When I became a parent, I wondered how different it would be to travel with kids. I'm sure you had the same worries I did: Will the kids behave in the airport? Will they cry on the plane? Will they adjust to a new environment? Will they like the food? Basically, if you work yourself up enough, the thought of travelling with kids can become intimidating. But it doesn't have to be.
The first thing to know is that travelling with kids is not like travelling without them—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be exceedingly enjoyable. My family recently went to Mexico with Transat and they made it so easy for us and so much fun for the kids. How did they do this? Let me count the ways...
It’s hard to properly convey the terror I felt at the thought of spending hours at the airport with a three and five-year-old who have never flown before. But from the moment we arrived at the airport, our expectations for how our kids would travel were continuously surpassed.
With our Air Transat Kids Club package in hand (we registered for it before our flight, it's free!), we breezed through the ticket line. The Kids Club program gives you access to what pretty much feels like magic: free seat selection and priority baggage handling. The Family Program (also free) gave us check-in at the family counter, and, rejoice, pre-boarding for families.
The actual flight was another thing we feared. Would we have enough to keep them busy? Would they go to the bathroom every three minutes? Would we have enough room?
The flight attendants had us covered. After we boarded the plane, each of the girls (and all kids on board) were given an bag filled with stickers, colouring books, and colouring pencils. The colouring, combined with the gigantic chocolate bars they were given mid-flight, and the Sophia the First and Polar Express movies we watched, were more than enough to make my eldest daughter's first ever flight a very memorable one.
When we arrived at the Azul Fives Resort by Karisma in Mexico (part of the Transat Family Collection), I asked my partner what she'd like to experience the most on our trip (from the perspective of a parent on vacation with two kids). Lots of swimming and good food, were a couple of the answers (the glass of sparkling wine we were given upon our arrival may have clouded our judgement!) As we were driven through the resort to our room on the complimentary ride offered by the resort staff, we had time to think about it.
The true answer was revealed as we walked into our suite for the first time. It was multiple rooms in the place we’d call home for the next seven days.
Being on vacation with your kids is wonderful. Being on vacation with your kids and having them sleep in a completely different room, is, as my kids would say, wonderful times infinity. In addition to the separate rooms, we also had access to a full kitchen (which included a fridge stocked daily with grown-up drinks), a living room, and a king sized bed with a huge tub sitting right beside it. Luxury.
Transat aims to adapt to each family based on the age of the kids. Each day, the kids took part in one of the daily arts and craft activities at the Kids Club (the crafts they created are all now decorations on our Christmas tree!). The weather we had for our week away was exceptional, but the indoor, air conditioned refuge of the Kids Club was an amazing way to get them out of the sun for a while.
While at the Kids Club, our big secret was to make sure the kids were constantly reminded of the ample indoor floor mats. They used them to form elaborate obstacle courses to (unknown to them but encouraged by us) expend their energy before bedtime.
While we may not have always had the energy for it, there was no shortage of family-focused entertainment at night. It was dream-like to sit and listen to live music by the ocean as our kids nodded off in our arms with cookies still in their hands. Or to dance with them until you both fell to the ground laughing because neither of you really know how to dance.
One of the greatest things about our trip was the ability to say “yes” to our girls so often.
“Can we go swimming?”
“Can we swim again?”
“Can we eat cupcakes for breakfast?”
“Is this the ocean we’re swimming in?”
“Can we have a strawberry drink?”
“And drink it while swimming?”
Maybe I worry more than most parents about how people around me are going to react when my kids act as kids sometimes do. Maybe I worry too much about ruining another person’s vacation when my kid cries at the side of the pool because she didn't get to eat a second slice of pizza. But despite all of this, for me, the staff at Azul Fives could not have made us feel more welcome for our entire stay.
Our girls recognized the staff from the Kids Club everywhere they went. They practiced their holas, por favors and gracias' every time someone walked past us. And best of all, they felt comfortable asking for help whenever they needed it.
I'm a parent to young kids, so I understand travel can be intimidating. Kids can yell and kids can pick the absolute wrong time to misbehave. Everyone at Azul Fives was amazing with anticipating our major worry points and having help in place for them.
Here's a little video recap of our trip that Transat put together:
Our trip was spectacular. It was great to be by the ocean in 28 degree weather with drinks being served to us as often as we’d like. It was also nice to be able to look down sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. Seeing the smiles on the faces of our children and making memories with them that they’ll talk about endlessly, was by far the most amazing outcome of our time away. Because of this and everything I've talked about above, we haven't stopped talking about the "Mexico trip" for weeks.
Canadians often identify with things we’ve come to be stereotypically known for. Maybe we think we’re defined by the word “sorry” or “poutine” or even the phrase “why is it so cold right now?”
These are great things. And so are backyard hockey rinks, putting the letter “u” in a lot of words that others don’t and eating Beavertails.
But Anne of Green Gables is my Canadian identity.
So the recent news that Anne has been slated for a return to our television sets in 2017 has filled me with a joy I didn’t know a television series could bring me.
Growing up, as is the case with many Canadian families, the Anne books held a very prominent place on the bookshelf. I read the books as many times as I watched the movies, enjoying reading about Anne’s biggest struggle - her complete lack of chill as we’d call it these days. I loved reading about her brash takes on everything and her acceptance that she was who she was.
I could picture in my head Anne walking along a rooftop to show The Boy what she was made of. Brought to life, the image was just as wonderful.
Then Road to Avonlea became one of the few shows my whole family would sit down and watch together. I thought Sarah Polley, or Sara Stanley, was the absolute best. Another young girls taking none of the shit that came with being a young girl when they were. As a young boy, these outcasts were mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.
Moira Walley-Beckett, who has been tasked with bringing Anne back to a greatly changed world than she last appeared in, explains Anne’s story better than I could.
"Anne's issues are contemporary issues: feminism, prejudice, bullying and a desire to belong. The stakes are high and her emotional journey is tumultuous. I'm thrilled to delve deeply into this resonant story, push the boundaries and give it new life."
Because you don’t need to be a superhero to be a role model to boys and girls, men and women, moms and dads. We’ve been to Green Gables Heritage Place with our daughters twice now and can’t wait to sit around our television set with them the same way I did when I was a kid.
There is, understandably, concern for WHO WILL PLAY ANNE?! I suppose this is inevitable given just how wonderful Megan Follows was in that role. But having two young girls who run around our house and metaphorically walk all over the roof every day, I know there’s someone else out there who can once again show us just how amazing Anne is.
As a mistake-prone dad to two who doesn’t always understand when enough is enough, I have my own favourite Anne quotes as I’m sure you have yours. May there be plenty more where these came from:
“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile.”
“Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it… Yet.”
“Don’t be very frightened, Marilla. I was walking the ridge-pole and I fell off. I suspect I have sprained my ankle. But, Marilla, I might have broken my neck. Let us look on the bright side of things.”
“Oh, don’t you see? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.”
Have your family-sized bowl of poutine ready for 2017. We will.