I AM exceptionally lucky to have found a wonderful group of friends living close to me.
Brought together by our children initially, since then we have stuck together due to our shared fondness for a glass of wine and being generally of the same sense of humour and parenting style (laid back, in case you’re wondering!).
We try and meet up for coffee about once a week and lately, thankfully, our conversations have moved away from the high likelihood of one of our junior infants bringing home Omicron to us and towards the subject of holidays. It’s nice.
January used to be a time people gave consideration to escaping during the summer months and it feels like the slightest sliver of normality to be able to do so again.
It may be all in vain yet, who knows, but despite two years of dashed hopes, we remain hopeful that this summer will be the slightly more normal one - third time lucky.
I put paid to our travel plans to England last summer as I was apprehensive about going without having our vaccines, despite being ‘allowed’ to travel. At time it felt ludicrous putting four small children on a boat when at least one of them has a propensity for licking things.
Since then, I have only agreed to travel if it is to visit a family member (thankfully we have a few dotted outside the country) because I feel that if I were to pick up Covid on a trip to see them, surely they wouldn’t kick us out to quarantine in a hotel, surely…
This year, however, I have thrown caution to the wind and am getting excited about having some trips planned. The latest strain of the virus being somewhat less severe and the fact I am vaccinated and boosted now, means I feel ready to start living again.
I also feel like the girls really need to expand their horizons and experience life outside our small village. However, if you are erring on the side of being nervous about travel, here are some tips that have made me feel more relaxed about flying or going on a boat during these strange times.
We travelled to England at Christmas when cases were at a peak and it actually felt really very safe. We travelled by boat, which I can assure you is as crazy a thing to do in the winter as you would imagine. We usually book a cabin when travelling by sea, especially now as it gives us our own safe space.
The boats, in my experience, having used them three to four times yearly for the last 10 years, never feel that full, even when they are, so it is easy to keep your distance from others if you want. Our girls made some friends on the trip over, the 2020 version of me would have been uptight about that but this time round I was happy to see them mix with others.
I flew with three of the four children back in October, again, when cases were climbing and the nerves were beginning to settle in. The airport was quiet so we were able to find our own little area and stick to it while we waited.
Check in online if you can, use the automated bag drop, keep your boarding pass on your phone to limit the amount of contact you have with others - simple things but it all helps.
The plane was full, none of us can change that aspect of flying, but you can wear your mask, sanitize frequently, bring a small packet of disinfectant wipes and try to stay seated if possible to limit the amount of interaction you have with others.
The only thing I have really learned in the last ten years of travel with the girls, pandemic or no pandemic, is that you have to relax and try to enjoy it, and I do intend to revert back to that version of me this year when we travel again.
Children tend to relax when you’re relaxed and tend to act up less when they know they are less likely to get a reaction.
Don’t overthink travel either, you can load up your bag with treats and books and games but there is a happy balance because otherwise you spend the travel time rooting around for things and that is tiresome.
Try some good old-fashioned conversation and have the hand sanitiser at the ready.