Planning A Road Trip with Kids 

Planning A Road Trip with Kids 

A906C735-4C5F-46D5-8673-926788A1E432 (1)We recently got back from a brilliant holiday in Portugal. I know Portugal well; I have been going to Portugal since I was 8 and My Mum, Step-Dad and sister moved out there permanent 9 years ago too so I know part of it very well. But I have always wanted to explore it more, get under the skin of it a bit, so when the Martinhal offered us a road trip, I jumped at the chance.  Or at least I replied swiftly with an email.

Here’s what we learned ‘Road-tripping with Kids’:


  • We travelled to 5 different places in 13 days.

  • The downside of that is it involved a lot of packing and unpacking.

  • This might not bother anyone else but I am the sort of anal person who totally un-pack as soon as they arrive anywhere.

  • And, because of the repeated packing and unpacking, we did lose a few items along the way. I left an overpriced razor in one location and Ben left a 6 pack of beer in the fridge at the other. He was devastated.

  • Now that’s where the negative points start and end. Apart from the packing, our road trip was brilliant.

  • It felt like a proper adventure.

  • I love that feeling of arriving somewhere new and exploring.

  • I love waking up to different views each morning too. And eating in different restaurants.

  • But before you embark on a multi-trip holiday spend a long time figuring out logistics. We went back and forth countless times on the route to minimise drive time.

  •  4 hours in a car in one day is pretty much our limit. So we put our biggest drive from Cascais to Quinta bang smack in the middle of the trip that way it didn’t encroach too much on the rest of the holiday.

  • Try to spend at least two nights in each location. Three would be even better.

  • A two week break is the ideal. I’ve said it before but it REALLY does make all the difference. A chance to properly unwind, forget about work and reconnect as a family.44F3E7ED-2559-47BF-986D-8A750A98CB35

  • It usually takes the best part of a week to sleep properly, stop dreaming about work and (unrelated but also a problem) for my metabolism to sort itself out.

  • Yes, that’s right. I spend the first few days of any holiday unable to shit. It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient, especially when you have to gad about in swimwear.

  • What other vitals for life on the road? Snacks and milk. Always stock up on both when you can. The words “We’ll grab some somewhere else” can come back to haunt you.

  • And downloads. How the hell did our parents manage without a screen? We try not to resort to the digital nanny too often. But when you’ve all been stuck in a vehicle for too long, back to back PJ Masks is the only answer….

  • And baby wipes. Still a travel essential, no matter how old your kids are.

  • Have beach stuff to hand. Letting off steam in the sea and sand makes a welcome break from a long stretch behind the wheel.

  • What else? I couldn’t talk about out trip and not mention The Martinhal Group, which is where we were staying.

  • Though we were ‘travelling’ we were still staying in REALLY nice places.

  • I guess you could call it ‘flash-packing’, I’ve never considered that an option before. I think it could be a game changer.

  • The chance to explore somewhere without having to the hostel it up.

  • And believe me, I am not a snob.  I once stayed in a room which was described as a ‘dog kennel’ in Ios whilst island hopping. Or the room in Mexico that resembled a prison cell and not in a hipster way.

  • Anyway life has moved on and though I still love a bit of camping (ok glamping), I am also VERY fond of a nice hotel.

  • Martinhal is not only luxe it has got the kiddie stuff down:

  • A baby concierge service. They will loan you any baby equipment you need to save you schlepping it onto the plane: sterilisers, buggy, travel cot, you name it they’ve got it.

  • The interiors are designed with no sharp corners anywhere.

  • Supervised play areas in every restaurant. Love a meal out with boy but, best case scenario, they’ll sit for 40 minutes. This meant they could colour and we could have another glass of wine, pudding and even attempt a bit of conversation.

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  • Small toilets. So cute and super handy if you have a weak pelvic floor and struggle when having to let your little person piss first.

  • Washing machines in the rooms. VITAL for us, my two are messy. And by ‘my two’ I mean Woody my 2.5-year-old and Ben my 35-year-old.

  • Of course a brilliant Kids Club. “Oh, You are back already”, muttered Bertie with an air of disappointment when we came to pick him up.

  • G&T’s the size of the fishbowl. Yes actually.

  • The best thing about all of the above is that enabled us to have a holiday that felt like a holiday.

  • And because we were road tripping it felt a bit like the more ‘adventurous’ holidays we use to enjoy pre-kids.

  • Multiple locations enabled us to learn a bit about the country we were visiting too.

  • And, as often happens when you get away, I learned a bit about my family and myself too. Holidays are a great time for reflection too aren’t they?

  • I learned that Bertie LOVES fashion, like a lot. He took such pleasure in dressing up for the disco every evening it made my heart burst with joy.

  • He is also a man of routine. He had the same thing from the amazing buffet breakfast each day.

  • Where as  Woody becomes bamboozled by buffet breakfast. Too many choices, not enough time to try it all.

  • BUT gets a weird thrill out of nearly drowning. He kept putting himself under water. We’d drag him to the surface in a panic. He’d be grinning ear to ear.

  • Ben loves the attention driving a VW Camper Van gets you. He also has a weird obsession with digging holes. I have often said is spirit animal is a Labrador. This proves it.

  • And we still get on as a couple. Which is always a relief.

  • I learned something unexpected: that I am happiest being scruffy. I took bags of makeup and different outfits with me. I wore hardly any of them. I adore getting dressed up. But I am truly content with a bare face, sun-kissed skin, a beach dress and a pair of flip-flops.

  • And that although I love events and work and hanging out with mates travelling the world with my crew is my greatest joy. Those precious days are the ones that make my heart sing; ‘THIS, this is what life is all about’.

  • Apart from queues at airport security and passport control. Those send me to a very very dark place.

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