Lonely Planet editor Helen Elfer won’t be going on any family holidays this year. Or ever, in fact.

When I read recently that ‘grown-up family holidays’ are on the rise, I felt a cold shot of panic hit the bottom of my stomach. I don’t know why – there’s absolutely no danger of me being invited on one. I’m officially the Dementor of cross-generational travel, sucking joy, light and fun from each and every excursion.

Beautiful sunset/ Time to start acting up. Image by ImagineGolf/Vetta/GettyBeautiful sunset? Time to start acting up. Image by ImagineGolf / Vetta / Getty Images

From the age of 10 to 16, every time my family attempted to go anywhere en masse, I’d wreck it. I threw up without fail on every car journey, and would then sit miserably holding a leaking Sainsbury’s bag on my lap. In New York, I sneaked off to spend my entire two weeks’ worth of ‘holiday spending money’ on a pair of purple snakeskin boots. I threw a three-day tantrum at being forbidden to go to a Rage Against The Machine gig in Boston – never mind that I couldn’t afford a ticket after blowing all my cash on the boots. I wouldn’t eat anything except sandwiches. Wouldn’t put on a Niagara Falls poncho.

Summer after summer, from Austria to Slovenia, I alternately refused to walk, paddle, speak, get into the water, get out of the water, wake up in time for breakfast, or smile for the camera. There are photo albums full of pictures of my beaming mum, dad and little brother, with teenage me in the middle, face twisted into a snarl.

Generally, I preferred to spend my time in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations leaning mournfully against any available window or wall, listening to my Discman, wondering why I was stuck in this dump and thinking about how much more fun my friends would be having hanging around St George’s Shopping Centre in Harrow.

The final straw came at a wedding in Ireland when a quite extraordinary lapse of judgement led me to teach all my little cousins to drink White Russian cocktails. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t go to plan, and soon there were dangerously ill, drunk children everywhere, getting sick and leaving little creamy puddles on the smart Dublin hotel’s carpets. I’m pretty sure I’m still in trouble for that. And we didn’t go on any more family trips.

Obviously, that was all a very long time ago. I’m now in my thirties, and by all accounts, a better behaved travelling companion. And yet… invitations for brother-sister road trips, mother-daughter spa weekends, family mini-breaks at a country cottage, all the stalwarts of these cross-generational holidays… have not been forthcoming. I guess the traumatic memories of the ‘90s are just still too strong.

Quite frankly, I’m relieved. I like travelling alone, with friends, or with my boyfriend. I like Sunday lunches, birthday dinners, summer BBQs and Christmas with my family. Luckily for me, it seems as though my folks feel the same way.

So when friends return from their on-trend multi-gen breaks, drained and ranting about their stingy sisters, racist grandparents, nervous aunts or sleazy father-in-laws, I secretly give myself a pat on the back for having the foresight to be such an unspeakably awful teenager that no family member would dream of bringing me on holiday ever again.

In fact this summer, when I see gloomy kids at the airport, sulking and kicking their siblings, I’ll probably pull them aside and hiss: ‘Keep up the good work! You’ll thank yourself in a few years’ time…’

Helen Elfer is Lonely Planet’s Destination Editor for the Middle East and North Africa. She still feels bad about the Dublin incident. Follow her on Twitter @Helen_Elfer.
 
Do you have a rather sunnier recollection of family travel? We asked some Lonely Planet staff to travel back in time, share their memories of holidays past, and find out where they’d like to revisit.

By Helen Elfer

Lonely Planet editor Helen Elfer won’t be going on any family holidays this year. Or ever, in fact.

When I read recently that ‘grown-up family holidays’ are on the rise, I felt a cold shot of panic hit the bottom of my stomach. I don’t know why – there’s absolutely no danger of me being invited on one. I’m officially the Dementor of cross-generational travel, sucking joy, light and fun from each and every excursion.

Beautiful sunset/ Time to start acting up. Image by ImagineGolf/Vetta/GettyBeautiful sunset? Time to start acting up. Image by ImagineGolf / Vetta / Getty Images

From the age of 10 to 16, every time my family attempted to go anywhere en masse, I’d wreck it. I threw up without fail on every car journey, and would then sit miserably holding a leaking Sainsbury’s bag on my lap. In New York, I sneaked off to spend my entire two weeks’ worth of ‘holiday spending money’ on a pair of purple snakeskin boots. I threw a three-day tantrum at being forbidden to go to a Rage Against The Machine gig in Boston – never mind that I couldn’t afford a ticket after blowing all my cash on the boots. I wouldn’t eat anything except sandwiches. Wouldn’t put on a Niagara Falls poncho.

Summer after summer, from Austria to Slovenia, I alternately refused to walk, paddle, speak, get into the water, get out of the water, wake up in time for breakfast, or smile for the camera. There are photo albums full of pictures of my beaming mum, dad and little brother, with teenage me in the middle, face twisted into a snarl.

Generally, I preferred to spend my time in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations leaning mournfully against any available window or wall, listening to my Discman, wondering why I was stuck in this dump and thinking about how much more fun my friends would be having hanging around St George’s Shopping Centre in Harrow.

The final straw came at a wedding in Ireland when a quite extraordinary lapse of judgement led me to teach all my little cousins to drink White Russian cocktails. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t go to plan, and soon there were dangerously ill, drunk children everywhere, getting sick and leaving little creamy puddles on the smart Dublin hotel’s carpets. I’m pretty sure I’m still in trouble for that. And we didn’t go on any more family trips.

Obviously, that was all a very long time ago. I’m now in my thirties, and by all accounts, a better behaved travelling companion. And yet… invitations for brother-sister road trips, mother-daughter spa weekends, family mini-breaks at a country cottage, all the stalwarts of these cross-generational holidays… have not been forthcoming. I guess the traumatic memories of the ‘90s are just still too strong.

Quite frankly, I’m relieved. I like travelling alone, with friends, or with my boyfriend. I like Sunday lunches, birthday dinners, summer BBQs and Christmas with my family. Luckily for me, it seems as though my folks feel the same way.

So when friends return from their on-trend multi-gen breaks, drained and ranting about their stingy sisters, racist grandparents, nervous aunts or sleazy father-in-laws, I secretly give myself a pat on the back for having the foresight to be such an unspeakably awful teenager that no family member would dream of bringing me on holiday ever again.

In fact this summer, when I see gloomy kids at the airport, sulking and kicking their siblings, I’ll probably pull them aside and hiss: ‘Keep up the good work! You’ll thank yourself in a few years’ time…’

Helen Elfer is Lonely Planet’s Destination Editor for the Middle East and North Africa. She still feels bad about the Dublin incident. Follow her on Twitter @Helen_Elfer.
 
Do you have a rather sunnier recollection of family travel? We asked some Lonely Planet staff to travel back in time, share their memories of holidays past, and find out where they’d like to revisit.

By Helen Elfer

The Apollo 11 astronauts, left to right, Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the USS Hornet, listen to President Richard M. Nixon on July 24, 1969 as he welcomes them back to Earth and congratulates them on the successful mission. The astronauts had splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. EDT about 900 miles southwest of Hawaii.
Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying the astronauts into an initial Earth-orbit of 114 by 116 miles. An estimated 530 million people watched Armstrong’s televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969.
> Apollo 11 and NASA’s Next Giant Leap
Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

On July 23, 1999, a little more than seven hours after Space Shuttle Columbia and its five astronauts were launched from the Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory was successfully deployed by the STS-93 crew. Chandra was spring-ejected from a cradle in the shuttle’s cargo bay at 6:47 a.m. Central time, as Columbia flew over the Indonesian island chain. Commander Eileen Collins, the first female Shuttle Commander, maneuvered Columbia to a safe distance away from the telescope as an internal timer counted down to the first of a two-phase ignition of the solid-fuel Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). The IUS lit up as scheduled at 7:47 a.m., and a few minutes later, shut down as planned, sending Chandra on a highly elliptical orbit which was refined over the next few weeks by a series of firings of telescope thrusters, designed to place Chandra in an orbit about 6900 x 87,000 statute miles above the Earth.
Since its deployment, Chandra has helped revolutionize our understanding of the universe through its unrivaled X-ray vision. Chandra, one of NASA’s current “Great Observatories,” along with the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, is specially designed to detect X-ray emission from hot and energetic regions of the universe.
In this photograph, the five STS-93 astronauts pose for the traditional inflight crew portrait on Columbia’s middeck. In front are astronauts Eileen M. Collins, mission commander, and Michel Tognini, mission specialist representing France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Behind them are (from the left) astronauts Steven A. Hawley, mission specialist; Jeffrey S. Ashby, pilot; and Catherine G. (Cady) Coleman, mission specialist. In the background is a large poster depicting the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

President Barack Obama meets with Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, seated left, Buzz Aldrin, Carol Armstrong, widow of Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Patricia “Pat” Falcone, OSTP Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, far right, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, during the 45th anniversary week of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
By nasa.gov

NASA’s Orion spacecraft crew module has been stacked on the service module inside the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center — renamed on July 21, 2014 as the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building in honor of the legendary astronaut and first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
The Operations and Checkout Building was built in 1964. The facility has played a vital role in NASA’s spaceflight history. The high bay was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. The facility is being used today to process and assemble NASA’s Orion spacecraft as the agency prepares to embark on the next giant leap in space exploration, sending astronauts to an asteroid and Mars.
Photo Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA officials and Apollo astronauts tour the refurbished Operations and Checkout Building, newly named for Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon. Viewing the Orion crew module stacked on top of the service module from left, are Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. The building’s high bay is being used to support the agency’s new Orion spacecraft, which will lift off atop the Space Launch System. Orion is designed to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before, serving as the exploration vehicle that will carry astronauts to deep space and sustain the crew during travel to destinations such as an asteroid or Mars. The visit of the former astronauts was part of NASA’s 45th anniversary celebration of the moon landing. As the world watched, Neil Armstrong and Aldrin landed in the moon’s Sea of Tranquility aboard the lunar module Eagle on July 20, 1969. Meanwhile, crewmate Collins orbited above in the command module Columbia.
 Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
By nasa.gov

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, in a landing configuration was photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia. Inside the module were Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. The long rod-like protrusions under the landing pods are lunar surface sensing probes. Upon contact with the lunar surface, the probes sent a signal to the crew to shut down the descent engine.

Image Credit: NASA
 

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By nasa.gov

Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., wearing a Mercury pressure suit, is photographed at Cape Canaveral, Florida, during preflight training activities for the Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6) mission. Glenn made America’s first manned Earth-orbital spaceflight on Feb. 20, 1962. Launched from Cape Canaveral (Florida) Launch Complex 14, he completed a successful three-orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn’s “Friendship 7″ Mercury spacecraft landed approximately 800 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. Mission duration from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.
Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

From the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, flying some 225 nautical miles above the Caribbean Sea in the early morning hours of July 15, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman photographed this north-looking panorama that includes parts of Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida, and even runs into several other areas in the southeastern U.S. The long stretch of lights to the left of center frame gives the shape of Miami.
Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov