Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Why the family holiday fills me with dread.

It's that time of the year again. Families all over the world are preparing for their Summer holiday. Whether it be the Seychelles, Centre Parks or a caravan in the car park of a pub, families everywhere are about to spend their hard earned cash on a well deserved break.

The majority look forward to this annual excursion. However I can honestly say the family holiday fills me with dread.

I read a lot of blogs and I follow twitter religiously. The themes tend to be the same. Parents who tweet or write about family holidays describe an overwhelmingly positive experience. This suggests one of two things. Either people who have a shit time are keeping it to themselves or *gulps* I'm firmly in the minority and most people do actually have a nice time on holiday.

This is where I find things a little difficult to understand. Lets look at the evidence by describing a typical Hapless Dad family holiday.
  • Leave booking holiday to last minute. Have no money so have to put on credit card along with the honeymoon we are still paying for from 8 years ago.
  • Leave all packing to the last minute. Run around house like lunatics throwing things in bags and suddenly realising one or all of us doesn't have an up to date passport.
  • Drive away from house in fit of anger and packing induced stress. Suddenly remember we haven't arranged kennels for the dog. Go back to house, get dog and drive to any number of kennels to find last minute place. Very quickly forge vaccination forms to avoid refusal.
  • Drive away from kennels. By now kids are arguing over *insert reason here* which lasts several hours.
  • Arrive at airport at required 2 hours before flight. Now have 2 hours to kill in most child unfriendly place on the planet.
  • Have a beer, for breakfast.
  • Plane delayed for one hour. Not long in the grand scheme of things but long enough for the kids to be swinging from the chandeliers. Stare in wonder at families with well behaved kids. Move to sit next to scouse family with tattoos to feel slightly better about ourselves.
  • Go to Smiths in duty free lounge to go through charade of buying a book I wont have time to read.
  • Board plane. Sit behind old couple who have specifically requested extra leg room seat for some comfort and peace. They request to move 13 seconds later after son repeatedly beats them over the head with the safety card.
  • Unable to keep kids corralled in seat. Walk up and down the Isle all the way to Tenerife. Plan for portable DVD player doesn't work as forgot to charge.
  • Arrive at sunny destination. Wait 40 mins for educationally challenged holiday rep to get her arse in gear. Wait another 40 mins for scouse family to finish their cider and purchase of duty free fags. Kids now crying, loudly.
  • Arrive at resort. Queue at reception to check in whilst kids re-enact scenes from gladiator using the pot plants as cover. 
  • Get to room. Unpack. kids want to head to pool straight away but all available sun loungers have been reserved since 4am despite notices advising the contrary. Walk to the pool area through groups of families that have been there a week and have made 'friends'.  Find ant infested patch of grass and lay towels down. Hot sun reflects off our gleaming white bodies causing temporary blindness in other guests. First sun burn end of day one.
  • Settle in to holiday routine. Up, breakfast, pool, snack, pool, lunch, pool, snack, pool, back to room. Get ready for evening meal. Go to local bar run by grumpy Welshman who went abroad for life of sunshine but actually spends 14 hours a day in sweaty kitchen cooking fry ups. Only people in bar/restaurant as couldn't keep kids entertained in room any longer so have gone out to eat at 5. Back to room. Kids in bed at 8. They are sharing a room so don't go to sleep till midnight while wife and I cram in as much booze as humanly possible before bed. Decide not to have kids sharing room tomorrow night. Wife and I spend rest of holiday either sharing with small girl who sleeps horizontally across the bed or small boy who is so wriggly it's like sleeping with Michael Flatly. Kids excited to be on holiday so wake up at 5. Find ways to corral them in room until reasonable hour so as not to wake other guests. Fail miserably. Loose temper due to stinking hangover.
  • Repeat until end of week/fortnight.
  • Check out of room at 10am. Desperately find things to do to occupy kids until midnight flight. Run out of Euros mid morning.
  • Finally board flight after going through same airport nightmare but in an airport that has even less facilities than the one you flew out from.
  • Board midnight flight. Booked specifically so kids will 'sleep'. They don't. They keep everyone on the flight awake whilst slowly and steadily losing the plot due to ludicrously late hour.
  • Arrive at home airport. Wait 2 hours to collect bags as children cry, loudly. Get in car. Children fall asleep immediately to ensure they won't sleep when you get them home.
  • Arrive home, battle with kids to get them in bed. slump in chair and resolve never to go on holiday again.
  • Forget experience in preparation for booking next year.
An absolute nightmare. Lets be honest. The problem is what is the alternative? You could stay at home and do day trips. We all know that the result will be the same but a week of day trips in the UK will cost you more than a round the world cruise. You could holiday in the UK. However you will have to pack every item of clothing including swimsuit, hats, sunglasses, sun tan lotion, coat, wellies, scarf, gloves and thermal underwear. This will result in you having to buy a roof box just to go away for a week to somewhere an hour from your house.

Let me be very clear. I am willing to believe that it is possible to have a nice family holiday. I read about them all the time. But to me, nice family holidays are a bit like God - People talk about it but I have no actual evidence that it exists.

Anyway only 3 days to go. Good luck everyone.

Hapless Dad.

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