Planning your family holiday

A guide to getting it right for specific age groups, and ensuring everyone gets the most out of their holiday – together.


Planning your family holiday

What pleases a three-year-old won’t entertain a 13-year-old. This sounds obvious, but the blanket ‘fun for all the family’ banner across many travel brochures is misleading.

Ages 3–7

1. At this age, children want and need to be with you. This is a time to bond and develop your parenting skills, so if you do use a ‘kids’ club, try to do it part-time.

2. Young children are open to new experiences, so ignite their curiosity. Plan activities that are outdoor and adventurous, whether camping in Spain or a nature trail in Devon.

3. Enjoy simple pleasures. I researched the 10 activities that young children enjoy on holiday, and the first five all involve the beach: playing on the beach, swimming in the sea, preferably with other children around but always with their parents somewhere on the scene.

Ages 8–12

1. Your children will want to have contact with other children their age but also spend time with you, so anything involving small groups – trekking or skiing – is very popular.

2. Keep them outdoors. This is a rare break from computers and the TV, so encourage outdoor activities and get involved yourself. Horse riding, skiing or windsurfing – don’t just watch from the sidelines. Have fun with your children.

3. Check out their school syllabus, and take them places that will bring their studies alive. If they’re studying battles in history, visit a castle or a Roman amphitheatre, or try to find a beach that features the rock formations they’re studying in geography.

Ages 13–16

1. Make it a journey rather than a destination, travelling between different places, or find local activities such as white-water rafting that have a semblance of danger and adventure.

2. They have a lot of energy to burn, but may need encouragement. A kayaking trip or a holiday on a ranch is exhilarating and gives a sense of achievement.

3. Avoid romantic settings and enforced culture – your teenagers will rebel against it. They’ll have plenty of time get into that!

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