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Family holidays: A time to relax or a time to stress?

Money, childcare, health, work…all things that are important to us, but at the same time cause us a lot of stress. And it’s not just us parents who seem to be permanently stressed out - it seems a large percentage of the UK population are too.

With mental and physical wellbeing high on the current agenda, it’s important we take time to relax and rejuvenate - and what better way than with a perfect holiday!

Holidays are a time to switch off, spend time with the family and sample the culture, food and lifestyle of an area that is not your norm. But do us Brits ever really switch off from our day-to-day lives completely, or do we still take habits and routines with us to the airport and even the beach? Tots to Travel decided to investigate…

Settling into the holiday

When it comes to easing ourselves into our holiday and starting to feel relaxed, we found that the average British holiday maker takes 46 hours and 42 minutes to settle in completely. Given that the average holiday duration is only seven days, this is already a big chunk of holiday time wasted, feeling anxious and uneasy.

While you would think that a large percentage of these unsettled people would be parents, stressing about travelling with kids and getting them used to their new surroundings, surprisingly parents actually take 3 hours and 18 minutes less to feel relaxed than those without children!

Parents feel relaxed on holiday 3 hours and 18 minuntes EARLIER than non-parents

Breaking the habit

Once we are acclimatised fully into the holiday way of life, you would think that all memories and habits from our normal lives would be forgotten. But, think again. A large percentage of Brits prefer to stick to parts of their usual routine, especially when it comes to tv shows, exercise and work emails.

55% of British holidaymakers continue to watch their favourite TV shows while on holiday – obviously unable to take a break from their weekly fix of Game of Thrones or Love Island. Women are the worst culprits when it comes to this, with 61% admitting to catching the latest episodes, wherever they might be in the world.

Over half of British holiday makers (55%) continue to watch their favorite TV shows while on holiday

It’s quite reassuring to hear that as a nation, we take our health and fitness seriously, even when we are supposed to be relaxing. Over a third of men (34%) keep up with their regular fitness routine while on holiday and parents are especially keen to keep active, with 41% sticking to their exercise plans in between BBQs and playing with kids in the pool.

Screen time

Although we are supposed to be switching off from work-related issues and allowing our bodies and minds to rest for a short period of time, it seems this is another thing that we find tough to cut out.

21% of Brits will continue to read their work emails while on holiday

21% of Brits continue to read their work emails on holiday, even when by the pool. Women seem to be the worst culprits here with 29% logging into email accounts at regular intervals. There is, however, quite a big divide when it comes to parents continuing to work while on holiday. Only 11% of people with children say that they would check their work emails when away – obviously making the most of their time with the family and forgetting their busy lives back home.

It’s not just email time that cuts into our holidays. General screen-time spent scrolling iPhones and tablets abroad doesn’t cease either. Over a third of Brits (34%) don’t cut down at all from their usual device usage, with 12% of this total even increasing their time spent on social media or other apps.

Thankfully kids are much more likely to stay clear of screens while enjoying their holiday, with 78% of parents stating that their children reduce their screen time dramatically, naturally replacing their favourite show with oodles of swimming, sandcastle-building and exploring new areas.

Taking care of the kids

From changing nappies to preparing meals or taking tots to the loo during mealtimes, there are still many duties for parents to fulfil, even when away. Even though we are on holiday, we want to ensure our kids’ safety is taken care of. Regardless of the usual childcare rota at home, you would think that the shared responsibility would even itself out to a 50/50 split on holiday, wouldn’t you?

Over a third of parents feel they do more than their partner when it comes to looking after the kids on holiday

Unfortunately, over a third of parents feel that they personally take on the bulk of the responsibility when it comes to looking after the kids on holiday. And, its women who are more likely to feel this way, with 38% admitting they take on more of the chores and playtime, versus only 25% of men. It’s not for lack of alternative arrangements either, as although kids’ clubs and babysitting options are regularly offered at most hotels, only 2% of parents make the most of these facilities.

Overall, it seems that as much as we look forward to holidays and time away from our regular routines, when it actually comes down to it, we find it very hard to switch off and leave our home comforts at home. From checking emails to watching our favourite shows and spending hours in the gym, we are too set into our own habits to break them, even for a week.

If you have a holiday planned this year and want to fully maximise the benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing, then make a conscious effort to offload some responsibilities with other people on your trip in terms of childcare, tell your colleagues not to email you while away and pre-record your favourite shows to watch when you return – hopefully all chilled and relaxed!