As I write this piece, an insistent clicking noise at the window makes me turn around, and to my astonishment I see that the torrential rain of this morning has turned into a hailstorm – in August! As well as fearing for the future of the planet, I fear, rather more selfishly, for the sanity of my family if we have yet another wash-out summer. My mind turns to more exotic climes and a treat in the form of some winter sun. But can anyone really afford to travel long-haul in the current economic climate? If not, what are the alternatives?
Medium-haul winter hotspots include Malta, the Azores, Egypt and Jordan, while Dubai and Oman are only just in the long-haul category (flights take 7hrs), and Morocco and Tunisia are actually short-haul despite guaranteeing winter warmth. The incursion of low-cost flight operators into at least some of these destinations means that your travel costs can be low. All are outside the expensive Eurozone, too, while some have much lower living costs than the UK. In Morocco, for instance, you enjoy a three-course meal in a restaurant for substantially less than a tenner and sleep in a charming riad for about £20 a night. Flights from the UK can be as low as £250. Take the family has destination guides and often special offers for all of these places.
If you’re tempted to cut costs by taking your kids out of school during term-time, it’s worth weighing up the cultural benefits of your trip versus the lost learning time. At takethefamily.com we’re all in favour of ‘eduvacations’ – and if your school is firmly against term-time trips, this might be the way to persuade them otherwise. If your destination corresponds with a topic your kids are studying as part of the National Curriculum, so much the better!
You might seek inspiration in some of big exhibitions, events or new movies, then, for instance, go play Indiana Jones amidst the Aztec ruins that surround Mexico City before getting some R&R in a sunny modern resort? – great deals can be scored in Cancun on the Caribbean and Puerto Vallara on the Pacific Coast. Flights take about 12 hours. Or you might think about India, which is best visited from October to January, when its biggest and best festivals take place. Why not visit for Diwali or for Rajasthan’s world-famous Pushkar camel fair, touring some of the country’s wonderful old palaces and then spending some time on the beautiful beaches of Goa or Kerala? Flights to Mumbai start at less than £350, and living costs in India are very low unless you insist on five-star accommodation. Ecologically sound or family guesthouses are in any case much more interesting ways of experiencing this fascinating country.
Go on, you know you deserve it…
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