It’s hard to choose our “must-haves” for a holiday – we seem to pack differently (and chaotically) every time. I guess what we aim for is must-have experiences when we go away. Experiences where we get creative, or adventurous, silly or active. Sometimes they don’t happen no matter how hard we try to arrange them, and sometimes they just seem to occur completely by accident, like the time we were driving in Yosemite National Park and arguing about what to have for dinner that night, and suddenly we saw a mother bear and her cubs by the side of the road.
Here’s our ten must-haves for any family holiday, and here’s to many more of them..!
1. Have Adventurous Moments
Wherever we are in the world – could be abroad, could be in our local park – we always make a point of seeking out adventure. That usually includes making a detour if we know there’s a rollercoaster park nearby, climbing trees in our best clothes, or just always taking the long scenic route over the motorway. Because if you’re prepared to take a few risk then you never know what you might see or who you might meet…
2. Have Wild Moments
I view places like wildlife parks and aquariums as a bit of a necessary evil, but we do visit them now and again, because I think they can serve a vital educational purpose. However seeing wild animals up close in their natural habitats never fails to blow my mind and we always seize the opportunity to do so. We’ve encountered bears in Yosemite, alligators in Florida and killer whales in Vancouver, but even so I still get excited when I see a squirrel on the school-run.
3. Have Hungry Moments
Discovering new restaurants and different types of food when we’re travelling is the spice of life for me – you only need to look at the restaurant reviews on my site! Since we left Japan I’ve become a total ramen-freak and the Japanese restaurants in Brighton all know my face by now.
One of my most treasured moments of our round-the-world trip though was in New Orleans, watching my son work up the courage to try a slice of fried alligator tail!
4. Have Lazy Moments
What with all that sightseeing, hiking and eating, we all need a bit of downtime now and again when we’re on holiday, to recharge our batteries or, if you’re like me, because you simply love a nice snooze in the shade. And, if I can pass on just one passion to my son, hopefully it will be the joy of a lazy afternoon siesta.
5. Have Messy Moments
Having a family can be a messy business from time to time, especially on holiday when you often need to relax your normal rules. In my opinion you can either follow the kids round everywhere with a mini-hoover, or simply embrace the carnage.
For us fun comes with mess, lots of mud, a kid (and parents!) covered in sand and sometimes a few wet toes!
6. Have Splashy Moments
One of the fondest memories that I have of our big trip away is pulling up by the side of the road after an epic full-day drive, and just running into the ocean to cool off. Nothing beats that feeling.
Here’s our family’s policy on getting wet: if you see a body of water, be it a puddle, a slide or the ocean, you jump on in. If you happen to be driving a hire car rather than your own, then you can double down.
7. Have Family Moments
What I love the most about family holidays is that we could be doing anything – killing time before a flight, making Daddy build a sandcastle on the beach then jumping on it as soon as he turns his back, or just playing cards by the pool for hours on end – it doesn’t matter. Every single moment we spend together is a new memory we create as a family.
More often than not, it is the small things my son remembers, and thinks of fondly when looking back – which is why we love how Mark Warner makes their holidays so special for families.
8. Have Creative Moments
I’m not exactly the most creative person you ever met – ask my old Art teacher if you don’t believe me. But still my handbag seems to be stuffed with crayons whenever we travel; when we go out walking, all of the sticks and leaves we see are promptly collected for future artworks, and I find myself saving every ticket stub and receipt for drawing or origami practise back in the hotel room.
9. Have Silly Moments
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be a little bit silly now and again. Some of our happiest family memories are simply just of us messing around on the beach, trying not to make each other laugh in quiet art galleries, and once even building a mini-snowman right next to the piste as bemused skiers went by. I think these throwaway moments are the ones we’ll treasure most of all in years to come.
10. Have Active Moments
Like most parents I think, we want to raise our son to love the great outdoors, to respect nature, and to stay healthy, so we try to be as active as we can while we’re on holiday. Already he loves walks in forests, swimming in the sea and when we hire bikes. But perhaps Charlie’s greatest sporting achievement is running away at bathtime.