Our family travel guide conjures up what we rate and what we don’t as well as an awesome section entitled 'out of the mouths of babes' which gives you a family holidays travel guide from the mind set of eight to fifteen year olds.
When to go on a family
Step through the wardrobe and into Narnia – wintertime in Finland is every child's snowy fantasy
Apart from the fact that we are all limited by the controversial, yet pretty much written in stone, school holiday dates, there are a few other things to take into consideration when working out when to go on a family adventure holiday. The Mediterranean is pretty much guaranteed blissful weather in the height of July and August but hiking or biking with children during this time is madness. Unless you are good at getting everyone up and out early.
You might want to plan a big family adventure for the Easter holidays instead, or indeed Christmas, and not leave everything until the summer months. Or, for adventure, consider other destinations that wouldn’t normally be on your holiday radar during the summer months. Every adventure company differs, and with some of the traditional safaris, for example, there are wildlife watching opportunities all year round.
Our Family adventures Holidays
Adventures & school holidays
As well as the obvious magical adventures such as husky riding in Finnish Lapland, you can swap a reindeer for a camel and head to the Moroccan Sahara for lots of Christmas adventures. Kayaking, hiking and cycling in Thailand are the perfect Christmas gifts for all the family, and discovering Peru and the Inca Trail is like everyone’s Christmas come at once.
February half termAlways a tricky one to work out, unless you are all ski addicts. However, there is plenty of playfulness to be had beyond the pistes during February half term, such as exploring the Sahara in Morocco, where you can also bring any leftover Christmas money to spend in the souks. Safari season in Tanzania is also green and gorgeous at this time, with the timely baby wildebeest a much sought after feature. Thailand is still dry, so great for exploring on a bike or a hike, as it is still not too unbearably hot. All particularly good if you have a two week half term, as some schools do. And if you want to keep snow on the agenda, Finnish Lapland’s adventurous wonderland season of huskies, sleds and Northern Lights is still in full flight.
If you want to go on a big adventure, such as a safari, Easter is a great time, as they pack out during the summer holidays. And it isn’t too unbearably hot either, so check out the likes of South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya for this. Also not too hot, is Thailand's breezy Andaman's coast, which is family adventure paradise at this time of year. And the flights are much better value than at Christmas. Closer to home, this is also a great time to get active in countries like Turkey, Croatia and Montenegro, when the temperatures are just perfect for cycling into the hills, and the water just warming up enough for you to take a quick dip after a kayaking session. Peru’s Inca Trail and Amazon activity hubs are also open for business at Easter, if you really want to offer some extraordinary inspiration for the impending exam season. And depending on when Easter falls, Finnish Lapland’s winter season goes on until April, so always worth checking out your options there too.
May half termEurope’s adventure hubs are all very much open for business in May. But, for something different, Vietnam is a good option as you are definitely missing the adventure tourists who start to arrive in their droves later in the summer. In the south of Vietnam, it is the beginning of the monsoon season, however it is usually only brief cooling showers, nothing worse, which is a relief during a humid day anyway. It is also a good time to explore Morocco’s Sahara before the extreme heat starts to kick in, and you could combine it with a trip to a Kasbah in the Atlas Mountains, as the snows will have melted by then. For a safari, consider Namibia in May when it is prime game viewing season in Etosha’s National Park. But do book early for this one.
Europe is always a top choice during the summer holidays, but if you are thinking of a climbing, hiking, biking sort of a holiday, it can be too hot in many places to really make the most of it. Other adventurous places to consider during the long break include Finland, where it is a bit cooler, but with long days to really squeeze every moment of fun out of the holiday. Kayaking on inland lakes or white water rafting in Croatia are good options, far from the madding crowds of the coast, and some at an elevation, and so not as relentlessly hot. And if you head to Canada, Colorado or some of the northern national parks of the USA, you can still find snow in July sometimes, but glistening lakes and rivers to kayak down too. It is also still warm and lovely in Vietnam at this time of year, albeit with a few monsoon showers to cool you down, but on an adventure holiday kayaking along Halong Bay or swimming in Hoi An, you won’t worry too much about the odd splash.
October half termSimilar to May half term, European adventure hubs such as Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro and Catalonia are still very much alive and kicking in October. With temperatures still mild and mellow, these are perfect conditions for pushing yourself up remote, rural trails, whether hiking or biking, and the water is still deliciously warm after the summer months if you want to swim after a kayak or a white water rafting session. In Morocco, the desert temperatures have started to cool too, making camping and camel trekking much more bearable, plus this is the best time for surfing in Morocco , so it’s a pre-winter win win. Safaris in Kenya, Botswana and Namibia are particularly lively at this time of year, but with animals rather than safari goers, so it is a great time to make the most of a trip of a lifetime like this one.
If you'd like to chat about Family adventures or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Marijana Filipovic from our supplier Cycling Croatia: "If you can visit outside July and August, the prices of everything are less inflated, including restaurants. And you can get around more easily as a family, because the streets here are narrow, so try and avoid the busy times. The last week of August is not so bad as a lot of local schools have started their new year."
Rachel Blech is co-founder of our supplier, SheherazadVentures, which runs tailor made family adventure holidays in Morocco: “If you go in low season (early Dec to mid-Feb & July/Aug) you avoid the crowds and high prices, but risk unpredictable weather (Dec/Jan) when it can rain. In my view the best times to visit Morocco are late Feb/March/April – when the almond blossom is filling the valleys on the road to Mt. Toubkal National Park and Atlas Mountains. And also the Ounila Valley from Telouet to Ait Benhaddou which is totally unspoiled as yet – the valleys are an unreal emerald green and the road has little traffic.”
Aki Käräjäoja began working with sled dogs in Finland after he finished studying, and fell in love with them. He founded Routa Travel, one of our suppliers, as a way to be around the dogs and live the life he wanted. No guesses as to what he recommends as the best time for family adventure holidays:" The dog sledding season starts in December and ends in early April, but for this and other winter activities, February and March are the best times as there’s more daylight. If you come at the end of December it has its own mystical feel as it’s dark all the time, which can be really great – but I prefer the sunshine."
Vivian Campbell, from our supplier Cycle Catalan, shares when to go on a family adventure holiday in Catalonia: “Personally speaking, the best time to visit Catalonia is late spring. May and June are absolutely fantastic. July and August can be very hot and August is very busy. To really enjoy a cycling and walking holiday, I would say that May in particular is lovely as we have so many wild flowers. That’s a really nice time for walking. We give people a flower factsheet and a wild flower book so that they can identify all the wildlife and flowers when they’re on their walks. We don’t actually offer walking holidays in July and August because it is so hot. But we do offer cycling from April to early November; most of the time it’s fine, but I would avoid an activity holiday in August if you can.”
More about Family adventures
This family adventure travel guide is one that we would like you to look through with your children, and watch their eyes light up and their jaws drop. The choice is vast, and you really don’t have to be super fit or super high achieving to do them either.
One of the questions the travel writers here at Responsible Travel get asked the most is ‘what has been your most exciting trip, the one that your kids still talk about?’. Well, we have mapped a few of our highlights.
The best family adventure holiday activities are when they combine not only the adrenalin factor, but also the element of surprise. Seeing a baby bear while hiking in Yosemite or seeing a seal swim alongside you when kayaking in Wales.
There are often minimum ages for certain activities but remember to always chat with a tour operator, as often height or weight are the real issues, to make sure that safety measures are met. And also remember, there is never a maximum age.
Forget about beach resorts and kids’ clubs. Family adventure holidays are all about discovery, whether that means trekking through cloud forest in Costa Rica or teaching the kids how to guide their own kayak in Andalucía.
We have some great family adventure holiday tips from the people who really know how to make these the best family holidays ever. The tour guides, the hosts, the adventure leaders, the people who have spent years crafting the itineraries.
Family adventure holidays are run by expert, local instructors who understand the dangers of the mountains or the waves, but whose passion for such landscapes and pushing our boundaries within them is totally infectious.