It’s official! Scientists say family holidays make kids HAPPIER and SMARTER


Content Editor / June 25 2019

While family holidays can be expensive and require military-style planning, researchers say they are invaluable for our happiness; helping is to bond and create memories together.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that experiential gifts - such as holidays or trips to the zoo - foster stronger social relationship than material gifts.

So while your kid may bug you incessantly for the latest LOL doll or games console, they’ll benefit more in the long run from time spent together creating memories.

"An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it—like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa – and is more intensely emotional than a material possession,” says lead researcher Cindy Chan.

“If you want to give [someone] something that will make them feel closer to you, give an experience.”

And whether you’re considering jetting off to the Maldives, considering a cruise, going on a city break or just keeping it cheap and cheerful with a family road trip, the rewards for children and families are endless.

Cameron Holland is the CEO of Luxury Escapes and says there are plenty of ways to ensure parents enjoy their holidays just as much as the kids do.

“It's no secret that travelling with kids presents a few more challenges than without, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be harder to relax,” he says.

“Parents just need to be more savvy when it comes to holiday time. Bringing the grandparents on trips is a great way to bond as a family but also gives parents a break!

“In addition, mixing plenty of downtime for yourself in a resort or hotel that caters well for kids and allows them to make friends of their own is also key.”

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Getty Images

Queensland is his best recommendation for a domestic trip within Australia, and when travelling overseas with children, Cameron says his top picks for family fun are Hawaii, Singapore and Fiji, as they’re relatively easy to get to and are well appointed for young families.

“Be sure to check that your accommodation offers cribs, babysitting services/kids club (and check the fine print on ages accepted!),” he adds.

“And if possible a separate living space so you can put the little one to sleep in a semi-separate area and still have space to enjoy your holiday!

“Once the kids are a little older things get a bit easier...more adventurous parts of Bali,
Thailand or Vietnam are always fantastic options, offering really affordable two or
three-bedroom villas which allow everyone to have their own space.”

Long after you’ve come home and shaken the sand out of your suitcases, the happy memories you’ve created will still be sustaining you and your little ones, too.

Getty Images

Getty Images

A UK study also found that half of respondents say their happiest memory is of being on holidays with their family, and 55 per cent say that their holiday memories will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

A quarter of respondents said that in tough times, they would call on those happy memories to help get them through.

Family travel can also boost kids’ brain power by offering new, stimulating environments says Dr. Margot Sunderland, a child psychotherapist and Director of Education and Training at The Centre for Child Mental Health.

“An ‘enriched’ environment offers new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive and sensory interaction,” she wrote in an article for The Telegraph, adding that holidays have a “profound effect on bonding and brain development," she says.

“I’m always reminded by the sage advice of the founders of Lonely Planet when asked about travelling with kids – they always responded “Just go!”, Cameron says. “The rest sorts itself out with good planning.”

Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.