Getting away with the kids is never a chore when you have the whole world as your playground. Choose from one of our top five family escapes and jet off for an adventure of a lifetime.
Make some noise in Thailand
The sizzle of stir-fries, the lap of turquoise waves, the chirruping of the jungle, the trumpeting of elephants – Thailand is noisy – in the best kind of way. It’s a country that will overload the ears, tingle the tastebuds and knock the socks off travellers of all ages. If you’re energetic you’ll enjoy the lush region around Chiang Mai and the opportunity to whitewater raft, mountain bike and hike. Animal lovers will love life in the jungle and the chance to be a mahout (elephant handler) for the day, feeding and bathing the animals; at night, you can swap tales around the campfire and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle. Then there are Thailand’s islands – all 1,430 of them. Phuket is a fine choice: its Phang Nga Bay is a postcard-perfect expanse of turquoise, dotted with limestone outcrops.
Go wild on safari in South Africa
South Africa’s Eastern Cape is a super safari spot for children of all ages: both its landscapes and waters are teeming with exciting animals; many lodges cater brilliantly for kids (think junior ranger programmes and footie matches against the locals). To see the big five – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo – head for the malaria-free Shamwari Game Reserve. Hermanus is the self-declared whale-watching capital of the world, and between July and December hundreds of southern right whales swim by, so close you can see them from the shore (great if the kids get a little bit sea-sick). You might see other creatures off the coast too – from dolphins to sharks!
Become a sporting superstar in Sardinia
For families passionate about sport, Superskills offers the ultimate active holiday. Children can improve their rucks, tackles and line breaks with words of encouragement from World Cup winning rugby legends Will Greenwood and Austin Healey, or fine-tune their overhead passes or throw-ins with England netball coach, Karen Atkinson. Yes it’s about sport, but more than that it’s about teamwork, inclusivity and having heaps of fun. What’s more, being based in Forte Village in Sardinia, the fun doesn’t stop when the coaching does. Turquoise waters lap golden sands, and the resort is bursting at the seams with activities for all the family, as well as offering a pretty impressive spa for parents looking for a little R&R.
Follow in a Pharaoh’s footsteps in Egypt
Only a five-hour flight away, but feeling like another world – welcome to Egypt. Cairo is home to the monumental Pyramids of Giza and the bustling bazaars of Khan el-Khalili where kids can embark on a treasure hunt. When you’re done with the city, take to the River Nile and get a real feel for what makes this country tick. As you glide by, you’ll witness riverbank life little changed for millennia: ox carts, palm trees and magnificent monuments that are over 4,000 years old. There are lots of chances to hop off, to delve into towering temples and descend into spooky pharaohs’ tombs – a private guide will help bring all that history to life. The ultimate unwind after all this culture is a break on the blissful Red Sea. Fringed by coral reefs teeming with life – from turtles to clownfish – this is the place for some serious R&R at the end of your trip.
Discover history and mystery in Mexico
A trip that combines fascinating history with white-knuckle thrills and some big surprises from Mother Nature; Mayan sites will intrigue even the most culture-averse kids, with temples well preserved, and dramatically sited. Take the fortress city of Tulum, a complex of walls, shrines and a castle pyramid perched on a clifftop, right by the sea; pack your cossie, because once you’ve explored the site’s nooks and crannies, you can jump straight in for a swim. Visit during the summer holidays and spot whale sharks migrating past the coast: better still, take a boat trip out to swim with these gentle giants. Next stop, The Yucatan; like a geological Swiss cheese, riddled with cenotes (sinkholes), caves and underground rivers. Venture to the Rio Secreto, an extensive network of subterranean rivers, where expert guides will lead you through an otherworldly realm of flooded caverns and sculptural stalactites and stalagmites. Or whizz over the whole jungle on a zipline.
Claire Powell is Digital Marketing Manager at Abercrombie & Kent.