(This post contains affiliate links) Traveling as a family can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, and can be one of the most memorable moments of your child’s life. Depending on where you choose to go, you may be able to expose your child to exciting new cultures and interesting foreign tastes. You and your family may even pick up a few phrases in a new language… it really is exciting stuff!
But travel is often expensive, and difficult to plan, especially when you’re trying to do it as a family. You need to find that elusive ‘magical overlap’, where affordable travel and school holidays coincide. And then you need to hope that nobody gets sick – or at least not sick enough to have to call the whole trip off… It really is a whole production!
But don’t get me wrong, let me not scare you off… with a little bit of planning, and the right choice of destination, you CAN create great memories! Here are my top tips for choosing your next family vacation destination.
1. The Weather – Choose somewhere with temperatures that you know your family can handle. Make sure you find out about the forecasted weather for the period of a potential holiday before you make your final decision. Do you and your children burn really easily? Maybe super sunny Spain in the middle of Summer is not the best destination for your family. Does somebody have really bad allergies? Remember that windy seasons in certain areas can stir up extra dust and pollen and create a very uncomfortable situation.
2. Viability of the journey – Don’t choose somewhere that’s going to require a journey that’s going to put an unfair amount of pressure on the little ones to behave (unless of course they’re big enough), like a fifteen hour flight, unless you’re sure that you and your children are going to be getting so much out of the holiday that the tears, fighting, hair-pulling and other general stress is going to be worth it. Because there IS going to be a lot of that. I know. We’ve done the South Africa – Australia flights (14 h 55), and Kayla wasn’t even that young. I promise you, it was NOT FUN… In the end,if your destination is worth it, i ‘spose a little bit of a rough journey is okay, right?
3. How much do you want to ‘immerse’ your family in the culture – With respect to language, food, society etc. The spicy foods of countries such as India and Pakistan may be extremely interesting and exciting for a group of us adults to try, but you might have a hard time finding a constant source of food items that your child will find familiar and be comfortable trying. Read up on any potential locations before you make your final decision.
4. Type of accommodation – Do you want to stay in a self-catering apartment, an all-inclusive resort, do a bit of family camping or stay in a traditional hotel? Each of these options have their own advantages and disadvantages, and by taking a few minutes to think about what your family’s main requirements are going to be, you can make an informed decision on which type of accommodation would suit your holiday needs best. If the point of your visit is to go and see family that stay abroad, chances are that you’ll only need the accommodation as a place to lay your heads at night. Forking out thousands of dollars for an all-inclusive resort would probably be a waste.
5. Which services will you be requiring – Decide if you are going to need to be in a location with access to a supermarket, a pharmacy/drug-store, etc and decide on which services you can not live without at your place of accommodation as well. Wifi, baby-sitting and restaurant services are offered at a lot of places in bigger cities, but you may be caught off guard if you head into a smaller town expecting these services without asking first.
So…now that you know what to keep in mind, i bet you’re rearing to jump onto another site and start looking for your next holiday destination, right? Well, let me make it a little easier for you… here are my top 5 picks for family holidays 2016/2017! Happy holiday hunting!
5. Jungle Safari – Costa Rica (great for families with school age children, looking for adventure!)
Costa Rica often tops the worlds lists of the happiest countries, so it’s a great place to travel with children. The people are extremely friendly, and travel is easy. Costa Rica crams a rich variety of wildlife adventures into a relatively small geographical location while still promising something for everyone. Parents can watch the canopy for sloths, monkeys and macaws,while children rummage at ground level for poison-arrow frogs other magical mini monsters (Don’t worry Mom, guards will make sure everyone stays safe). Zip-lining and river-rafting are plentiful for any adrenaline-loving family members – if your muscles tense up from the shock, you can always soak in the gently bubbling hot springs of the volcanic slopes.
Best times to go : Dry season, from December to April
4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Orlando (great for families with kids looking for the Disney experience, but ‘a little quieter’)
Animal Kingdom Lodge is located in a quiet corner of Walt Disney World, so, even though it’s nice and close to all the crazy Walt Disney fun, it feels isolated enough to allow for the creation of some magical family moments. Guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge can participate in a Sunrise Safari, and can enjoy Disney’s Extra Magic Hour perk, allowing them to enjoy a specific theme park an hour before park opening or three hours after regular closing. There are all the regular modern comforts, such as WiFi and spa and gym facilities, with a few more traditional extras thrown in, like storytelling around the camp fire at night-time.
Disney World Month by Month
January – Travel early in the month to enjoy holiday decorations before they come down.
February – Romance is in the air during the month of February.
March – Celebrate Spring at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival beginning this month.
April – If you’re coming in April follow these spring break survival tips ! Disney World will be packed!
May – Spring break crowds may be gone, but Florida’s summer heat has arrived.
June – Spring break crowds may be gone, but Florida’s summer heat has arrived.
July – One way to beat the Florida heat is to make use of all the great Disney World water parks, but be sure to lather up – sunscreen is a must!
August – Mid-month or later may be your best bet during August.
September – Get a sneak peek at fall decorations and Halloween fun this month.
October – Special events at Epcot and Magic Kingdom highlight October.
November – Thanksgiving and holiday decorations bring crowds at the end of the month.
December – Visit early in the month to enjoy holiday decorations without the crowds or come closer to Christmas for the real magic if you dare!
3. Kingfisher Bay Resort – Gold Coast Australia (great for families that love water adventures)
Kingfisher Bay Resort is located on the World-Heritage listed Frasier Island, and is the perfect place for an Eco-friendly family holiday. Explore the island on your own in one of the islands many 4WD, or take a walking tour with one of the resort’s expert guides. Marine cruises, boating excursions, and family fishing can be arraigned for those that want to explore the water, or there are plenty of hiking and off-road activities as an alternative. There is a kids club for the little ones, so parents can go off and explore on their own too, and with beautiful sunset guided tours, i’m sure you’re going to want to 😉 Kids can also have fun and learn about the environment with the Junior Eco Rangers programme available on the weekends and school holidays. The programme is designed to show children how to care for the environment in a fun way and involves open exploration and play in the natural environment and scientific investigation of the natural environments.
How to get there: Virgin Australia operates direct jet services daily from Sydney, with other major city connections. QantasLink also operates daily from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast.
2. Ultimate Family City Break – Rome (perfect for the urban explorers looking for a little bit of European magic)
This historic city has so much to offer the traveling family! Wonderful historic site-seeing (trips to the Vatican and the Colosseum can be arraigned through tour guides) , great shopping, delicious local cuisine and friendly locals. Everybody loves babies in Rome, so you wont have to worry if your little one starts crying in one of the many cafes you’re sure to be stopping at. In fact, there will probably be a friendly “Nonna’ or two to help put a smile back on every one’s faces at the end of a long day of cobbled stone pavement pounding. Be sure to take a great pair a walking shoes, because your going to need them! You may end up coming back from your Italian holiday a little bit fitter and with a beautifully developed pair of calf muscles! Also, don’t forget to take your camera!
Best time of year to go : April to June and late September to October are the best months for traveling in Italy — temperatures are usually mild and the crowds aren’t quite so intense. Starting in mid-June, the holiday rush really picks up, and from July to mid-September the country is bursting with Summer visitors.
1. Off-the-grid Camping in Lanzarote (perfect for families looking to get away from it all and spend some time together in nature)
Surrounded by mango, papaya and banana trees, ‘Finca de Arrieta’ is powered by wind and solar energy and is more a chic smallholding than a luxury eco-retreat. Located on Lanzarote’s volcanic north coast, the black-sand beach of Arrieta is only a volcanic pebbles throw away (300m). Ideal for young families, guests can pick fruit and
vegetables from the garden, collect eggs from the hens and feed Molly the donkey. There’s a play park and a solar-heated pool and sun deck to enjoy when you’re not busy exploring. This camping holiday is great for families with kids of all ages, but do go prepared with all your essentials. Don’t forget your mosquito repellent, any medication etc, as you won’t be able to find these things very easily.
More info : lanzaroteretreats.com
A great holiday can create great memories, but why not take immortalize some of those memories on film too? If you need a new camera, head on over to Amazon (affiliate links*) for some great deals on the latest models.
So many great options! It makes me want to get packing now. At least we have a little while to plan before the December break! Do you have a favorite family holiday spot you think we should know about? Tell us about it!
*All that this means is that a small percentage of the sale comes to me i ‘spose as a way for Amazon to say ‘Thanks!’ for sending some business their way. I use those proceeds to help with the running of my household and the upkeep of this site, so go wild 😉 . (Only joking! Brightnbrainy supports responsible spending.)