My life on the beach: Cathy Winston
Cathy Winston is the award-winning writer behind mummytravels.com, a blog about whether you can really keep travelling with a child and how to do it. She has also been published in The Independent, Metro, National Geographic Traveller, Family Traveller, The Sunday Times Travel magazine and Gurgle to name just a few. Based in west London, she gets itchy feet on a regular basis so her three-year-old daughter has already racked up an impressive 13 overseas trips.
First up, what’s your favourite beach?
I do love beaches, whether they’re wild and windswept or palm-fringed and tropical, but if I have to pick a favourite, I think mine would be the quiet beach on Nosy Tanikely in Madagascar which has incredible reefs just offshore. With my daughter, Long Bay in Antigua was wonderful to give her a taste of reef life without needing a snorkel as the waters are so clear and shallow.
What makes the perfect getaway for your family?
It has to be somewhere which keeps everyone happy – animals, beaches and ice-cream are favourites for my daughter, but I love some kind of quirky experiences as well. Great food, some sunshine and a family-friendly atmosphere are a definite bonus.
Where is the most kid-friendly destination you’ve visited?
I’ve discovered over the last three years that most places are a lot more child-friendly than I expected – perhaps the most kid-friendly has to be Florida. We visited earlier this year, heading to Bradenton on the Gulf Coast rather than the big amusement parks. Everyone seemed genuinely delighted by kids, whether we were in a shop or restaurant or on a boat trip, plus you have all the facilities from highchairs and booster seats to child menus.
Which 3 words best describe your holiday style?
Fun, relaxed, adventurous
Any tips for keeping kids happy on the plane?
Quantity is key, especially when they’re young – 10 things that will entertain them for five minutes will keep them occupied even for long-haul. Stickers are one of our essentials, and a tablet full of CBeebies and a few favourite films plus kids’ earphones, but Water Magic pads, life-the-flap books, a bear to cuddle and activity books are always in our hand luggage. Plus snacks…lots of snacks.
What small things would you be lost without on holiday?
Wet wipes! I don’t think I leave the house without them these days, along with my phone and portable battery charger. I always make sure to have Calpol sachets handy too, just in case.
What’s on your holiday reading list?
It’s still a bit of a novelty for me to have time to sit and read these days, and I’m usually trying to catch up with the blogs I follow and flick through guidebooks. If I can, I love to read a novel set in the country I’m visiting though, it really brings the destination alive.
What are your beach bag must-haves?
Ultrasun, as both my daughter and I have fair skin but I only have to apply it once a day, Elizabeth Arden eight-hour cream, sunglasses, a notebook to catch up on my holiday diary and a bucket and spade.
Bucket list destinations – go!
So many! Costa Rica is high up the list, but I’d also love to visit Guatemala and Belize, plus Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia. After a trip to Ljubljana, I’ve got my eye on exploring more of the Balkans too. And I wouldn’t say no to almost anywhere in the Indian Ocean.
Which holiday sticks in your mind as truly special?
There are a few for different reasons – my honeymoon in Brazil, my trip to Madagascar and Laos as they’re so unusual, even Lanzarote as my first trip with my daughter. But Egypt stands out as one of the most special, my own first trip outside Europe, travelling solo (albeit with a group) and somewhere I’d always been fascinated by. It was everything I’d hoped for and more, from there my wanderlust just grew and grew.
Finally, when you get home, what are the signs you’ve been on a successful trip?
Hundred of photos to go through and my daughter still chatting about it afterwards. As she’s so young, her perceptions are always very different from my own so when she’s still remembering her own highlights for days, even months afterwards, I know it’s made a real impact.