A well-thumbed travel guidebook. Maybe a backpack, or minimal luggage at worst. Perhaps a little five-star luxury. A chick flick or two on the plane. Peace. Quiet. Tranquility...
Oh, for my holidays of long ago.
These are the distant memories that have been replaced by not-too-deep children's pools, lunchtime naps in a well-shaded area, or better still a dark air-conditioned one, and a wrestle to apply Factor 50 to wriggling toddlers. (Fair to say, there are still lots and lots of laughs, though)…
Pre-holiday beauty to-do list
Before: Source some posh moisturiser, get a mani/pedi, arrange to have everything waxed.
Now: Buy the whole pharmacy out of SPF50.
Packing for the beach
Before: Bring a towel, sunglasses and good book.
Now: Bring a towel, sunglasses, but swap the book for…: a sun tent, rash vests, hats, water bottles, industrial amounts of suncream, swimming nappies, and a beach trolley full of buckets and spades that gets sandier and sandier by the day.
Choosing a destination
Before: ANYWHERE. Romantic retreat, city break, backpacking, the world is your oyster…
Now: Anywhere, as long as it meets a strict new list of requirements: family rooms (with cots), a kids’ pool (with shade), kids’ club, and buffet-style restaurants (with highchairs and enough choice for fussy three-year-olds).
Before: One bag, full of my stuff.
Now: Half a bag full of my stuff, one and a half bags full of baby stuff. Plus: car seats, buggy (and possibly rain cover), baby carrier, nappies, medicines and first aid kit just in case, snacks. More snacks.
Before: Chilling on a sun lounger, flipping through magazines and sipping drinks.
Now: A glance at the front cover of a magazine that the lady opposite is reading (guess the story). Overhear a conversation about the latest celebrity wedding as you watch your little one jump in to the pool for the 10th time.
What to wear
Before: Carefully coordinated outfits with shoes, bag, and accessories.
Now: Anything that doesn't need ironing.
Read more: The expat mum's guide to flying with a baby
Before: Taxis, local bus, or hire a moped.
Now: Intricately plotted out car seats, airport transfers, needing to be at the airport hours before scheduled check in. Just, you know, in case.
Before: Movies, reading, hot food, maybe a chat with the person next to you.
Now: Walking up and down the aisle, changing little ones on a shelf in the tiniest cubicle, remind your children 53 times not to kick the seat in front.
Read more 12 signs you have a toddler in Dubai
Before: Always be smartly dressed, and cross your fingers.
Now: Don’t even bother. Absolutely no chance.