The world at their door!

I had to smile as I listened to a group of children comparing travel notes getting off my Melbourne to Dubai flight this morning. “We’re going to London.” “My family is going Ireland.” “We’re going to an island in Greece.” “I’m going my cousin’s wedding in Spain.”

Yep a group of seven Aussie kids from four different families, who seemingly had met at the airport playground last night, reconnecting in a Dubai arrivals hall. All were holding their 2019 travel essential – a tablet –  and they were all looking much fresher and brighter than their parents. All were excited to share their final destinations as they transited in the Middle East.

Capturing how family travel plans have changed so much since I was a kid, an Australian woman – looking a similar age to me [dare I say middle age] – commented: “And we thought Heidelberg to Philip Island with the caravan was a big trip”.

Yes, how travel has changed? Where did you go on holidays as a child? Did your family have a favourite location? What memories spring to mind?

I was well into in my twenties before my first overseas holiday, maybe you experienced international travel earlier?

As I thought of childhood vacations, suddenly my mind was back at my family’s two favourite holiday destinations. Our summer spot, Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast, and our winter location, Shoal Bay in Port Stephens.

My parents are born creatures of habit. They lived in the house they built when first married for 52 years. They live life with predictable patterns and rhythms.  They are laggards when it comes to technological change. And so their holiday itineraries have always been stamped with consistency.

I am guessing I spent 20 consecutive summers heading to the Gold Coast with my parents, 15 of those staying in the same 1970s built and decorated holiday unit that my parents simply called “Bernie’s” after the Dutch owner. My memory of Bernie was short, tight pastel shorts with a shirt that never matched, always there to meet us with a big smile and friendly welcome.

The small unit block – “The Castle Motor Inn” with a tudor-style motif – had a pool and table-tennis room.  We were a stone’s throw from beach and walking distance to Putt Putt, Maccas and in later years Sizzler. A big night out was the movies or dinner in Surfers and a quick visit to play arcade games. And their was the annual pilgrimage to a theme park, where I was a bit of a waste of money, as I hated wild rides.

Back at Bernie’s, no Foxtel, no Netflix, no concerns about whether we remembered the chargers for the iPads. No worries about internet access. Certainly no choice of bars, restaurants or other entertainment. The annual family Trivial Pursuit board game night was hotly contested.

My Dad would have us out of bed at 4.30am [“always good to make an early start”] and in PM days [that’s pre-Maccas] we would drive in the mighty Kingswood, windows down, radio on, until we reached Taree Golden Fleece. [OK I am showing my age – some of you know what I am talking about].

And you know what as a six-year old this was such a travel highlight – we got to stop at a service station that had a café, where I could order baked beans on toast and receive a sheep-branded colouring sheet. Here was child-like excitement 1973 style. The Aussie kids at Dubai Airport this morning were about to experience one of the world’s biggest airports with shops and cafes galore [and yes free fast wi-fi].

I was 12 when I first boarded a plane. Newcastle to Sydney on mighty AeroPelican 12- seater. It was my mum’s first flight as well and given the look on her face I can guess why she has never made it on to a long-haul overseas flight.  Sydney to Launceston to visit my cousins on Ansett followed that same day.

Do you remember your first flight? Where was it to? Who did you fly with?

I am an aisle seat passenger. Always the aisle for me, but unfortunately some check-in issues meant I was blocked on an inside seat last night. And despite his friendly nature, my neighbour in the aisle seat was a rather stocky gentleman, with a heck of a snore and a love for the armrest.

Sleep seemed impossible, but I did get to take in three movies and watch a few downloaded Netflix TV episodes. Rewind four decades or more and I would have been so excited by the airline meal, can’t say the same today.

But as I watched the young Aussie kids heading to their next flights I was thankful that my kids will have the opportunity to see so much more of the world than those of my generation. The world is at their door. Adventure and life-transforming experiences await!

As for me, time to go. I’ve had my $A10 Americano, got to message the family and write another travel post. Rome awaits. Have a good day. Cheers!

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