Travel tips from Spain (it’s the new Scotland)


When I was 18 and planning my trip to a kibbutz, Grandma’s advice to me was, “Why don’t you go somewhere safe on your gap year? How about Scotland?”

My response? “I’ll go to Scotland when I’m 30. But right now I want to go somewhere adventurous.”

How carefree my scornful 18-year-old self was, back then. Travelling the world was easy. Plans could involve little more than stuffing a vest top and a pair of frilly pants into a rucksack.

It took me until the age of 37 to have a holiday in Scotland. And it did feel like a bloody adventure. The community nurse had only just stopped her daily visits to dress my caesarean wound, which had opened up and then got infected. Trekking from London to Ayrshire, with a breastfeeding three-month-old and a two-year-old still in the ‘jealous beast’ stage of infant development was just about the most arduous trip I’ve ever made.

Undaunted, for our next adventure with the Pigeon Pair, we decided to escape our building work and fly to Spain, for a self-catering holiday.

baby smiling on plane
It ended up being a damn sight easier than travelling to Scotland.

Having a fully healed Mum, and an (almost fully) weaned baby helped. But a few other things also made the holiday run smoothly.

Spain travel tips

Flying with a buggy. Surprisingly (given that they charge for everything else short of trips to the loo), Easyjet allowed us to take our buggy for free. We wheeled it all the way to the plane doors, where it was whisked off into the hold. This meant Gwen could snooze while we waited to board, and we had more hands free to stop Austin galloping off to catch the next flight to Dubai.

Staying in a quiet fishing village (Benajarafe), rather than on a resort. The Daddy D and I are allergic to organised fun, so we decided to avoid the risk of ending up at the sort of place where perma-drunk Brits are corralled into karaoke contests by megaphone-wielding 20-year-olds. Austin didn’t need kids’ clubs, as he was excited enough about exploring the villa, or playing with locals on the beach.

boats on beach in Benajarafe Spain
 Travelling off season, so we could afford a place with enough space for us to relax in the evening. The villa we stayed in (which we found through HomeAway) was beautiful, and came with everything we needed: travel cot, high chair, massive bag of toys, cable TV…ok, apart from CNN none of it was in English, but Austin still enjoyed watching Mike the Knight gadding about in German. As it was the south of Spain, even though we went in January the weather was still warm and sunny enough to make it feel like a ‘proper’ holiday.
Spanish villa with pool
 Hiring a car from a company recommended by the villa owners. The area around Malaga is notorious for car hire rip-off merchants, who advertise low prices then add clauses in the small print which mean you end up paying a fortune. We used Patry Car, and paid a fraction of the cost advertised by Eurocar and the like. No hidden charges, either.

Using a babysitting service (provided by the villa owners). We’d never met her before, but the dimpled cheeks of the Spanish answer to Mary Poppins reassured us we’d be safe in leaving our little ones for a couple of hours while we downed some tapas and vino tinto. It also gave me a chance to ogle some jamon.

woman looking at jamon in Spanish bar

Spain. If Scotland’s too much of a challenge, why not give it a shot?

Read more about Spain in our post on a rail journey through Asturias, Spain.

Do you have any Spain travel tips for families with young children?

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  • Actually Mummy...
    February 6, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Actually, you’re right! Flying, though not the Duty Free pleasure it was before kids, is easier than car travel with little ones. Although now mine are both over 5 and reading, any trip is fine if there’s enough battery in the iPad!

    • Nell Heshram
      February 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Shame you have to pay full price for them though! It would be good if there were some cheaper diddy mini-seats for little ones….

  • LearnerMother
    March 31, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Ohhhh now a holiday in Spain (or, in fact anywhere warm and with a friendly babysitter) would hit the spot…sounds like you had a good week – it does make it easier when airlines are helpful with buggies etc so you are not stressed out before you even get on the plane, though surpassed they don’t make you pay through the nose!! #blogclub

  • Mari
    April 2, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Spain. There’s something about it that I am forever in love with. What lovely villa owners looking after the children for you. We’re off to Spain in a week or so and i am counting down the days.
    Thank you for joining in Time Travellers.

  • Jaime Oliver
    April 2, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I have to admit, i have yet to make it to Scotland but I have in fact have a total love of Spain .. I took Beth on my own when she was little and loved it and then when Joshua was little it was the ideal place for us with such short flights too 🙂

    Although i am jealous of your Mary Poppins .. we had warm wine on a balcony!

  • Trish - Mum's Gone to
    April 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    The villa looks beautiful. I agree, Scotland is beautiful but nipping over to Spain for some R&R is an ideal holiday.
    We have had nightmare car rental experiences so have taken a note of the company you suggest.

  • Liz Burton
    April 6, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Great tips! We got fleeced on car hire and it was a firm at the airport too.

    Sounds like we like similar things, I can’t stand ‘organised fun’ either!

    We went to Spain as a family for the first time last year, stayed in a cave house in Andalucia and absolutely loved it.

    • Nell
      April 8, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Oh my goodness I would LOVE to stay in a cave house! That’s definitely on my wish-list.

  • mama syder
    April 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    We visited Spain last year and loved it. We prefer the quieter side of things too. looks like you had a lovely break x


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