Would you go on holiday with another family? It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea I know, but I actually love it. Our children have other kids to play with so they leave us…in peace. Well, for a bit.
This year we went on holiday to France with our friends, Tony and Claire, who have two children. We took a flight and hired cars, stayed in a beautiful farmhouse and spent the holiday swimming in rivers and visiting picturesque towns.
Tony and Claire are part of our children’s Life Village community. Each Life Villager contributes something to our children’s lives and Claire and Tony have offered to spend time with our children and us on holiday.
One of the concepts behind the Life Village is that those who are part of it make up for where we lack as parents. So my daughter, Bean, 7, commented that going on holiday to France with our friends was good because: “Claire knows fluent French so we could actually talk to people. And Claire and Tony are good at finding places on a map, not like Mummy and Daddy.” I also loved the fact that Azariah and I got a bit of time together on our own because our children were happy to be left with people they knew.
But whilst holidaying with another family brings benefits, it doesn’t vaccinate you against any possibility of disaster. So I’ve decided to pass on my top tips for things NOT to do on holiday.
Because we all know that on holiday abroad, things can go wrong.
4 Top Tips for things NOT to do on holiday abroad
1. Don’t accidentally set your French sat nav to ‘back roads only’ when your husband can’t drive faster than 15 miles an hour on the opposite (right hand) side of the road
My husband took a number of attempts to pass his driving test. Eventually he managed to pull it off in his mid 20s. He told us all he wouldn’t do well driving on the right hand side of the road in France (he struggles with driving on his native left in the UK). He wasn't exaggerating. A 30-minute drive to a gorgeous French city took over double the time down narrow, windy roads with a trail of cars behind us. Azariah hardly left second and third gear and was beeping frantically at every corner. You know you’re going slow when you’re overtaken by a Granny in a red Renault. Azariah attempted to mask his distinct
lack of ability with cries of “Look at the stunning scenery!” This was lost on me as I gripped my seat in anxiety. #holidayfail
2. Don’t forget to check the petrol gauge in your hire car
After an evening out (see above) which had taken over double the time because we travelled at half the speed, the kids were playing up in the back of the car. We were miles from our holiday home, both our phone batteries were dead, and we realised our car had practically run out of fuel. A warning message had come up on the dashboard but Azariah doesn't read French so ignored it. We started praying for a service station to turn up pretty quickly, when lo and behold, one did. Our relief turned to horror when we discovered our credit cards didn’t work in the automated machine. With no phones to contact anyone, I frantically flagged down an 80-something year old gaunt, French man sauntering down the hill on an old bike. He listened patiently to my best French as I told him of help needed for my ‘enfants!’ He took in the emergency then proceeded to tell us the next service station was 3km away. Helpful. Somehow and in some way, Azariah redeemed himself by managing to get one of our cards to work. Phew. #holidayfail
3. If you go to see a film at the cinema, don't forget you’re in France
Azariah and Tony decided to have a lads night at the cinema and, in their best broken French, asked if any of the films were in English. The assistant replied in French, pointing out one film. It began an hour later so the chaps, pleased with their achievement, grabbed a coffee and cheesy chips to celebrate. They returned, got sweets and headed to the screen. The film had started and they realized their mistake. They thought they had requested ‘a film in English’ but the assistant had heard ‘a film not in French.‘ The film turned out to be a Korean cop thriller. The subtitles were in French. Azariah doesn't read French and neither does Tony. They were also unsuccessful at negotiating a refund. Whoops. #holidayfail
4. Don’t let your ignorance of the language lead to a near-lethal chocolate ice cream experience
The children would often get ice cream on our day trips. My son, Boo, is allergic to peanuts so we are very careful about his diet. He took one lick of his salted caramel and rejected it on taste grounds. Tony kindly offered to swap it with his own ‘chocolate’ ice cream. Boo, delighted, began to lick away. His tongue was getting closer to a peanutty-looking bit of chocolate. Tony’s son asked what the peanutty-looking bit of ice cream was. Azariah took a bite. It WAS peanut! The ice cream was ‘cacahuetes’ flavour. Translation: peanut! Thankfully, Boo hadn’t yet eaten any of the nutty poison and we left France with the same number of kids we took with us. Phew. #holidayfail
So, there are my top tips. Holidaying with friends was lovely and I would recommend it to other families but it certainly didn’t shield us from tension pains due to gripping the car seat, almost being stuck without petrol, losing money on a Korean cop thriller and a near-death peanut experience.
Happy holidays y’all!
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