Here at Stubborn Mule we like to think that we’re pretty astute when it comes to understanding our customers, quickly identifying what ‘type’ of holiday, activities or destination would suit each family best or suggesting suitable activities even if a family is already set on a destination.
It’s taken years of experience, but we know that listening to you is even more important than waxing lyrical about a certain place or must-do. It’s how we know we’ve got it right before a family even departs, and definitely by the time they’ve returned (do keep those e-mails and photos coming, we love them!).
Over time, we’ve also identified some holiday ‘types’, too. Allow us to make some sweeping generalisations but, if you’re a people-watcher, you may already have met the following family holiday tribes, too.
Read our tongue-in-cheek guide to see which family holiday tribe are you?
The Attenborough All-Stars
No prizes for guessing that it’s wildlife that drives this family’s travel agenda. Inspired by every wildlife show going, from Attenborough’s Blue or Human Planet, to Steve Irwin as he hunts crocodiles – even Springwatch, the AAS’s are fascinated by the natural world. And what a world it is, both above water and below it.
Whilst the Galapagos Islands is probably the ‘ultimate wildlife experience’ (and kids get to say ‘boobies’ quite legitimately), our planet boasts a wealth of options. Safaris in Africa don’t just mean the Big 5, but can entail boat trips, bird sanctuaries and more, whilst in Peru and Brazil, you can enjoy the most biodiverse place on the planet, The Amazon. For entertaining kids, The Attenborough All-Stars know that wildlife is entertainment and education for the whole family, the recipe for a perfect family holiday.
Must do’s & sees:
– Seeing the Big 5 on an African Safari
– Going swimming with sea-lions in the Galapagos Islands
– Walking along the tree canopy in the Costa Rica rainforest
– Learning about Orangutan conservation in Borneo
– Diving with sharks in Belize.
Most likely to say: “No, you can’t take the toucan home.’
Must pack item: Binoculars
The Culture Vultures
Like walking, talking sponges, Culture Vultures make the most out of their expert guides, soaking up every bit of information as they wander around ancient temples such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia or making like Indiana Jones in Petra. If they could fit it in their backpack, then a clipboard would be the obvious accessory, something to lean on whilst making copious notes about the world’s most fascinating archaeological sites, religious artefacts and artisan art.
The camera is of course a must-have tool, not just for documenting and creating memories but for showing their friends (maybe a slide night?!) back home. Culture vultures really want to get under the skin of a country, so as well as touring museums and famous heritage sites, they’ll enjoy learning about the culture they’re travelling in, staying with local families in homestays or learning how to recreate local crafts and arts, batik in Bali, a cookery class in Sri Lanka. Does souvenir shopping count as culture? You bet your life if does!
Must do’s & sees:
– Clamber around Cambodia’s Angkor Wat
– Watch the sun rise at Machu Picchu
– Be wowed by Petra in Jordan
– Learn about Masai Culture in Kenya
– See the Terracotta Warriors in China.
Most likely to say: “Let’s set the alarm for 3am and watch this at sunrise”
Must pack item: An extra bag to bring back souvenirs
The Green Gallivants
“Take only photos, leave only footprints,” is the mantra of the Green Gallivants, a fast-growing tribe for whom it’s travelling responsibly or not travelling at all. Mindful of local customs, and dressing and acting accordingly (covering up arms whilst visiting Buddhist temples or leaving shoes at the door of homestays), trying to minimise our impact on the world around us extends for holidays, too.
For GG’s, sleeping in a local homestay is preferable to patronising a five star, big-brand hotel; buying artisan products direct from local sellers preferable to supermarket shopping, anything which promotes sustainability is a shoo-in. Staying in an Eco-Lodge in Vietnam, built by and employing local people? Yes please! Eating lunch wrapped in a banana leaf rather than a plastic plate? For sure! Green Gallivants can help show their children that there’s nearly always a ‘responsible option’, and hammer home that for us westerners, how lucky and fortunate we are.
Must do’s & sees:
– Set up camera traps to watch footage of animals in Gal Oya National Park, Sri Lanka
– Plant a tree in the Amazon rainforest
– Take an eco-train to the Iguazu Falls in Brazil
– Learn about recycling in Costa Rica.
Most likely to say: “Have we offset the long-haul flight, yet?”
Must-pack item: Refillable (non-plastic) water bottles
The Adrenaline Junkies
There’s a world out there that needs to be experienced to the max; not just places to be seen but experiences to be had, physical activities that can satiate both adventure seeking and endurance levels alike. For Adrenaline Junkies (AJ’s), the idea of lounging by the pool or lazing on the beach are an anathema – after all, you’re a long time dead.
Generally taken by families with older children and teens, parents of AJ’s may be that themselves or they realise that the kids need a more active type of entertainment to keep them engaged. It’s pretty hard to hold a mobile phone whilst clinging on to your paddle during a grade 5 rapid, or hold a phone conversation when you’re summiting the highest mountain in Borneo. For this holiday tribe, maybe enjoying experiences that challenge all members of the same family, add an element of competition that can be one of the most bonding things a family can do together, making memories that last a lifetime.
Most likely to say: “Aaaaaaaagggggghhhhhhh’
Most likely to pack: A puncture repair kit. Plasters
The Leisure Lovers
With the hectic pace of modern life, taxi duty, school runs, trying to remember the last time you all sat down for a meal together, it’s not surprising that ‘Leisure Lovers’ want nothing more than a chance to SLOW THE HECK DOWN and relax during their well-earned holiday.
Whilst this means spending some quality R&R time together unwinding, perhaps chilling by the pool or lazing in hammocks overlooking an azure, warm sea, Leisure Lovers don’t spend their entire holiday like that. Instead, after recharging the batteries, there’s time to explore and enjoy a whole host of fascinating experiences but at a pace which is enjoyable rather than whiplash inducing. A mooch around the markets of Cusco or Marrakech, sampling souvenirs and mingling with locals. A boat trip out to a private island in Belize, taking a slow boat down the Mekong, seeing life go by as it has for centuries. LL’s might take a bike out in the early morning in India or Vietnam, to watch city or country life from a local’s perspective, cycling the back lanes or venturing further afield to enjoy local village life.
Must do’s & sees:
– Thailand Southern Islands by the beach
– Laos ‘slow tourism’
– Float down the backwaters of Kerala in a converted rice barge
– Drink mint tea under canvas in Morocco
– Enjoy a traditional ‘cream bath’ / hair oil treatment in Bali … or maybe a spa with rose petals.
Most likely to say: “Can you just grab me another coconut cocktail?”
Must-pack item: Swimming costume and sarong
The Boomerang Backpackers
For BB’s, it’s all about sharing their love of the world, values and life lessons learnt experienced as a backpacker a couple of decades ago but now with kids of their own. Selfless? Not necessarily. For many BB’s, this is the first opportunity that, now the offspring can carry their own bags, to actually bring the kids along to experience something more exciting than a fortnight’s camping in France, or that villa holiday in Italy and wow, it feels SO EXCITING! Like a lost youth, recaptured!
Boomerang Backpackers are usually savvy enough to understand that taking the family on an adventurous holiday won’t be an exact re-run of their carefree days. There’ll probably be less beer, for a start, and your family won’t thank you for trying to sleep in hammocks by the beach for a fortnight, That being said, BB’s are amazed by just how family-friendly the world has become, even in those off-the-beaten-track destinations. For BB’s, it’s all about enjoying up-close and personal experiences with local people, hilltribe trekking through Laos, perhaps, rather than Thailand, or staying with locals in a homestay by Lake Titicaca, whilst enjoying the hotel pool in Cusco. About sampling street food from hawkers (fried locust, anyone?) whilst having the option to enjoy a hotel restaurant. And being surprised at how well your kids adapt. Maybe they’re a chip off the old block after all?
Must do’s & sees:
South East Asia is wallet-friendly for families and a well-established backpacker trail. Try Cambodia, Burma and Laos for that’ ‘Thailand twenty years ago’ experience or India, which never ceases to amaze.
Most likely to say: “Of course when I was younger…”
Must Pack item: Backpacks – for the whole family.
Did you recognise your family holiday tribe?
Maybe you’re a combination of several?
Or, have we missed out a holiday tribe completely?
If you’d like to know more about which of our family adventures would suit YOUR tribe, we’d love to hear from you! Alternatively, drop us a line and email via our online form.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
I’m always interested to hear about your travels so do email me with your experiences and feedback on your favourite type of family holiday.