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The holiday of your life

boy on plane

The fast pace of modern life can make it difficult to get away on a family holiday. In between the endless school runs, packed lunches and snooze buttons, however, a break away can be essential. While not just a chance to relax and re-fuel, family holidays also allow us to make memories that can stay with us for life.

And here at The AA we’re no different. We asked our team to get nostalgic and divulge on their favourite childhood holiday memories. 99s, mini-golf and mighty wave pools abound!

Arwen Foley, AA Roadwatch Editor


My other half is from Zambia and in 2003, I travelled there for the first time. Nobody can visit the wilds of Africa without taking a safari trip, so we travelled east from the capital Lusaka to the South Luangwa Valley. Tracking down game in Zambian wildlife parks involves both persistence and pure luck. We were told to alert the guide or driver whenever we saw an animal or something of interest.

On day 3 of our 4 day trip, I was delighted to have seen giraffes, elephants, buffalo, impala, warthogs, hyenas, crocodiles and from a distance a lone leopard. However, I’d yet to see a lion. That morning, we were woken as usual at 4am so that we could get out before the hot sun sent all the animals into the bush for shelter. After about an hour of driving around, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look, all words escaped me, I was completely mute. Coming out of the bush was a lioness with an impala in her mouth. I eventually managed to make some rather inaudible sound, which thankfully the guide understood to mean I’d seen something. It was fascinating; I was about 6 feet from a lioness who had caught her prey to feed her cubs.

That night when we went for our night drive, we decided to return to the same area. We were lucky enough to come across 5 lionesses who were teaching their cubs to hunt and had surrounded a small herd of impala in an open expanse. It was exciting and terrifying in equal measures.


Esther O’Moore Donohoe, AA Roadwatch


One summer, my mum took me and my brother for a weekend in Trobolgan Holiday Village, County Cork. We thought we had won the Lottery. There was mini-golf, a playground, bunk beds and a swimming pool. The pool was the best bit, complete with a waterslide and a wave machine. It blew our tiny minds.

My mother proudly told everyone within earshot of the pool, ‘She’s like a fish. Loves the water. Loves it.’ Her assessment of my eight-year-old abilities was a smidgeon too generous, though.

I remember being in the pool one day, splashing about when suddenly the hooter went off, letting us know the wave machine was about to start. I screamed at my little brother to ‘GET OUT NOW’. He was still relying on arm bands and wouldn’t be able for the might of the incredibly mild waves. Only I had the skill and talent to take on the wave maker - or so I thought. As I bobbed along enjoying myself, I delved too far into the deep end and large quantities of water were soon sloshing into my mouth. I started to panic but remembered that I was a human fish and so could swim my way out of any peril.

Unbeknownst to me, my mum could see I was in difficulty (read: drowning) and had alerted a swimmer nearby to get me out. Suddenly, a woman began shepherding me into the shallow end of the pool by the waist. In my head, though, I had it under control and kept swimming furiously, splashing and kicking her in the face. I tried to style it out and pretend like I wasn’t bothered when I got out but my legs had turned to jelly. Next time the hooter sounded I didn’t stick around. I wasn’t scared you understand, I just had to help my little brother.


Ruth Jephson, AA Roadwatch


I spent my childhood summers on a cliff on the coast of the Sunny South East with all my first and second cousins on my Dad’s side. It’s my good fortune that my paternal great grandfather bought a plot of land on a cliff in Dunmore East 80 years ago, which his children and the generations to follow have enjoyed ever since. I have cherished memories of long, blissful Augusts spent swimming, looking for crabs in rock pools, fishing for mackerel, body-boarding, playing capture the flag and tip the can, having BBQs and singing American Pie around a bonfire. There were no TVs in any of the houses so if it rained that month we had Monolopy marathons and all the card games we could think of. We didn’t even have landlines let alone mobile phones or computers! I’m so lucky that I was able to spend so much time with my extended family; as I got older I discovered that not everyone knew their second cousins as well as I did.


Nicole Gernon, AA Roadwatch  


My cousins emigrated to Canada when I was three-years-old and as such, I spent a good portion of my childhood telling people that I had no cousins. In an attempt to convince me that this wasn’t true, my parents brought me to Canada when I was 11. It was the first time I had been on a long-haul flight and was delighted to discover that I could both eat dinner and watch films. As if that wasn’t enough, I was sitting on my own beside a real musician who patiently listened to all my chatter and answered my endless questions.

When I arrived in Toronto I quickly realised why my cousins never came back to Ireland. We had Tim Horton’s doughnuts for breakfast every day, they had a pool in their back garden and there was a theme park down the road. We were soaked at Niagara, got vertigo at the CN Tower and ate ice-cream until we were sick. Of course, I refused to leave. I was only persuaded when my parents convinced me that my cousins were on holiday too and that this wasn’t real Canadian life. I think my cousins must be on a permanent holiday because nothing has changed in the past 15 years!


Noel Byrne, AA Roadwatch


While not that exotic of a holiday, I recall going to Dublin for a week with my mother and brother when I was around 7 years old and staying with my sister who worked in the city. The reason this holiday stands out is for the two important life lesson I learned.

It was a very sunny morning in Dublin and 7 year old me was adamant that I was wearing my newly purchased t-shirt and shorts combo for our first day out around Dublin. This proved to be the right choice of outfit as it was a glorious day. As our day out drew to a close, it was suggested that we go to an ice rink before heading home. I distinctly remember people looking at me, clearly thinking “Why is that kid wearing shorts and a t-shirt while ice-skating?”. In addition to the fact that I was freezing cold, I was also terrible at skating. Lesson number one learned.

On a separate occasion during this trip, we found ourselves on a double decker bus, something I had seen on TV but not really that often around Mayo. Being a rather chatty child, I wouldn’t stop talking about all I could see from the top deck and found the whole experience of being up so high quite amazing. That was, of course, until I was told by an unnamed family member that if I talked to loudly the bus would fall over. I was that gullible. I remained quiet for the remainder of my time on that bus, apart from telling my family to quieten down in case the bus toppled. Quite clever really and lesson number two learned.


We know that everyone wants to have a stress-free holiday, like the ones you had when you were a kid. That's why with AA Travel Insurance you can concentrate on having the best time.

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