Planning your next big family adventure? Travelling in the school holidays can be a minefield, with fierce competition for the best flights and family-friendly resorts. The key is to plan well in advance and pick destinations with good weather for the season. Here’s a look at where to go during the school holidays, whether you’re after a classic family beach holiday, Big Five African safari or Asian cultural break. Whether you’re travelling in February half term, Easter, May half term, the summer holidays, October half term or Christmas, we have the best destinations for your family holiday.
Travel to South Africa in the February half-term and you’ll catch the tail-end of summer, which means you can bask in sunshine yet avoid the crowds. The Rainbow Nation provides a taste of everything; beaches, city sightseeing and safari. Start in Cape Town where you can explore history on a trip to Robben Island, whiz down the coast in a vintage side car, then drive out to a malaria-free reserve along the coast like Kariega. If you’re drawn to famous Kruger National Park, Tinga Lodge with its Mack & Madi kids’ club is a hit. You can also road trip along the Garden Route, perhaps taking a detour to Oudtshoorn to watch delightful meerkats in their natural habitat.
Treat the kids to a dream safari in Kenya. It’s dry season, so you’ll enjoy sunny climes and blue skies. You’ll find family-friendly safari lodges across the country, from the Maasai Mara to the conservancies of Laikipia, arid Samburu plains and maneless lion territory in Tsavo. The best, like Sarova Mara, offer two-bed safari tents for a chic glamping experience, a pool, kids’ club, safari drives and activities for all ages. Introduce the children to new cultures with ethical visits to local villages and head to the sun-blessed Mombasa coast for an idyllic beach escape to end your trip.
For a classic family seaside holiday, fly to the Philippines where you’ll enjoy a balmy, dry climate during the UK winter. The paradisical islands are awash with white-sand beaches where kids can play and swim with tropical marine creatures. Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa is a family favourite with treehouse villas, while Bohol offers Super-Mario-style Chocolate Hills and cute, bug-eyed tarsiers. Try island-hopping around El Nido to spot dolphins and explore hidden caves and bird-filled forests.
For an adventure straight out of The Jungle Book, head to India. It’s dry season and the best time for tracking Bengal tigers on safari in national parks like Panna, Pench, Bandipur and Bandhavgarh. Set in a tiger reserve, Singinawa Jungle Lodge in Kanha has a pool and family bungalows. If beaches are more your thing, Goa fits the bill, while Kerala offers both soft sands, backwater cruises and family farm stays. India is a top choice for older teens to sink their teeth into cultural tours, from cooking classes and temple-hopping in the Golden Triangle to Bollywood dance lessons in Mumbai.
April celebrates peak cherry blossom season in Japan, particularly in Tokyo and Kyoto. An Easter school holiday break can see you picnicking in parks bursting with pink-petalled trees. Japan is a delight for kids and teens alike, home of Manga, Pokémon and Karate and its tech-savvy cities are filled with interactive museums. Take the kids on high-speed bullet train journeys and Mount Fuji e-biking tours, let them learn how to swing a samurai sword and experience traditional culture at an authentic Japanese ryokan.
It’s the start of dry season in Southern Africa, great for bush-to-beach family holidays. Enjoy clear skies and sunshine in Botswana, where you can spot the Big Five on safari in Chobe National Park. Popular Chobe Game Lodge welcomes children of all ages and has family-friendly chalets and a pool. In the water-logged Okavango Delta, you can take exciting water safaris to see hippos, crocodiles and elephants. Travel onto Mozambique after your safari for a rest on its sherbet sands. Machangulo Beach Lodge, set in forested dunes overlooking the ocean, is family-friendly with villas, pools and kids’ menus.
Rwanda is perfect for families with adventurous teens. June to September is dry season and prime time for gorilla trekking tours, although you’ll need to book way in advance to get hold of coveted permits. Volcanoes National Park, home to around 340 of these endangered primates, will be your base. Book a stay at Wilderness Sabyinyo, which accepts kids of all ages – but be aware that under 15s are not permitted into Volcanoes National Park. Spend your days on guided gorilla treks, then relax at Sabyinyo’s peaceful cottages.
Buckle up for a bucket-list African safari experience: The Great Migration. Visit either the Serengeti in Tanzania or Kenya’s Maasai Mara to witness the world’s largest mass migration, with million-strong herds of zebra, wildebeest and antelope flooding from the thirsty Serengeti plains across the Mara River in search of fertile grasslands. Dramatic river crossings complete with crocodile and big cat hunts rule, accompanied by Big Five game drives. Stay in luxury tented safari camps with kids’ clubs and activities, like Nanyukie and Sarova Mara, then end with a beach break at an all-inclusive resort like Emerald Zanzibar.
Enjoy an adrenaline-pumping family trip to Zimbabwe in the school holidays, a favourite for teenagers. Explore Victoria Falls by zipline or helicopter to get up close to the Smoke that Thunders, or take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi. In the summer, huge herds of elephants and buffalo can be spotted at Hwange National Park, while UNESCO-listed Lake Kariba and the Mana Pools are ideal for water safaris. Star resorts include Bomani Tented Lodge, which features tented family suites, bush walks, night drives, canoeing and even pump runs to deliver supplies to water stations.
Namibia makes a superb road trip destination at this time of year, with dry weather in the mid-twenties and clear night skies for stargazing. Parched conditions mean animals gather at Etosha National Park’s waterholes, so all you have to do is park up for African animal sightings. The Namib Desert takes centre-stage, providing the chance to sandboard, take fat bike trips on the dunes and search out desert creatures. Enjoy dolphin-watching cruises, then take part in conservation activities at Okonjima, home to the renowned AfriCat Foundation. Their Plains Camp has stellar family lofts, a waterhole, pool and young explorers’ walk.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Laura, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.
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