The Ultimate Guide to Spectacular Family Holidays

The root to a successful family travel is planning. With this ultimate guide to family travel, you will gain an insight into the planning process of family holidays including where to go with children of varying ages, what to consider, the travel documents needed and a free family planning checklist.

After a decade of travelling with my family, I have gained the experience to make me an authority on the how to’s of family travel. 

There has been:

  • countless misjudgement.
  • cultural unawareness.
  • unresearched time of travel.
  • loss of the useful items.
  • lack of necessary items for travel.

I have made a lot of mistakes, and I have been overly curious. I have gained treasured memories, expanded knowledge of the countries visited and travel savviness.


This post hopes to share the ultimate guide to family travel, show you how to make travelling with kids exciting and organised. 

I hope this ultimate guide to family travel helps  you become your family’s travel hero.

The How To's Of Family Travel

There are two key things in the How to’s to family travel to consider before you start planning your family travels.

  1. School Holidays
  2. Climate conditions

School Holidays

The school holidays around the world varies and sometimes it is difficult to keep up with the difference between schools, states, and countries. For example, the school holidays calendar for children in independent or private schools vary greatly to the school holidays calendar of children in the state schools.  Of course, if you’re homeschooling your kids, you have more flexibility in choosing the time you wish to travel.

In the England and Wales, there are 13 weeks of school holidays in total. The school holidays are spread out as:

  • 1 week in October
  • 2 weeks in December
  • 1 week in February
  • 2 weeks in April
  • 1 week in May
  • 6 weeks in July and August

In Scotland the school holidays are:

  • 2 days in September
  • 1 week in October
  • 1 day in November
  • 2 weeks in December
  • 2 days in February
  • 3 Weeks in April
  • 2 days in May
  • 8 weeks in June/July and August

In the US, the school holidays for most school are:

  • 1 week in November for Thanksgiving
  • 2 Weeks in December
  • 1 week in February
  • 1 week in March or April for Spring Break
  • 8 Weeks from June to August /September.

Climate Conditions

The climate conditions of where you wish to visit is crucial to the success of your holiday. For example, visiting The Middle East in July and August might work out cheaper but the experience of such harsh conditions might be too bitter to bear. Hence, it is best to choose destinations in line with climate conditions including any risks of potential natural climate disaster.

Once you’ve nailed the school holidays period and the climate condition for your family travel,  you need to consider where to go.

The How's Of Family Travel

Planning where to go will be based on certain preference and interest such as:

  1.  All Inclusive resorts
  2. Theme Parks
  3. Cruise 
  4. Ski resorts
  5. Cultural breaks
  6. City breaks
  7. Safari adventures

All inclusive family resorts provides spacious accommodation, fantastic range of dining options, extensive leisure facilities and wonderful entertainment for the family. 

They are a great way to enjoy a package holiday on a budget. Increasing numbers of all – inclusive family resorts are stylist and luxurious whilst giving you the best value for your money.

The How To's Of Family Travel

Theme Parks are excellent options in terms of offering accommodation, entertainment and experiences that are too good to miss. Most children love seeing the characters dressed up and being enveloped in magic. As children get older, they start to appreciate the rides and attraction but the nostalgic feel for magic is still hidden somewhere.

I’m yet to see a child that does not crave the joys and happiness from a theme park. Although Disneyland Parks are quite popular, they are a number of Theme Parks that offer equally good experiences around the world and in the UK.

In the UK:

  • Alton Towers, Staffordshire.
  • Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey.
  • Legoland, Berkshire.
  • Thorpe Park, Surrey.
  • M & Ds, Scotland.

Around Africa, Europe and the Middle East:

  1. Dubai Parks and Resorts.
  2. Port Aventura, Spain.
  3. Legoland, Denmark.
  4. Walibi, Belgium.
  5. Europa Park, Germany.
  6. Gronalund, Sweden.
  7. Aquaventure Waterpark, Dubai
  8. Gold Reef City, South Africa.
  9.  Gardaland, Italy.
  10. Efteling, Netherlands.
The How To's Of Family Travel

If you thought that cruise holiday was for the golden age, you’ll need to think again. Many cruise lines offer family-friendly packages that are full of entertainment. Cruise lines always seems to be coming up with amazing ships with incredible features for the whole family. Imagine a go-kart on a ship, a complete jaw-dropping water park, climbing walls, surf simulators, splash pads, laser tag, Star Wars fun games and an opportunity to dine with favourite characters! There is something for kids of all ages on a cruise line.

The popular cruise lines for family travel are:

  • Disney Cruise line with four cruise lines – Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.
  • Carnival Cruises.
  • Royal Caribbean International Cruise line.
  • PO Cruises.
  • Marella Cruises.
  • MSc Cruises.
  • Princess Cruises.

A family ski trip is the best way to enjoy the winter school holidays in December and February with your children. The secret to a successful ski trip is choosing a ski resort that caters for families. Family Ski Resorts provides off-slopes activities, lift-pass deals, child-care facilities, soft play area, children’s ski lessons, accommodation close to the slopes and meal times designed around the needs of children.

The best family ski resorts around Europe are:

  1. Wengen, Switzerland
  2. Zell Am See, Austria
  3. Selva, Italy
  4. La Rosiere, France
  5. El Tarter, Andorra
  6. Arinsal, Andorra
  7.  Ruka, Finland
  8. Obergurgl, Austria
  9. Vemdalen, Sweden
  10.  La Plagne, France

 

The How To's Of Family Travel

Cultural Trips lets you immense totally in the culture and history of the locals.

Cultural Trips are rewarding because of the experience to unearth languages, stories and monuments around the world. 

From the iconic Egyptian pyramids to discovering the Omo Valley and Omo National Park in Ethopia to the intriguing journey from Senegal to Guinea Bissua where you can engage with the Fulani’s (the world’s original nomads) as they herd their cattle across the savannahs of West Africa.

Follow an unforgettable journey to amazing places throughout Africa or opt for a cultural trip to the Middle East where you can spend the night under the stars in Wadi Rum or Snorkel in the Red Sea. You can opt to float in the Dead Sea or go on a camel ride across the desert. If you are an adventurous family, you can rumble through the ruins of Crusader, fortess of Ajlun.

Explore Europe’s cultural trip and start in France where you can indulge in the lifestyle of a Lordship in the most astonishing Chateau or head to Central Europe for a comprehensive tour of Czech Republic, Slovenkia, Austria, Hungary and Poland.

 

City Breaks are the most popular holidays families of older children lean towards. They can be fun, upbeat and knowledgeable.

City Breaks across Europe are easy to get to with more high speed rail connections and road border free access.

The How To's Of Family Travel

Safari Adventures are fun-filled, jaw dropping moments for the whole family. It provides an opportunity to be in nature and see the Big 5 in their natural habitat.

The Top 12 African countries for Safari Adventures are:

  1. Swaziland – costs from £70  per person per day.
  2. Namibia – costs from £85 per person per day.
  3. Kenya – costs from £91 per person per day.
  4. South Africa – costs from £95 per person per day.
  5. Mozambique – costs from £125 per person per day.
  6. Botswana – costs from £144 per person per day.
  7. Zimbabwe – costs from £146 per person per day.
  8. Tanzania – costs from £148 per person per day.
  9. Zambia – costs from £150 per person per day.
  10. Uganda – costs from £160 per person per day.
  11. Malawi – costs from £202 per person per day.
  12. Rwanda – costs from £226 per person per day.

The How to's of family Travel: Travel Documents

No family travel is possible without the right travel document or paper work. The required travel document or paper work varies for each destinations. Even if stay-cations are your thing, you will still need some form of travel document or paper work.

Here is a breakdown of travel documents or paper work required for a successful family holiday.

Travel Insurance

For local travels, international travels and city breaks, a travel insurance is necessary for any travel where you will be spending from 2 days away from your usual residence.

Read this useful post on Family Travel Insurance here for more information.

Passport

An International Passport or Proof of Identify Cards are required for travelling.

For international travel, a passport with a minimum of 6 months validity is necessary.

Read about how to get a passport here.

Visa

There are countries you will need to obtain a Visas before travelling and there are countries where Visas are issued on arrival for a cost.

The best way to know is to research the destination you are going to and to check if Visas are required or not.

Visas are usually obtained online or through the High Commission Offices of the country you wish to travel to. 

Ensure you make arrangements for Visas in good time before your travels to avoid disappointments. 

Some countries are particularly slow at processing Visas. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth website for advice here.

Health Certificates

Some countries require particular health certificates before you are issued clearance into their country.

For example, for travels to some countries in Africa, you will need a yellow fever certificate.

Read more on my health page here.

Driving Licence

If you plan to rent a car while on your travels, it is best to take your driving license along. It is also advisable to apply for and take an International Drivers License (IDL) along for your travels.

An IDL is a legal requirement to drive or rent a car in several countries. It is recognised in 186 countries and usually valid for about 5 years. It is recognised by the United Nations and it certifies that you are a holder of a valid drivers liscense in your country.

It is highly recommended for families because of the ease and safety it gives when renting a car abroad.

Other Travel documents

The other travel documents that might be useful for travels are:

  1. Copies of accommodation confirmations.
  2. Travel Tickets – planes, trains, buses and channel crossing documents (if applicable).
  3. Copies of bank accounts details (required for entry in some countries)
  4. Marriage Certificate (if applicable) and required in some countries.

The How To's of Family Travel: Ultimate guide

  • Packing for your Family Holiday.

Check out my family packing checklist and never forget a thing for your travels.

  • 3 sustainable means of travel

More people are deciding on more sustainable means of travelling that means more people are deciding on using a private car, a train or a coach for train.

This post explains how to travel more sustainably.

  • Wellness Tips  for a family Holiday

How do you keep healthy on your holiday?

Read my wellness tip for a family holiday.

  • Choosing the best travel iron

Read my reviews on the 3 best travel irons for smart looking family photos.

  • Safety for the Family

Read my post on the 5 common family travel scams you need to watch out for.

  • 10 tips for travelling with a baby and toddler

Read this post from Petite Capsule.

The How To's Of Family Travel
The How To's Of Family Travel
The How To's Of Family Travel

The How To's of Family Travel: Final Thoughts

The how’s to of family travel: ultimate guide provides exhaustive details on how to consider the best time for travel and the climate conditions of your proposed destination.

It covers how to plan where to go and how to ensure you have the required travel documents.

Finally, the how to’s of family travel provides resources for making your travels easier and fun-filled.

I will be adding to this post as required. If you think I have missed an important point, please let me know in the comments and I will add it in.

Want to get started?

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Bolupe Maborukoje

Bolupe Maborukoje

Bolupe was once an architect. She now designs holidays from her Cambridge based travel agency. She is on a mission to help you turn your travel dreams into a reality. She is a luxury travel expert, helping you see luxury travel in the 'New Light'. Bolupe believes luxury travel is about the adventures, experiences and perspectives that are gained. She has the secrets to affordable luxury travel and that's the type of holidays she designs.

48 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Spectacular Family Holidays”

  1. Hello Bolupe,

    This is such a great post. every family needs to consider all kinds of things and be well prepared before they travel.
    I was a tour guide for of a river cruise trip in Borneo, Indonesia. My clients were generally pretty well prepared and understand what to wear considering the climate and the local culture. Most of them know that they need to bring mosquito repellents (we do provide it on board for our clients) ans some would even take malaria pills before or during the trip. However, if they are not careful of the side effects, they would experience fatigues, some would even got bad dreams at night or experienced hallucination. They have to consult their doctors.

    Reply
    • Thank you Ferra for your comments. The side effects of Malaria Pills are not great and that’s why I advise families to plan an follow their health provider’s advise in regards to health.

      Reply
  2. Very helpful and informative.
    I remember my first time to travel abroad. Never mind its a long story. Hahahhaa all i can say is we must be prepared when we’re travelling to avoid some serious problems.
    Those price list helps me to decide in which places should i visit.

    Reply
  3. Hey Bolupe,

    Thank you for such an informative and exhaustive travel guide for families. My kids are not of school age yet but this has always opened my eyes as to what the key dates are and how to plan ahead for holidays when they start school.

    Brilliant!

    Femi

    Reply
    • Thanks Jennifer. My plan was to answer all the how to’s question of family travel because several families find it scary.

      Reply
  4. My family tend to go on an abroad holiday yearly, and it is a lot of hassle! It’s really important to research where you are going and to make sure you have all the documents you suggested. I also recommend lots of entertainment as we got our flight delayed by 6 hours with a 2 year old!

    Reply
  5. This is really useful, helpful, and insightful information about traveling with your family. I especially love the advice about studying the culture before visiting a new place. This is so important to stay respectful of cultures that may be different from what we are accustomed to experiencing. Thanks for such a comprehensive guide to traveling with families!

    Reply
    • Thank you Michelle. It is an important tip to understand the culture of where we need to visit and teach the kids the basic manners too.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for the ideas. I especially liked the lists of theme parks in the U.K. and other areas. This is a very comprehensive resource. Nice work!

    Reply
  7. Love this! I have three boys and I can’t wait to travel again. Listing the school holidays in other countries is helpful for planning a trip. For example, you know based on the U.K. school schedule, when there may be a lot of travelers in the great European cities.

    Reply
  8. This is super cool guide. My daughter is still a toddler and we are yet to keep the school holidays into consideration. But I do remember my parents planning all our trips around my school holidays! Cultural breaks, city breaks and safari adventures are our favourite! Thanks for the list of prices in various African countries for a safari.

    Reply
  9. Planning a family travel is not always easy and your article is really helpful. I like that you put general school holidays in the UK and the US. It helps a lot in making a planning to avoid crowds. As best as we can try.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found this helpful. You’re right about avoiding crowds and that’s why it’s important to know when the school holidays are in the country you intend to visit.

      Reply
  10. I havent had to plan a family trip with kids yet. I only know of family trips with me being the kid. I didnt realize there was a lot of planning that goes into it! My mother has taken me on a cruise and my dad through different ski resorts. Both to different cities and countries and always around my school break.

    Reply
    • It’s great that you experienced loads of travels as a kid with your family and I’m sure the memories will stay with you and help you plan yours when you’re ready.

      Reply
  11. I bet a cruise would be fun for kids and families to do, they always seem to have so many events and activities on, they’d be no chance of the kids getting bored. Only problem is keeping track of them on such a large ship!

    Reply
    • I know it’s a bit of a challenge to keep an eye on kids on the cruise ship. I have some tips for keeping kids stay on holidays.

      Reply
  12. This is such a detailed and insightful guide. Great ideas and tips given! I would go for the safari! I will definitely keep it for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  13. Great guide on how to choose the best destination and the best time to travel. There is a lot to consider when you travel with your family. I find the idea of all inclusive resorts really a good option if you have children. I personally don’t like it because I always gain weight when you put so much food in front of me, lol!. I’ve never been on a safari, but would definitely like to go.

    Reply
  14. I remember the days of travelling when our children were young. Every holiday squeezed into school holidays which were both crowded and more expensive. We liked all inclusive resorts when the kids were a little older and they ate a lot. When the kids were smaller, we looked for places with kid clubs so the kids could have some fun. And we got a bit of a break too. Cruise ships today have so much to offer. They are like floating theme parks if you pick the right one. I guess we will have to consider all fo this whenever we become grandparents.

    Reply
    • The travel companies always take advantage of school holidays to increase the cost of supply because of high demand.

      Reply
  15. Thanks for sharing this information. We travel with the kids during their summer or winter break, and indeed it is a challenge. But we make sure they have complete health insurance (it is important, including vaccines!).

    Reply
  16. Those are some genuine mistakes that happen while travelling. Proper planning is the key to a great family trip. You have shared some great tips here. I do not have a kid, but I see my sister planning meticulously for a holiday keeping in mind her kid’s vacations. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    Reply
    • Great family holidays starts with planning meticulously and then relaxing to enjoy it. It’s great you found it useful.

      Reply
  17. It is a great post, so many helpful & useful tips for families. So informative. It is so important to plan your holidays detailed when you go with kids. I think insurance is crucial because you never know what happens. Checking climate conditions before you go and take all travel documents is essential also.

    Reply
  18. Very helpful to families traveling with kids! I imagine that it’s very challenging to plan family travel and I am not really sure if I will be able to pull it off! Indicating the prices is quite helpful, too. Thanks, Bolupe!

    Reply
  19. I don’t have any children but wow this post was so informative for all! i definitely am one who loves planning so this was ticking all the boxes for me! I will definitely remember this for when we do have a family and want to travel! we will be extra organised! fantastic post <3

    Reply
  20. I am a family traveler and can totally relate to it. For my travels too, I have to check my children’s school calendar with holidays and in which some days are rejected due to weather conditions. Also, checking out family resorts and other family activities becomes my important agenda in finalizing the destination. Cultural trips is also important with children so that they too learn something unique about local culture.

    Reply

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