When I think about what category our perfect family holiday would fall under, I’m going for adventure junkie. I’m not saying I’d like a bungie jumping holiday, (Oh gosh, I really really wouldn’t!!), and I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to rollercoasters but I think as a family, we are pretty adventurous, after all, our maiden voyage in our camper van is going to be a drive from Britain to Venice! (Must be mad!!!)
Also, and I will always hold this up as my ‘bravery card’ I jumped off the top of the boat we were staying on in Vietnam into the ~potentially shark infested~ sea and it was really flipping high! Aaaaaand, (memories are flooding back!), we went trekking in Thailand and the only way back was through a cave. A very dark cave. Filled with millions of glowing spiders! I kid you not, they were literally glowing like tiny LEDs and swarming over our feet, I was so petrified, but I kept going and made it out alive!! 😀
I’m blessed enough to have travelled extensively already. My parents are both European and so we covered a large percentage of Europe when I was a child, visiting family and making grand road trips across France on the way to Holland or Austria, and I have wonderful memories of the searing sun, tall sunflowers beaming sun rays from their enormous faces from the fields and these strawberry custard tarts that they now have everywhere in the UK but sadly, never taste quite the same as one at the side of the road at a picnic stop on a long journey. The other memory permanently etched into my memory is the scent of the already disgustingly ripe, oozing cheese, wafting overpoweringly from the cool box with it’s ill fitting lid!! It’s little wonder I suffered from extreme travel sickness for so long!! 😀
There was also a road trip across America and Canada when I was in primary school, back in the days when your parents could take you out and get some work to do with you. and that was seriously amazing. We hired a camper van, travelled miles and miles down seemingly never-ending roads as straight as a ruler, ate giant plates of food the like of which I’d only seen on tv shows, and we stayed at amazing campsites where the wildlife really liked to mix with the campers. One morning we had an elk stick it’s head through the window into our kitchen.
One thing I will never forget about America and Canada is seeing a mother bear and it’s cub crossing the road just in front of us. We got out, (which seems insane now but there were lots of other people out of their cars too!), and we watched them amble down into the woods. I even have photo evidence, unfortunately it was taken seconds too late so I have a baby bear’s bottom just disappearing behind a tree!!
As I got older, I had the urge to go further, I wanted to see more, I have such a strong desire to see everywhere in the world, not that I think I will ever achieve that realistically!
I’ve been fortunate enough, (pre-children unsurprisingly!), to see the Carribean, Mexico, Nepal and my husband and I got to do the trip of a life-time, back-packing around South East Asia shortly after we were married. There are many reasons I would like to take my children to all these places, (maybe barr the Caribbean actually, although there must be more to it that I’ve not discovered as I know people rave about it), not least because I think that as good as reading about places and seeing videos and hearing stories, there is nothing quite like experiencing the scents, sounds and feelings of a place for yourself. I often think you need to see a family with barely anything but the biggest smiles and enormous hearts to truly realise how lucky we are, how even basics like water are a luxury for some.
Nepal would probably be top of my list, this country has a very firm grip on my heart. I have never found anywhere that makes me feel the same as I felt whilst there. I went on a walking holiday with my Mum. She was desperate to do it and walking, well, lets just say it’s not really my Dad’s favourite hobby! It was absolutely no hardship at all to offer to accompany her!
We were there for just over a week and we went off trekking and for six whole days, we didn’t hear a single engine. Nothing at all, not even a lawn mower! I really don’t know if I can convey what this is like, and we didn’t even realise the magnitude of it until we returned to the road to catch our coach back and heard cars again. It actually made me feel sad!
It is truly a special place, and actually a lot of the reason my children are here. My husband had been talking about starting a family for a long while and I’d been holding back. I felt too young, too free, too much like I hadn’t lived enough to give up my life. It was while I was there that I had a massive revelation. I was looking around me and my overriding feeling was that I wanted to bring my children there one day. Which led me swiftly on the the feeling that to show my children this, I actually had to have some!! I bought a baby magazine and book at the airport on the way home and presented them to my husband that evening.
His face as the penny dropped was an absolute picture!
Mexico was absolute luxury. This was our honeymoon and we stayed on a complex made up of four separate hotels that you could navigate on a train, an actual train! While we were there we did some trips of a lifetime. We flew in tiny planes that looked like they’d zoomed straight off the set of Indiana Jones to visit amazing temples hidden in the jungle, we got up at the crack of dawn to snorkel with whale sharks, they were the size of double decker buses! The one downside was how manufactured it felt. We were constantly told how dangerous it was to leave the complex and I never felt like we saw authentic Mexico. It was paradise in the sense of the golden sand and bright sunshine though and now we can’t really afford to fly the entire family out somewhere so fancy in the school holidays, I do look longingly back on it and remember the days spent relaxing in the boiling hot sun reading book after book!
Then travelling, oh my, travelling was just phenomenal. It was probably the most exciting three months of my life. I could write endlessly about it, and probably shall one day, I kept an extensive travel journal and took enough photos for someone to reenact a minute by minute account of our trip!! It’s hard to pick the highlights, but for me, seeing wild elephants in Borneo was worth every single leech bite. It was beyond magical and we sat in a boat watching a baby elephant mere meters from us for such a long time. I could have stayed there forever, I have always had a real love of elephants and to see them living in a herd totally wild like that was unimaginably special. We also went to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and spent some days living amongst the eles, some with the saddest stories you’ve ever heard.
The other wonderful thing I did was conquer an enormous phobia of water and sharks, (I don’t know if you’ll believe me but I used to get scared in the deep end of the leisure centre swimming pool-I blame James Bond!), to join my husband under the sea and complete my diving qualification and discover the world down there that is too hard to explain. The sheer scale of the sea, the creatures that live down there, the feeling of weightlessness, the pure joy at swimming next to a beautiful turtle, the rainbow of fish that swirl around you like clouds. It was bliss and I absolutely can’t wait to get the kids doing there bubblemaker and watching their faces as they make these discoveries for themselves.
I want to take them everywhere that we’ve been and discover new places with them too. All I want to do is see their faces as they experience crossing the road in Bangkok, or meet all the lovely children in Nepal who swarm out to greet you as you walk past their villages. As a new place, India is very firmly on my list of places to discover as a family. I can only imagine the sights we’d see there.
We’re starting small though, the cost of holidaying all together in the school holidays is daunting, so we’ve put everything we have into our camper van Wilma, and now she is very close to being finished and so our aim for the not too distant future, is to show the children Europe and also, to discover more about our own great country, as we have only touched on what Britain has to offer.
Just writing this post has given me that excited feeling bubbling up from the pit of my stomach as I mentally transport myself back to the hustle and bustle of a busy Thai town, feeling the balmy air drift lazily past as we eat pad thai freshly prepared on a stall by the road, until they invent teleportation, that will have to do for now!!
It has also given me an enormous urge to escape these grey skies and to feel the sand between my toes and the sun warming my skin. Roll on summer!! 😀
Where would your dream holiday be, and who with?