Families may have their own nuances, and each member may have their own interests and ideas of fun, but that wouldn’t stop them from having great moments when together. It doesn’t really matter where or how you spent your childhood; those will remain vivid in your mind during all the days of your life. Many parents even take their kids to places where they can experience their erstwhile childhood fun.
In these trying times when most parents are away from home most of the time to make a decent living for the family, the value of family travel can’t be better emphasized. Family travels are supposed to be intimate and rewarding. It is during holidays when the parents can take away their minds off work or business. It is a great time to relax and focus more on what’s going on in their children’s lives, building memories and having fun.
This why Ben Hatch could not understand why families would go for “packaged holidays” with their “dungeon” kids’ clubs in favour of a hands-on adventure. In his blog “Why Proper Holidays Make for Happy Families” posted in Telegraph Travel – Family Travel Section, he recounted his happy vacations with his parents and his memory of his father.
A creature of the 1970s, my dad saw himself as provider… Most of the year he was a ghostly presence … It was family holidays where I got to know him. Every August: two weeks in Sidmouth, Devon …
My dad threw himself into holidays with the same verve he attacked his job …. He made giant sandcastles on Jacob’s Ladder beach, flew kites with us at Branscombe Cliffs. He taught me French cricket and how to write a joke. “It’s like painting. There must be light and shade, my son.”
… My happiest childhood memory: my dad’s smiling face in the rear-view mirror of our orange VW camper van, sunglasses on, waving his imaginary baton to the classical music he’d insist on playing as my brother, sister and I piped up from the back…
That’s why I’ve never understood family package holidays with their dungeon kids’ clubs, always called something falsely chirpy – Dolphin Club, Smiles Zone.
With a happy childhood, it is easy to understand why Hatch would want his own kids to have the same quality of holidays. This prompted him to accept a job to write a travel guidebook about UK. With his wife and two kids, they embarked on an 8,000-mile road trip for 5 months to literally holiday on more than 500 family-friendly destinations and attractions.
Ben Hatch theorizes: “The more time you spend with your kids, the more time you want to spend with them. So long as it’s before 8pm, after which you will need wine.” … Kids are fun. It’s obvious. Everything in the world, be it a hobby, a sport, another person … is way more interesting the more you know about them.
The whole 5 months were not without “mishaps” – the adder accident, bat attack, the daughter weeing in a military zone, the wife’s hyperventilating when chelonophobia (tortoise phobia) attacks, etc. Yet, these memories can’t mar the great days of fun and sharing – the cable car rides, the castles, boat trips, the wild animals in the Isle of Wight Zoo, etc.
Overall, Hatch loved the entire adventure and the extended road trip changed him.
He said, “It was the memories. Just like how the rollercoaster of physical pain, emotional stress and the final relief of childbirth bond a mother and newborn forever, the trauma of getting lost on the A41, or being forced to change your son with a solitary KFC lemon-fresh wipe after losing the key to the roofbox containing his nappy things, does the same for a family.”
After that journey, they thought of spending a holiday firmly planted in one destination for two weeks. Instead, they completed a longer 10,000-mile road trip around France. There were more mishaps that brought them another roller coaster of emotions that are now fondly looked back with fondness.
As you might have guessed already, Ben Hatch’s family is hooked now on road tripping and travel. More mishaps and more great experiences are already looked forward to and appreciated for the learning and to be used as another block in building more memories. This is why Hatch will never want the restraints that package travels will impose. For him and his family, “proper holidays” aka adventuring are the best ways to have fun with the family.