Alastair McLean, managing director of Activities Abroad has some tips for parents on planning family trips during the school holidays.
Q. What destinations would you recommend for a half-term holiday? We want to make the most of the school break but also avoid the crowds. Becky, Gloucestershire
It very much depends on which half-term. I love Lapland in February to hunt for the Northern Lights or go dog sledding. In May, I would most likely head to The Azores for a spot of whale watching and snorkelling with dolphins. October is slightly trickier as the weather is starting to turn so my advice is to head south. Somewhere accessible like Kas on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast would fit the bill very nicely indeed.
Q. We want to do something a little different this summer and try out a new adventure as a family. What holiday could we fit into a two-week period that fits the bill? Steve, Surrey
Activity holidays make for such good family holidays as they are all about shared memories. If you go white water rafting as a family you will find yourselves still discussing it and laughing about it months later. We all lead such busy lives and childhood is so fleeting. In my view, it is absolutely imperative that holidays create shared family memories and further strengthen the most important bonds any of us will ever experience.
I’m a big fan of enjoying an active week and then a more relaxed one in the same destination. By the end of the first week, you’ll have discovered the local area and the holiday guides will have introduced you to the restaurants and best activity providers. On that basis, I’d consider somewhere like Portugal’s Alentejo Coast where, amongst other activities, you can learn to surf but in a part of Portugal that is more popular with Portuguese visitors than the overseas variety. If you are considering longer haul then give some thought to South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal – it’s bordering on a life changing trip!
Q. How far in advance do I need to start planning my family holidays? Alexandra, London
Families seem to be booking later and later. Unlike in the past when discounts were ten a penny, this can actually make the holiday dearer and limit choice as accommodation and flights get booked up. It’s worth remembering that you only have to put down a deposit when you book early so to give yourself the widest possible choice and secure your preferred holiday I would recommend that you start planning many, many months in advance. Demand during school holidays is huge and places limited; don’t miss out by waiting for bargains that will most likely not materialise.