5 Benefits of Family Holidays

Family group hug

Family are the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you            are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what…

I consider myself extremely lucky. I love spending time with my family, particularly when I can steal them away for at least a few days so that it’s just us, where work and day-to-day distractions are wholly removed. As a grown up family, it’s as precious.

But sure, having all gotten used to living our own adult lives, we have our moments when our plans don’t align, when our ideas clash, when my way of making coffee just doesn’t fit with your way. Something strange also happens, at times, a return to childhood identities, with bossiness and awkwardness and moods from twenty years ago emerging unexpectedly.

Ultimately, though, there are benefits to holidaying together, something I realised again in 2013 when I spent a  week in a beautiful cottage in Linton, Herefordshire, with my parents, my sister and her husband, my ten week old nephew and my D-man.

Now based in Australia, about 17,000km from my childhood home, this was the first time in nearly two years that I’d caught up with my family, and I cherished moments of chatting late into the night with my mother, catching up on our lives, picking up on snippets of wisdom and life learning, of observing my dad scout the garden of our holiday house, searching for edible goodness to bring to the table, of walking and talking in the countryside with my sister and sleeping, swaddled nephew, of getting to really meet her husband and hear a little of his story, of introducing D-man to my clan.

In trying to understand what makes a family holiday so special and important, I’ve come to the conclusion that these are some of the key benefits:

  1. You are able to relax. Totally. Unlike within certain professional and friendship groups, there’s no need to put up appearances, there’s no pretense. You all know each other pretty well, the life journey that you’ve been on, the struggles that you’ve met and overcome, the joys you’ve experienced. There is something incredibly comforting about not needing to explain yourself, to just be fully understood and accepted. It helps you to deeply relax.
  2. You can really spend quality time together. Away from our usual environment, we are less likely to be distracted and more able to be present, in the moment, with our family. Things that are deemed time wasting and unimportant in the rush of normal life can again surface, like ice creams and lazy wanders around quaint English villages, like board games, puzzles and creativity, whatever your craft.
  3. You make space to nurture family relationships. Skype and phone conversations have their place, but nothing beats sitting around the dinner table sharing stories and recalling family moments that leave you laughing so hard that tears roll down your cheeks, of warming around a fire after a drizzly hillside walk, of collectively observing the next generation of your family wriggle their toes, grab their feet and gurgle in their cot.
  4. You create moments and memories that bring you closer. When it’s time to leave your holiday house and say goodbye to the family reunion, it’s often back to a world where technology is the tool that keeps us connected. While phone chats maintain connections and photos can remind us of certain times during the holiday, memories in their broader sense of sight, smell, touch and sound can help transport us back to that time of feeling relaxed and surrounded by those closest to us.
  5. You learn more about each other and the wider family. Catching up on the events of the last year or two, noticing new laughter lines and grey hairs, discovering things about your grandparents, finding out which aunt is going through difficulties, which cousin is doing incredibly well at college, all these create a feeling of understanding, connection and ultimately, belonging. And isn’t that essentially what we all want?

All of these assume you actually like your family – at least a little – and that you get on well enough to make time together a positive experience, rather than one you leave with a few extra frown lines.

Wishing you all happy holidays in 2014, with successful, nurturing unions between you and your family, blood tied or otherwise.   

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7 Comments

Filed under culture, expat life, relationships

7 responses to “5 Benefits of Family Holidays

  1. susanalicey

    However, your family has an extra dollop of solar power!

  2. liz

    So very true. I agree with all of your reasons for traveling/vacationing with family. I’m lucky in that my family are my favorite people to be with. Thanks for reminding me of that! xx

    • I love your statement ‘my family are my favorite people to be with’. But I agree: like you I know I’m lucky to feel like that, and I realise that for many people the concept of family is as much – if not more – determined by who you surround yourself with.

      • jack phillepe

        i cant afford holidays because im poor as fuck……

      • It’s a good point to bring up and worthy of it’s own blog post, so thanks for commenting. I don’t know what the answer is, but others have addressed it better… Some people give up everything but the basics to pull together a few pennies, others suggest keeping it local and low key. Stuff like camping can be lots of fun and cost next to nothing if you go wild, as can a day trip to a new place close by or a walk around your own neighbourhood with tourist eyes activated. Others say travel is a mindset, rather than actually having to go anywhere. There’s also the idea of working in exchange for accommodation (HelpX, WWOOFing, etc), CouchSurfing and taking part in volunteering and cultural exchanges. People I’ve met have done this with families, too, so it’s not just for solo travellers, couples or friend groups. I guess it depends on the type of holidays and travel you’re thinking about… Here are a couple of links that might get you thinking… http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/how-to-travel-for-free/ http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-ultimate-guide-to-traveling-when-you-have-no-money/ http://www.wwoof.net

  3. Pingback: Too Poor To Travel? Let’s Get Real | travelola

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