Long Overdue But Finally Here.

France Road Trip Challenge Travelling with Children

We are two weeks into our 27 day trip and this is the first blog post I’ve written. If you’re wondering why let me explain, firstly I haven’t had internet and secondly I’m only really now in the right frame of mind to be writing.
When I was planning the trip I knew that there would be challenges but it turns out that for the 6 months of planning I underwent I couldn’t have foreseen Lola having an eczema flare up, me having an upset tummy and then putting my neck out all within the first week. The result of this, several sleepless nights and both of us becoming overtired.

In all honesty, 4 weeks to do a trip which was supposed to be over 7 weeks was a big ask. I knew that to be the case before I started but underestimated how tired I would get. On the days when I have done a long drive it has taken a full day in the car, it has taken the whole of the next day to get over it and Lola and I were a little bit touchy!

Until 3 days ago all I wanted to do was go home which for is really quite sad, this is supposed to be a trip of a lifetime for us and it turned into a stressful experience all around. I’ll go into more detail in the book about our day to day activities and the emotional side of it, for now this is really just an overview of the first 2 weeks.

The good news is that I took stock and changed my plans to allow us to rest properly. I have to say an extremely big thank you to Thomson Al Fresco who switched my bookings around to allow me to stay here in Mar Estang, Canet Plage for an extra few days. When I arrived here I was tired, the second day here I had a melt down and was dreading the rest of the trip. Three days later I am rested, I even stayed up past 9pm one night which is unheard of for me! Now I am excited again and looking forward to continuing our adventure, it’s a shame we only have 12 days left but I will squeeze in as much as I can.

What changed when I was able to focus better was my frame of mind. I was anxious and completely focused on covering as much mileage as possible and missing the point of what we are doing. The book and our story is what it is all about, that includes the difficulties we experience as well as pretty pictures of places we visit. The fact is that if I had continued with the approach I had there would be no pictures as I would have just been driving and sleeping, no time to take in the journey.

As well as being a woman travelling long distances on sometimes empty roads in an old car, I am also a single mum. I don’t get to have a lie in, people may say drive through the night but that’s not possible as I would be in no fit state to look after Lola the next day. Even now, when I have given myself a break and taken time to take Lola to the beach I have to plan carefully. Trying to take the minimum we need but covering everything that’s important has me could have me doing the work of a donkey, I have it fine tuned now and the £6.00 I spent on a lightweight backpack from Tesco and the foldaway picnic blanket have proved invaluable. Of course I don’t get to have a nap on the beach as I did many years ago, I have to have eyes in the back of my head to watch a lively 3 year old!

One thing that is for sure is that I will return to Domaine de Dugny in Onzain next year as I didn’t get to do what I had planned there. We stayed a couple of days, were both under the weather and then had to drive South. We didn’t see the Chateaux I had hoped to nor the annual garden festival I was looking forward to so much.

I think the first two weeks have to a degree been disappointing but in reality will add more valuable insight to our story for others to learn from. I now have a happy Lola and I am refreshed and ready to move on, our next stop is Provence and although when I arrived here at Canet Plage I really didn’t like it, I now think I may return. It is a great base to explore the Pyrenees and enjoy the beach too as well as being an hour from Spain. The drive here from Saint Gaudens is so far the highlight of the driving for me, that is because I took it slowly, stopped a lot and enjoyed it instead of trying to cover 500 KM in a day.

Maps of the routes I’ve used will follow when I have consistent internet as will a blow by blow account of what we’ve been up to. For now, with a very slow and expensive internet connection it is a brief update.

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