Monday, April 4, 2011

13 things I learned on the latest trip with my kids

The sand dunes near Maspalomas, Gran Canaria.
I've spent the last two weeks in the Canary Islands on the island of Gran Canaria. It was a fantastic trip with a lot of family, and I'm still working on shedding the haze of jet-lag. I'll be doing several write-ups on my experience in Gran Canaria (overall it was stellar), but for right now, here's a list of 13 things I learned when traveling with my kids this time:

1. Kids' meals can play hard to get
Even if you really, really try to get your child the kids' meal on board (including phoning the airline ahead of time and reminding the person at check-in), your child might still not get that meal. This happened to us on Lufthansa traveling both from and to Vancouver this time. I was not impressed. No kids' meals at all were available on board. Too bad when one of my kids did not like either pasta with feta cheese and veggies, or spicy chicken stew.

Megamind (Single-Disc Edition)

2. My daughter is obsessed with Megamind
It is possible to watch scattered scenes of the movie Megamind, on the screen next to you, with no sound and still actually kind of enjoy the show. My daughter watched this movie on both the way to Frankfurt and the way back to Vancouver, totaling between a dozen and fifty-eleven viewings. The movie is even better once you have the sound on too though.

Lazy kitty in the fishing town of Puerto Mogan.
3. Picky eaters can turn non-picky
Once picky eaters can turn into quite adventurous eaters! My 8 year old son ate beef stew on the airplane (I don't think he ever ate a whole portion of beef stew before), and also enjoyed calamari, Spanish cheese and a whole bunch of other things I'd never seen him eat before. My 4 year old daughter is still stuck in the "it doesn't look/taste/smell exactly-precisely-completely like it does at home"-phase, but I have hope. She did enjoy various kinds of french fries, vegetables, sausages, fish and bread, so she was alright.

4. Family hotels are, surprise!, great for families
This was the first time my family has stayed at a family resort. My verdict: staying at a hotel specifically designed for families does make it a lot easier to feel relaxed as a parent during your stay. A kids' pool, kid-friendly restaurants, and just the fact that most of the other guests have babies, toddlers, preschoolers and older kids really helps you feel more at ease. It also makes for noisy breakfast buffets, but I'll take that.

5. Roaches can start fires
Cockroaches can turn on stoves. I'll have more details on this in a later post, but I would like to warn everyone that if your hotel room has one of those stoves with a touch-activated control panel, do not (NOT!) put any flammable items on the elements.

Toes on Playa del Ingles.

6. There's a reason Playa del Ingles is so busy
Playa del Ingles in Gran Canaria is an awesome beach for kids, at least if they are 3-4 years and up and enjoy some waves and lots of sand. The beach is busy, and the town itself is a tourist trap to end all tourist traps, but that water and that sand are well worth a visit.

7. Squid is good
The seafood in Gran Canaria is fantastic. I ate meat as a main course only once. The rest of the time I ate fish of various kinds, octopus (yummy! especially when prepared "Galician style"), and a lot of grilled "chipirones", small squid that were delicious.

Lilly Pulitzer My Activity Book Kids Travel StickersMelissa & Doug Sticker Collection - BlueMy Big Book of Stickers (Sticker Activity Fun)

8. Sticker books rule
Sticker books are a fantastic, non-messy, non-noisy airport pastime for my bored kids. And play centers with climbing equipment and slides can also be fantastic (thank you Burger King at the Gran Canaria airport!).

Walking from our hotel into the town of Arguinegin to have dinner.
9. Beach is my kind of dress code
Spending two weeks dressed in bathing suits, sandals, shorts, tank tops and an occasional loose-fitting dress is the way to live.

10. Café con leche for the win
Spanish coffee with milk (café con leche) rules. No need to find a big coffee-chain, just a regular restaurant or small corner coffee-shop will do the trick.

11. There's only one problem with airport hotels
The problem with hotels close to the airport is that, well, they're close to the airport. This means airplanes fly overhead. A lot.
Kissing one of the original, Canary Island dogs in Las Palmas.
12. Snacks and naps are important
Remembering to bring regular snacks (that your child will actually eat) and providing time for naps (for jetlagged kids) can avoid messy meltdowns when you're out and about a lot while on vacation. Simple things like pretzels, an ice cream, a bag of chips, fresh fruit and a power nap on a sun-chair can do wonders for everyone's mood.

13. Outdoor eating is better in a lot of ways
Eating at outdoor restaurants makes restless, somewhat tired (still jet-lagged) kids a lot easier to deal with. They can run off and look at the ocean, go for a little walk while everyone's waiting for the main course, or just do an impromptu dance on the beach walkway. It just helps make things easier than if you're indoors and the children have to sit still in their chairs. And yes, being in a warm climate obviously helps with the whole "sitting outside" thing...


  1. Sounds like it was an amazing trip for everyone!!

  2. It was! Beach-time can't be beat...


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