A Family Holiday In A Pandemic – A Personal Blog
We’ve had a holiday cancelled before due to a terrorist attack so I couldn’t think of another life threatening reason a family holiday would be cancelled. Then Covid19 came.
Like many other UK tourists we followed travel advice (and even Martin Lewis) and waited it out hoping for our summer holiday to Turkey to be cancelled.
The first date of flights would keep nudging back due to Government and the Foreign Office advice. More holidays got cancelled. Then suddenly we found ourselves being the first UK flight out to Turkey on the very first day. Turkey become one of the first travel ‘corridors’ to be opened post lockdown.
Here’s our personal story of our family holiday to Kusadasi in Turkey as one of the first tourists to travel after lockdown restrictions were lifted…
Travel Worries and Restrictions
After many weeks of stress and worry (and little help from Jet2) we made the decision to go for it.
We didn’t want to lose the money, we couldn’t afford the increased prices for the following year (despite it being the same holiday) so we decided to take the risk.
And that risk paid off.
The media sent my anxiety sky high with talks of fines if you didn’t wear a mask in public in Turkey.
The hotel were only opening the day we arrived with most things closed, including all the A La Carte restaurants, kids club and entertainment.
The buffet restaurant would be the only place open with staff wearing PPE and serving you being screens.
The picture being painted of our family holiday wasn’t a very idyllic and relaxing one…
Masks, Social Distancing and Testing
Jet2 got things muddled up again and forgot to tell us the Terminal change. We found we were ahead with a lot of the updates so it was incredibly frustrating having to chase them to confirm our holiday details in the run up to the holiday.
They even emailed at 12pm the DAY BEFORE to confirm the hotel wasn’t as we’d booked and we could move the holiday with no fees. At that point we had mentally prepared ourselves to go so…well, what can do you the day before?!
Manchester airport was very quiet as we arrived with a focus on self serve check ins and lots of hand sanitising stations. Masks were compulsory.
Thermal cameras were dotted about and all the eateries were closed. We usually loved our pre-flight breakfast too!
On the flight the safety messages had been tweaked to cover new Covid19 restrictions and we had to wear a mask for the duration which, surprisingly, isn’t as uncomfortable as you’d think and everyone stuck to the rules.
Arriving In Turkey Post Lockdown
On arriving at Ismir airport in Turkey we made our way to our transfer and sat aboard a very quiet bus travelling over to Kusadasi to officially start our family holiday.
Again lots of talk about the fines for not wearing masks, as we passed streets of locals NOT wearing masks…another thing to add to the confusion and uncertainty.
On arriving at Fantasia Deluxe in Kusadasi we were asked to wait and each group was temperature checked and details noted. Our luggage was even sanitised.
It’s safe to say we had no problem social distancing around the pool or beach…
A Quieter Family Holiday In Turkey
Exploring Kusadasi During Coronavirus
After arriving fearing the worse we soon felt brave enough to explore the local areas and leave our beautiful hotel, Fantasia Hotel Deluxe.
We were advised to take masks with us but we wouldn’t need to wear them except in some shops and the busy market places.
We haven’t been to the Kusadasi resort before to compare it to how it ‘should’ be but the beach town did feel weirdly quiet. With mainly locals or Turkish visitors from the city to the coast there seemed very few foreign tourists.
Paisley seemed unfazed by the socially distanced queuing, masks in shops and lack of English kids to play with. She just enjoyed exploring, the lie ins and all being together without any distractions!
Making Friends, Sharing Stories
Hearing stories of amazing travel deals and last minute family holiday bargains didn’t help us feel any better about paying full price for a holiday with SO many restrictions and closures. We spent the first few days annoyed we weren’t getting the holiday we paid for.
However, we soon realised the benefits of being the first tourists from the UK over to Turkey.
No 6am wake up to fight for a sunbed.
Super friendly staff that had the time for all the guests.
By the end of the holiday Paisley even had one of the lovely chefs keeping her pancakes warm and ready for her (as most food was pre-done and ready in a buffet style unlike pre-coronavirus).
Paisley was also lucky enough that the one English girl that was her age just happened to live about half an hour away from us back home and they got on famously.
We felt safe enough with all the airport and hotel checks that it was more detrimental to the two little ladies to keep them distanced (have you tried to keep 2 5 year old kindred spirits apart before??) and they were soon the best of friends, even buying a friendship bracelet to take home!
Liverpool, Local Food and Puppy Love
With a friendship blooming to a proper little holiday romance (Paisley was obsessed with Nel bless her) we found ourselves making little dates for them to be together.
Another lovely couple from the hotel were regulars to the area so tipped us off to an amazing local restaurant (Reis Cafe) that would sort out the Liverpool game AND some amazing food.
It didn’t disappoint and the owner was very grateful for the custom after 3 months of being closed and the lack of tourists coming in!
They were all great with distanced tables and hand sanitiser readily available too.
We ventured out to the local market, or Bazaar, and let the girls pick a friendship bracelet before they had to say their goodbyes as Nel went home a few days earlier than us.
A Safe Family Holiday During Coronavirus
Exploring Turkey Post Lockdown
After plenty of reassurances that Turkey was ‘on it’ when it came to trying to keep everyone safe we felt brave enough to do our usual exploring by hiring a car through the hotel.
It’s something we have always enjoyed doing on our family holiday’s and were pleased we could do it safely in Turkey too even during a pandemic and after a lockdown.
Visiting Historical Sites During Social Distancing
Due to Covid no cruise ships were docking at Kusadasi and travelling in to the historical sites so the crowds were a fraction of what they would be.
When visiting the Basilica of St John we were actually the only people there until we were leaving. It was a strange pleasure getting to enjoy the stunning ruins without waiting for people to pass by the get a good photo!
In a weird way we’re so grateful to be able to experience the 7th wonder of the world and some incredible Turkish and Greek history in these circumstances. I can’t imagine ever having that opportunity again!
What’s It Like Travelling Abroad During Coronavirus?
We got to enjoy a LOT of the things we thought we couldn’t and all of them felt really safe too.
From water parks and local beaches to typical tourist day trips and exploring further than our hotel, we made the most of it!
Before we left we had to admit we were a little worried and wasn’t sure if travelling abroad when so many people were worried to even leave their house felt irresponsible.
The media painted it out to be hell travelling and only added to the anxieties.
But now we have been back a couple of weeks?
My goodness was it the right decision!
Sadly our hotel made the decision to close again shortly after due to the lack of guests and not covering their costs. They really did an incredible job adapting with all the restrictions and looked after us.
I know a lot more holidays have been cancelled since and guidelines change ALL the time.
I know for me it’s made us feel a little braver being home. I’m happy to speak up if something doesn’t feel safe and ignore the news trying to fuel the fear.
Family Holiday Photography – A Bit Of Family History!
I decided to document our holiday because I really wanted to practice a bit of street photography and I was curious what the experience would look and feel like being one of the first tourists post lockdown.
I also felt it would be a weird bit of family history travelling during a Worldwide pandemic. Not only capturing what our holiday looked like with so many travel restrictions but how we got on considering all the worries we left with.
As you can see, we made the best of what could’ve been a weird situation and came home with a ton of weird and wonderful memories!
Bit of a long one though huh? Well done for getting this far but also thanks for taking the time to check out a bit of my personal family photography too!