Alternative family vacation ideas
Not a theme park in sight!Sick of theme parks, kids' clubs and zoos? Here is our creative selection box of family trips to help you swerve the clichéd route, and navigate your way through the barrage of cheesy vacation ads and identikit vacations.
Our Family Vacations
Go wildlife watching in South Africa
Children are as programmed to want to go to Disney World as we are to want to go to the pub after work on a Friday, and though Disney's Animal Kingdom may try its best to immerse visitors into an African 'theme', why go and see animals in a faux-safari when it's just as easy to see them in Africa proper. 'But what about malaria?' we hear you cry. Don't let the prospect of taking antimalarial medication put you off a family trip to Africa and don't be fooled into thinking Disney's Animal Kingdom is the only alternative either. Step into South Africa: a safari destination that could have been designed for families, with incredible wildlife which you can watch while on safari without all the pill-popping and mosquito nets. Much of the country is malaria free, with a low risk only in Kruger.
Explore Indiana Jones' JordanIn pursuit of fortune, glory and historical fact finding, archaeologist Indiana Jones engaged in daredevil adventures across the globe. Does this scream theme park to you? Thought not. Now, we're no Disney bashers (said us, never), but we do think that recreating the spirit of Indi's adventures requires a little more authenticity than a VIP queue jump on a first-come-first-served basis. Scrap Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure and go on a real one in Petra; hand-carved into sandstone cliff, the Treasury at the Jordanian ancient site doubles as the mind-blowing secret temple in Indy's Last Crusade. Besides that, Petra, Jordan's 'rose-red city', is utterly fascinating and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Sure to get young minds far more switched on that a four-pint cup of cola would.
Experience Spain beyond Benidorm
Brits have a bit of a love affair with Benidorm, but while there's nothing wrong with a fly and flop family vacation in the sun (what kid doesn't like a bit of bucket and spade action?) venture beyond the Costas and Spain is a fascinating country that's far greater than the sum of it's warm-weather parts. There's the sun-scorched Moorish cities of Andalucía to explore, or the beautiful beaches and green hills of Galicia, not to mention cliffs, caves, mountains and plains where you can hike, bike and canyon together. Try whitewater rafting on the rivers of the Pyrenees, kayaking around the turquoise lakes of the Andalucian Altiplano or even hiking in the breathtaking Picos de Europa, a frequently snow-draped limestone massif - enough to keep kids of any age and their parents occupied.
Our top Family Vacation
Rafting, kayaks, canyons & beaches. Family action in Croatia
From £995 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2022: 23 Jul, 30 Jul, 6 Aug, 13 Aug, 20 Aug
2022: 23 Jul, 30 Jul, 6 Aug, 13 Aug, 20 Aug
If you'd like to chat about Family or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Croatian charm that won't break the bankThink half term, think Center Parcs; an obvious and excruciatingly expensive option for a short family break. Yes, it has subtropical swimming pools, forests, and its supposed trump card - a UK location; but for a truly authentic alternative that brings you every conceivable outdoor activity in two hours' flying time and, hallelujah, has a year round climate, so you won't get financially fleeced to flock there only when the sun shines, consider Croatia. For water babies, the amiable archipelago is a constant stream of aqua adventures - the Plitvice Lakes National Park alone is home to 16 lakes and a host of tumbling waterfalls; for families who like their adrenalin served thick and fast, why not spend an action packed week sea kayaking, biking and hiking around the Dubrovnik region. The options are endless. (And there's no Café Rouge.)
There's more to Finland than Father Christmas
Now call us old fashioned, but we were under the impression that there was a lot more to Finland than flying there and back in one day to visit a former nuclear bunker and queue to see a man impersonating Father Christmas (because of course he's very real and also very busy in his workshop at the mo.) Doubtless an experience about as memorable as yet another overpriced toastie at Center Parcs. Here's an idea: go to Finland, see the fat man dressed in red if you like, but stay for longer than a day? That way you can take your time and waste not one drop of its splintered archipelagos, 188,000 lakes, back to basics nature and seriously characterful locals, not least miss out on a husky safari, which is an experience akin to a great big snowy bubble of adrenalin-charged happiness. Remember, a Finnish vacation is for life, not just for Christmas.
More about Family
When to go on a family vacation will often depend on when school’s out, however, take a glimpse at our best times for family vacations worldwide chart and you'll quickly realise there is a vast number of potential destinations available to you whenever you plan to get away.
Our family travel guide conjures up what we rate and what we don’t as well as an awesome section entitled 'out of the mouths of babes' which gives you a family vacations travel guide from the mind set of eight to fifteen year olds.
The family vacation types listed on the page below include adventure vacations, small group, independent, accommodation only and family walking vacations so all you have to do is find out what our experts recommend and then take your pick of the bunch.
The best family vacation destinations are always the ones where you spend time together because you want to rather than because you have to.
We think that trying something new should be the essence of family vacation activities with a carnival of animals, the beaches of Sri Lanka and life in the family fast lane all helping you to make up your mind or just dive in and make a big splash.
We’ve compiled advice on striking the balance when it comes to recommended children’s ages for family vacations with baby friendly, five to eight, eight to twelve and teenagers all getting a mention alongside expert advice from our experienced family vacation suppliers.
As anyone that’s done it will know, traveling as a single parent or guardian comes with its own unique set of challenges.
We’ve got loads of family vacation tips that revolve around keeping everyone happy so if you’re looking to find out what our experts: Jonny Bealby, Amanda Marks and Marijana Filipvic, have to say then read on to find out how to travel safely on your family vacation.
Find all of our family guides in one place, for all the different types of family vacations including families with teens and family volunteering or for destinations to take your families to such as Morocco, Costa Rica, India, Croatia and many more.