Why holidays are worth a million toys

Spending money on experience rather than 'stuff' is a great choice.
Spending money on experience rather than 'stuff' is a great choice. Photo: Getty Images

My son's room is overflowing with toys.  There are boxes of Lego, cars that no longer fit into their containers, and mountains upon mountains of crappy plastic pieces. Quite frankly, it's a graveyard for toys.  

Some of the toys have been played with once or twice, and there are others that I don't think have hardly seen the light of day.

The novelty of most of them has been lost amidst the want for the next 'must have' or, more likely, the latest app download on the iPad.

So when I read a recent article in the UK Telegraph citing Oliver James, Britain's best-selling psychological author, I had to agree.

James made the point that, rather than wasting money on toys, parents should be spending money on holidays.  

"The whole business of providing material commodities for kids - in ever more expensive forms as they get older - is entirely, 100 per cent, about propping up the industry that profits from it," he told the Telegraph.

"On the other hand, family holidays are definitely valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterwards in their memory. So if you're going to spend money on something, it's pretty clear which option makes more sense."

And it definitely makes sense to me. 

I dread to think of the monies worth of toys that are gathering dust in my son's room. I would estimate it to be hundreds of dollars – if not more. Yet, my son doesn't even know what he's got.  He doesn't even remember.

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Conversely, ask him about our family holiday to Thailand two years ago, and he remembers every single thing.  

He remembers the water slides, the beach, the time when Daddy farted in the shower and even the name of the stray cat that took a liking to him. 

Show him pictures and he can remember which pool out of the three animal themed ones he is swimming in, and show him the icecream bar and he can still tell you his favourite concoction.

Rather than putting distance between us, like modern 'games' and technology do at home, holidays enforce us to be together as a unit. 

We are in a situation whereby we're all in a new and exciting environment and, as a result, we laugh more, spend quality time together and reunite our bond.

"Holidays remove us, physically, from our highly pressured everyday lives where everyone's focused on meeting targets. They are times when everyone can relax and be playful together," James said.

As an adult with a passion for travel, I know how enjoyable, fulfilling and memorable holidays can be.  In fact, I often book the next break on return from the last.  And it makes sense that children should feel the same.

My son will regularly ask when we're going away.  His memories of our holiday are so ingrained, that he can't wait to do it again.  Unlike his discarded toys, his attachment to his memories is strong.

Over the past couple of years I've held back on buying him more toys.  I don't mind the odd treat, and will obviously splash out on Christmas and birthdays.  But, for the most part, I believe the money we save can be put to better use. 

To me, creating memories, spending time together and investing in our relationship is much more important. In an ironic way, it may cost more to travel but the return on your investment is priceless.