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13/02/12 article for KettleMag: http://www.kettlemag.com/article/holidaying-your-parents-free-ride-or-total-nightmare

White House, Washington DC - USA tour 2007

Being an only child, I have been quite lucky in terms of holidays over the years. From paragliding in Dubai to dolphin encounters in The Bahamas, not to mention countless Disney holidays and road trips in America, it’s fair to say my parents have spoilt me rotten when it comes to a short break.

But this all comes at a cost, and I’m not talking about money. Maybe not so much when I was younger but as I grew up I started to realise how lonely it was playing in the pool by myself pretending I was a mermaid. It’s okay when you’re seven-years-old and you can just run along to the kid’s club and make friends, but when I got to about 13, the idea of approaching other teenagers happily playing with their siblings was very unappealing indeed.

It was only last year that I realised just how sad it seemed. Whilst my housemates and I were on the topic of holidays, one asked me, ‘So were you just all by yourself on holidays with your parents?’ when I answered yes of course, another added, ‘My friend is an only child so I used go on holiday with his family to keep him company!’ I automatically felt a sense of grief that I never had this idea growing up.

Dubai 2004

Looking back this was such an ungrateful stance to take. My free ride with my parents has taken me across four continents, and they’ve been the best times I’ve spent with my family; in a five-star hotel with not a care in the world. I guess when I was younger I didn’t know any better, and now I’ve been exposed to others opinions on holidaying, it has made me feel like I’ve missed out in some way.

Now that I’m almost 21, I’ve been on a few summer breaks with my friends, and it’s difficult to say which I prefer. Of course, the company is better with friends. You can easily have a cheeky chat with the waiters, go out clubbing and mess around by the pool. This is exactly what happened when I went to Turkey last year with my friends. You just end up doing stuff you wouldn’t have thought of when you’re with your parents, like going on a party boat trip with a guy that looks like Captain Jack Sparrow!

Turkey 2011

However, with our small budgets we couldn’t afford the standard of accommodation I was used to. Our room had a double bed and a rock hard camp bed which we had to take turns to sleep on. Also, we had to pay extra for air conditioning or else it was hotter than outside. Not to mention the all-inclusive cuisine. Bit of a contrast to staying in the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas!

This all comes down to the question of what’s more important, the luxury of the hotel, or the fun and the people involved. I once went on a school trip to Ardeche in France where we practically slept in a tent, but had the best time rock climbing, caving, and canoeing down the Ardeche River. One night we slept under the stars and were sniffed at by a wild boar, but it was still a good time.

It really can’t compare to some of the things my parents have allowed me to do though. I’ve been jet-skiing in Malta, gone up an ice field in Canada, strolled down the walk of fame in LA, not to mention cruised the Caribbean and Mediterranean in all singing all dancing cruise ships. I’ve seen the Colosseum and been to the famous Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai and even visited the White House.

Malta 2011

So what I am complaining about? Holidaying with my parents has definitely not been a ‘horrendous nightmare’ despite the lack of a sibling. I’ve been able to experience a multitude of cultures, whilst staying in flashy hotels, all for free! Now that I’ve outgrown family holidays I kind of miss the fact that money wasn’t an issue, but I’m enjoying holidays in the company of my same-aged chums and I’m looking forward to many more in the future!

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