A well-thumbed travel guidebook. Maybe a backpack, or minimal luggage at worst. Perhaps a little five-star luxury. A chick flick or two on the plane. Peace. Quiet. Tranquility...
Oh, for my holidays of long ago.
These are the distant memories that have been replaced by not-too-deep children's pools, lunchtime naps in a well-shaded area, or better still a dark air-conditioned one, and a wrestle to apply Factor 50 to wriggling toddlers. (Fair to say, there are still lots and lots of laughs, though)…

Pre-holiday beauty to-do list

Before: Source some posh moisturiser, get a mani/pedi, arrange to have everything waxed.
Now: Buy the whole pharmacy out of SPF50.

Packing for the beach

Before: Bring a towel, sunglasses and good book.
Now: Bring a towel, sunglasses, but swap the book for…: a sun tent, rash vests, hats, water bottles, industrial amounts of suncream, swimming nappies, and a beach trolley full of buckets and spades that gets sandier and sandier by the day.

Read more: 5 family-friendly staycations you won’t believe are in the UAE

Choosing a destination

Before: ANYWHERE. Romantic retreat, city break, backpacking, the world is your oyster…
Now: Anywhere, as long as it meets a strict new list of requirements: family rooms (with cots), a kids’ pool (with shade), kids’ club, and buffet-style restaurants (with highchairs and enough choice for fussy three-year-olds).


Before: One bag, full of my stuff.
Now: Half a bag full of my stuff, one and a half bags full of baby stuff. Plus: car seats, buggy (and possibly rain cover), baby carrier, nappies, medicines and first aid kit just in case, snacks. More snacks.

Read more Genius travel products to help you survive your trip home with the kids

Poolside me-time

Before: Chilling on a sun lounger, flipping through magazines and sipping drinks.
Now: A glance at the front cover of a magazine that the lady opposite is reading (guess the story). Overhear a conversation about the latest celebrity wedding as you watch your little one jump in to the pool for the 10th time.

What to wear

Before: Carefully coordinated outfits with shoes, bag, and accessories.
Now: Anything that doesn't need ironing.

Read more: The expat mum's guide to flying with a baby

Getting around

Before: Taxis, local bus, or hire a moped.
Now: Intricately plotted out car seats, airport transfers, needing to be at the airport hours before scheduled check in. Just, you know, in case.


Before: Movies, reading, hot food, maybe a chat with the person next to you.
Now: Walking up and down the aisle, changing little ones on a shelf in the tiniest cubicle, remind your children 53 times not to kick the seat in front.

Read more 12 signs you have a toddler in Dubai


Before: Always be smartly dressed, and cross your fingers.
Now: Don’t even bother. Absolutely no chance. 

Read more 20 ways life in Dubai has changed since having kids