Stay home! Experts say your little ones don’t want fancy, overseas holidays

Pre-school aged girl with suitcase in Europe

If you’re pondering whether to take your gang to Hawaii, Paris or Santorini next holiday season, you might want to take into account some interesting insight on what kids REALLY want in a vacay.

Stay home!

Perhaps you are busting your chops to ensure that your kiddos get to see far-flung parts of the world or experience strange and exciting new things? While your intention is first-class, the experts say it might be a little misplaced.

What kids really want in a holiday, they say, is consistency, cuddles and comfort, somewhere trusty and ideally close to home. Long-haul flights, unfamiliar food, friendly strangers and weird beds apparently do not cut it with the pre-teen set.

Leading child psychologist, Oliver James, spoke to The Telegraph about our kids’ simple holiday tastes. He said that the optimal kid destination is “reasonably warm, but not too hot” and should ideally feature a “beach with calm waves and ice cream nearby.”

(Nostalgic shades of Alison Lester’s “Magic Beach” or “Greetings from Sandy Beach” by Bob Graham, perhaps?!)

Too exciting

James told The Telegraph that under-5’s are simply not equipped to handle the surprises and excitement more exotic destinations hold. Interestingly, once they hit the primary years, James says they become even more attached to the predictable, close-to-home holiday destinations they visited when they were littler. These trips away offer a comforting chance to recharge in familiar surrounds and revisit much-loved traditions.

“Sitting on the same donkey, eating the same ice cream at the same café. These familiar places and activities are the ones that forge their happiest memories.” he explained.

James came to his informed conclusions by observing the children he treated… and his own kids. He realised the comfort and nostalgia of holiday rituals were what his children loved the most.

“We went on holiday to Cornwall every August for nine years while my children were small. We would sit on the beach being stoic and saying: ‘Well, alright, so it’s raining. But look on the bright-side, at least it’s not very windy…’”

“The same donkey”

Tired of ten years of soggy Cornwall family holidays, James booked a fancier vacation – to France – for his gang. Things rapidly went downhill.

“My kids were eight and 11. The oldest was just old enough to appreciate the novelty of it all: the way that French cheese, street markets, and even the sun-cream seems different. My youngest was unimpressed. And the next year, both of them insisted we go back to Cornwall. They’re 12 and 15 now, and we still go back to the same place every summer,” James said.

Nostalgia and consistency 

So interesting right, but it makes perfect sense. As James points out, our kids do best when they have consistency, feel safe and an idea of what’s about to unfold. Conversely, lack of routine, unfamiliar surrounds or too much stimulation can result in a crappy time for all involved.

So… we might do better to tuck those OS holiday pennies aside for the teenage years, when kid are much more adaptable and open to change. Until then finding somewhere fun and close to home might offer your family a chance at building less drama-filled, more comforting memories.

“There is so much change in children’s lives today. A familiar, recurring holiday spot can sometimes be the only anchored thing in a child’s life – a safe and predictable place in a shifting universe.”

Shifting universe indeed.


Read more at The Telegraph

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