Why won’t the world let me go on holiday? No, really – why is it so difficult? Even before I was married and had these two children I now find myself with, going travelling anywhere was a disappointing failure. Then I married the only person in the world with worse luck at holidays than me.
I let my husband, Giles, book our honeymoon. What was supposed to be the plushest, most romantic holiday of our lives was in fact at a windswept mega-resort in Crete with a vast, beige business centre. The rooms were tiny – and there were millions of them, all identical with the same tiny pool at the front. “It’s like if Carlsberg made prisons,” said Giles in anguish, as we ate dinner on our first night in the Italian-themed restaurant (in Greece).
There have been good finds which gave us hope: a great villa we found in Ibiza, or the quaint house by the sea in Devon. But they never work out long term. The owners of the Ibizan villa cancelled our second stay at the last minute in favour of some rich Russians who wanted the same dates and the owners of the house in Devon decided they just didn’t want to rent their house out anymore (at least, that’s what they told us).
And hotels! What about hotels? What I want from a hotel is a beach you can walk to, that isn’t two hours from the airport and has under 200 rooms – with no bloody golf course. I know what you’re thinking: my perfect hotel doesn’t exist. Well, you’re wrong because they do, in fact – it’s just that they’re all completely booked up until the end of time.
Or even if they do have spaces, it’ll be just my luck that when it comes to booking the flights, it transpires that airlines only fly there from Stanstead at 5am every other Tuesday. And then, if you do manage to get a flight, you arrive only to discover that the swimming pool is infested with wasps, or the open-air fish-gutting championships are being held on the beach that week.
Or there was that time we went to Zighy Bay in Oman in February for some winter sun at such a vast expense I can’t even think about it, only for it to absolutely hammer down with rain for the entire week. It’s a desert! A DESERT! Everyone working there was delighted, running around shouting, “It’s a miracle! Rain!” while we sobbed into boxes of Lego at the kids’ club.
You know what? I give up. The world goes on too many holidays as it is, and let’s be honest, it’s not very environmentally friendly. And you fly halfway around the world only to realise that the kids would probably have more fun at your local indoor play centre with their mates, rather than being forced to build sandcastles all day whilst their safety conscious mum slaps sunscreen all over them on the hour, every hour. And how much fun, really, do I even have on holiday? I mean, I’ve usually finished my chick lit by the third day and always come back half a stone heavier.
But hey, I am no glutton for punishment – I have learnt there are far easier ways to book and enjoy a holiday without having a complete meltdown. On reflection I ought to have gone straight to BookitBecki; wonderful Becki specialises in finding and booking perfect holidays. She is so organised and thorough, you can't really go wrong.
And on top of that, there are two brilliant apps for tracking down fun holiday activities for children –Kidadl and Hoop – so at least your kids will be having fun. Then all you have to do is drink rosé, apply a factor-30 to your pulse points and close your eyes. Yep, holidays are hard work…
Esther Walker is the founder of The Spike. She lives in North London with her husband and two children.