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5 Great Ideas For a Family Activity Holiday

Jun 23, 2008
If you're looking to do something different with the kids when you next go on holiday, have you thought about horse riding in America? How about cycling beside the Danube? Or dog sledding in Lapland? If you want an experience that your children will really remember on holiday, then a family activity holiday may be just the thing for you.

Many parents may be put off by health and safety concerns for these kinds of adventure holiday, but they shouldn't be. Almost all standard activity holidays will have some kind of child friendly option, and there are plenty of niche operators that specifically offer family activity holidays. If you are worried about safety, it is always a good idea to check out any adventure holiday company that you decide to go with, to make sure it is reputable and provides a good service. Read any online reviews that you can find, and call them up and see how they respond to your concerns.

If you start to look around for a family activity holiday, you'll be spoilt for choice: here are five ideas to get you started.

Cycling in Europe

Cycling abroad can be a safe and fun family activity holiday, and it is very easy to organise. Make sure you check the difficulty level of any cycling trip before you go, and be sure to let your travel operator know that you'll be bringing children with you. Sweating your way up a steep mountain pass with an exhausted child in tow is no one's idea of a fun holiday!

But as long as you pick a route that all the family will be comfortable with, you can have a brilliant time. The Loire Valley and the route along the Danube are two of Europe's most established cycling routes, and they are also suitable for children on a family activity holiday, being on flat and gently hilly terrain and taking in astonishing views along the way.

Safari in Africa

There's little that gets kids more excited than wild animals, and an African safari makes for a great family activity holiday. Safaris can include hippo spotting on boat trips, 4x4 drives through nature reserves, visits to farms, animal sanctuaries and orphanages, and many other activities.

The safari business is very well established, and you'll find plenty of companies that can provide packages specifically for family activity holidays. Kenya is the most common destination, though safari holidays are run in many other African countries as well, such as South Africa and Tanzania.

Riding & Ranch Stay in America

For a real cowboy experience, there's nothing like a ride and ranch holiday - learning to ride, spending time with the animals and learning some basic cowboy skills are all things that appeal to kids and their parents! Many tour operators accept absolute beginners, though it may be worth getting your children (and yourself!) a little experience in the saddle before you travel abroad.

Make sure you choose the right kind of ranch experience for your family activity holiday. Working ranch holidays (including cattle drives) aren't suitable for young children, as they require long hours in the saddle and a fair amount of riding experience. Centre based riding holidays, where you stay in a single location with daily riding activities, can accommodate all ages, and some progressive riding holidays (where you move from ranch to ranch over a number of days) are suitable for slightly older children.

Dog Sledding in Lapland

If cutting through the snow with your kids on a husky driven sledge sounds like your idea of heaven, this might be the activity holiday for you! For children, the combination of snow, animals and adventure can be irresistible. The scenery in Lapland is remarkable, and there's even a chance that you'll catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights when you visit.

Dog sledding can be done as a one day excursion or, if you and your children are feeling adventurous, can be part of a multi-day expedition, stopping off at various lodges and cabins along the way. This is a family activity holiday for slightly older children - check with travel companies to find out the exact minimum age for their trips.

Sailing through the Greek Islands

Sailing can make for a superb family activity holiday, and the Greek Islands are an ideal destination - not only is the scenery beautiful, the steady waters make it a very safe place to sail and swim. Children and adults can learn the basics of sailing, swim in the Mediterranean, visit harbour towns and bask in the sun. No previous knowledge of sailing or yachting is necessary in most cases, with full tuition and assistance available.

Most family sailing holidays will be based on a flotilla, which are medium sized yachts with sails and engines. Flotillas are a very family friendly way to sail, and have become hugely popular in recent years. There are plenty of tour operators that offer flotilla holidays in Greece, and if you have very young children they can provide extra safety precautions, such as safety netting along the guardrails, to help keep your kids safe.
About the Author
Kieron Sellens is the marketing manager of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AiTO). With AITO's cultural breaks you can choose from tailor-made family activity holidays, historical tours, musical trips and many more. The independent tour operators that AITO represent specialise in worldwide holidays tailored to their customers' requirements.
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