Family friendly holidays
With the summer holiday season in full swing and October breaks on the horizon, how do you find a trip that the whole family will enjoy?
If you chose the right ship and right itinerary, a cruise can be a great choice. Not only do you get a range of new places to visit most days, but older kids can explore the ship by themselves, while there are often all-day activity clubs for their younger siblings. These days, ships come with everything from water slides to climbing walls, laser tag and surfing simulators, so there’s no shortage of things to do.
Another plus is that once you’ve paid for your cabin, the food and on-board entertainment is free, so it can be surprisingly cost-effective, especially if you bag a last-minute bargain. Most departures are from Southampton, or you can pick up one of the US based-lines out of Miami, if you don’t mind the airport hassles.
If you want something action packed, the obvious choice is a multi-activity setting like Center Parcs. There are five locations in the UK, but, even if you factor in a ferry crossing, it can be less expensive to head to the Netherlands to one of the nine parks there. De Kempervennen, for example, is under a hundred miles from Rotterdam and you can even stay on a houseboat. They offer a huge range of water sports, from paddle boarding to water skiing, as well as a snow centre, nature walks, zip wires and cycling. You can even take a PADI diving course or disappear for a spa day while the kids try something new.
Fancy something more laid back? How about a beachside villa on a Greek Island? The islands tend to be family friendly, and promise sunny days, good food and lots to do. You can opt for an all-inclusive package at one of the many resorts, or choose something slower-paced by booking a villa and self-catering or eating out.
Crete, the largest of the Greek islands combines archaeological ruins with shallow-water beaches and a mix of towns and villages for visits. Corfu is a good choice if you want to get back to nature, with lots of forested areas and mountains, as well as safe beaches. If you fancy island hopping, Santorini makes a good base, with lots of day trips to nearby islands possible. It also offers Instagram-worthy locations for your teenagers and some excellent spas that make the most of the island’s hot springs and mud baths.
If you have teenagers, then Eurorail offers the chance to explore major cities and off the beaten track. Eurail.com/en has a choice of single country or multi-country passes of different durations, so you could wander through French markets and wine country with a pass starting at €67, or potter round Portugal from €80. The only drawback is the UK rail travel isn’t included, but you could always grab a cheap flight to your starting point.
Rather stay a little closer to home? Well, there’s the option of renting a campervan and exploring the North Coast 500, but petrol prices may make that a frightening prospect. Glamping or a cottage on the West Coast also have their attractions, provided you’re not considered a delicacy by the local midges. How about a treehouse stay near Dunblane (craigheadhowf.co.uk), or a stay in a converted Sea King helicopter near Stirling (helicopterglamping.com)? There are plenty of off-grid options as well as sites where you can take your dog on holiday too, so you’re bound to find the perfect getaway this summer.