‘Travelling with kids is pretty much the same as travelling with adults; but usually a whole lot more stressful…’
Before I start this post, I will tell you that I’ve never actually GIVEN BIRTH to a child. I know that makes my opinion count for way less amongst the ‘You’re not *real* parent, you don’t understand’ faction of Mums and Dads, but hear me out…
I have a step son. He’s 18 now. He wasn’t always that age though (who knew?), and when he was little, me and his Dad took him on holiday. A lot. We did the whole ‘package break’ thing to Gran Canaria, the Spanish mainland, Corfu and Egypt, but we also did our own thing.
This meant that Josh got to experience more than just sand and half board or all-inclusive hotels. He got to experience other cultures and, although I might be completely biased, I believe it’s helped make him the truly amazing young man he is today.
What I’m trying to say is this: kids don’t need package holidays to have fun. They can do both. For example, when my ex husband and I took Josh to Hurghada in Egypt on a package break, we also made sure we headed to the Nile for a day (where Josh got to literally steer a boat across the River), and visited the Valley of the Kings. The remainder of the break was spent by the pool watching the lad having a fabulous time making friends and, generally, being ecstatic.
On a trip to the Costa del Sol, we took a day trip to Barcelona and Josh got to visit Camp Nou; which he loved. As well as seeing where Barca played their games, it also gave him a sense of normal everyday Spanish life that you don’t get when you’re surrounded by holiday makers and your entire life is based around getting a good sun lounger for the day.
‘Don’t get me wrong; we didn’t always do the package thing. Josh is an only child, and was a very well behaved one at that, so non packages were easy for us…’
One year, we took him for a 2 week tour of New England, where he spent a great deal of time in the back of a car. While we were there, he also got to visit Six Flags in Massachusetts and he was pretty pleased with that. He also attended his very first live concert (John Mayer) at the Boston Celtics arena in Downtown but, for reasons I simply cannot understand, he was less pleased with that…
I know kids want to sit by pools and make new friends, and they can, but that’s not to say you can’t thrown in a bit of culture. Apart from anything else – it might make you less likely to lose your mind. When Josh was at school and his class mates were all ‘I’m going to Malaga on holiday’, Josh was all like ‘Yeah? I’m going on a city break in Hamburg’… And there’s every chance that his friends thought he was a poor downtrodden child. However, although it’s often seen as more expensive, city breaks and compiling your own holidays not only gives you more freedom; it can also come in at a cheaper price.
To be perfectly honest, Josh would have been happy with either type of break; package or otherwise. If he was near water, or a football stadium, or driving around the US; he was always content. These days, he lives in the US; having moved there last year to study at Darlington College in Rome, Georgia. Just this week, he’s moved to Ohio for University.
For me, I love that my holiday memories are of forcing Josh to go see John Mayer in Boston and then forcing him to go see him again the very next year in Toronto. Who doesn’t want that for their kids??! I got caught speeding in Toronto and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police man who clocked me gave Josh a mounties badge (it wasn’t my finest moment, but oh how we’ve laughed about it since…) After that, went on The Maid of the Mist at the bottom of Niagara Falls and walked across the border between the USA and Canada. I also stuck to the speed limit from then on in.
‘We dived into the desert and saw the incredible history of Egypt; we travelled to Italy and Germany; Spain and Poland; Republic of Ireland and Maine; New York state and Rhode Island…’
When people tell me I’m lucky to be able to travel to the places I do because I ‘don’t have kids to worry about’; it drives me crazy. I spent years going on holiday with a child and it never once stopped me from exploring. I’m proud that Josh has the memories he has and can distinguish between countries and cultures instead of recalling nothing more than dozens of pools at Spanish resorts. I genuinely hope he continues to travel throughout his life. And I get the feeling he will.
Take a chance and take your kids away from the pool. They’ll thank you for it later. You know, maybe not if you take them to see John Mayer, but you can’t have it all, can you?