Thursday, March 23, 2006

Vacation Vacillation

It used to be so easy. We would decide where we wanted to go, we’d go to the travel agent’s and ask for the cheapest possible ticket, we’d pack our stuff and head off.
Since those days of carefree travel, two complicating factors have arisen:
1) two little children
2) the internet

The children complicate things because we’re no longer brave enough to set out into the unknown with some money in our pockets but no itinerary and no hotel. We’re not flexible enough to pack our (now voluminous) gear up every day and hit the road in whatever direction takes our fancy. We’re not yet cruel enough to inflict multiple museum, garden and ancient ruin visits on them so there has to be a pool and a reasonable amount of sun. But we are just a little bit cruel, so a children’s club to abandon them in occasionally would also be nice. Of course, we need to be able to see them during the night so two double rooms aren’t an option unless the hotel explicitly encourages child room rampage. No, we need a family room. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the boring, middle class, middle aged, mid-budget, bulging midriff category.

The internet complicates matters because it offers FAR, FAR too much choice for people as indecisive as we are. But I am nothing if not compulsively thorough in my quest for the perfect holiday at the perfect price.

First of all, I use several of the aggregators that bring all of those cheap holidays together, then I laboriously trawl through the individual sites and pick out the packages that are within our budget, seem to suit our requirements and look attractive. Then I work out a very complicated mental logarithmic calculation allocating points for climate, novelty, charter/regular flight, departure point (Bordeaux or Toulouse), amount of blue sky in the photos, proximity of beach (and fifty seven other items). Then we dither for a week or so and inevitably some of the possibilities fill up and disappear.

This time we narrowed it down to Morocco, Croatia, Tunisia or Tenerife.

We eliminated Morocco because both Marrakech and Agadir are fully booked from Bordeaux and none of the packages from Toulouse include family rooms.

Croatia was tempting because it looks so beautiful, but the temperatures are a tad lukewarm in April and again, there are no family rooms.

Tunisia looks like a good alternative to Morocco although it’s not as warm at Easter. So what about hotels? Well, one is 3km from Monastir airport mmmm I hear charter planes droning overhead in the middle of the night. Another is separated from the beach by a “road” no doubt a roaring motorway. But look there’s also one in Hammamet and it’s right on the beach and even has an indoor swimming pool, which would be excellent if the weather was mediocre. Let’s go for that one then. Okay, but wait a minute, if we fly out of Toulouse, we save 500€ in all, that’s quite a lot of money. Yes, but what if the flights are in the middle of the night? How would we manage to get there for 4 am? Oh no, oh no, we just can’t decide. Let's sleep on it.

What about Tenerife then? This looks perfect — regular flight, we can even add on a couple of days at the end; not in a big resort but a nice quiet one; family apartments, fantastic climate with sun practically guaranteed, a lovely big pool and a little one for the children. This sounds perfect.

There’s just one thing — we went there last year.
Are we ready to be THAT boring?


Léons Life said...

The important question to ask youself Lesley is: Do they have a bar ?

wendy said...

Tenerife sounds anything but boring. Even if it is 2 years in a row.

Look at me....every year I spend summer in the UK - OUT OF CHOICE! Now that's boring...but I love it there so I'm happy.

Thumbs up for Family Friendly Tenerife.

BeefKing said...

No, I have to agree, Tenerife is, indeed, boring, at least from the 1 day I saw of it.

Too much tourism, too much of the built-up youthful party-in-bars-that-could-be-anywhere kind of vibe. Tenerife, Ibiza, Cyprus...

No, you should go to India. For what you'd pay for a Tenerife family suite, you could probably rent a beachfront house in India. AirIndia flies cheap to Paris. And in India, you could really escape. Plus, the kids would be forced into speaking some English. Or else Hindi.

Or what about Dubai? Very safe, but far from boring. You can ski there, after all.

Or, buck the trend and head north. Iceland is shockingly beautiful, socially progressive, and their currency is relatively weak against the euro right now. Go soak in some hot springs!

Lesley said...

Pauline: It never occured to me that we might end up somewhere without a bar. Perish the thought.

Wendy: It's still the Tunisia/Tenerife? Tunisia/Tenerife? Tunisia/Tenerife? Tunisia/Tenerife? Tunisia/Tenerife? dilemma.

BK: I'd love to go to Inida, but it's just too expensive. Both kids pay almost full whack and the cheapest flight to inida is about 800€. Dubai I don't fancy at all (don't need any electrical goods at the moment). Iceland, yes, but not until global warming has raised the temp a bit. And don't forget that Tenerife is practically an outpost of England (you can buy Ribena, Hobnobs and the Daily Mail there for goodness sake) so the kids could speak anglais there too.

Lesley said...

I know that you're all waiting with baited breath: after booking up for Agadir, Lastminute phoned us to say there were no "quadruple" rooms left. So after more humming and hawing, it looks as if we're going to Hammamet in Tunisia. Ihope it's worth all the time I've spent comparing places and prices.

Jonathan said...

Going to Tenerife two years running might be somewhat lacking in imagination, but it's as nothing compared to buying a timeshare apartment...

deborah said...

I love the sound of that word Hammamet .....and I'm pleased you are going somewhere different because Tenerife does sound a bit dire. A bit like Lanzerote where my sister once went and where there are tourists and that is it.
Thanks to one of your posts I went to Fontarabia, the nice bit was taking the ferry from Hendaye but beware anyone walking from the station, it takes ages to get to the port.
If anyone needs the name of a hotel in St Jean de Luz try Orhartzia, there is a garden and even a couple of rooms in the garden itself which will try next time.
I'm sure Tunisia will be worth the trouble; have such a good memory of charming Tunisian students from way back (male) and several Kabil (female)
That is always enough to make you want to go somewhere.

BeefKing said...

Hey, we'll be on the same continent for our hols! Africa! I can't wait.

PS this is Sarah. I'm on Beefkings computer (mine finally quietly died about a week ago) and rather than sign in as me... well

Lesley said...

Hi Sarah, Which bit of the continent are you going to then? Somewhere more exotic than Hammamet I'll bet.

PS. Poor computer

scorchamac said...

...just as exotic. Morocco! You know what, since the computer passed away I have actually been reading. The latest book (to get me in the Morocco spirit) was fantastic. This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun. Heavy and dark but incredibly powerful and enlightening. Hopefully we won't end up somewhere like that.

Lesley said...

I've been reading a book with a chapter on, Morocco too. "Across the Territories" by Kenneth White. It's excellent, mostly about Marrakesh, Essaoouira and the Atlas.