When to go on a family adventure vacation

When to go on a family adventure vacation


SCHOOL’S OUT

Apart from the fact that we are all limited by the controversial, yet pretty much written in stone, school vacation dates, there are a few other things to take into consideration when working out when to go on a family adventure vacation. The Mediterranean is pretty much guaranteed blissful weather in the height of summer but, for example, hiking or biking here during this time with children is entering the territory of mad dogs and, the proverbial Englishmen. Unless you are good at getting everyone up and out early.
You might want to plan a big family adventure for the Easter vacations instead, or indeed Christmas, and not leave everything until the summer months. Or, for adventure, consider other destinations that wouldn’t normally be on your vacation radar during the summer months, such as Canada or some of the national parks of the USA. Every adventure company differs, and with some of the traditional safaris, for example, there are wildlife watching opportunities all year round. But this table below shows what we believe to be the most ideal times for certain adventure activities in our top destinations.

The best times for Family Adventure vacations


Adventures & school vacations


What to do when

Christmas
As well as the obvious magical adventures such as husky riding in Finnish Lapland, you can swap a reindeer for a camel and head to the Moroccan Sahara for lots of Christmas adventures. Kayaking, hiking and cycling in Thailand are the perfect Christmas gifts for all the family, and discovering Peru and the Inca Trail is like everyone’s Christmas come at once.
February half term
Always a tricky one to work out, unless you are all ski addicts. However, there is plenty of playfulness to be had beyond the pistes during February half term, such as exploring the Sahara in Morocco, where you can also bring any leftover Christmas money to spend in the souks. Safari season in Tanzania is also green and gorgeous at this time, with the timely baby wildebeest a much sought after feature. Thailand is still dry, so great for exploring on a bike or a hike, as it is still not too unbearably hot. All particularly good if you have a two week half term, as some schools do. And if you want to keep snow on the agenda, Finnish Lapland’s adventurous wonderland season of huskies, sleds and Northern Lights is still in full flight.
Easter
If you want to go on a big adventure, such as a safari, Easter is a great time, as they pack out during the summer vacations. And it isn’t too unbearably hot either, so check out the likes of South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya for this. Also not too hot, is Thailand's breezy Andaman's coast, which is family adventure paradise at this time of year. And the flights are much better value than at Christmas. Closer to home, this is also a great time to get active in countries like Turkey, Croatia and Montenegro, when the temperatures are just perfect for cycling into the hills, and the water just warming up enough for you to take a quick dip after a kayaking session. Peru’s Inca Trail and Amazon activity hubs are also open for business at Easter, if you really want to offer some extraordinary inspiration for the impending exam season. And depending on when Easter falls, Finnish Lapland’s winter season goes on until April, so always worth checking out your options there too.
May half term
Europe’s adventure hubs are all very much open for business in May. But, for something different, Vietnam is a good option as you are definitely missing the adventure tourists who start to arrive in their droves later in the summer. In the south of Vietnam, it is the beginning of the monsoon season, however it is usually only brief cooling showers, nothing worse, which is a relief during a humid day anyway. It is also a good time to explore Morocco’s Sahara before the extreme heat starts to kick in, and you could combine it with a trip to a Kasbah in the Atlas Mountains, as the snows will have melted by then. For a safari, consider Namibia in May when it is prime game viewing season in Etosha’s National Park. But do book early for this one.
Summer vacations
Europe is always a top choice during the summer vacations, but if you are thinking of a climbing, hiking, biking sort of a vacation, it can be too hot in many places to really make the most of it. Other adventurous places to consider during the long break include Finland, where it is a bit cooler, but with long days to really squeeze every moment of fun out of the vacation. Kayaking on inland lakes or white water rafting in Croatia are good options, far from the madding crowds of the coast, and some at an elevation, and so not as relentlessly hot. And if you head to Canada, Colorado or some of the northern national parks of the USA, you can still find snow in July sometimes, but glistening lakes and rivers to kayak down too. It is also still warm and lovely in Vietnam at this time of year, albeit with a few monsoon showers to cool you down, but on an adventure vacation kayaking along Halong Bay or swimming in Hoi An, you won’t worry too much about the odd splash.
October half term
Similar to May half term, European adventure hubs such as Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro and Catalonia are still very much alive and kicking in October. With temperatures still mild and mellow, these are perfect conditions for pushing yourself up remote, rural trails, whether hiking or biking, and the water is still deliciously warm after the summer months if you want to swim after a kayak or a white water rafting session. In Morocco, the desert temperatures have started to cool too, making camping and camel trekking much more bearable, plus this is the best time for surfing in Morocco , so it’s a pre-winter win win. Safaris in Kenya, Botswana and Namibia are particularly lively at this time of year, but with animals rather than safari goers, so it is a great time to make the most of a trip of a lifetime like this one.
Marijana Filipovic from our supplier Cycling Croatia:
"If you can visit outside July and August, the prices of everything are less inflated, including restaurants. And you can get around more easily as a family, because the streets here are narrow, so try and avoid the busy times. The last week of August is not so bad as a lot of local schools have started their new year."
Rachel Blech is co-founder of our supplier, SheherazadVentures, which runs tailor made family adventure vacations in Morocco: “If you go in low season (early Dec to mid-Feb & July/Aug) you avoid the crowds and high prices, but risk unpredictable weather (Dec/Jan) when it can rain. In my view the best times to visit Morocco are late Feb/March/April – when the almond blossom is filling the valleys on the road to Mt. Toubkal National Park and Atlas Mountains. And also the Ounila Valley from Telouet to Ait Benhaddou which is totally unspoiled as yet – the valleys are an unreal emerald green and the road has little traffic.”
Aki Käräjäoja began working with sled dogs in Finland after he finished studying, and fell in love with them. He founded Routa Travel, one of our suppliers, as a way to be around the dogs and live the life he wanted. No guesses as to what he recommends as the best time for family adventure vacations:
"The dog sledding season starts in December and ends in early April, but for this and other winter activities, February and March are the best times as there’s more daylight. If you come at the end of December it has its own mystical feel as it’s dark all the time, which can be really great – but I prefer the sunshine."
Vivian Campbell, from our supplier Cycle Catalan, shares when to go on a family adventure vacation in Catalonia:
“Personally speaking, the best time to visit Catalonia is late spring. May and June are absolutely fantastic. July and August can be very hot and August is very busy. To really enjoy a cycling and walking vacation, I would say that May in particular is lovely as we have so many wild flowers. That’s a really nice time for walking. We give people a flower factsheet and a wild flower book so that they can identify all the wildlife and flowers when they’re on their walks. We don’t actually offer walking vacations in July and August because it is so hot. But we do offer cycling from April to early November; most of the time it’s fine, but I would avoid an activity vacation in August if you can.”
Photo credits: [Top box - Narnia: Ray García] [Easter/May half term: Daniel Cavalcante] [Summer vacations/October half term: vastateparksstaff]
Written by Catherine Mack
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