In an increasingly linked-up, switched-on world, more and more of us want a holiday where we can truly get away from it all.
My family holidays
When I was a child we longed for holidays because it was a time when our parents gave us their full focus. Back then, a holiday meant an escape from our daily lives. Now, increasingly, a holiday is valued by how much of our daily lives we can take with us. I’ve seen entire families sit around a dining table sharing jokes with friends in cyberspace on their portable devices while their loved ones do likewise in the next chair.
For me, family holidays start the moment I put an ‘out of office’ message on my email account. My favourite destinations have regular power cuts ?or don’t have Wi-Fi at all. Taking a break doesn’t just mean ditching the chores, it should open your mind to a whole new world. That’s why wilderness is the new black.
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Mariella Frostrup is a contributing editor to Family Traveller and mother to two young children.
Next February my tribe is taking a trekking trip across the Sahara: camels, tents, kids, a whole Arabian Nights-style caravan with only the dogs left behind to guard the homestead.
We did a 24-hour trial run in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco last year with Natural High, a small British company that specialises in taking its clients off the beaten track, to see if the kids could cope – and they totally loved it. After an all-day gentle hike in warm sunshine with chickens scattering at our feet as we walked through mud-baked Berber villages, we found ourselves under a carpet of stars, in a billowing?tent that was fit for a sultan, with delicious food, a roaring fire and hot-water bottles at our feet.
Unusually, we won’t have to remortgage to afford our Saharan trek. These days, barefoot pleasures too often come at oligarchal prices, offering firm proof of how badly we want to escape from our relentlessly connected lifestyles. Camping isn’t for everyone, but adventures that take you away from the madding crowd are definitely on the rise, and in a frenetic, linked-up world it’s not hard to see why. Wilderness trips are the new luxury, and the prices often seem to be index-linked to the distance they put between you and your normal life.
Whether it’s the Highlands or the Orkneys, the farthest reaches of the Far East or the wild west coast of Spain, a desert island off the coast of Zanzibar or a Norwegian cabin, the fewer modern trappings there are, the more chance there is of achieving, in Kung Fu Panda’s words, ‘inner peace’.
The gap between rich and poor is at its narrowest on such adventures where it’s hard to distinguish between a five-star campsite and a star-free zone if they’re well run, unless you check the thread count of the sheets and whether the candles come scented.
A Wi-Fi connection might be handy on a business trip, but with so many of us doing jobs that demand 24-hour availability on smartphones, tablets and PCs, isn’t true relaxation a holiday where you can’t be found?
If we could wrench them off their computer games for long enough to notice us, our children would say they’re sick and tired of seeing their parents umbilically attached to phones and computer screens.