1. Adventure holiday, Ardeche, France
Activities are the key to keeping children from succumbing to holiday boredom. How about a week of canoeing, kayaking, caving and climbing in the beautiful Ardeche region of southern France? You can stay in self-catered chalets with a maximum of five other families there at any one time so the children will be able to make some friends. There is packed schedule all run by qualified instructors with safety being of paramount concern for all families. With lots to do, and lots of new people to meet, the week should fly by. See more details
2. The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, Longboat Key, Florida
This place has been named as one of America’s top holiday resorts for families. Set in the Florida Keys, great weather is virtually guaranteed, and for a sporty family, this resort offers a great range of activities. There is a complimentary children’s program catering for a variety of ages, and so whilst they go off fishing, playing tennis, attending art classes or playing on the beach, the grown ups can get some serious coaching in for that dodgy second serve.
3. Cruise the Norfolk Broads
Once again, with the idea of keeping a family occupied, a week spent on the Norfolk broads might be just the thing. The novelty of boat life will keep kids occupied for a while; it’s a bit like camping but with home comforts. There’s quite a community feel to the activity with other families being in the same metaphorical boat so plenty of playmates are around when you moor up for the night. Safety-wise, life jackets are included with the boats, and given the Norfolk broads are free from dangerous currents and generally pretty shallow, even if someone does fall in, then the only thing likely to be damaged is their pride.
4. Karamina Club Med, Sicily
A friend of mine went on one of these recently with his young children, and had a great time – mainly due to the fact that the kids were so well catered for. There are daily activity programmes designed for children of all ages, so that parents can get a break, and this even extends into the evening so adults can enjoy a quiet dinner.
5. Rent a chalet in Val D’Isere, France
Unbeknownst to many people, Val D’Isere is not just the winter playground of people from Fulham. Well it is, but there are also loads of things to do in the summer as well. You can rent a chalet for four from around £200 per week and enjoy beautiful scenery whilst also filling the days with lots of healthy activities to wear the kids out. In the immediate area, you can play tennis and golf, go skiing on the glacier in Tignes 20 minutes away, go mountain biking, hiking, climbing, horse-riding, fishing, white water rafting and paragliding to name but a few.
6. Cycling holiday in Italy
One for people with children over fourteen, if your kids are reasonably fit and like being active, then this is a challenging, yet rewarding trip. A nine day tour goes from Lake Garda to Venice via a manageable route which takes in lots of interesting towns and sites before ending up in Venice for a spot of culture on the final day. With a bit of luck, the kids will be too tired to complain about the trip to St Mark’s Square, and if they do, tell them part of a James Bond film was shot there.
7. Family friendly cruise
Usually people think of cruises as the preserve of honeymoon couples or for people with purple hair, but quite a number of families are now opting for cruises too. Companies like Ocean Village specialise in putting the kids first and offer a wide variety of activities to keep them happy whilst you soak up the sun. There are netted decks so it will be very difficult for little Jonny to plummet into the ocean from a spectacular height, and whilst the child friendly aspect is very much promoted, some areas are reserved permanently for adults, allowing you an oasis of calm, should you need it.
8. Family safari in South Africa
This is not a cheap option, but I can’t think of a more exciting holiday for young kids than coming face to face with all those animals which they have only seen in books or on the telly. Clearly safety is every parent’s prime concern, but there are a number of family friendly lodges in South Africa, which importantly, are not in malarial areas. Some aspects of game viewing might not be suitable for really young children, but you can find lodges which offer dedicated kids’ programs, so whilst you are out spotting the big cats, they are dealing with more manageable wildlife.
9. International house-swap
One of the big costs of travel with a family holiday is accommodation. How about taking away that headache and swapping your house with a like-minded family and swapping rain for the sunshine of Cape Town, Barbados or California? There is usually a small fee to advertise on the sites, but the potential savings are enormous – particularly if you are planning a longer trip. You can also find really specific destinations in the UK that people want to stay in so if you thought for example, that Norwich lacks a certain cachet as a hot spot to visit, then think again. I found a family from Grand Cayman who only want to visit East Anglia’s biggest city.
10. The recession buster
Bring the holiday atmosphere to your own home by sitting in the garden with some fake palm trees, reggae music and 15 to 20 multi-coloured and murderously strong drinks –served in plastic glasses naturally. At regular intervals, sit under a UV lamp for far too long to simulate sunburn – not forgetting at night to empty a couple of kilos of sand into everyone’s bed for extra authenticity.