Robyn Mitcham

From Big Adventures to Chips Round the Pool

Be braver with your holidays!

Robyn Mitcham lover of travel explores why so many of us opt for poolside instead of the mountain climb when it comes to family holidays and urges other parents to be bit a more daring when it comes to their next vaycay.

© Jude Beck

How is it that we spend our 20’s travelling the world, visiting exciting and different places and taking on new adventures but a decade or two later we find ourselves on a 10 day all-inclusive to Menorca where we never leave the hotel complex? What’s changed? Well kids of course! And maybe what we want from a holiday has shifted as well. For some of us 10 days in the sun, sipping watered down cocktails and eating chips whilst the kids are at kids’ club is exactly what we need and want from a holiday and there’s no shame in that. But I often hear other justifications that suggest otherwise: “the kids just love it so much; they never want to do anything else…we can’t afford to do anything more interesting…it’s so much easier with children”. And the thing is I’m not sure any of these things is true.

I’m not disputing that kids love a pool, ice cream and a bit of water Zumba but I don’t think that’s all they love. Children are much more flexible and interested in the world than we perhaps give them credit for. How do we know what else they might love if we don’t give them the opportunity to try it? In my experience kids also love mud and a stick, sleeping in a tent, having a go at a new activity, climbing up things, the beach, going on trains and boats and bikes, eating new things, following maps… Of course, it’s always a good idea, whatever you do to make sure there are some days planned in that involve activities that you can guarantee the kids will like, but maybe it’s also ok to challenge them with a new experience and allow them to discover something else that they enjoy.

© Christine Roy

Take the kids out of their comfort zone

There’s no denying holidays can be expensive and the more of you there are the higher the costs go. Doing something different really doesn’t have to cost more than a package holiday, in fact I think it can cost a lot less in the UK or abroad. If you book your own accommodation and flights, you save yourself a decent amount. AirB&B and other similar sites are a great place to look to find accommodation all over the world for whatever your price range is. There is nothing my kids love more than exploring a new cottage/apartment/tent/treehouse and the quirkier the better! One of the things that I hate about all-inclusive holiday’s is the repetitive, British style food. Eating out doesn’t have to be expensive if you look around and go to some of the more local restaurants away from the main tourist areas. Strangely enough my kids are much more likely to try a new food if we’re away on holiday and experiencing a new culture but often it’s not hard to find somewhere that serves pizza and chips if you’re desperate no matter where you are in the world.

And as for easier, is it really? I’m not sure that 10 days next to the same pool, in the same hotel room with the same food and the same activities on offer is always that easy or relaxing. It’s predictable and that can be useful, but it can also get boring, frustrating, limited. In my experience it’s easier to keep everyone entertained and stimulated. It can be useful to have a secure and consistent base. A point from which to go further afield and explore new places but that doesn’t have to be a hotel complex. Having your own transport can really make a difference as it allows you to create your own timetable around everyone’s needs but older children can get a lot from navigating bus and train timetables and working out how to get from A to B.

Now I’m not suggesting you pack up tomorrow and set off with 3 kids under 5 for a 6 week trek around the Himalayas. Whatever adventure you decide to have it’s got to be manageable and realistic. What I am saying is there are options, spaces in between where you can try something different, have an adventure, find something else you all love.