Whether you choose walking, cycling, surfing, sailing, diving, whitewater rafting or a treetop adventure course – or a combination of some or all of these (or any number of other active pursuits besides)! – an active family holiday is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with the kids, allowing you to enjoy a favourite pastime or perhaps even discover a new hobby together.
It’s worth pointing out that active holidays can be very tiring, which is not always a bad thing but does mean that they are generally best suited to children aged 6 or 7 and up. Depending on the activity and safety requirements, some operators do cater to younger kids, but make sure you discuss a holiday’s suitability with the operator in detail before committing yourself. In particular, will there be other things to do if your child turns out not to enjoy or be up to certain activities? Is there any flexibility is or the holiday itinerary written in stone?
Note that accommodation and meals are generally included in activity holiday prices, leaving you free to concentrate on wearing yourselves out…
Study age limits for the holiday you’re considering and make sure you’re confident the activities are within both yours and your child’s abilities, fitness levels and comfort zones.
Don’t rule out certain types of holiday for your family. Some cycling operators provide child-seats/trailers, while walking holidays with tots are possible using combined rucksacks/child-carriers. Some offer discounts/free places for very young siblings, but check there’s enough to entertain them on-site or nearby (perhaps a swimming pool or a playroom).
Ask if instruction is given by fluent English-speakers, and if children can do activities without parental accompaniment if necessary.
Check whether insurance is included or you need to take out your own.
Ask if you need to invest in specialist clothing or equipment. Most operators provide everything you need, although sturdy footwear is a must. Old trainers and clothes are generally advisable. Avoid jeans, which become heavy when dirty or wet, and take a set of lightweight waterproofs.
In the unlikely event there are no laundry facilities on-site or nearby, pack accordingly. Take plenty of plastic bags for carrying spare clothes/dirty or wet items.
Make a list of essentials needed on your type of holiday, remembering that even for summer activity holidays you need to be prepared for nearly all kinds of weather. These may include: a water-bottle, sunblock, lip salve, sunglasses with cord, fleece tops for evenings, insect repellent/sting relief and a waterproof camera.
See also our tips pages on whitewater rafting, diving, boating and surfing.
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