Holiday Experiences Our Children Will Never Have

Ahh the 1980s and 1990s were a great time to go on holiday, weren’t they? Souvenir straw donkeys, dancing to the Macarena at the hotel disco, and drinking way more Coca-Cola than you’d ever be allowed to, back at home.

But a lot of things seem to have changed so much since then – mostly for the better. Take my experiences as a 12-year-old, for example, when my parents booked us all bargain flights to the Greek island of  Zante. We landed at the airport late at night, with no accommodation booked, and found somewhere to stay by chatting to random people at the airport. Eventually, a man took us in his car to his B&B, where we stayed for a couple of nights before moving on. I mean – can you imagine doing that with children in tow, these days? It got me thinking though, that while our kids are unlikely to ever experience rocking up at a foreign destination in the hope that some nice person, and not a dodgy serial killer, will whisk them to lovely clean accommodation, there are other things our kids are unlikely to experience on holiday too. Things like….

1. Watching their parents hunt for the best holiday deal on Teletext

Remember doing this? Pressing the “text” button on your TV remote control took you into a whole world of blocky colourful graphics and text – like the internet before we even knew that the internet was a thing! As well as your parents being able to catch up on news headlines and check the weather, there were games pages (remember Bamboozle?) and you could find the cheapest holiday deals ever. Things like “Malaga 3* B+B flight Manchester 14th June £99pp” and that, my friends, was all the info you needed to phone up and book that holiday!

2. Buying yesterday’s newspaper from a local shop to catch up on the “latest” news

Now that we all have smartphones and iPads that we take on holiday, we can check the news headlines whenever we like. And we get up-to-the-minute breaking news just like we do, at home. But remember when back in the day, the only way you could keep up to date with the news was to buy a newspaper? And it would be yesterday’s, not today’s! As a teenager, I would ask my mum to buy a tabloid so that I could read the latest pop news in the entertainment pages. There was no way that I could miss out on Piers Morgan’s Bizarre column for even one day.

3. Wearing Factor 2 sun oil

Ahh that lovely coconut-smelling sun oil that we used to have slathered all over us. Smells like proper holidays and comes with a great freebie: the risk of melanoma. With a huge SPF of 2 – or Factor 5 if you were really being careful – it was about as useful as a chocolate teapot in actually protecting your skin. But our parents didn’t know any better back then! Nowadays, it’s all about Factor 50 for the kids and we re-apply it three or four times a day, and make them wear rash vests and hats too. Massive faff? Yes! But so much safer.

4. Writing and sending postcards

I would spend ages choosing the perfect postcards to send back to my friends, and my parents would buy some to send back to family and friends too. When I was in Spain, my FAVOURITE postcards were the ones that had a picture of a Spanish lady, and her skirt had actual lacy fabric stuck to the card. SO PRETTY. We’d then have to hunt for a shop that sold stamps and then hunt for a postbox. So much effort, but worth it when your friend got that postcard through the door (usually a week after you got home from holiday). In 2017, thanks to Facebook updates and FaceTiming Grandma back at home, postcards aren’t as popular for some reason…

5. People smoking at the back of the plane

As I type those words out, it doesn’t even feel like that could have been a real thing. Smoking on planes? But yes, if you booked a seat in one of the back few rows of a flight, in the early 90s, 80s and before, you could smoke. Which meant non-smokers would always try to book seats towards the front – but do you remember having to walk through the smoking section to get to the plane loo? Yuck! So nice that our kids will never have to experience this one.

6. Taking their camera film to be developed after the holiday

Oh the anticipation! Having to wait until you got back from your holiday, going to Boots and handing in your camera film to be developed – or if you wanted to save a bit of money, and you didn’t mind waiting a couple of weeks, you’d post off your film in one of those Truprint envelopes that you’d get free inside magazines and newspapers. Just 99p to develop your 24exp film! And the decisions: do you want 6×4″ or 7×5″? Glossy or matt? Do you want a posh white border around your pics? But it was worth it when you finally got your photos back and… oh, finger in front of the lens… that one’s blurry… that one hasn’t come out at all… oh, that one’s good!

At least some things about going on holiday with kids will probably never change. Things like:

  • Your kids only eating bread, chips and bananas for the whole week.
  • Tears when it’s time to get out of the pool and dry off.
  • Taking their swimwear off and it looking like they’re still wearing a white swimming costume/shorts (despite the Factor 50!)
  • Letting them stay up waaaay past their bedtime.
  • Little kids and toddlers dancing to a band playing local music – so cute.
  • Refusal to wear shoes but complaining that the ground is SO HOT to walk on.

Long live family holidays! Check out my family travel section if you’re after some holiday inspiration and sign up to my newsletter to receive an email once a fortnight with exclusive stuff like this post, that you can’t read anywhere else!



  1. Kim
    June 26, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    Ha ha ha love this! Ahhh sunburn, disappointing photos and dancing to a dodgy local band… those were the days. The big tune of my childhood was The Birdy Song! Classic!

  2. June 26, 2017 / 7:12 pm

    Ah the memories! Teletext holidays were so funny – by the time you’d written all the details down it would skip to the next page. I used to love taking my film to the chemist to get them developed – we had to wait up to a week to get the photos back!

    I would probably add something about travellers cheques – does anyone still use these? I found it highly amusing watching my parents change money at the local Spanish supermarket!

  3. June 26, 2017 / 7:31 pm

    Gosh- this took me back! I found myself nodding along and reminiscing! Good ol’ Teletext! Also the sound of the boards ticking over as the next flight moved up the list- ready for departure.

  4. June 26, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    This made me laugh! I was trying to explain to my kids the other day about how slow some countries in Europe were to get the latest chart tunes. Unless it was some awful Europop and then we eould hear it on holiday first before all our friends back home!!

  5. June 26, 2017 / 8:35 pm

    Hilarious! Although….we do occasionally send the odd postcard still. Last summer I was seriously considering doing what my parents used to do – ie setting out on the ferry to France, with nowhere booked for the first night of our trip. They just used to stay at chambre d’hotes along the way, and it was always an adventure. I chickened out, though!

  6. June 26, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    Oh that’s brought back memories – the hunt for a post office on every trip, and I had forgotten the joy of Teletext. There was nothing to beat the thrill of opening that envelope full of prints to see just how your snaps had come out!

  7. June 28, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    OMG the factor 2 sun oil! I remember doing that, and even, once, smothering myself in olive oil in the hopes of a deeper tan. Awful! Though I do quite like the thought of not managing to see the news until I get home.

  8. July 3, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    I so remember those postcards with the frilly skirts, I always sent my Grandma one when we went on holiday! Loved holiday’s when I was a child in the 90’s xx

  9. July 5, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    Ah, the nostalgia!!! We never went abroad when I was little…but the postcards!! I quite miss teletext!!!

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