14/08/2014 16:51 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Reluctant House Dad: Today's Kids Travel 13,500 Miles To 11 Countries - But We're Staying In Blighty

The Reluctant House Dad: Today's kids travel 13,500 miles to 11 countries - but we're staying in Blighty

When I were but knee high to a grasshopper's knee-cap, our annual family holiday was to one place: Blackpool.

We did once venture from home in Manchester to the exotic castle of Conwy in North Wales, and we did once enjoy a week at Pontin's in Southport.

But it was mainly Blackpool, 50 miles up the M6, to walk between the three Piers for what seemed like an eternity in the pouring rain, before finally going berserk in the Pleasure Beach and throwing up on The Mouse. Happy days!

Back then (the '70s, since you ask), 'Spain' hadn't been discovered yet. 'Italy' was just a funny-looking boot-shaped thing on a globe. And 'France' was where garlic-smelling snail-and-frog's-legs munchers lived.

As for the 'Canaries'? Something you'd find in the pet shop in Tibb Street. 'Australia'? Where Skippy solved crimes.'Florida'? Nope, never heard of it. 'Thailand'? Where people wear ties. 'Brazil'? Where people get the picture.

We didn't travel to any of these far-flung places because as far as we were concerned, 'Abroad' was an American woman seen only in black and white films featuring G.I. soldiers. How blissfully ignorant we were.

I remember the first time my cousins went to Lloret de Mar in 1976 I thought I'd never see them again. But they came back, as red as lobsters, with souvenir donkeys and 'El Toro' tea towels that I still own to this day. My pasty legs and little stick of Blackpool rock looked rather inadequate by comparison.

As my cousin Andy held court with his stories around the comprehensive school we went to, it felt like the dawn of a new age: the age of travel. And so it came to pass.

Back then, everything seemed new and exciting. At the age of 16, I travelled around Europe on Interrail for a month - on my own.

My dad was bewlidered. "Why on earth would you want to go to France/Switzerland/Austria/Italy/Greece etc?"

Because they were there. Because I could. And that has been how it is for my generation, who have now had children of our own – who now visit more places than we could ever have dreamed of when I was growing up.

According to new research, today's 'average' child will travel more than 13,500 miles, try 35 foreign dishes and visit at least five different countries by the time they are 16.

It's mind-boggling to someone who didn't see another country until I was 16 myself.

My sons are aged eight and five and so far, one or the other has seen France, Italy, Majorca, Corsica. But that is teeny-tiny beer compared to my 11-year-old stepdaughter who, with her real dad and his family, has been to all of those countries, plus America and Australia, with no doubt more to come.

According to the survey of 2,000 people by Club Med, today's children will have travelled more than five times as far as their parents did when they were growing up (or 20 times more, in my case).

Researchers also found that children were more than twice as likely to have visited France and more than three times more likely than their parents to have visited Spain before turning 16. (Interestingly, under 16s were more likely to have visited France or Spain than to have made the journey to Devon or Cornwall).

And along with the far-flung travel, kids are also experiencing more far-flung food.

Laurent De Chorivit MD of Club Med in the UK said: "As well-known brands set up resorts in destinations further afield, exotic holidays are becoming more accessible to families. If the accommodation is familiar and reliable, and the food can be trusted, parents are more likely to take their children to less conventional hotspots."

As for me and mine, we tried 'abroad' last year and had a holiday from hell at a Brittany caravan camp. So this year we're going to the wilds of Northumberland, with its castles and huge beaches. Let's just hope the weather behaves itself.


1. France 212 miles (English coast to Paris)

2. Spain 785 miles (Barcelona)

3. USA 3663 miles (Washington)

4. Canary Islands 1701 miles (Lanzarote)

5. Greece 1493 miles (Athens)

6. Germany 578 miles (Munich)

7. Majorca 835 miles

8. Italy 896 miles (Rome)

9. Portugal 978 miles (Lisbon)

10. Belgium 207 miles (Brussels)

11. Cyprus 2234 miles

Total: 13,582 MILES