Top five family travel trends
From far-flung adventures to amazing festivals and multi-generational getaways, here's the definitive Muddy Travels guide of where to head next with your brood.
3G? You know, three generations travelling together! It’s never been more popular thanks to Covid, with grandparents making up for lost time and coming along for the shits and giggles (literally if you’re travelling with toddlers). Naturally this means a surge in villa rentals and cottages – private places the whole family can take over aaand relax.
I’ve got my eye on Villa Joseli on the chic French island of Corsica. It sleeps six and has a gorgeous outside space for al fresco living, including an enclosed lawn (no kids can escape, hooray), large pool, barbecue and dining table for all those long, lazy lunches I’m planning. Close to vineyards, beaches and the town of St Florent, it’s got something for all ages.
Sail Dalmatia is a tempting option for larger families. Hire Gulet Angelica which sleeps up to 10 guests in five cabins, with plenty of space for adults to lounge around on-board while kids enjoy jumping off the boat into the turquoise water (or probably vice versa if you have teenagers). An onboard crew ensures everything runs smoothly, from discovering Croatia’s stunning private coves to delicious al fresco lunches on deck.
If you’ve ever been to Camp Bestival you’ll know just how much fun a festival can be for all the family: fun, freedom, new friends and an endless amount of things to do – what’s not to love? Now I’m looking further afield for kicks, combining holiday and festival to create one amazing break.
Annual Au Bonheur Des Mômes is on my radar. One of the world’s largest cultural festivals for kids, it takes place every August at Le Grand Bornand in the French Alps. There’s music, art, magic, theatre and puppetry and when you’re not dancing in the sunshine, there’s plenty of other Alpine escapades to be had like e-biking, hiking in the mountains or swimming in the outdoor/indoor pool at self-catering apartments Le Village de Lessy.
Joshua Tree Music Festival in the Californian desert outside Palm Springs has got to be the most hip-yet-down-to-earth festival ever. Forget the bands, children have their own Kidsville district with a full-on roster of activities from sunrise to sunset, like clay modelling, story time, instrument making, clown shows, dance sessions, nature walks and tie-dying. Airstream campervans are available to hire. It’s all, like, so cool.
Ok, I know flying isn’t exactly green, but carbon off-setting with charities like Forests without Frontiers can make a difference, as can booking a sustainable holiday.
Fleewinter, for example, has a fantastic eight-day family trip to Kerala (£700pp) with guaranteed short car journeys to avoid any ‘are we nearly there yet?’ traumas and lots of wildlife encounters. You’ll get to stay on an organic farm, where the kids can learn to cook local dishes and cycle to nearby villages, plus there’s an over-night stay on a traditional houseboat before ending with a relaxing few days on the golden sands of Mararikulam.
Or how about taking the fam to a community-owned safari camp on the banks of River Marico in South Africa? I know a safari never sounds that safe for kids (toddlers must look like canapés to lions, no?), but Thakadu in Madikwe game reserve really is clean, green and family-friendly because it’s malaria-free, has tents large enough to sleep four which leave no trace and offers so much to see and do, from tracking with rangers to game safaris spotting elephant, zebra, leopard, cheetah and rhino and splashing around in the pool.
Before you know what, I was travelling most months and found that off-the-beaten-track trips to supposedly adult-only or backpacker destinations often turned out to be really cool places to travel with kids. Fez, for example isn’t your usual family city break, but I discovered that an ancient Medina with no cars, lots of pastries and a population who adore kids is actually a fantastic place to take a five-year-old.
Far-flung Sulawesi’s another place where taking kids isn’t an obvious choice, however a trip to this remote Indonesian island is going to have friends giving you the thumbs up on Facebook when you post pictures of you all white water rafting in Tana Toraja, jungle-trekking and spotting black crested macaques in Tangkoko National Park.
You might have heard of Levi in Lapland, but Muotka? Probably not. Activities Abroad offers a four-night family break to this little-known destination this winter, which includes snowshoes walks, meeting reindeer, sleigh rides, husky safari and a Northern Light excursion, all in the remote wilderness of the Arctic but just 30-minutes from Ivalo Airport.
Hungary? Always! Actually this often over-looked eastern European country offers something genuinely different in the form of a family boating trip. I’m particularly liking the look of cruising around the Tokaj Wine Country, which has vineyards along the way (fun for me) and a stop at the Zemplen Kalandpark for summer bobsleigh and zip-line action (fun for the kids). Apparently I don’t need previous experience to operate the boat as they’re easy to self-drive (really?) and the team at Nicols will show me the ropes, literally, before I depart.
My kids are like sponges, soaking up everything in their vicinity (yep, even the occasional swear word), so I want to make sure future holidays pack in some skills as well as chills.
Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve was voted Best Family Resort in Europe at the World Travel Awards again this year so it’s little wonder it has an impressive activity programme for youngsters, including learning to kayak, SUP and surf, plus land-based options like cooking classes, tennis academies and golf lessons.
Your kids can learn circus skills, such as the flying trapeze, as well as archery, SUP and climbing at Club Med’s Michès Playa Esmeralda in the Dominican Republic. They also get the chance to rehearse and put on their own show, jet-surf and improve their tennis swing at kids club. Sure beats half-term in front of the Xbox.
A family safari in Kenya with Abercrombie and Kent is probably the ultimate outdoor classroom; think walking with the Maasai, discovering their culture and learning essential bush skills – who knew you could use part of a tree as a toothbrush? Not to mention a night at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.
Horse-riding, rock climbing and learning all about the wild animals (black bears, pumas, deer) in Yosemite National Park are just some of the amazing activities on offer at Tenaya Lodge in the US, which has two-bedroom luxe log cabins, ideal for families. Set in 27 acres of forest, this tranquil hideaway also includes daily guided nature walks, games room, swimming pool and fire pits to sit around at night and toast your s’mores.
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