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On holiday with mum and dad − is this a good idea?

PUBLISHED: 09:57 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:57 25 September 2017

Yep, dance till dawn, sleep till dusk... happy days. Picture: ANNA OM/GETTY IMAGES

Yep, dance till dawn, sleep till dusk... happy days. Picture: ANNA OM/GETTY IMAGES


A new series being broadcast (streamed) on Netflix (whatever that might be) follows comedian Jack Whitehall and his father, Michael, as they holiday in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The beaches of the Balearics. Picture: ARCHIVEThe beaches of the Balearics. Picture: ARCHIVE

Travels With My Father began in Thailand where Michael arrived stiff-joined from the long flight from the UK. He is, as the blurb says, a little “stuffy” an opinion heartily seconded by his son who describes the secret stash of food his dad takes with him which included, I am happy to report, Colman’s Mustard, and Gentlemen’s Relish which is an anchovy paste. I have never tasted it, being no sort of gentleman.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the two men described their initial concerns.

When their hotel suggested Michael should have a massage to relieve his transit aches, he insisted Jack accompanied him − he worried what a Thai massage might entail.

In fact, he says Jack was no help at all: “(He) was absolutely useless when I had a massage. This enormous woman came in and sat on me and (he) sat there on his website thing.”

Michelangelo's David in Florence. Picture: ARCHIVEMichelangelo's David in Florence. Picture: ARCHIVE

“Lap top,” interjected Jack gently.

The two men also went to a “Full Moon Party” (an all nighter) which Michael endured for 15 minutes.

It set me to thinking about the possible trials of spending a fortnight or so in the company of an older parent or, indeed with a twenty-something offspring.

Our daughter was in her late teens when holidays in the UK with parents became unacceptable. When a holiday was mentioned she would ask where we were going before accepting or refusing the invitation to join us. The idea of being parted from her friends and her favourite night spots in exchange for solitude of Scottish loch was regarded as a sort of torture, I think. It was a phase. Since then, she has been the first to suggest a remote hiking destination while I get a nose-bleed if I’m too far from a Waitrose or other large food source.

Pack the sun cream. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PAPack the sun cream. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA

Meanwhile, I may be getting a little set in my ways. I am not an adventurous meat eater, unlike the rest of the family. In Bath, ostrich on the menu elicited a “no” from me and in Tunisia, a French version of the English “burger” revealed the tell-tale word “cheval”. No horse for me, thank you.

I am also a little repulsed by suckers on octopus legs... but then, I used to insist my butcher removed the nipples from pork belly.

Whichever is the older traveller − and I speak not of years but of attitudes − is likely to have a very different approach to packing and itinerary than their less stuck-in-the-mud companion:

The toilet bag:

The beauty and peace of Scotland may not be everyone's cup of tea. Picture: LIZ HEARNSHAWThe beauty and peace of Scotland may not be everyone's cup of tea. Picture: LIZ HEARNSHAW

Traveller one: lipsticks, mascara, eye-liner, nail varnish, epilator, moisturiser, sparkly face powder, toothbrush, toothpaste, hang-over remedy, deodorant, fragrance (to be bought from airport).

Traveller two: Diocalm, senna, sun cream, aftersun, paracetamol, ibuprofen, E45, insect repellant, insect bite relief, medicated plasters, antihistamine, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, deodorant, unscented soap, hair conditioner.

Underwear and beachwear (for one week holiday):

Traveller one: Seven pairs of pants, one bra, one bikini, one high-leg costume, flip flops.

Traveller two: 14 pairs of pants, four bras, two pairs of pantihose, three pairs of socks, two low leg swimming costumes, three sarongs, flip flops, sun hat, four chiffon scarves.


Traveller one: Late breakfast, beach/pool, afternoon doze, dinner, clubbing, bed at dawn (x7)

Traveller two: Up at 8, breakfast, swim, join outing to ancient ruins/museum/street market/pleasure cruise/bus tour/volcano etc, packed lunch, read historical novel, nap, dinner, sit at bar with nightcap, write postcards, check news online, go to bed.

New friends:

Traveller one: The boy/girl from the other side of the country with whom you dance all night, kiss and say goodnight (x7)

Traveller two: The nice, retired, couple from Dorset who have relatives in East Anglia (all week)

Packing to go home:

Traveller one: For days now have had no idea what’s clean and what’s not. Relying on sniff test. Everything gets bunged in the case last minute.

Traveller two: All dirty clothes are already neatly folded in the suitcase. A few small gifts are safely wrapped in T-shirts.


What sort of holiday person are you?

1. Where would you rather spend a week?

(a) Devon

(b) Ibiza

(c) Florence

2. What do you never travel abroad without?

(a) Lipstick

(b) adaptor plug

(c) tea bags

3. At dinner do you

(a) Eat the local food?

(b) Only eat food you recognise?

(c) Find a McDonald’s?

4. Do you attend the rep’s talk?

(a) Yes, I need to book day trips

(b) Yes, I need to complain

(c) Never

5. When you arrive home do you

(a) Kiss the ground?

(b) Long for a proper cup of tea?

(c) Sob because you left the love of your life behind?

Score: 1 (a) 2 (b) 5 (c) 2; 2 (a) 5 (b) 2 (c) 1; 3. (a) 2 (b) 1 (c) 5; 4. (a) 2 (b) 1 (c) 3; 5. (a) 1 (b) 2 (c) 5 5-9: Oh, please throw caution to the wind once in a while.

10-15: You enjoy different cultures and make the most of holidays

15+: You’re not a culture vulture are you − did you actually see the place in daylight?

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