One-on-one time can be tricky when you’re a family of 6. That’s why travel editor Sharon Greaves takes each of her children on a special, coming-of-age holiday when they turn 11 – and there’s not a single sibling in sight…
A few weeks ago, I lifted my 2 youngest daughters out of bed at silly o’clock in the morning for a cheeky Bank Holiday weekend away. A few hours later, still onesie-clad (them, not me), we were on a flight to Italy and soon travelling around the Bay of Naples to Sorrento.
Over the next couple of days we did what any holidaymaker worth their salt does. We tried far too many ice-creams, ate our body weight in pasta, and enjoyed a tipple or 2 of the region’s famous lemon liqueur, limoncello (me, not them).
Perhaps more importantly, we also ticked off some sights that I hope will make it to their bucket lists. We climbed to the top of Mount Vesuvius to peer in to its steaming crater, and visited ancient Pompeii, its streets, villas and amphitheatre eerily preserved by the molten lava that drowned the city 2,000-odd years ago.
My 6-year-old took it all in her stride. For 9-year-old Coco, though, this was more a taster of what she can expect next year. You see, when each of my daughters turns 11, I take them on a one-on-one holiday-come-adventure.
Don’t get me wrong. We love our family jaunts – en masse – under canvas. But sometimes it can be challenging, both logistically and financially, for a family of 6 to get from A to B and everywhere in-between.
So I take them away separately. More than anything, these trips for 2 are all about seeing somewhere new and trying something totally different, with a bit of girly bonding along the way. In my book, that beats a new birthday top or the latest Converse hands down.
It was 4 years ago when I took my eldest to Egypt. For her 11th birthday she got a travel journal. The next week we were on our way to Hurghada. The highlight was snorkelling among clownfish, rays and giant puffers in the Red Sea. But we also packed in a jeep safari deep in to the desert to visit a Bedouin camp, plus a trip to Luxor to nose around Karnak and the Valley of the Kings.
A few months ago, daughter number 2 stepped up for her turn. Her obsession with all things elephant – T-shirts, ear-rings, bedspread – had us on a long-haul flight eastwards towards Goa. Our most magical days were spent bathing with the great mammals in jungle rivers. But we also had a ball staying in makeshift beach huts and hopping in and out of tuk-tuks to visit deserted sands one day, haggle-happy markets the next.
Next year, it’s Coco’s turn. She’s looked at a world map and plumped for Australia. My job over the next few months is to rein her in to somewhere a little closer to home – a Kenyan safari perhaps – packed with game drives to see the Big Five. At the end of the day, I like to think that mum knows best…
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Author: Sharon Greaves
Published: May 13, 2014
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