Family travel: holiday makers vs. travelers

Summer holidays are fast approaching. June has hit us, and the talk of the day is inevitably “where will you and your family be going on holiday this year?”

This is when I do my best to opt out of the conversation. Why? Because I’m always the odd one out. The one who cringes when I hear parents ramble on about how travelling with children inevitably means going to places with a swimming pool equipped with slides and surfable waves, amusement parks nearby and preferably a kiddies club to keep their little ones entertained. Oh, and they would NEVER consider going anywhere that involves more than 40 mins in a car without that number one tranquillizer of all times; the Nintendo DS.

hate it or love it?

I bite my lip, chew my tongue and pray these people don’t want to discuss their travel plans with me. We’re from different planets you see,  we’re quite literally a world apart. A distance that is  further enhanced as soon as we start getting into details. They stay clear of big cities, I would take my kids with me anywhere I go. They would rather die than spend more than four hours in a car.

“-Kids and cars just don’t match!” one friend declares with such conviction that she has all our other friends convinced within seconds. I on the other hand would rather die than to see my kids glued to a screen in the back seat whilst we’re driving through some beautiful scenery in a foreign place. I feel brave writing this, because I would be an idiot if I didn’t confess to having considered getting one of those magical Nintendos that possess  children in a way that could potentially cause them to remain quiet and content for hours upon hours. But at the end of the day I would feel like a failure if I taught my kids that that’s an acceptable way to discover the world. Plus, would they ever forgive me when they reach their own adulthood and realize I bereaved them of the seeing the world when their minds were still uncluttered and innocent?

Furthermore they would never go on a family holiday without having every single hotel booked ahead. I have slept in the boot of the car with mine on several occasions, and we rarely know where we will be spending the following night. Etc, etc… Like I said – we’re alien to each other’s ways.

Us exploring Cuba

It’s not that my way is the right way. I get it, they say tomato, I say potato… I understand that travelling can be stressful, and that the added stress of travelling with children can easily throw even the most devoted yogi off her inner balance. However, I do think that maybe there should be a clarifying of terms: THERE ARE HOLIDAY MAKERS AND THERE ARE TRAVELERS. And their paths rarely cross. Neither should we waste time exchanging holiday ideas.Yesterday we talked to someone wanting to go to Marrakech. So they asked us for advice. A hotel with a swimming pool? A tour guide who speaks English so the kids can understand? A safe bet to get the kids to eat? A bullet proof itinerary for exploring the old medina safely? An amusement park!

What could I possibly say to convey the message that her kids (like mine) would probably find it much more exciting to go off and explore the waterfalls “Les Cascades d’Ouzoud” half a day’s drive out of Marrakech? It’s a trek, it means going out of your way on a hot, hot day. But the reward is to jump into a natural pool, play alongside or together with Moroccan kids. This is the real deal – no swimming pool in the world can match it. And where do I start to convince her that a tour guide isn’t really necessary? Or that most of the time we ended up eating in hole-in-the-wall cafés frequented by Moroccan workers, and that more often than not we didn’t really know what had gone in to our tagine, but tasty it was. Or that the medina is indeed a safe place. Or that as far as amusement parks are concerned, there aren’t any. However, the famous botanical gardens of Jardin Majorelle is a great place for the kids to absorb colors and scents they’ve never seen before…

The Cascades d'Ouzoud is one of those places that add magic to your journey

Smelling, touching and running in the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

I could go on forever. But instead I will quote the very wise traveler and writer Mark Twain: “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it”.

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12 comments on “Family travel: holiday makers vs. travelers

  1. TourTraveling.com is the directory of travel and related resources. Offering travel guide, accommodation, guidebook, travel agent, eco tour, adventure tour, online booking and much more.

  2. We seem to have a somewhat similar travel philosophy with children (although we do prefer to pre-book most of our accomodations – especially in Europe when nearing peak season. And DVDs are permitted on car rides over 8 hours – since we don’t watch television at home, it’s a real treat on the road.)

    I can’t tell you how many times we have mentioned a trip somewhere and had someone ask us with whom we’d be leaving the children. Then, invariably, they exclaim “you’re taking the kids???” when we explain that they’d be coming along. Our kids are the best part of our travels – I can’t imagine leaving them behind!

    My 8-year old son’s favorite place on the trip thus far has been Tangiers. In our experience, the hiring of a local guide ended up being an important part of our experience in that it gave us an opportunity to get to know a Morroccan in a way that would have otherwise been quite difficult in just a short day. Our guide wanted us to understand his world and gave us (and the children) valuable insight into daily life.

    Glad you’re enjoying your travels with your children!

  3. Pingback: Family travel: holiday makers vs. travelers « Photito's Blog | Morocco | MAROC MOROCCO

  4. Hi Alaska Scotts! Thanks for your comment – it’s good to know we’re not the only ones… We’re off to Laos next with ours, and will hopefully come back full of new impressions. xxx

  5. Pingback: » Indulging ideals versus indulging vices :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog

  6. The Caribbean region consists of a chain of islands in the Caribbean. Many of these islands are tourist destinations, people around the world visit the Caribbean in the breathtaking scenery and lush beaches to enjoy.

    The Caribbean is an ideal place for family holidays. There are a variety of places and activities the whole family to enjoy together. Among the many destinations are some of the popular Bahamas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Aruba, Bermuda, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, etc. The Caribbean islands offer a variety of activities for all ages. The island of St. Lucia is the drive through volcano in the world, which is a miracle of nature. In addition, there is a natural rainforest reserve, which is a big weekend for walkers bird watchers and nature lovers. There are many excursions, tours and programs for tourists wishing to explore the island. Barbados Sports Camp is an added attraction for children, making them enjoy their favorite sports. Most islands offer excellent family accommodation, private homes, apartments or hotels of fiction, including, on budget.

    Many hotels also offer child care, making it easier and safer for families.
    The Internet is now much easier to book their holidays taken. There are a variety of family packages available that you can choose.
    A look at the full range of exciting holiday activities available, you can certainly say that a vacation in the Caribbean is ideal for families.

  7. Pingback: 2010 in review | Photito's Blog – a travel journalist's confessions

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