Martinhal: Our First Ever Holiday Abroad With The Toddler

I’ve done it. I’ve booked a holiday abroad with our toddler. Our first ever trip abroad together. Our first proper holiday (providing you don’t count Centerparcs).

I want to scream with excitement and fear, all at the same time.

After two and a half years of being too chicken to go abroad with our child, the place to tempt us onto a plane out of the UK is Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel in Portugal. It looks like heaven in a hotel. Having read reviews on blogs and travel sites like Babyfriendly Boltholes and Luxury And Little Ones, this is what appeals to me:

  • Its mix of five star luxury and family friendly facilities
  • The self-catering apartments (we’ve booked a 2-bedroom – the thought of sharing a room with our tot for a week doesn’t appeal!) with veranda that will allow evening dining al fresco while the toddler sleeps
  • The food delivery service to the apartments (see: above)
  • The pre-bookable baby and child equipment like safety gates, door protectors, bed guards, baby baths and a potty
  • Its gated playground and chests of pool toys to use
  • The Raposinhos kids’ club (we *might* just book one or two sessions in there to allow a bit of pool-lounging-time)
  • It’s on the beach and has pools too, giving lots of choice of where to hang
  • There’s a spa. Enough said.


Holidays with toddlers

Toddler friendly holidays

Martinhal Hotel for families


I work full time, so does my husband, and if you count nursery, so does the toddler. We all need some sun and we all need some family time together, so this should be the perfect place to go. But, I’ll be totally honest, these are my fears:

  • Toddler tantrums. A journey that includes an hour in the car, 90 minutes in the airport, an hour faffing around waiting for baggage and sorting the hire car, and a 90 minute drive along the Algarve? Plenty of potential “meltdown moments” there.
  • “I no like swimming” My currently swimming obsessed child will probably decide she hates swimming. Which is kind of what we plan to do for most of the holiday.
  • “I want my Peppa Pig books/scooter/HappyLand toys/Lego” Will we last a whole week away from our safety net of toys and books?

If you have any tips on first holidays abroad, please share them! Please.

Martinhal Beach Resort & Spa have invited us to stay with them for the purpose of a review. This isn’t a review, it’s just a post about my holiday-booking-excitement-and-fears. All excitement and fears views are my own.




  1. March 22, 2013 / 10:59 pm

    Ah that’s exciting, looks lovely! You’ll be fine though, we’ve done it 3 times now, first time was Canada when she was 13 months! I’m not gonna lie it’s stressful and you will regularly say to each other “remember our pre-baby holidays?” With a longing look in you eyes, lol! My top tips, pack a bag for LO for plane full of snacks, colouring and tiny toys that are £1-2 that you keep hidden until they come out on the plane, keeps them interested for longer, load iPad/Pod/Phone with child friendly apps and burn favourite TV shows/film on to a DVD that can go with you! My little girl adored the swimming pool at our apparent envy in Cyprus last year, I’m sure yours will too, the apartments look very nice where you are going, enjoy! X

    • notanothermummyblog
      March 25, 2013 / 6:58 am

      Thank you! All great tips. Thankfully this won’t be a 12 hour flight. Think you deserve a medal for doing that!

  2. March 22, 2013 / 11:09 pm

    Horray for holidays!! I really want to go abroad this year but have a falling down house that should probably get sorted first 🙁
    Anyway, top tip for toddler taming on holiday would be any form of technology – iphone/ipad – with tv programmes (E’s fave is Charlie and Lola) on repeat, and apps to entertain AND if you get apps that teach them letters/numbers etc, you could get away with saying that you’re doing it for their own good….maybe?!? x

    • notanothermummyblog
      March 25, 2013 / 6:58 am

      Brilliant! Love the educational angle. Yes the iPad will be taking a battering on the flight.

  3. @mum_diaries
    March 23, 2013 / 8:09 am

    Good for you! It’s so much better to go at that age as they’re old enough to communicate better and young enough so you can go without it being too difficult to adjust (it gets harder to try new things the longer you leave them!).
    I found preparation was key- telling my toddler about planes and showing him pictures so he got excited when we saw one. Oh, and a bag full of snacks… Last resort being bribery chocolate buttons in case of tantrums… If they don’t melt!!
    Our problems? Our son hates the heat. Yeh, great. He would rather play in the shade and winces in sunlight (he also hates the cold but hey ho!!). Thankfully my husband is similar and left me to sunbathe!! The other problem was the solar ‘heated’ pool wasn’t exactly heated, meaning our tot wouldn’t venture into the water (the whole week’s activities down the drain!). Take a wet suit just in case!

    • notanothermummyblog
      March 25, 2013 / 7:00 am

      Good tip with the wet suit. Think I’m going to buy some of those UV protective suits too as otherwise I’ll be stressed and neurotic about the sun.
      Luckily we have been on lots of short flights to and from Scotland with our toddler so she is used to flying a bit.

  4. March 23, 2013 / 10:21 am

    Looks amazing – in fact looks the the perfect solution to OUR problem, where to holiday with a 4, 6 and 9 year old so they ALL have a good time and I get some R+R!!!

    My top tips would be to accept that the journey is going to be hellish, if you expect the worst and plan for the best you’ll be fine!

    Have a brilliant time x

    • notanothermummyblog
      March 25, 2013 / 7:04 am

      Expect the worst and plan for the best : great advice, Sophie. And why don’t you book up to go? X

  5. Busola Evans
    March 23, 2013 / 10:48 am

    Well done – looks fab!! If we could survive (just about) 11 hours to the Maldives you will be absolutely fine! And it has clearly not put us off holidays because we’re going to France in July. Even though our flight experience was rather awful, I just think it was simply a long journey for a 22-month-old. Preparation is the key. I quietly started preparing weeks before so there was no stress and enough time. And I had lists for everything. But then again, I do love a list. Also, I wouldn’t over-pack on toys. My little one was far less interested in her ‘old’ stuff as there were so many new things to explore. Her fave thing on hol was just playing ball on the beach. It’ll all work out. You’ll have a great time!

    • notanothermummyblog
      March 25, 2013 / 7:02 am

      Playing ball on the beach! That didn’t even occur to me as an activity. Brilliant. I might do a quick google of easy beach games or something. Hopefully your journey to France will be less stressful than the Maldives!

  6. April 14, 2013 / 4:21 pm

    Alison my family and I have been going to Martinhal for a few years now and it’s totally lush! (I know, we’re not exactly the target age of family, and I don’t even know how my dad found it but hey.) I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time, but I should warn you about one thing: every time we’ve been it’s been reeeeaaaaally windy. So cool that you’re reviewing it though. Maybe I should review it too… Enjoy 🙂

    • notanothermummyblog
      April 18, 2013 / 3:38 pm

      You’re right, Rachel – VERY windy! But at least it keeps you fresh, in the hot sun!

  7. Suzanne
    May 22, 2013 / 7:05 am

    Don’t forget toddler headphones for the plane…

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