As we enter the bank holiday season, warmer days and longer nights, it’s time to start thinking about summer holiday plans. Especially if you have children. But even if you don’t, it’s important to factor in a break. And this year it’s especially important, with costs rising and covid still affecting some travel arrangements. In this blog I share how you can get prepared for the holiday season, so it actually feels like a break. If you’re getting divorced you definitely need to start thinking about your summer now.
It’s okay to make summer holiday plans
Many of my clients have already decided not to take a holiday this year. With uncertainty about costs, uncertainty about covid and uncertainty about global stability, it seemed easier not too. Plus, they were feeling guilty about even thinking about holidays. The situation in Ukraine has shaken us all, and spending time thinking about how to take a break just felt like a self-indulgent luxury.
I understand all that. I’m also here to tell you that it’s okay to make summer holiday plans and take a holiday. One that works for you. Yes, all of us living in relative stability, with a roof over our heads, can count our blessings. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to rest, or have a change of routine. You don’t need to feel guilty for needing a rest.
A holiday doesn’t have to mean a week in The Maldives. It can be whatever works for you. But please don’t think you don’t need or deserve a break.
Sort your dates now
If you have school-aged children you are going to be limited to the six-week break – and both UK and overseas holidays book up quickly. You’ll also need to book the time off work, and August weeks can be a scramble for annual leave!
So now’s the time to get organised. Make summer holiday plans while you have the headspace. Have you and your ex-spouse agreed when each of you will have the children? If not, get that conversation started. Get an agreement in writing, so you are both clear on what’s been organised. A family mediator can help with this (you can find a trained mediator here). If your ex-spouse will not cooperate you may need to go to the court for a child arrangement order, and it’s even more important that you start the ball rolling now.
Once you have the dates you can start to plan breaks both with and without them. Because if they are with their other parent for a week or two, it’s important to make the most of that time! And I don’t mean by doing housework, or divorce admin!
You can still make it special
Even if your holiday doesn’t involve going away this year, you can still make it special. And when money’s tight special can sometimes involve a little more planning. So start thinking now what you want and need from a break. Ask your children too – if your resources are limited it makes sense to prioritise the things you really want to do. Be realistic with them: a trip to Disneyland may be out of the question, but what is it about Disneyland they’re excited about? Could you get to a funfair for a day?
If your first choice is out of reach, what can you do that offers something similar? You might love to go on a forest holiday with the children, but can’t afford the August prices. If it’s time in the woods doing activities that you’re interested in, can you find other ways of doing that instead? Would camping or glamping be a more affordable option?
If you don’t have children it can be tempting to sit the holiday season out. And it certainly makes sense to book trips during low season, as you’ll get better rates. But you don’t want to waste the best UK weather of the year either. See if you can plan walks with friends (off the beaten track so you won’t be crowded by families) or other fun experiences so you can make the most of summer. Reach out to friends now – people can get booked up and they will most likely be glad of an organised friend!
Ten money-saving ideas for family holiday planning
If money is tight, there are ways to save costs. Here are ten things to consider to help you plan a cost-effective holiday:
- Do you have bookings from 2020/21 that have been paid for and you can carry over?
- Are there vouchers you can use? Check the eligible dates on the offers you find on the back of cereal boxes etc. It may be you can take advantage of a teacher training day to go out of high season
- Consider a joint holiday with friends or family. It’s often cheaper to spilt the cost of a larger holiday let, and you can share childcare too
- Use sites like money saving expert to help you find the cheapest deals and tips to beat the system
You can have fun at home too
- Look for family volunteering days: beach cleans, seed planting in parks, or clearing woods can all be cost-effective ways to enjoy a day outside, and sometimes transport is provided too
- Check your local council for a list of free family-friendly activities happening in your area. Libraries often run sessions and reading challenges
- Investigate overlooked parts of the UK – often the big tourist destinations such as Cornwall or the Lake District get booked quickly. But there are other beautiful parts of the UK to enjoy. Try the Peak District for hills, or the North Wales coastline for beaches
- Consider using youth hostels if you don’t fancy camping – as well as often being a cheaper accommodation option, you get access to a kitchen so can save money on food costs too
- If you won’t be going away, plan some day trips now. Decide when and where and get tickets booked. Train tickets are usually released three months in advance, so now’s the time to find the best deals. A friends and family rail card usually pays for itself on the first trip, and can save you hundreds on travel.
- If you can, start to save a little each week now towards your holiday fund, so you can enjoy treats while you’re away.
Make sure it’s a holiday for you too
It can be easy to get carried away looking for the best deals and filling your days with entertainment for the children. But do make sure you get some rest too. Divorce is a stressful time and you need a break more than ever. If you have designated time away from the children, how can you make the most of it? It doesn’t have to be expensive – a pile of books, a picnic rug and some delicious food in a quiet corner of the park could be just what you need.
If you don’t get time away from your children, start to think now about how to create some time and headspace for yourself. Could you book them into a holiday club, or arrange childcare swaps with friends? This is an important time for you to relax too. Summer holiday plans are for you too!
Need help making a plan?
Whether it’s working out a strategy for communicating with your ex-spouse, understanding what you need to do to get your divorce on track, or help planning your financial future, I am here. My Ask The Alchemist service means you can work with me on a particular issue 1:1 without any long term commitment. You’ll get the answers and the confidence you need to move forward. Book a free 30 minute call with me today.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com