There is nothing daggier than an adult travelling with his or her parents.
No, wait: Bum bags are definitely daggier. Oh, and high-waisted pants.
Combine these elements and you have our family holiday, circa 1989. Even though my sister and I were 19 and 22, we still kinda liked the “olds”. And when they threw in a couple of extra bucks to get us all overseas for the first time, well, what’s not to love?
A shared sense of humour is important if you’re staying in cramped quarters, eating exotic food and someone is “farting in your general direction”, as once described in a Monty Python film.
Our yellowed photos reveal a series of scenes from a B-grade sit-com. Mum holding her nose at the sulphur fumes from the mud pools in Rotorua; pretending to stab each other with ceremonial knives at a temple in Singapore; drowning in a sea of duty-free; and staring at a sign saying, “Watch this step”.
(I said it was a quirky sense of humour).
Sure, there can be conflict. Like when sis and I wanted to explore Little India and Dad was worried we’d be abducted.
(“Dad, Singapore is one of the safest places in the world,” we reasoned. “Unless you chew gum, of course …”)
Fortunately, the holiday ended in bonding, instead of bondage.
I was living away from home at the time, so it was lovely to reconnect.
But what about the almost one in three 20 to 29-year-olds who are still at home with the folks?
It seems the so-called “boomerang generation” wants flights, accommodation, and sunscreen thrown in with the privileges of home.
Research in the UK has found 40 per cent of men and roughly a third of women, aged between 21 and 25, holidayed abroad with their parents in the past three years. “Once [they] couldn’t wait to escape their parents to see the big wide world, but now it seems the nation’s young adults would rather stay within safe reach of mum’s apron strings,” the research by Mintel concluded.
I guess there’s no statute of limitations when it comes to spending time with the ones you love. Even if some people think it’s odd. New York Times writer Deborah Solomon says she and her husband still do trips with their “boys”, aged 23 and 20. The secret is creating strategies to stay sane, she says. Give each other some space. You’re all adults. No one needs their nappy changed (hopefully) or bottle filled up (unless it’s wine).
Choose activities you all enjoy. There’s nothing worse than being stuck at a Rodin exhibition when you really want to be at the racetrack. Just stay at the hotel and read a book.
And breathe. Deeply. Yes, Dad snores. Mum doesn’t stop talking. Your brother stinks. And your sister is moody.
But suck it up, sunshine. This is precious family time. You’ll look back, in decades to come, and say, “What a wonderful family holiday”.
As I did.
Even with the bum bags.