling with my kids

So that would be me, packed up for a few months ideally, realistically the school holidays, to far-flung places, making memories with my winnings at the driving seat, staying in the best hotels and apartments.

Oh a gal can dream….

So what could I do to be ‘in it to win it’ and head in the right direction to being in with a chance? Well, aside from my usual line on the National Lottery which I’ve done for yonks. I’ve also just found Lottoland. The prices and winnings are the same, and you get a line of numbers in the same way, you just place your bets differently.  Lotto Betting at  gives you access to jackpots that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to as they don’t sell physical tickets and so not limited in the same way a normal lottery. This means you can win huge jackpots amounts from across the world.

So that’s two possibilities, but lets just throw in another in the mix. For arguments sake, I could sell up my little home and just fly off in to the sunset with the slate wiped clean. Throwing caution to the wind and truly leaving the old me behind. Just a thought.

I’ll leave you with that little snippet of information to mull over while I go back to visualising stunning sunsets and warmth on my skin in an attempt to ignore the pile of laundry which needs folding and the ever-growing list of to do’s niggling away on the chalk board in my kitchen.

dreaming about winning the lottery and travel with my kids


How to Prepare Your Kids For A Holiday

I’m in the mood for a holiday, not a weekend break, a proper suitcase needing, executive planning holiday. But there’s just one thing which puts me off, the journey. Travelling with kids isn’t always easy. Whether you have a difficult youngster who tends to get bored easily or a teen who has a poor attitude about being around their parents in public, (I have all the above!) planning your ideal holiday can be a chore. But with these helpful tips below, you can help your kids to be excited about travelling with you, so continue reading to learn more.

Go Shopping for New Things Together

I’m lucky that all my boys are quite style conscious, it’s not always what I agree with but like my own parents who let me walk around head to toe in black for a few years, I don’t intervene. So taking them shopping for new clothes, accessories, and even new luggage is always a good way to get them in the holiday mood. Try to visit everything from your favourite department stores, to boutiques and shops like luggage stores London to find new things that you can take on your next trip. If your kids love to shop, this is a great way to get them excited about travelling with you and then use the opportunity to show them how to pack.

Research the Things That You Will Do Together

Many times, kids may not be excited about travelling because they don’t really see the point in leaving their friends and their favourite things and going to a new place. But if you can spend the time researching all of the fun things that your kids will be doing at the destination, they can start getting excited at the idea of taking a holiday far from home. Look up activities that are geared specifically towards kids, and show them the many sights that they will be able to enjoy during their journey.

holiday with kids preparations

Tailor the Journey for Your Kids

Another way to get your kids excited about travelling is by planning an entire day during which you will do only what they want to do. In this way, you can plan plenty of activities for yourself to enjoy and that your child will have to do with you, but your kids can also have a say in what they want to do for a day. Whether they want to go shopping, exploring wildlife parks, or seeing historical monuments, leave it up to them to do some research online and find some of the most interesting things to do at your destination.

Go Somewhere the Entire Family Will Love

If you are planning a trip to a place that your kids will not want to be in, they will be miserable the entire time. Therefore, make it a point to think about destinations that your kids will actually enjoy. Lounging on a beach all day may not be their cup of tea, but going to Disney World probably is, so try to find a destination that provides the best of both worlds and that will be satisfactory to the entire family. In this way, everyone will look forward to getting away and will be happy while away.

With the handy tips above, you can get your kids to look forward to their upcoming holiday away from home with you. Encourage them to participate in the planning process so that they feel like the holiday is also their chance to make lasting memories, rather than just a time for you to get away from it all.


This is a collaborative post