I was at the park last week when I overheard a gaggle of mums talking about family holidays and how much they hate to travel with kids. This particular conversation in the park had me hooked!
The mums were talking about the horrors of family holidays. “Oh I won’t go anywhere that involves a plane journey”, “You have no idea the hell that Jasper created on the last plane journey”, “I don’t enjoy holiday’s away with the kids” (OMG), “we’d rather holiday without them”, (double OMG). “The kids won’t remember the trip anyway!”, (OMG I give up) “I can’t deal with the packing, or the washing”, “my kids just won’t eat anything when we’re away”. It went on and on and on. I was tempted to butt in and try to convince them they needed to try again, then I thought better of it. I couldn’t listen anymore!
We travel a lot with our two children. Not because we are ‘smarty pants’, or because they are delightful little creatures (far from it), we travel because we love it and we want our children to grow up loving it too! Yes, we get stressed, yes it’s hard work, yes I sometimes wish we’d left them at home.
They both turn into devils when they’re tired, Monty gets violent and Poppy sobs, so imagine that combination long haul! They aren’t great at trying new food, so we bribe them! We don’t make them eat tarantula legs but we do insist they eat at least a small bowl of rice before gorging on cookies. We make them say please and thank you in the local language, they just want to learn to say toilet or bum!! Monty particularly loved that the Thai currency was ‘Baht’ because it rhymes with fart! These are the things that make our holidays so memorable, these are the things we laugh about for weeks, months, years! Tragic I know!
No time restrictions, no work, no set bedtimes, ice creams after (or before) every meal, lemonade with a straw, buying loads of junk. Whether the children remember the adventure or appreciate the cost is irrelevant. It’s what they experience that makes them who they are. The sounds, the smells, the different faces they smile at, the many places they can have tantrums; it all goes towards making them the adult they will become. I’m not trying to convince anyone to spend an absolute fortune on flights around the world or to spend a year volunteering in The Gambia, a local seaside town is just as wonderful!
Some of the best memories I have of childhood holidays are parking the car on the beach in Wales, on freezing cold days when the sand was whipping against our legs, insisting that mum and dad swim in the sea with us, when actually they just wanted to sit in the car with the heaters on, eating sandy sandwiches. We had fantastic holidays and every one of them has a funny story that helps keep them firmly engraved in my memory! I don’t remember the historical facts of the leaning tower of Pisa, but I’ve been up it. I don’t think I’d be very good on the slopes now but I was an awesome little skier when I was young.
My parents worked hard so that we could play hard, and so that my brother and I had these opportunities to spend time with them, to enjoy family time somewhere new, to show us there were great things out there in the big wide world.
I think this is where I caught the travel bug, and why I so desperately love exploring with my children and why I believe it’s so important to travel with kids. I can’t wait to talk to my teenage children and about their hazy holiday memories, about dad getting a holiday injury on the waterslide in Norway, or swimming with baby sharks off the Similan Islands or watching Monty scream in terror at the Geysers in Iceland. No matter what they remember, no matter how much they forget, like many things in life, it’s the taking part that counts.
If we don’t travel with kids no one else will do it for us; if we don’t make them eat the sandy ice cream because we, “bloody paid for it” no one else will, and if we don’t spend these work-free hours exploring someplace new with them, we’ll regret it.
So buy a ticket for a train or a plane and show your children what’s out there, show them you enjoy their company (even if they are getting right on your nerves), and if; God forbid it happens to pee with rain, the retro photos will be worth it!!
“And then I realised, adventures are the best way to learn”- Unknown