Bored of the same old trips? William Gray, Wanderlust contributing editor and editor of 101familyholidays.co.uk, looks at new ideas for travelling with kids
The Adventure Company have expanded their range of family holidays by a whopping 28 trips with new destinations such as Madagascar, the Maldives, Portugal, Spain and the USA.
You can also take your whipper-snappers on new family photography holidays to Cuba, India, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Tanzania – prices start from £949 per adult and £939 per child (minimum age five) for the eight-day Kids in the Kasbah Young Photographer trip to Morocco, including flights, transport, B&B accommodation and expert tuition.
The Adventure Company have also launched a series of family astronomy holidays ranging from a five-day Iceland trip to view the northern lights to an eight-day cosmic sojourn in the Sinai.
At last! An Arctic expedition for mini-explorers. The new Spitsbergen Family Adventure Cruise from Discover the World is specially designed to help children learn about the natural wonders of the Arctic. The gently-paced, seriously cool seven-night voyage includes photography lessons, zodiac rides, tundra hikes and, of course, wildlife watching.
Seeing polar bears in the wild is a highlight of any Spitsbergen trip, but on this family cruise kids will also find out how to identify animals by their tracks and droppings. Other onboard activities include learning about navigation and early explorers.
From £2,990 per person, minimum age ten years.
Hands up Holidays have a new luxury family trip in South Africa for 2012, combining a safari in Sabi Sands private reserve with volunteering projects supporting local communities.
New this year from Tots Too is a family ski programme offering luxury chalets in the French Alps, with childcare included. The company has also expanded its property portfolio with the addition of Borgo Egnazia in southern Italy, a luxury resort with wonderful facilities for families, including a crèche, kids’ club, cookery classes, horse riding and tennis academy.
Prices start from £1,395 for a family of four, excluding flights, for seven nights B&B.
Families Worldwide have launched their latest blockbuster brochure featuring 13 new trips in 11 countries, including seven tailor-made destinations for those who prefer to design their own itineraries and travel independently, with friends or as an extended family.
New trips include an eight-day Turkey sailing weekend from just £269 per person and an eight-day adventure (from £899 per person) tracking bears in Slovakia. A discount of up to £125 per person is available to first-time bookers.
PGL promises non-stop action on their Classic Ardèche Adventure – a two-day river descent in Canadian canoes, sleeping out under the stars. Based at the Lou Valagran adventure centre on the banks of the river Cèze, you will also be able to try your hand at raft building, archery and mountain biking.
Prices for two adults and two children (age 7-18) are £1,220 for the six-night holiday, full board, including activities, instruction and equipment. Travel to France is not included.
Elite Vacations have added the Kempinski Seychelles Resort on Mahé Island to their Seychelles programme. Set to open in February, the four-star resort will offer 150 rooms and suites, an Olympic size swimming pool, various restaurants and water sports, plus a children's club.
Specialists in villas with private pools, Vintage Travel have expanded their France programme this year to include Brittany. You can choose from a range of properties sleeping up to ten people, all located between L’Orient and Quimpe and most within easy reach – if not walking distance – of stunning beaches.
For the first time in 2012, Villas Worldwide will be featuring Croatia with a new range of 16 villas near Split and on the islands of Brac and Hvar.
You’ll find no less than 16 new trips in the latest Family Adventures brochure from Exodus. Top picks include an eight-day Turkey Toddler Adventure (£779 per adult and £729 per child aged two and above) and a nine-day Teenage Cuban Revolution, from £1,459 per adult and £1,349 per child (minimum age 11).
Spain’s sport-crazy La Manga Club has launched a new all-inclusive package, available in the school holidays from February half term. As well as full board, five-star accommodation in the Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe, all adults receive a free activity each day from a choice of golf, tennis and various spa treatments, while children get to choose from a range of sports academies offering expert tuition in golf, tennis, football, rugby, cricket and dance.
There’s also a free Funlandia programme of swimming lessons, dance classes, jewellery and clay workshops, movie nights, treasure hunts and face painting.
The five-night package for a family of four costs from €2,850 in February half term, Easter holidays, June half term and October half term, and €3,121during the summer holidays.
New family-friendly properties available from Corsican Places this year include Casa Santa Maria, a four-bedroom villa with pool in the south of the island, close to fabulous beaches like Palombaggia.
Making the most of local transport and simpler hotels, Explore have added five budget trips to their family adventures line-up, including a 16-day Beijing to Hong Kong holiday travelling across China by train and taking in Xian’s Terracotta Army, the giant pandas in Chengdu and the ‘Dragon’s Backbone’ rice terraces.
Suitable for children aged 11 and over, the trip costs from £1,638 per adult and £1,521 per child and includes flights, accommodation (mostly bed and breakfast), transport and the services of a tour leader and local guides. Other trips in Explore’s Budget collection feature Vietnam, Egypt and Morocco.
Opening this summer, The Residence Maldives on Falhumaafushi boasts 94 beach and water villas (all with private butler service), a Clarins spa and children’s activity programme.
Boutique accommodation specialist i-escape.com has launched a new collection dedicated to family travel, featuring over 700 hotels and self-catering properties around the world that welcome children and offer the wow factor for parents.
Go to www.i-escape.com/kids and you can browse by location, family size and type of property, read suggestions of where’s best for babies, toddlers, kids aged 4-12 and teenagers, and find ideas for everything from budget breaks to villas with pools.
i-escape’s top picks include animal tracking and family game drives at malaria-free River Bend Lodge in South Africa; magic, juggling and cookery lessons at Jnane Tamsna in Marrakech, and chocolate-themed spa treatments for kids plus children’s cookery and yoga classes at Hotel Esencia in Mexico.
Renowned for their family holiday programme in South Africa and the Indian Ocean, Bushbaby Travel are venturing into the USA and Australia this year. Their Cowboys and Rangers trip combines five days in the adventure mecca of Jackson Hole with three days wildlife spotting in Yellowstone for £1,690 per adult and £675 per child under 12 sharing, while the 14-day Golden Triangle adventure to Australia features Sydney, the Red Centre and Northern Queensland for £2,950 per adult and £1,250 per child – both itineraries are based on the summer holidays and include flights, car hire and room-only accommodation.
HF Holidays now feature Les Contamines in the French Alps as one of its family adventure holiday destinations. You can choose from a guided walking holiday with a choice of three alpine walks each day or a multi-activity adventure option with rafting, climbing, canyoning and a ropes course available for children aged eight and over.
The seven-night holidays are available from 11 August with twin-share prices from £629 per adult, £315 per child (aged 5-13), and £472 for 14- to 15-year-olds, including half-board accommodation.
New for 2012, CV Travel are featuring the southern Italian region of Basilicata, bordering Campania to the west, Puglia to the north and east and Calabria to the south. Close to Basilicata’s UNESCO heritage city of Matera is the imposing Masseria Mimosa Gialla, a stylish house sleeping up to six in a stunning hilltop location.
Luxury travel specialist Western & Oriental have launched a new Worldwide Family Holidays programme for 2012, which replaces their former Kids in the Med brochure and includes 47 resorts and hotels renowned for childcare and kids’ activities, including Forte Village Resort in Sardinia and the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort on Sicily.
The new programme also features several family adventure itineraries in hot-spots like Costa Rica, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India. The 13-day Rickshaws, Elephants and Tigers holiday costs from £3,684 per adult and £2,240 per child, including sightseeing, transport, flights and bed and breakfast accommodation.
This year, GIC The Villa Collection is venturing from the Greek Islands onto the mainland for the first time. Sivota is located in Epirus on Greece’s unspoilt north-west coast, facing the Ionian Islands and is well known for its beautiful, varied landscape of gorges, mountains, small wooded islands and hidden coves.
Four new properties are available, including the strikingly-modern Senses Villas located just a few hundred metres from Sivota village. GIC The Villa Collection is also offering free child places on selected villa holidays during 2012. The reduction applies to one child (aged under 12) per booking. For example, seven nights at Villa Aphrodite, Crete, departing 1 May costs £582 per person based on four sharing, including one free child place – that’s £1,746 per family, a saving of £482 per booking.
As well as writing Wanderlust’s Family Man blog, William Gray is the editor of 101 Family Holidays. The second edition of his award-winning guidebook, Travel with Kids, is published by Footprint in February.
William will be answering questions on family travel at the Destinations travel show on 4 February.