Travelling with Tots – A World of Difference

[Image - Chris Sardegna]
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The 1970s has a lot to answer for. Not only were the fashions despicable, the music distinctly iffy and the economy in disarray, the decade hosted an airline industry expansion that ushered in the era of foreign package holidays.

The days of simple seaside trips to Margate came to an end as the bright lights and friendly climate of Spain beckoned. British seaside towns fell out of favour as time-share properties in sunny Europe and beyond sprouted by the bucketful.

Aches on a plane

But taking the kids away on a plane? Does any parent really relish the idea? Okay, so when you get there the weather will be balmy, the sand stunning and the drink flowing, but you have to endure hours of torturous travel time first.

The 1980s saw the prices of holidays abroad plummet and so the trend for package holidays was on the up – the perfect solution to the new-found affluence and consumerist era of the decade. And that included taking the kids, so it can’t be that bad, surely?

But air travel involves more than just trying to keep your youngsters amused and quiet for the duration of the flight. It’s the early start with grumpy, tired kids getting fractious in the car, packing enough stuff to sink a battleship – just to ensure they have at least five outfit changes per day – and planning toilet stops and meal times.

Pre-child nostalgia?

Then you arrive at the airport. By this point you’re exhausted and probably longing for the days when you and your spouse took off on a whim – only a toothbrush weighing you down – to enjoy a carefree romantic break in any city of your choosing around the globe.

Keep that thought but temporarily park it at the back of your mind. Steel yourself for the battle of herding a bunch of kids onto the plane and diverting meltdowns and holdups as they stop to pick up old sweet wrappers from the floor and gawp at every passing individual, while enquiring loudly “Daddy, why is that lady so fat?”

You can be certain you won’t be the only slightly frazzled parents aboard your flight; you can exchange knowing glances with other dads across the aisle when Johnny starts screaming and other passengers start huffing at the racket and making threatening gestures in your direction.

The sky is the limit (sort of!)

But it’s not all bad! Despite there having been a downward dip in people taking holidays abroad during the economic downturn between 2007-2013 and choosing UK holidays instead, that trend is now reversing, according to the Office for National Statistics.

UK residents made 16.7million visits abroad in the second quarter of 2014 – 5.1% more than in the same period the previous year. The largest increase was among visits to Europe, with 5.8% more visits made here than in the same period in 2013.

So while families are clearly now choosing to take holidays abroad again, either the costs of long-haul/exotic destinations are still too expensive, or it’s the dread of eight-hour flights in the company of your little ones that is proving a little too much to bear.

Whatever the reason, travelling with children isn’t all that bad of course – you’ll have a great time once you get there. But if you’re feeling a little nostalgic for the heady days of holidays for two, skinny dipping and lazing in each other’s arms all day on the beach, just take a look at the fun infographic below…