Jet-setting childhood expectations: are parents setting their kids up for disappointment?

I was at the airport a few weeks ago and got to see hoards of school kids jetting off for their Easter holidays. Some were with full school club regalia. What happened to uncomfortable coach trips to local educational history parks? Nowadays school trips tend to be to anywhere. I saw one school group with matching hoodies going on a water polo trip to Norway, a Danish school trip to play hockey in Scotland and of course, lots of ski trips from the UK to the Alps.

Come on kids – it’s not like there’s skiing in Scotland?

You might think that this is all sour grapes and you’d be right!

GFF never got on a plane as part of a school trip and the furthest I went was Birmingham and that was a bloody nightmare with Coolio’s “C U When U Get There” played ad nauseum on the long drive back to the ferry. I thought we’d never get there!

Growing up we did go on a few foreign holidays – the best being by long car journey to not even the South of France. But it was not until I was older that I got a travel myself and I really appreciated having waited. I love to travel as seems to be a feature of the FI community. It’s in general very expensive (except for some) and it falls between the discretionary and essential spending categories in our family budget.

But for school groups to just jet-off to fancy places; I think that if you expose your kids to extravagant travel that you spoil them for later on in life. The main reasons for it not being great are (in no particular order):

  1. The children haven’t earned that trip, it’s their parents paying for it.
  2. They must cost a fortune for the poor parents
  3. The actually poor kids with poorer parents/schools can’t afford it and it sets about a sense of exclusivity
  4. When these kids leave the education system they’ll be up to their eyeballs in debt. Then they’ll have a taste for travel but not the budget.
  5. Whilst being fun for the kids, you don’t really need to go to a South of Spain tennis camp when all of the tennis courts I ever see are empty 80% of the time.
  6. The trip is not as educational or as culturally enriching as they let on – I sometimes see school groups on holiday in Edinburgh and London and they stick to their own in massive congestive groups
  7. If the holiday is during school time, their education is impaired
  8. It sets an ever ratcheting up bar of what’s considered a good school trip and sets unrealistic expectations (possibly for life)
  9. The CO2 impact of the air travel is high

Sadly, my concerns are not likely to be shared by many and the trend will get worse. I’ve heard young university graduates saying that a gap year with time spent building houses or digging wells in Africa or orphanages in Thailand or somewhere else where you can be a white saviour is de rigueur to achieving the full well-rounded, culturally sensitive experience that is needed to secure top graduate positions. You could just stay in the UK, donate your flight ticket and travel costs to charity and wipe bums in an old-folks home – but let’s face it, that sounds a lot less fun.

Call me cynical, but I do have a point.

From the point of view of a parent with two kids who may be pestering me in the future to go on the school ski trip to Austria – I don’t know what I’ll do in the same position. On the one hand, if you have kids you want to do whatever it takes to make them happy. That’s an instinct. But as a tight-wad I don’t want to spend too much money doing it. The only solution that I can think of is that they go on the ski trip or week in Paris or Rome and I’m one of the freeloading parents that come along too – so long as it’s for free (including ski pass).

Hey – if the kids are having fun, I might as well get in on the action.


What I learnt from my Dad’s early retirement (aged 60) Part 1

For many, FIRE is a bit of a strange concept- a theoretical crossing of one line (passive income) and another (living expenses) and then you just “retire early” – well, I have a case study to follow and that is my Dad’s.

See part 2 and part 3: Continue reading “What I learnt from my Dad’s early retirement (aged 60) Part 1”

6 Family Friendly tax reduction ideas

Having a family can be a struggle – it means changes to all aspects of your life, and if you are like me then you realise that you just don’t have enough time to get everything done.

When it comes to family finances, it’s no different.

But with a little fore thought and planning you can make big gains.  Here are 6 family friendly ideas that combined can save you thousands in tax. Continue reading “6 Family Friendly tax reduction ideas”