Insider’s Guide: Long-haul Family Holidays
Family holidays take a fair bit of preparation and thought, so it’s not too soon to be thinking about where you and your family would like to venture next year.
With so many wonderful family-friendly destinations around the world it can often be difficult to choose, but some countries have more to offer families, whether this be family-friendly hotels, a short flight time or no malaria risk.
We have teamed bespoke travel operator, Audley Travel to share their specialists’ pick of the best destinations for families in 2014. Katy Pannell, the Online Travel Editor gives us her top five:
1: The USA
Always a firm family favourite, the USA has plenty to offer those travelling with kids. Of course, the likes of Disneyland and Universal Studios are going to appeal to the younger members of the family, but why not consider venturing a little further into one of the many national parks peppered throughout the country. Yellowstone, the USA’s oldest and largest national park, is home to a plethora of wildlife as well as spectacular geothermal activity, including the world-famous Old Faithful geyser, that will have every member of the family spellbound. Family-friendly activities are in abundance here, from horseback riding and llama packing, to cycling and fishing. Those aged between 5 and 12 can even train to be a Junior Ranger.
2: South Africa
Thanks to its position, South Africa is only two hours ahead of the UK, meaning no jet lag for your family to contend with. Contrary to popular belief, many of South Africa’s national parks are actually malaria-free, and as the country is well-suited to self-drive family holidays, travelling around is particularly relaxing, making it easy to plan journeys around your family’s needs.
For a family-holiday in 2014, why not consider a stay at Bushmans Kloof, in the Cederberg Mountains. The property has recently started running “Family Fun” weekends, where parents can “share an exceptional wilderness breakaway with their children”. Highlights include rock-art painting, nature drives, night walks and star-gazing.
Oman is perhaps not the first destination that springs to mind when thinking of family-friendly holiday destinations, but don’t let this put you off. As well as being malaria-free, the country is particularly well-suited to self-drive holidays, a flexible and relaxed way to travel. Although some activities are not suitable for younger members of the family, older children will relish the opportunity for 4x4 adventures through the country’s stunning wadis, mountains and desert, and many of the hotels in the capital, Muscat, provide extensive facilities such as large swimming pools, to keep every member of the family entertained.
The perfect place for first-time safari goers, a friendly welcome awaits you and your family at many of the lodges in Kenya. As well as being able to witness first-hand some of the world’s most famous wildlife normally confined to the television or books, many of the country’s lodges also employ children’s guides, who will introduce younger members of the family to the “Little Five” (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle). Family activities in Kenya also include learning about Maasai culture and discovering how to track animals.
The Thais are very friendly people and children in particular are treasured in Thai culture. On a family holiday in Thailand you can expect a warm welcome wherever you go and will often receive special treatment if travelling with children – expect to be beckoned to the front of queues for example.
There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Thailand, so if you’re willing to endure the 12 hour flight with kids in tow, you will be rewarded with opportunities galore, including the chance to look after elephants, swim in pristine, temperate seas and stay in a range of family-friendly properties suitable for all budgets. If you are looking for luxury, Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood will be of particular interest. The property has recently introduced some wonderful family activities that include learning to play Thai instruments, practicing batik art and painting. There is even a giant manta ray made out of bamboo for your kids to enjoy. For those who would like to be a bit more budget-savvy, the Anantara Bophut on beautiful Koh Samui includes a children’s club, tennis courts, windsurfing and snorkelling excursions.
Katy Pannell is the Online Travel Editor at Audley Travel, an award–winning tour operator, specialising in tailor-made trips and small group tours for the discerning traveller, to over 80 countries around the world.