Holidays. They can bind and divide a family.
When I was growing up, family holidays meant piling into the Commodore, listening to mix tapes on our Walkmans because Dad had the cricket on the radio and sticking our head out the window to get some fresh air when he lit a cigarette. Ah the liberal parental rights of the 1980’s.
When we go on road trips with our kids, the system is less of a dictatorship and more of a democracy. Every passenger takes turns choosing a song. As a result I’m all over the Taylor Swift back catalogue, equally the girls can sing along to American Pie with conviction.
But at least when you drive to your holiday destination your offspring’s bad behaviour is only witnessed by your own direct relatives.
There are few things more torturous than a crying child on an aeroplane, for parents and innocent passengers alike.
If you can manage to successfully restrain a hysterical child in an infant seatbelt you might as well wander up to the cockpit and offer to help the pilot land the plane, such is your level of genius.
You survive the air travel and arrive at your resort of choice.
Mummy really needs a massage and a cocktail. Actually make that a cocktail and a massage.
There is a Kids’ Club. Naturally. This ain’t my first rodeo people.
You put the kids in the Kids’ Club.
You take the kids out of the Kids’ Club. Because you start to feel guilty that you’re not spending enough quality time with them on the “Family Holiday”.
They proceed to fight in the pool and splash each other, and the book you’ve managed to read just one paragraph of, while demanding hot chips and raspberry lemonade.
Hot chips, raspberry lemonade, a Mojito and a Bintang are ordered. Stat.
Travelling with kids is not easy.
Show me a family that has survived a holiday without one or all members having at least one epic meltdown and I’ll show you a family that is telling porky pies.
We’ve had holidays where the whole family has been struck down with gastro, and a dinner during which the items on the children’s menu proved far less appetising for Milla than Grace’s hair.
Rewind to my childhood and running screaming from the sea with a bluebottle wrapped around my leg and my sister sleeping in a motel bath to avoid the sound of my father’s snoring are formative family holiday memories.
But these negative experiences weave into family folklore along with the positives. Which of course are many.
Travel within your state or country teaches children to appreciate the adventures and experiences on offer on their doorstep.
Overseas travel teaches children about different cultures, currencies, cuisines. It broadens their mind, their tolerance, their understanding of their place in the world.
Travel, both near and far, makes us grateful to return to the security and familiarity of home.
My tip for successful family holidays is simple. Keep expectations low. If everyone is prepared for tantrums along the way, the children will be less shocked when you throw one.