Last week we returned from our 10-night all-inclusive family trip ….not to WallyWorld, but to our favourite hotel in Spain.
The whole thing, being a family of eight, is pretty surreal (bordering on the ridiculousness of the Griswold’s Family Vacation referenced in the post title). We stay in two rooms, and travel as two families of four, our eldest children being ‘adult’ ages in terms of holiday companies. The packing is bonkers. Mr Fu doesn’t understand the stress of it all. He has his stuff washed and ironed and he chucks it in his case. I pack, or supervise, the rest of us. We fly Ryanair, who have NOT been our friend of late, changing their luggage regulations this year, right after we all bought small hand-luggage wheelie cases to suit their luggage allowances last year. This year we ended up spending another £300 just to a) sit reasonably near to each other b) to take 2x hold luggage on. It’s another post in itself, I feel. The budget airline turned out pretty expensive for us, but talking to other travellers on our trip we felt we’d been pretty savvy with the
extra necessary costs.
We’ve been to the same hotel (we think) five times. We’ve basically lost count because some years we’ve been in April AND October, but the hotel we have found ticks all the boxes for us. It’s all inclusive so there’s no need to think about where to eat/drink or what it will cost, the food is really good, the hotel is a half hour from the airport, there are several swimming pools and entertainment for the children, free wifi for the older ones and a lovely prom to walk along (perfect for people-watching, which is one of my hobbies whilst on holiday). Moreover, it’s really cheap! Per person, anyway, for what we get.
Holidays abroad aren’t very FI friendly, granted…. but with our eldest two children being 20 and 16 we are relishing the opportunity to spend time with them while we can. I’d hate to save that money right now just to retire that little early – before long the elder children will likely be flying the nest in one way or another.
We aren’t sun worshippers so the April Spanish sun suits us perfectly, which means the holiday works out so much cheaper than the same place in the school summer holidays, without the need to hide from the heat. All told, including spending money, we spent £4000 this year, which included a day trip sightseeing in Barcelona, and taxis to and from both airports. Our Matched Betting exploits this year have been sufficient to pay for both our caravan’s site fees and the Spanish holiday, so it feels more FI in that respect.
In any case, that holiday is, without question, the highlight of my year. I don’t cook, clean or grocery shop for ten days. It is HEAVEN! No one complains about my cooking or the fact we’ve run out of Weetabix or milk… and I could not care less if the children don’t make their beds in the morning, because some lovely person will come into our room and do that for us sometime after our lunch. I do still pick up clothes (socks on the floor are my nemesis) but with the help of a little vino tinto or cerveza, I don’t care as much!
This year we splurged on a day trip to Barcelona, but did it as economically as we could – a combined bus/train trip and then walking around the city. I’m so glad we did that – as the train approached Barcelona we had several talented buskers boarding the train which I loved. I actually regret not throwing them a Euro or two, as they really were very talented, and in their own way had figured a good side hustle – you have to respect a good side hustle!
We’d taken a free picnic from the hotel as we were all inclusive, which we ate by the marina overlooking the stupendous Naia yacht. Unbelievably impressive! We Googled it – it was only $600,000 per week to hire! Needless to say, we weren’t tempted! It has bars and cinemas, and endless rooms ….but what a price!
The picnic hit the spot for a while, despite the rather unusual combination of food – plain pasta with pineapple pieces, a portion of soft cheese, an apple, some water, a yoghurt and a ham sandwich… with mayonnaise, oil, salt and pepper condiments….we were honestly clueless as to what went with what, but it was free! We made the most of it and found leftovers to feed the shoals of fish we saw in the water.
Afterwards, we hit the city again and after some heavy footfall sightseeing at the Arc De Triumf, Las Ramblas and La Sagrada Familia we were ready for a treat. The consensus was, unsurprisingly, ice creams. Thanks to Google, we located a lovely little supermarket just one street away from La Sagrada Familia where we spent about 12 Euros on 12 ice creams, rather than the van prices of 4 euros per ice cream. We often hit supermarkets for ice cream treats….no one can ever agree on what they’d like to eat so perfectly (Maxibon Cookie comes highly recommended by five people!) that we don’t get extras but we either go greedy and eat more than one ice cream each, or do what we did in Barcelona and gave our extras away to random Spanish children.
Feet aching, we boarded the train and bus ‘home’ again and, blissfully, were back in time for ‘tea’. It was only as we took the train home that we realised we might’ve been able to take the Metro across the city during the day to save our feet. Shh! don’t tell the kids! Those 25,000 steps burned off a lot of overeating!
Not enough, though! Let the diet commence!