This week’s childhood family travel memories interview is with Emily from Kids and Compass. Family visits to the North Devon coast in the UK sparked her passion for family travel in the UK and beyond.
You can find more childhood family travel stories, as well as our family travel goal stories, here.
A bit about Emily:
I’m Emily, a wife and mum to two small kids aged 5 and 3. My family and I live in the Cotswolds, in the UK. We love adventurous and cultural travel and think it’s never too early to start travelling with your kids.
What kind of travel experiences did your family do growing up?
I grew up in the south of England. Our family holidays were always exactly the same. We always stayed with my grandparents on the North Devon coast. We’d spend all the Easter break in Devon as well as two weeks in the summer, so it was a big part of my childhood.
Devon is a lovely part of the UK and I always looked forward to going.
My mum had her firm favourite days out and while we sometimes went to a new town or attraction, we often went to the same places, and we spent a lot of time at the seaside and on the moors.
There was lots of opportunity for free play and exploration, and my sisters and I would have the time of our lives. I think we had a lot more freedom back in the 1980s and we were often left to our own devices.
How has your family travel experiences growing up affected where or how you travel now?
I didn’t travel a huge amount before I met my husband. But we were always off on holidays together right from the start of our relationship. We never managed to take a long trip together because of work commitments but we’d travel two or three times a year, and always somewhere new.
We wanted to carry on travelling as much as possible after we had the kids. Spending time with extended family was important to my parents and my grandparents. It’s important to my family too – we see our parents a lot
But we prefer to spend most of our holidays travelling as a family of four and seeing new places rather than always going to the same part of the country. My family travels in a very different way; we’re more adventurous and we don’t often visit the same place more than once or twice. I did love the familiarity of my family holidays as a child, but experiencing different places, cultures and food is important to my family now.
We enjoy spending time in the UK but we also go abroad as much as we can; something I never did as a small child. I feel very fortunate that we’re able to do this, and my kids know not to take it for granted.
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How has your family travel experiences growing up influenced your or your family’s travel goals today?
My world was very small when I was a child. I wish I’d travelled more as a young adult – I regret not taking a gap year and heading off around the world, either before or after university.
I’m hoping to rectify that in a few years; when the kids are just a bit older we’re planning to go on a family gap year. At the moment we’re dreaming of starting in India and working our way through the Himalayas before going to China, Korea, and SE Asia. Kids learn so much more by doing and seeing things for themselves. I think it would be a hugely beneficial experience for them.
And although I remember grumbling about long walks when I was a child, I love them now and going on a trek in Nepal or Bhutan is high on my travel wishlist.
What travel habits did your family have that you still do? What do you do differently?
My parents were always quite budget conscious and kept travelling costs down so we could spend more on experiences. My family are the same; we don’t go for fancy hotels and we book the cheapest flights we can. That way we’ve got more to spend on days out when we’re away.
But my mum was more organised than me; she always packed a picnic and I never remember. I really should!
What are childhood travel memories stand out the most for you?
Definitely spending time at the beach; there are some really great beaches in North Devon. Putsborough and Woolacombe was my favourite and if we had a sunny day we’d spend all day there until the tide chased us back to the car.
We’d try our hardest to surf in the waves, we’d fly kites, we’d climb all over the rocks by the cliffs and see what we could find in rock pools. I think it’s the simple pleasures that have stayed with me the most.
Have you revisited as an adult any places that you first visited as a child? How was the experience different for you as an adult?
Once I was about 16 I stopped going on every family holiday. I still went to Devon fairly often to visit my grandparents, so many of my old haunts are still quite fresh in my memory.
I’d love to take my kids to Devon and recreate my childhood holidays, but perhaps just the once!
What would you tell people who are parents right now about how your experience of childhood travel (or lack of experience) has impacted your life?
I’d say that it’s never too young to take your kids travelling. Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you it won’t be worth it, especially if they say the kids won’t remember. The experience is what’s important and it will shape your kids (and you) for the better. Trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone, seeing how others live will all make for resilient kids later in life. And you don’t have to go abroad; explore your own country if you prefer.
Tell us more about your blog. Where can people find it, and how can they follow it on social media?
My travel blog is at https://www.kidsandcompass.com I write about local travel and family days out as much as travel abroad.