I can't afford to take my children abroad this summer and worry they will be disappointed

Agony Aunt's picture

Dear Patricia Marie,

We have very little money, and I have now started worrying about the summer holidays which are fast approaching.  Our two little ones have been coming home from school with stories about their friends' planned summer vacations - to the South of France, Disneyland, Center Parcs, Sri Lanka, even one little girl will be spending the entire 6 weeks holiday with her parents at their summer retreat in the Bahamas!

If we are really careful, we may just be able to put enough aside for a caravan holiday on the UK coast, but I know they will both be so disappointed with this.  I'm also concerned that our eldest will be asked to go on holiday with her best friend's family, as we will have to decline, because we would not be able to give her any spending money for it, let alone contribute towards the cost of the actual holiday.

Patricia Marie says...

There will be many families on a low budget worrying about how to keep their children occupied during the summer holidays, and the cost of holidaying abroad can easily escalate into thousands of pounds. Are you sure your children would be disappointed to spend their holiday in a caravan in the UK, or is it perhaps more about you feeling guilty at not being able to take them overseas? Do consider, there are some beautiful places to visit right here in this country. So what if others can afford luxury breaks - part of growing up is realising that there will always be those more privileged than us, but also many who are barely scraping a living, and unable to have any time away. 

If you do feel your children would like to go abroad, depending on their ages, maybe you could arrange a foreign student exchange, via the school, which would be free, fun, and educational too. It may also be a good idea to speak to the parents of your eldest daughter's friend in advance, to make them aware of the sensitivity around asking her to accompany them on holiday, to avoid any possible awkwardness. 

Never underestimate the potential fun of a holiday in a caravan, or even a tent which could be less costly. Think of just how many activities can be better enjoyed outdoors, such as open air cooking with storytelling around the campfire, tree climbing, building a secret den, bike rides, woodland walks, laying down in a field at night and counting the stars, flying kites, net fishing in a stream, or crabbing at rock pools.  Many of these could be relished with new found friends. If you could try to display some positivity about such a trip, your children may then start looking forward to sharing their own plans. After all, almost the best part of a holiday is the mounting excitement beforehand.

When others speak of their best family holidays, those spent in a caravan or tent, seem to be by far the favourite. A combination of simple pleasures and outdoor freedom can be all that is needed to make the most magical memories.

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to patricia.marie@lady.co.uk