Wednesday 26 June 2019

The New Nostalgia: How childhood memories drive our adult holidays

One study found 80pc of respondents revisited holiday locations "for sentimental reasons"...

Salthill, Galway. Photo: Getty
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Our readers love trying new places. But nostalgia plays a key role in your holidays too - especially in recreating old adventures with new generations.

That's a key takeaway from our Reader Travel Awards 2019, where the term "childhood" cropped up again and again in your comments.

It featured from forest parks "full to the brim" with memories, to walks, lakes and beaches that evoke past days out, or museums - like Dublin's 'Dead Zoo' - that feel like personal time machines.

"It's fun for all ages, and free!" one reader said of the Natural History Museum. "I have the best childhood memories here, and now take my young nephews along who adore it."

Recollections of childhood holidays formed a key part of readers' comments in naming Kerry as Ireland's Favourite Home Holiday destination for 2019.

You mentioned how getting into nature helps you "relive childhood wonder", how you bring visitors to favourite family sites, and how landscapes spark memories as the seasons change.

The Dead Zoo - Dublin's Natural History Museum
The Dead Zoo - Dublin's Natural History Museum

But it wasn't just Kerry.

"I always feel reinvigorated and grounded when I visit Salthill," one reader told us. "This is where a part of my soul lives and soars when I step foot on the promenade."

"We have great childhood memories of bringing guests to Blarney Castle," you told us. "A tradition I still keep now."

While "Nostalgia Tourism" is not a new term - and echoes high street trends like the rebirth of retro diners and "old" sweet shops crammed with glass jars, or cultural phenomena like re-forming bands or skip-gen sequels like T2 Trainspotting - it does appear to be growing more pervasive. 

Last summer, a study by vacation rental site HomeAway, for instance, found 80pc of its Australian customers revisited holiday locations "for sentimental reasons".

One in two respondents to the survey had gone back to a holiday location "in an attempt to recreate past memories", it said. 40pc had been taken on a "nostalgia trip" by a parent, partner or friend.

Salthill, Galway. Photo: Getty
Salthill, Galway. Photo: Getty

Nor is it just about attractions and days out. Road trips and camping holidays regularly carry undercurrents of nostalgia, and multi-generational trips - where grandparents, parents and children take breaks together - are on the rise.

Warm, emotional associations with airlines and services also create loyal customers into the future, our Reader Travel Awards judges noted.

"I have fond childhood memories of visiting my grandparents in London," as one reader put it. "The Aer Lingus air hostesses giving us sweets, smiles, and letting my brother up to the cockpit to meet the pilot!"

In a world of disposability and distractedness, personal connections seem more meaningful than ever.

NB: The Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2019 are sponsored by Iarnród Eireann. Read the full list of winners here.

Read more:

Multi-generational Magic: 'This is why I LOVE going on holiday with my family' 

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