To get the most out of your holiday home you’ll need all the right gear. Spanish homeowner and PropertyGuides.com editor Richard Way picks five must-haves that help make his family holidays a success

The inflatables!
Killer whale, dinghy or plain old lilo, expect inflatables to become a part of your life when you own a holiday home with access to water. Even more so if you have kids. Resistance is futile, given they’re displayed outside virtually every shop along your typical beachfront, triggering pleas from desperate little ones.

It’s quite normal to ignore the warnings about overloading it, so typically they need replacing on an annual basis – don’t bother trying to patch up holes, it never works.

Last year, my belly-flop delivered the killer blow to our crocodile. We now have a giant lobster, known as Pedro. Whether Pedro is tough enough to survive summer 2017, who knows. And get yourself a decent foot-pump, or risk passing out after half an hour of wheezing down a rubber hole that barely opens.

Sunshades
Kids can be especially grouchy after a long day at the beach. Energy levels zapped by the sun, sticky from the residue of Calippos and with sand grating against wet cossies and in just about every crevice of their body, if bare thighs hit car seats charged with a day’s worth of Mediterranean sunshine, the whole resort will know about it. And you won’t be able to speed off in fear for your life – the steering wheel will be too hot to touch.

The solution is prevention. First point to note, the earlier you arrive by car anywhere in a hot country, be it the beach, supermarket or A&E, the higher your chances of landing yourself a parking space in the shade. If you do need to leave your vehicle in the sun for some time, get a screen for not only the windscreen but all the other windows. The kids will thank you for it. Remember, too much sun equals grumpiness and, in the worst cases, sun-burn and illness. Sunshades should be omnipresent as you go about your life in the sunshine. One tip for choosing a parasol for the terrace – make sure the base is sufficiently heavy as I’ve seen ours take off…

The beach bag
The phrase ‘nipping to the beach’, like you did as a carefree, golden-tanned teenager with nothing more than a towel under your arm, becomes defunct when you grow up and have little ones. Organisation is key to making the day a success and pivotal to this is the carefully prepared beach bag.

The bag itself needs to be super big with easy access to the inside, ideally made of cloth or another hardy material that doesn’t perish when wet, have a zippable inside pocket for money, phone and keys, and a suitably beachy picture on the outside. Contents, as a bare minimum, will include drinks, snacks, sun-cream, towels, frisbee, bat and ball, mask and snorkel, and bucket and spade (which often ends up being carried). Everything else – the sunshade, folding chairs, mats and a ball can be carried. Don’t be surprised to gain the odd spade or bucket along the way – they’re a bit like school socks that do the rounds in the changing room.

Could this be your ideal Spanish villa?

Insect repellent(s)
Comparing mosquito –  or mozzie – bites is a popular pastime of Brits abroad, often done at breakfast after a dawn raid by the whining critters. We throw around different theories about why one person is ‘tastier’ than another, or offer convenient ways to keep them away: wash less and booze more – they’re attracted to sweet scented soap but deterred by alcohol in the blood… Repellent seems to work for some people but not all, otherwise the plug-in devices are effective. Actually, one of the simplest solutions to avoid being bitten is to keep doors and windows shut as much as possible. Ants are often a problem in hot climates too. Not leaving food out and sweeping up after every meal will help, otherwise a good dose of Raid will keep them at bay.

Candles and cards
Warm evenings sat out playing rummy by candlelight have become a highlight of our holidays. The children’s normal bedtimes go out the window, as they hone their card-playing skills and you pathetically double-bluff about trying your hardest to win as you sneak glances at their cards. Pick candles that come in a variety of coloured glass jars and scented with citronella to make things that extra bit more exotic!

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