Lydia gard life on the beach

Lydia Gard is the editor of Mr Fox: the new online magazine for parents with young boys. Before she launched Mr Fox Lydia was a travel writer for ten years, and still writes for Tatler, Conde Nast Traveller and House & Garden among others. She has two boys, aged 3 and 6, who have already racked up plenty of air miles and inherited their parents’ taste for adventure. Lydia shares her ultimate family holiday and what’s at the top of her travel bucket list:

Lydia Gard holiday

First up, what’s your favourite beach?
There’s a tiny island off the coast of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania called Sinda which has literally nothing on it but rocks, icing sugar sand, turtles and waxy-leaved trees. I first went there when I was a full time travel writer and I was reviewing a beautiful private sailing boat and we stopped here to have a BBQ and sundowners. It’s everything I love about Africa: rugged and remote.

What makes the perfect getaway for your family?
We all love an adventure so usually we are doing something outdoors and active. We spent last summer in Zimbabwe (my husband is from there) and it was like the call of the wild. But for something more relaxing, we keep going back to Alavya hotel in Alacati, Turkey. It’s a beautiful, intimate boutique hotel with amazing suites, a spa, yoga studio, gorgeous pool and they love kids, plus the food is insanely good.

Where is the most kid-friendly destination you’ve visited?
Italy. My kids love Italian food, and Italians love children. There’s lots of cheek-pinching and bosom-cuddling they have to tolerate, but it’s all made worthwhile by the gelato.

Which 3 words best describe your holiday style?
Barefoot, barefaced, bangles.

Any tips for keeping kids happy on the plane?
Rory’s story cubes are excellent: roll them and make up a story from the pictures displayed. Much lighter than a stack of books and far more engaging.

What small things would you be lost without on holiday?
Pommade Divine (a rich, delicious balm for burnt bits and dry lips), my pink ray bans and my children.

Do you read while you’re away and if so, what’s on your reading list?
I rarely put a book down when I’m travelling: I’m about to start People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, but I’m actually addicted to a podcast for the first time: Serial. It’s intense.

It can be tricky to pack for the beach, so what are your beach-bag must-haves?
Bottles of frozen water, books (*I will never buy a kindle, I love turning pages*) and a bag of pecan nuts (someone is always hungry), a kaftan for when it gets cooler, and a panama hat.

Bucket list destinations – Go!
I often wonder about all the islands around the world that I haven’t been too: from Hawaii to Fiji, the west coast of Sweden and the southern islands of Japan. My husband and I often talk about driving across Africa with the boys before they get too old, I hope we make it happen.

What holiday sticks in your mind as truly special?
Driving from Malta to the Sahara in our old Landrover was pretty memorable: I was pregnant at the time and didn’t know it so I felt pretty ropey, but it was still an amazing adventure. But sailing around the Aeolian islands off the coast of Italy, catching fish and barbecuing it while the boys sleep below deck, that’s still my go-to daydream when I’m in the depths of a British winter.

Lydia Gard interview