It all depends on what you will all enjoy. People talk about ‘family holidays’ as if it’s a single thing. But a family holiday when your kids are two is very different to one when your kids are eight or 15.
Numerous surveys have found kids mostly want a beach and/or a pool, and the chance to spend time with their parents. So it’s not actually that hard to keep them happy. If you’re travelling with teens, that’s a bit different – they just want wifi.
“Surveys find that kids mostly want a beach and/or a pool, and time with their parents. Teens are a bit different – they just want wifi.”
So sit down and talk about what you all want. Perhaps everyone gets to choose a day that they can plan, or maybe you split it. Perhaps in the morning, something the parents will enjoy, in the afternoon, something the kids will like more. Also, look at resorts with babysitting and kids’ clubs. The kids get company of their own age, which is particularly good if you’ve just got one child, and parents get a bit of a break and perhaps the chance of an evening meal with drinks alone if there’s babysitting. That can make a lot of difference!
Cruises are brilliant for all different ages. With ships these days, there’s just so much to do onboard. You’ve got pools, kids’ clubs, teen zones and zones for little ones, all sorts of activities like rock climbing zipwiring, plus there’s enough different food to keep everyone happy and it’s all included. I went on one when my daughter was about 17 months and that was brilliant. Depending on what route you choose, you’re visiting lots of places as well. If you’re going round the Mediterranean, it could be that at one port, you go to the beach, another port you visit some historic ruins, another you go to a city. Or you could do the Caribbean if you want things more beachy.
You can also leave the kids on board for a day, so if you want to go and look round some ancient ruins and they flatly say they can’t imagine anything more boring, fine, they stay on the boat and play.
You could have a break in a European city. Then for every attraction you go to, you find a park for little kids. You can still go to museums and art galleries, you just make a bit of a game of it – a lot now have kids’ audio guides and lots of trails to follow. The younger ones are going to be more excited about it being a game, but the older ones might actually be into art and history. It comes back to what your family loves.
Or you do a road trip – they are so flexible. The US is ultimate road trip central. You could do the Pacific Coast Highway out of San Francisco, which I’ve done with my then-three year old. Then you’ve got Monterey which has an incredible aquarium, then you’ve got loads of beaches, and lots of places to stop along the way. You can head to Los Angeles and Disneyland, and depending how long you’ve got, you can even go as far down as San Diego as there’s loads for families there.
If everyone has diametrically opposite tastes, pick a trip where you fit it all in – so maybe a twin centre, where you start in a city then go to the beach. Somewhere like Barcelona – you’ve got a beach in the city and beaches on the coast surrounding the city.
One of the most popular destinations is Florida. Everyone assumes Florida equals amusement parks, and it does, but then you also have the Everglades, a lot of outdoorsy activities like hiking and kayaking which a lot of kids will love too. Then if you head over to the Gulf Coast, it’s much quieter and you have these stunning powdery white sand beaches. It’s very laid back. It ticks so many boxes – if you have one person into Disney, one who wants to do outdoorsy stuff and one who just wants to lie on a beach and read a book, you’ll get it all from one holiday.
Or Italy. You could pick a city like Rome, then drive over to beaches, or for more of a twin centre holiday you could do Venice then go to Jesolo, a beach resort which is only an hour away.
For single parents, there’s also a company called Single With Kids which is brilliant, particularly if you’ve just got one child. You’re guaranteed there will be other kids for them to play with, and you’re also guaranteed not to be surrounded by nuclear families. And when your kids go to bed, you’ve got someone to talk to if you want.