Family holidays - we’ve all been on them. When you’re young, they’re the greatest thing in the world. You get to visit different places, try new food and stay up past your bedtime. Then your teenage years arrive and everything changes. Civilised breaks give way to drunken, sex filled package holidays, and the last thing you want to do is hang out with your parents in Menorca.
By our 20s, however, many of us revert back to embracing family holidays for want of saving money. We find ourselves riddled with debt, and desperate for any freebies we can get our hands on. And so, eager for a bit of sun and a cocktail by the pool, we tag along with mum and dad, in the knowledge that we won’t have to spend a penny. Sound familiar?
I’m essentially in that boat. Next month I’ll be heading away with the parents to Greece for a trip that I’ve paid barely anything towards. It’s an all-inclusive stay and will most likely involve lots of piña coladas, card games and cheesy photographs. Were it not a family holiday, I wouldn’t be able to afford it.
A study done in 2016 found that an increasing number of parents are paying to take their children on holiday. Why? Because young people are cash strapped and growing up later in life. The much talked about generation gap has made it difficult for us to leave home, let alone fork out on expensive holidays, and led to a rise in what travel firms are calling genervations. Driving this trend are things like student debt, low-paid jobs and lack of affordable housing.
For many millennials, family holidays are the ultimate budget escape. A cheap getaway from the daily grind of working, studying and dating. They may not be the most exciting trips, but they certainly come in handy - especially when you have no one else to go away with.
I’ve been going away on family holidays since I was child, and each year the destinations remain relatively the same - somewhere hot and easy to get to with a culture aligned to Britain’s. We’ve been to Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Dubai, and all the other obvious places you can think of. What I’ve come to discover is, as cheesy as holidaying with the parents is, it’s really not that bad. In fact, there are a lot of benefits attached to it.
Freedom to be unsociable
When you’re away with your mates, there’s an expectation for you mingle and get involved in lots of different things without really having the time to relax. But, with family holidays, that’s not an issue. You can pretty much kick it by the pool all day with your headphones in and not say a thing - except maybe a few words at meal times.
Parents organise everything for you
That’s right - everything from choosing flights to booking the right destination are already looked after. You can literally get away with not using your brain at all. Worried you’ve forgotten your passport? Fear not - mum’s already packed it for you. If your mum is anything like mine then she’ll probably have back-up copies of it as well.
Parents don’t settle for budget accommodation
Whenever I’ve been away on family holidays, we’ve stayed in good quality hotels with excellent facilities. Not shitty hostels with poor toilets and bad beds, as is often the case with cheap breaks with friends. Even if your parents aren’t super-rich, they’ll probably still book somewhere half decent.
It’s worth it for the hilarious moments
How often do you get to see mum tipsy at dinner? Or dad making a tit of himself on the dancefloor? If there’s one thing parents love to do on family holidays, it’s let their hair down. Somewhere between sunbathing and knocking back wine, they seem to loosen up - and the results are priceless. I remember witnessing a waiter come on to mum in Tunisia. He dropped a spoon by her leg, and then proceeded to brush himself against it. She was shocked, to say the least, and literally jumped out of her skin.
You get to spend quality time with your parents
Forget Christmas gatherings and Sunday roasts. Family holidays are a much better way to catch up with your parents. When you’re at home, there’s the constant squabbling over stuff like bathroom time and kitchen duties. However, when you’re away, these problems just don’t exist, meaning you can actually talk about things that matter. Even a small trip away somewhere close by will do wonders for bringing you and your parents closer together.