Is there really one such thing as a perfect family holiday? Perhaps it’s because it’s still half term and cold, and I’d love to be either skiing or somewhere warmer, I’ve been spending some time this week looking through photos from last year. In part, to share with the rest of the family, in part to try and create a family year book and in part just to look back and reminisce a little.
All of the trips that we took during 2015 were different; some were returning to old haunts, with both immediate and wider family; others were sharing celebrations, visiting new places and exploring. As I was looking through all the photos, a few common themes emerged as to what makes a perfect family holiday, for us, and perfect timing for my entry to the Mark Warner Holidays’ Family Ambassador Programme.
Here’s 10 things which combine to create our perfect family holiday.
1. Being together & enjoying spending time together
Starting off with a cliche, but it is true – we put a fair amount of thought into doing things that satisfy everyone’s holiday requirements, not just the adults paying for it. We try and have a mix of holidays just the 3 of us, and also with wider family and friends, enjoying spending time in each other’s company in a way that we can’t do at home.
2. Trying new things
Whilst there are things we return to time and time again, we do try and use our holidays to experience new things and challenge ourselves to be brave, and show Pip (and our future youngest child) that there is nothing which is particularly male or female, but that we do all have our own talents, skills and interests.
Last year, we went cycling, sailing and surfing – we all joined in and had a go. On a previous holiday, I drove an old Landrover round an off-road circuit, despite being pretty terrified; a large part of me doing it wasn’t because I wanted to, but to show Pip that we should all try things, face our fears and, in a safe environment, push ourselves outside of our natural comfort zone in order to fully experience life.
3. Being curious and learning
Following on from trying new things is that we enjoy cultivating a sense of curiosity – taking opportunities to learn more about our lives, world and each other. Everywhere we go, we try and keep an eye out for things that are happening, be they passing a lifeboat open day and getting on board, meeting the crew, or visiting local museums or attractions. When we’ve travelled on a plane, I’ve tried where possible to let Pip go and see the pilot on the flight deck afterwards; we also try and spend time talking to people and learning from the people who live where we are visiting, be those friends, or people we’ve met on our travels. By having a friendly, open and curious attitude, we hope that we are not only teaching Pip a way of viewing the world and her fellow inhabitants, but also important social skills which should stand her in good stead.
5. Seeing things from new angles, new perspectives – getting a sense of proportion
Something that has always been important to M and I has been using our holidays as a way to reflect, to look at things differently, to have space to talk through and work out ideas and troubles. Often that has coincided with the cocktails in a beautiful place as per the previous point – although wine on a balcony after Pip has gone to bed has also served us well. As has wondering around galleries – seeing art and every day design from a new perspective.
Or, trying to be relaxed about packing and what we do. A cold patch of sand and no bucket and spade? No problem – take away tea for me & a spare cup for Pip to use as a bucket. Trying not to let logistics get in the way, be that being unafraid to take public transport, sleeping and napping on the hoof if necessary and not feeling obliged to stick to the rigidity of the home routines.
A good mix of cooking and eating – everything from in restaurants, fast food, picnics on the beach, with friends and cooking local produce where we are staying. Where possible, we all really enjoy sourcing local produce, be it picking it, visiting a market to buy it, or even being given it by our friendly apartment owner.
8. Continuing whatever the weather & not being afraid of getting dirty
Unsurprisingly, I have the least photos of this, but we have always been believers in there being no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing, and we have tried not to let a bit of rain or cold put us off. Or, I suppose, also trying to approach things with an open mind – if the weather forces us inside, what else could we be doing and enjoying? Visiting museums? Playing board games? Completing almost impossible 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles over a week – yes, we did all these last year when the weather was too miserable to continue outside.
9. Giving each other space and time off
10. It’s not about location specifically
These photos are from Wales, Cornwall, Italy, Denmark – there was no unifying location or destination which would be perfect for us; we are open to all locations and all experiences, which I think makes a rich and varied selection of forthcoming family holidays over the next few years. We’ve been as happy on a cold rainy beach on a British bank holiday to inland Italy. Roll on 2016!
This is my entry to the Mark Warner’s Family Ambassador Programme in their Creative Writer category.