When I was a child, family holidays involved picnics and windbreaks, intensive AA map reading and taking a punt on whether a hotel would be anything like the brochure suggested. Today’s families are so much better informed and really do have the world at their fingertips, with parenting blogs, specialist magazines, in-car SatNavs and travel review sites to help them plan adventures. However, with so much choice, making decisions can be just as tricky.
That’s where The Family Travel Show comes in – it’s the first consumer event designed just for families, providing hands-on advice and talks. Here’s what to expect, and how to save 50% on the price of your tickets (you’re welcome!).
My next travel destination is known for being effortlessly cool: Copenhagen has two famous Michelin -starred restaurants, internationally known fashion designers like Baum und Pferdgarten, and a hippy-founded ‘freetown’ called Christiania… but I’ve been tempted for other reasons. If you need convincing as to why Copenhagen should figure in your holiday plans, look no further.
History on Every Corner
You can’t ignore centuries of heritage: Denmark has been ruled from Slotsholmen, a small island, since 1167. Today it’s home to Parliament and the Supreme Court, and the Royal Family can be found in the nearby Amalienborg Palace. Christiansborg Slot, the castle, has been through more reinventions than Madonna, thanks to fires, renovations and an entire demolition. Underneath today’s structure are the ruined foundations of the original castle.
Zora Neale Hurston, the American writer and anthropologist, once said: ‘Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.’ Yet, when it comes to travel, most of us do very little prep at all, then wonder why we end up with only a vague idea of where we’ve spent the last few days and what it meant to be there.
It’s great to be spontaneous and live in the moment, but a little research goes a long way and means you won’t waste as much of your time off. By all means don’t tie yourself down to specific times, or route march between sights, but do turn up with a fair idea of what you want to get out of your visit. Unless you’ve got deep pockets, you may well only visit a place once in your lifetime, so why take it for granted?
On Friday I was part of a group of bloggers introduced to a new competition by Mercure Hotels, which aims to put the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory into practice. The theory, developed in 1929, says that everyone can be connected to everyone else on the planet by only six stages of communication or fewer. At the launch event we tested our social media skills with some blogger challenges, and soon realised how easily we could connect with strangers from all over the world, helped by the hashtag #6FriendsTheory.
It’s fair to say we’re in the grip of a selfie epidemic. Not only has the National Gallery’s newly relaxed photography policy potentially unleashed a tidal wave of idiots standing in front of (and deliberately obscuring) world-renowned artworks, but there’s also the queen of selfies, Kim Kardashian, taking things one step further. It’s been reported that Kim K took a mind-bending 1,200 selfies in a single day during a holiday in Thailand this summer.
Now we can admit we’re not safe from pouting posers in the shadows of a city gallery or on a sun-bleached Thai beach, perhaps it’s time we all acknowledged the growing trend of the self-absorbed holiday. You know, the one where the background is fairly immaterial, an all-inclusive resort or a luxury yacht is hungrily booked up and the tourist doesn’t actually have to tour anything. They might venture out on a very occasional excursion, but it will mainly be an exercise in creating photo opportunities (starring themselves) and trying not to engage with anyone who doesn’t speak impeccable English.
Have you ever been brave enough to make a U-turn in the middle of a big adventure, or were you too scared about what people might think if they saw you backing out? This new travel book throws you right in the thick of the dilemma as motorcycle fanatic Graham Field battles with a huge shift in the dynamic of his overland trip across two continents – fortunately he has ‘a free will and an ever-changing plan’ (p.392).
Armed with his trusty KLR650, a brilliant tank box and a not-so-brilliant Sat Nav, he’s prepared to take on embassy jobsworths, a history nerd in an Armenian cave network and whole hordes of tourists clogging up a supposed ghost town.
Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.