Last minute dash
August 20, 2012 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Life falling apart filter. Under consultation for redundnacy at work and have just moved out of marital home following break down of marriage. On waiting list for marriage counselling to determine next steps and now living in a spare room locally whilst I take stock of recent events. I have a week vaction booked off work next week (w/b 27th) and my wife has said I can take our kids away (5 year old and 2 year old). I'm in the UK and looking for suggestions of places to take them on a relatively modest budget next week. I would like to go abroad if possible and there is availability on the Eurotunnel to Calais but I have never driven in France and I am a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of the Continent. Ideally I would like to find somewhere with activities for the kids, appropiate accomodation and a bit of space / quiet in a rural location. Last minute to Spain is anything but cheap given lack of flights. Should I look to stay local or should I take the plunge and head to France? Availability of self-catering cottages / campsites in the UK is problematic at this late stage

Definitely feel the need to have a change of scenery but worried I am biting off more than I can chew if I jump on the Eurotunnel into the unknown. Any recomendations of suitable places that are drivable from Calais would be much appreciated.
posted by numberstation to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you ever traveled alone with the 2 kids? That sounds stressful. And expensive.

I would recommend visiting family. Then multiple (doting) adults can mind the kids and you'll get some time to sort things out.
posted by k8t at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are under an incredible amount of stress right now. Time spent travelling, worrying about the budget, struggling with language and driving on the wrong side of the road is not going to make happy memories for children that are too young to know what "abroad" even is. They would actually rather be somewhere familiar (just like they ask you to read the same story over and over) and without a lot of time in transit. If your goal is to give them a good time, focus on their needs; if your goal is to get away from your current stressors then have a mini-holiday just for yourself abroad.
posted by saucysault at 8:28 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Forgive my bluntness, but your question reads a bit like this: "My pants are currently on fire. They're scorching my leg hair and I think I can feel the elastic in my underwear melting. Can you recommend a place where I can buy a nice bowtie?

Your life is in upheaval. It is likely to be very EXPENSIVE upheaval (divorce - even an amicable divorce! - can wreck you financially). By all means, take some vacation. But take it on the absolute cheap - stay with family, perhaps? Your kids are little; they'll just be glad to get some time alone and extra attention from their dad. I wouldn't worry about "the trip of a lifetime" or anything. You've got other priorities now, dude (chief among them is saving cash).
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:30 AM on August 20, 2012 [16 favorites]

Nthing everyone else. You need to keep the parts of your life you can control as simple as possible right now.
posted by something something at 8:34 AM on August 20, 2012

Cornwall is a great place for a kid friendly holiday - I live here, pm me if you would like some help!
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:50 AM on August 20, 2012

1. :( Be strong

2. Suggestion:

Bluestone is fantastic for kids and adults (near Tenby in West Wales). We spent Christmas there 18 months ago, and it was genuinely brilliant - lots of fun stuff to do, but also very peaceful and relaxed. It's self catering, with some cooked food options on site.

They seem to have a couple of lodges for next week - at a little under a grand for the week.

Not sure on Eurotunnel pricing, but add petrol etc and it might put you at a comparable price point.
posted by bifter at 9:14 AM on August 20, 2012

I was just going to jump in with a recommendation for going down to Cornwall. Loads of kid stuff. Beautiful. Relaxing for adults. See if you can get a last minute booking in a holiday camp so that most of the stress is taken off your shoulders. Seriously you'll all have a blast.
posted by merocet at 9:14 AM on August 20, 2012

I would normally jump right in with a Cornwall recommendation but its crap here when its raining and its done a whole lot of raining since June here.
posted by biffa at 9:27 AM on August 20, 2012

also, taking the kids out of the country might be legally 'iffy' at any point in divorce proceedings...I'd vote for something local, just to be safe...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:59 AM on August 20, 2012

Can you find anything in something like center parcs or a caravan holiday park (haven etc)? Often they're cheap, they have last minute offers and they're a holiday without going too far. They also usually have kiddy activities that will allow you some space as well.
posted by kadia_a at 12:26 PM on August 20, 2012

Definitely consider Center Parcs if it's not out of budget (and with the activities etc it gets expensive quite quickly). However, you have got ready made kids clubs that the 5 year old will love, and there is babysitting available if you want to get some time out to just walk/cycle/swim. You can keep the expense down if you pre-shop at Tesco before you go rather than eating out all the time.
posted by crocomancer at 12:44 PM on August 20, 2012

I really feel for you and can relate. First, take a deep breath. This too shall pass and - come what may - you will get your life back on an even keel.

Second, some time with your kids sounds exactly like what you need right now. Have a look at which has absurdly cheap all inclusive holidays - hotel and flight. Make this easy for yourself. Concentrate on spending quality time with your children, not saving a few quid doing the self drive thing which is a hassle and miserable for all involved. And when you get back, focus on finding your next role. Be strong, friend. There is light at the end of this tunnel.
posted by dmt at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2012

No one's mentioned Ireland. I just did some quick sleuthing on discount vacation package websites, and it looks like Ireland is pretty cheap.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 2:18 PM on August 20, 2012

Everyone else is going in a different direction, but FWIW I drove an RHD car in France for the first time last week, having dreaded it for ages (I have lots of LHD experience, and thought this would make it difficult) but it was absolutely, completely fine. That said, I didn't have kid distractions. The area just south-east of Calais was really nice, and with > 3 days notice the prices for the ferry return were £15 each way or £25 if you wanted flexible timings.
posted by cromagnon at 4:09 PM on August 20, 2012

what you need is an all-in-one package with inbuilt child care, as per crocomancer and dmt. Don't put yourself through a long drive in a foreign country on your own with two tiny kids. And also consider Butlins, maybe? Even a package holiday abroad as long as it's all-inclusive with lots of kids activities and potential babysitting if needed. Good luck.
posted by glasseyes at 6:35 PM on August 20, 2012


I suggest going to or and doing a general search for the dates you want. Pretty much anywhere will have stuff for kids.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 1:49 AM on August 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the responses - much appreciated. I ended up staying local in the UK but was able to get off the grid for a week and spend some quality time with my kids which was the goal.
posted by numberstation at 10:01 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

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