The best family activity holidays – in sun and snow
What makes a memorable holiday? When I asked this question over on my Facebook page, it was the experiences people that remembered more than the destinations themselves (mostly memorable for a good reason!)
When I think of our recent trips, it’s the same – watching turtles on a beach, climbing gigantic sand dunes and spotting dolphins. Riding an open air train and watching bats swarm from a cave at dusk.
But while there’s normally plenty of choice for accommodation and flights, when you’re planning family travel, it’s not always as easy to work out which family activities will make for the best holiday.
You could spend days scouring the internet looking at almost identical family activity companies or flicking through leaflets at the local tourist office on day one of your trip – but we’ve all got more fun ways to spend our days. Besides, who wants to risk discovering the fantastic activity you’d all have loved to do after you get back home?
So if you’re hunting for the best family activity holidays, I love the idea of Activities Abroad – not just for its shelf of awards, its focus on safety, local knowledge and fair trade partnerships, but also for the details such as being able to find out whether there will be children of a similar age or the same gender as yours on a trip.
Plus the range of activities, of course, with options for both summer and winter, ideas for short-haul and long-haul, and different levels of activity and adventure. Even better, the dates are in school holidays so no authorised absence paperwork (or unexpected price jumps) to contend with.
The best family activity holidays for summer
Tempting though it is to head to the Galapagos for snorkelling, volcano trekking and giant tortoise spotting, I think that’s one best kept until my daughter is older. But if that trip, Borneo and Costa Rica might be postponed a little longer, I’m already struggling to decide what tops my current fantasy summer wishlist.
There’s the chance to design your own perfect family activity holiday in Austria, with points to put towards the activities you prefer and the option to make it self-drive, for even more flexibility.
Or discovering a cheetah care sanctuary as well as other animal experiences in South Africa, plus a taste of the country’s history and culture in Cape Town and Durban.
My winner for now is a trip designed for younger kids, to the beautiful Elaphiti Islands in Croatia, which is aimed at four to eight-year-olds (as with most trips, younger kids are welcome but won’t necessarily be able to joinin with all the activities).
Who doesn’t fancy sea kayaking and water games, an island treasure hunt and the chance to explore Dubrovnik – not to mention sun, sparkling turquoise water and sleepy Croatian villages to wander, ice cream in hand?
I can feel myself relaxing already…
The best family activity holidays for winter
Despite my well known beach habit, a trip to a snowy winter wonderland is high on my wishlist for this year – from husky sledding to those elusive Northern Lights (which I am determined won’t elude me for ever).
Compared to many of the summer activities, these trips are even better for younger ones with most suitable for four years up.
After a magical trip to Finnish Lapland before my daughter was born, the chance to head back to Saariselka and stay in a glass igloo with her would be a dream holiday.
Or it could be time for me to explore a new piece of Scandinavia, with a visit to Norway and the Arctic aquarium of Polaria in Tromsø as well as whale watching, more Northern Lights hunting, a reindeer sleigh ride and visit to a husky centre.
Add the chance to see more Arctic animals to a snowy escape and I know she would all but explode with glee.
There are trips to Ranua wildlife park, not far from Rovaniemi in Finland – home to polar bears, as well as 50 other species from snowy owls to moose and lynx, there’s also a husky safari into the countryside. Or if you want to visit over December 25, a snowmobile tour to find a Christmas tree and the chance to meet Father Christmas.
Not just memorable – but the sort of memories that the best family holidays are made of.
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Disclosure: compiled in association with Activities Abroad*LIKED THIS? GET MORE ON FACEBOOK