There’s no denying that a bit of rest and relaxation by the pool in the cosy companionship of our loved ones is sometimes just what we need when it comes to holidays. But, all families change and if your traditional holiday bliss has started to slip precariously into the less dazzling depths of sunburn, squabbling siblings and lethargy, why not take a break from the beach this year and treat the family to something a bit more daring?
One way to ring the changes is to opt for a family adventure holiday instead of a traditional beach break. It’s much easier than you might think and according to G Adventures – a leading small group adventure tour operator – adventure holidays are now becoming an increasingly popular choice for family groups. In 2013, they saw a 300% increase in family bookings and have consequently introduced more family trips for the forthcoming season.
“All our family trips are designed to put the children’s needs first. We know that if the kids are happy, then the parents are happy and everyone has a relaxing time,” says Lisa Warner, director of international marketing at G Adventures
So, what are the choices and what can a family expect from this sort of holiday?
Types of family adventure holiday
Family adventure holidays tend to be run as small group trips and are offered by specialist tour operators such as G Adventures, Explore and Intrepid. In contrast to a resort based holiday, an adventure tour will usually follow an itinerary that takes the group to a few places during the trip, so there is always a new experience around the corner.
Some are focussed on wildlife watching such as safaris, or tiger spotting, while others centre on physical or sporting activities such as kayaking or mountain trekking. Then there are tours that explore the cultural highlights of a country with everything from camel riding through the desert to ancient city visits on offer. Some trips even weave together several different experiences into one holiday, making them a great way to keep different family members happy.
The tour operator will arrange the transport between locations, whether it is by private bus or more exciting methods such as trains, tuk-tuks or elephants, so the family can relax and enjoy the journey. Most importantly, all family adventure tours are specially designed to be enjoyed as a family unit and operators generally grade them for suitability according to age and preferred levels of accommodation comfort, so that each family makes the right choice.
Why an adventure holiday can be a great alternative for your family
Inspirational and educational
Nothing brings facts and figures to life like a personal experience. Because adventure holidays tend to engage with local communities during the trip, the whole family will get an insight into different ways of life, food and customs. The memories will stay with the family long after the end of the holiday and can become a natural stimulus for future education and learning.
Shared family fun and support
Grasping the opportunity to try activities that are completely new – whether it is spotting elephants from a canoe, or learning how to zip wire through the forest – can forge a strong sense of camaraderie and family fun that only comes through tackling the unknown together.
The whole family can enjoy being active
Many adventure tours provide an opportunity to have a go at something active. It will depend on the trip in question, but might be riding a bike for part of the day, trying kayaking, or enjoying a guided nature trek. The itinerary for each trip will highlight these opportunities and point out what the options are.
Making new friends
Typically, each tour will consist of a small group of travellers, so the odds are that your family will meet and get to know at least one other family, which can be great fun for the children and equally as interesting for the adults. You shouldn’t worry too much about co-families, as adventures do tend to attract those with like-minded interests and sharing the experience is all part of the fun!
So, if your family is hankering for a change this year, why not take a look at some of the tours available? The hardest part will probably be deciding which adventure to embark on, because there are so many to choose from!
Alison Thompson is a travel writer for FHR, a leading provider of Airport Hotels, Parking and Lounges