As expats, we don’t get to see our nearest and dearest very often. Living approximately 3,500 miles away from our family means that most of our contact with each other is via facetime and WhatsApp. When people do come and see us it’s not always easy as we’re trying to get on with every day life while our visitors are on holiday. The temptation to drink wine and stay up late every night when they’re here is all too much but we’re the ones getting up early the next day to crack on with the normal business of living i.e. work, nursery etc. So, we decided a family trip away would be a win win all round. We’d get some quality time with everyone and we’d also be on holiday ourselves, so we could properly join in with the relaxing and the wine drinking.
I’d been looking at Sri Lanka as a holiday destination for years but had always been put off by the long transfer times from the main airport Colombo down to the beaches on the south coast. However, it’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go so we decided to bite the bullet this time and go for it. I found the stunning Villa Five thanks to a recommendation on a well known Dubai Mums Facebook group.
Make sure there is plenty of space
There is nothing worse than going away on holiday and being on top of one another. No matter how much you love your family, a couple of days of sharing a bathroom with someone who has different ideas of cleanliness is enough to kill any holiday vibe. My advice is pick somewhere with enough bedrooms and bathrooms to allow everyone their own space. Our villa was perfect as each bedroom was ensuite meaning everyone had their own privacy when needed. There were also plenty of different seating areas in the villa so if you wanted some chill time it was easy to escape.
Don’t plan too much
Depending on your destination you may need to do some planning but if you’re a big group, it can be hard work organising everyone. Also, not every member of the clan will want to do the same thing. If possible leave things open so people can suit themselves. A few bookings for dinners are always welcome but save the Butlins style activity schedule for another break. We were based right on the beach and a 5 minute Tuk Tuk ride from the town meaning our group could come and go as they pleased.
Pick somewhere that suits all budgets
Living in Dubai often means you have more disposable income than people back home (although we should be saving all that extra cash, not spending it!) and it’s wise to remember that not everyone wants to be splashing 500 AED a head on dinner every night. Whilst we weren’t prepared for quite how very reasonable Sri Lanka is in comparison to a lot of holiday destinations we knew it wasn’t going to be crazy expensive. The upshot was an incredibly relaxed approach to who paid the bill whenever we ate out rather than people feeling hard done by when the bill came.
Hire a baby sitter or plan in advance how to manage the childcare
If you’re on holiday it’s always nice to be able to go out at least once during your stay to experience some of the local cuisine. If you have small children, it’s not always easy to have a night out. Very young children get tired and can be a menace late at night (mine is anyway!) which doesn’t make for a relaxing family dinner. If you all want to have a night out together a babysitter is the obvious option. If you’re not comfortable with this, work out with your party in advance who will cover the babysitting. There’s nothing worse than thinking that your family will be babysitting and then everyone swanning off for the night and leaving you at home.
Take advantage of the extra help around you
One of the big advantages of going away with an extended family group is the extra help around you. In our case, 7 adults to 1 child. It was great to have some fun as a couple messing about in the waves on boogies boards and having a few walks on the beach by ourselves while Casper played with his Grandparents. We also nipped into Galle one morning to do some shopping while Grandma took over childcare duties for a few hours. With the extra hands involved we felt like we’d had a proper holiday instead of just surviving in a different place.
If you’ve ever thought about taking a trip with your family I would highly recommend it. Even if you’re not an expat and only live down the road from your loved ones, going on holiday together is a completely different experience and one that hopefully creates a lifetime of memories for everyone. We’ll definitely be looking at another big family holiday in the not too distant future, I just need to make sure the next destination is as awesome as Sri Lanka and I can find a property as brilliant as Villa Five!