How to choose a family holiday destination or, where should we go this year? Part 1.

February 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm

This is a tough one!

We all have a reason for choosing the destinations we go to – maybe we’ve alway wanted to go there since we were kids, or maybe we saw a movie or read a book and an image stuck in our minds. Perhaps our kids have wanted to go there or maybe we are influenced by a favorite food or restaurant? Even a visit to Epcot in Disney Land can inspire – I know someone who after visiting the “fake”countries at Epcot decided to take his family to some of the real places.

Beach, Israel

Beach, Israel

When planning for a family trip, there are many variables at play – 1) does one listen to the kids at all? If we did, we may never get past the nearest theme park. But as kids get older, they do become more discerning – they may love wildlife, and encourage you to go an a eco-tour to Africa or the Amazon perhaps. They may love history – leading to a request for Rome or Greece or Turkey or Egypt. They may love action – leading to a hiking trip or horse riding or adventure trip. They may love a program they have seen on tv so much that they are inspired to visit India or China.

The important thing is, that even if your kids are not involved in planning a trip or are too young to be involved, that you take them into account. Try always to incorporate some time for the kids to have plain simple fun – visit a playground or zoo, play soccer in the local park – even going to a movie in a foreign city can be memorable too. We did that in Trabzon in Turkey – what a great experience! Make sure its not all rush rush rush – take plenty of time to wander around – so many cities have street entertainers that kids can watch for hours!

New found friends by the houseboat

Making new friends in Kerala

Some countries may be so exotic and exciting that just being there is entertainment on its own. India comes to mind immediately. The colors, people, foods are just inspiring for many kids. Try include some elements of adventure, like visiting cave cities in Turkey, and definitely visit local markets – seeing a basketful of crickets on sale in Oaxaca, Mexico is something your kids are not going to see in their local supermarket. Even supermarket shopping is exciting – going into a supermarket in Japan is quite unlike any Western shopping experience- yes, it is super modern, but try recognising what is on sale. And local snacks can be exciting too – in India your average chips on sale might easily be super spicy.

Every country has something to offer – and the more exotic it is, the more memorable it is likely to be. And never forget – there are kids in every country, the same age as yours, and meeting them is often a great highlight.

PS: I help families with trips to destinations on five continents. Click here for more info.