The term ‘family holiday’ is dizzyingly broad. It does not take into account ages, numbers, interests or needs. All it really gives you is a timings framework, and for a long-haul big bells and whistles trip, it is likely you will be looking to go in summer, with its long stretch of possibilities. Christmas and Easter, are of course options, but they can prove problematic with extended family obligations and pesky exam prep respectively.
Once the date is decided, it is time to turn to the even more crucial question of where? Below we have mapped out some of our favourite destinations for family trips, tailored to the ages of your children. Because if you are investing time and money on a great trip, it must be just right. These incredible destinations have been chosen to inspire and nurture your children’s interests, acting as an informal education as well as a holiday.
For children (8 -12)
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Spark a child’s lifelong interest in wildlife and conservation with a trip to the Galápagos islands – quite simply the best place in the world for interacting with wildlife, which is totally tame and unafraid of humans. Nothing can quite prepare your children for the thrill of sea lions and penguins swimming up to play with them. At the moment our favourite boat for children is the Origin, which has fun, family-friendly guides and great water toys like kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Alternatively for those who prefer to be on land, the Galápagos Safari Camp – an African style tented camp up in the highlands of the central island, Santa Cruz – offers a host of activities, such as kayaking and surfing, as well as day trips exploring the nearby uninhabited islands.
With British Airways recently launching a direct flight to Costa Rica, it has never been easier to whisk your young brood away to Central America. While there, your children can enjoy the beautiful beaches, exotic rainforest as well as the rich wildlife- think giant sea turtles and tree-climbing iguanas. One of our top places to stay is the secluded Pacuare Lodge, which you can reach by rafting down the river straight into the hotel (though there are some age restrictions with this and the hotel can also be accessed by land). Here you’ll find panoramic views of the jungle, hammocks everywhere and ‘gasp’ no electricity. And without the brain-numbing iPad, the magic of the place will be fully felt.
For young teenagers (13-15)
As your children grow closer to adulthood, you may want to expose them to different cultures, to give them a deeper understanding of the world that they live in. The colours, smells and staggering architecture of Rajasthan could be the perfect way to open their minds and to lift famous attractions such as the Taj Mahal, out of the history books and into plain sight.
Something extra-special for teens is an evening at Dera Amer, a private estate owned by a local Rajput family, just outside of the hustle and bustle of Jaipur, where you can help wash the elephants that live there during their bathing time.
For temperamental teens Sri Lanka is a great option. They might get restless on a pure beach holiday, or have temple fatigue after a week of exploring the Cultural Triangle, but if you blend these elements together, you have a trip where they are active and learning, but also have the chance to chill out – something which should not be overlooked at this crucial stage of development. For an unforgettable way to see Sri Lanka’s sights, we can arrange for a helicopter to explore the Cultural Triangle, avoiding the long drives, and potentially the complaining kids…
For older teenagers (15-18)
By this age your children will have acquired passions and interests of their very own. Perhaps they have a love of cooking, in which case a food pilgrimage to Vietnam could be the perfect holiday to develop their knowledge and interests. Start by exploring the sea of food stalls in bustling Hanoi with one of our local guides, where entire streets are dedicated to one dish, and the competition to be the best is fierce. Then journey down to the pretty town of Hoi An, which is home to the country’s finest restaurants where we can arrange a private cookery course with one of our favourite chefs.
If your son or daughter is keen on action and adventure sports, Peru is the perfect holiday destination. Whether they want to go white-water rafting down the rapids near Cuzco, bike through the heart of the Sacred Valley, or trek up to lesser-travelled paths to the ever-inspiring Machu Picchu, Peru’s epic landscape provides a brilliant backdrop for any outdoor activities and we know the most experienced guides.. And if you don’t want to join in all of the adrenaline-pumping action, there is always the wealth of Inca history and Peruvian culture to keep you occupied…