When Bad Holidays Happen To Good People: A Survival Guide


Holidays. We put so much expectation on them, don’t we? And it’s understandable: often, we’ve saved up and looked forward to our little getaway for one heck of a long time.

And then the day arrives for us to pack the car up / jump in a taxi to the airport (wahoooo, best feeling!) / board a train etc, and then….our end destination doesn’t quite live up to that heavy expectation, for whatever reason.

Ain’t it rubbish when that happens?

We recently got back from a little caravan holiday that wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped for.

On the plus side, it didn’t cost us much, and my expectations for it weren’t sky-high.

It was four nights in a caravan park on the north-east coast in unpredictable May, not a fortnight in Bali in high season.

Still, I was excited. Unfortunately, the weather really wasn’t on our side, and without decent-ish weather, I’m not sure I’m really cut out for UK caravan holidays.

I would like to add here that I’m honestly not being a diva about the weather. I could have coped with a bit of rain here and there, and wouldn’t have let it stop us from doing what we planned to do.

Alas, it wasn’t just a ‘bit of rain’; it was near-constant rain and very low temperatures for three days and nights (yes, we left a day early).

And even the hardiest of souls would surely admit that the weather makes or breaks these types of holidays. Sure, they cater for unpredictable conditions; this is the UK and it’s what we’re used to. But, they also have lots of facilities that are only fit for purpose when the sun shines – or at least when it’s not 7 degrees in mid-May.

At Primrose Valley, where we stayed, they have a fantastic-looking outdoor pool and terrace area; an outdoor cinema; a boating lake with tons of activities; a little train for kids and families; a terrifying-looking assault course…all of which were closed when we visited due to the rain.

And there are numerous outdoor play areas that we were excited for Ted to enjoy, but it was just too godamn wet.

Also, at the risk of sounding like a massive snob, being outside is what makes these holidays because staying inside is not the most appealing of options – unless being immersed in the brown and grey décor of their caravans, or eating anaemic-looking frozen chips from their bar/restaurant is your idea of a good time. (And each to their own, always. But it’s not mine.)

(As an aside, the smoking terrace at the bar is covered with a canopy with the words ‘Smoking area for your enjoyment’ on it. Ohhhhh, Primrose Valley.)

Still, it certainly wasn’t all bad.

Ted enjoyed the two indoor pools, and went crazy on our one visit to the main bar (where he made a beeline for the stage), and we made it down the road to Scarborough for tea one night, and had an excellent lunch at nearby Hunmanby, at The Piebald Inn. (If you’re ever in the area, GO.)

And heck, if all I’ve got to whinge about is a bit of rain and the fact that I didn’t get to enjoy my new camping chairs that we’d bought especially for the trip – 2 for £12 at Asda! – then I guess I’m doing OK.

(I spied those unused chairs when I opened our car boot the other day. Oh, what fun we could have had, us and those chairs! So many good times missed, so much unrealised potential….)

Anyway, our not-as-great-as-it-might-have-been trip made me think about how I’ll navigate future holidays that may also not live up to expectation. (I am now haunted by visions of spending the next ten years in kids’ clubs and caravans, can you tell??!)

I’ll be following my own advice that I’ve jotted down below, that might also be helpful for anyone else in the midst of holiday-related woes.


The Crap Holiday Survival Guide: 5 Top Tips

1.Don’t feel guilty if you’re not overwhelmed with happiness just because you are On Holiday.

When they’re good, holidays revive and recharge us. Hurrah for those holidays. When they’re not quite as good, on the other hand, they….don’t.

Surely the point of a holiday is to have a better time than we’d be having if we were at home, when we’re forced to go to work and cook meals and wash clothes. Isn’t it?

And so when we start fantasising about being back in the office, or in our kitchen, then perhaps it’s an indicator that we’re not quite on the enviable type of jaunt that Judith Chalmers might have gone on on Wish You Were Here (ask your dad).

Also, it might sound materialistic but… I reckon it can be unsettling to be away from our home and our ‘stuff’. It can make us feel even less like ‘us’ (particularly when we’re already getting lost in a sea of brown and grey decor, as I was in our caravan).

And for some people, even if they ARE on a Judith Chalmers-worthy jaunt and not drowning in brown and grey, the stresses of travel and the breaks in routine can cause anxiety. Anxiety that will only be exacerbated by worrying about having a good time or not.

In a nutshell: try not to feel overwhelmed by the pressures of HAVING to have a good time. Accept how it is and try not to stress.


ironic slogan, terrible photo – but you get the gist of the grey and brown decor (although I spy some blue! I do apologise…)


2.Do whatever you need to do to make it through the day. Within reason. (And again, don’t feel guilty about it.)

We watched a lot of Numberblocks in that bloody caravan, I ate a lot of biscuits and we spent a small fortune in the on-site Starbucks. Because needs must ‘n’ all that.


3.Make sure you are getting what you paid for – speak to staff if things aren’t right

There wasn’t a lot we could complain about on our little break, because we knew what we signed up for. It was a cheap minibreak in a caravan and we were relying on the notoriously unreliable British weather being kind to us. It wasn’t kind. End of story. (She says….wringing out an entire blog post about it…)

Obviously the pesky weather is one of those things that can ruin a holiday and it’s no-one’s fault.

Yet if your holiday is less great for some other reason, then it’s obviously worth considering what can be done to rectify it, if anything. I’m thinking along the lines of accommodation not living up to its brochure, facilities not available etc. Speak to staff and ensure you’re at least getting what you signed up for.


4.Be as prepared as possible for potential rubbishness – especially if you’re holidaying in the UK and are at the mercy of unpredictable weather, and have children to entertain

Depending on your transport/luggage space, take twice as many toys and books as you originally planned to, laptops, magazines etc – even if you have the best intentions of fully switching off and embracing the great outdoors in all conditions. (Good luck with that.)


5.I’m being a Contrary Mary here, but on the flip-side of not feeling guilty, also remember that you are on holiday. You are not on Death Row.

You’re in a pretty privileged position, sunshine. Soon you’ll be back home, having to sort out laundry and think about what to make for tea, and that brown-and-grey caravan will seem like your own private Bali villa. Maybe.


Bye for now x

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Hello, I'm Laura. I write about parenting, life, style, building a business and finding success on your own terms.

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