We all yearn to travel, to live richer experiences, to broaden our horizons, to learn more about ourselves and the world around us, and more often than not, to escape the various forms of pressure that we deal with on a daily basis. To a lot of teenagers and youth, this sadly includes their families, making traveling alone with their friends the ultimate getaway – from everything.
It’s no wonder that when I tell people I’m travelling with my family, I am usually met with looks of pity. But the truth is, our deeply rooted tradition of travelling together as a family has not only brought us closer to one another, but also helped us see each other in a different light – one where we are not just family members, but a tight-knit group of accepting and understanding friends.
For as far back as I can remember, come spring, we packed our bags and followed the beach wherever that was. Sometimes it was Sinai, the North Coast, or even the great south of Egypt. We used to roam Egypt free-spiritedly, unbound by anything, and only driven by our curiosity to explore new places, until we bought a vacation house in Ras Sudr.
For years, we spent our summers there, where the light breeze tickled our cheeks as we lost ourselves into the deep arms of the alluring Red Sea, watching the sun set into the heart of the sea. It wasn’t just a beach house where we spent some time; it was a chance to savour some family quality time far from the distractions of work or school. We needn’t force any conversations. We were always there together, willingly, lovingly, as one family just trying to relax, and have a good time.
Despite how special it was to all of us, we soon realised that owning a beach house had turned it into a default travel destination, numbing our original zeal to explore new places, and opting for different experiences together as a family. We sold the property with the intention of being freer and lighter. But little did we know that what lay ahead of us wasn’t exactly further exploration, but rather a place that would enchant us all, pulling us back to it one vacation after the other.
The next trip didn’t take us much farther away from Ras Sudr, to South Sinai’s laid back Dahab. Given their proximity, I expected they would be to a great extent similar, but Dahab proved me wrong on every possible level. And the best part was that the day we set foot there, we all knew at heart that it was the place for us. Since then, we’ve never travelled anywhere else.
This is our sixth visit to Dahab in four years, and I guess the reason we keep coming back is that it’s the only place we can be together alone, which I’m certain we all deeply valued. In a way, every time we go to Sinai, we breathe in the energy from the surrounding mountains and open sea, and then exhale it back in the form of positive, loving, and understanding energy – understanding of our differences, and respecting them; understanding that moments like these are invaluable, and that they breathe life and colour into our family, even long after our vacations are over.
A lot of people my age - those in their early twenties - would think that travelling to South Sinai with my family is an unspeakable buzz-killer for such a trending travel destination that is especially popular among the younger generations. But in its diversity, Dahab offered each one of us something that genuinely appealed to us – a reason we could call Dahab home.
Unlike other places that we’ve been to around Egypt, I watch my family equally enjoying their time; while my father picks up his iPad and loses himself into reading, my brother exhausts his day windsurfing, as I work on my thesis, and my mother sits back listening to her music, and absorbing the beauty of the city.
When I look back on the trips we took together around Egypt, I see a rich childhood, might I even say a cool one; a luxury that I missed greatly during my study years abroad.
As we venture into our twenties with all of its confusion and overwhelming demands, we tend to spend less and less time with our families, until our bonds turn into a blur. Some of us travel to study; others get married, or simply move on with their lives beyond the space that they shared with their parents and siblings. But with just a little openness, we can always find middle grounds where we all reunite, and be more of ourselves around each other.
A successful trip is often more about the
company than the destination, but what always makes our family trips a success
is that, together, we find places that enrich us all in our own way. In our
flexibility and mobility, we found ourselves as individuals and as a family.