When I think about the experiences I’d like my children to have, one thing that always comes to mind is the opportunity to see the world.
It’s not something I got to do when I was a kid. My parents simply couldn’t afford to take us on what we called ‘fancy’ holidays (basically, anything that involved getting on an airplane). In fact, before the age of 24, the furthest I’d travelled was to France for a GCSE art trip and A-level French work experience.
Growing up, my family breaks were simple affairs – caravan holidays in Wales – and, to be fair, I never really yearned for too much more. Holidays abroad were a rare occurrence among people I knew so I seldom felt like I was missing out.
Despite my childhood holiday memories, I want to try and give my children so much more. I think that’s a natural part of being a parent – I know mine felt bad about not being able give us ‘nicer’ holidays – but I also want to make sure their perception of the world isn’t confined by not experiencing other cultures and countries.
They’ve been lucky enough to visit Florida (twice), cruise around the Mediterranean and enjoy family holidays in Spain. That’s still only a small slab of the world though. It’s a big place out there and I want them to see as much of it as possible.
And I don’t know if it’s just me, but it almost feels like foreign holidays are part of family life nowadays. Both Olivia and William have friends who have travelled to Australia, the US and parts of Europe. I won’t lie, I sometimes feel the pressure to deliver.
What family travel means to me
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with caravans. And there’s nothing wrong with domestic holidays. But we also like to explore – in the UK and overseas – when we can.
My husband was put off from booking any foreign family holidays while Olivia and William were very young. He thought it’d be too stressful. It really doesn’t have to be though – a fact we only discovered after booking our first overseas break when William was 3 years old.
Travelling abroad with my children has meant that they’ve seen the leaning tower of Pisa, played mini golf in the middle of an ocean, visited the ‘most magical place on earth’ (Walt Disney World) and Olivia has even swum with dolphins (William was too young).
In most cases, these things are entirely new to me too. The look of wonder and excitement on my face matching theirs.
There’s something really special about discovering places together as a family. That is ultimately what family travel means to me.
It doesn’t have to start and end with my husband and children either. We’ve been on holiday with my in-laws a couple of times now, which has added a whole other dimension to our breaks (in a good way). Intergenerational travel can be win/win: you share the cost of the holiday and have babysitters on hand. For them, they get to spend some quality time with their grandchildren in a totally different environment.
In fact, sitting here on a cold and dreary February morning, all of this talk is making me daydream about where I’d like to take my family next.
So that’s what family travel means to me. What does it mean to you?