One of the things about working in the travel industry, blogging a lot about family travel and being an all round family travel expert *cough* is that at this time of year you’re frequently asked to peer into your crystal ball and predict where we’ll all be going on holiday; and people ask you to suggest holidays for them, which is a HUGE responsibility. Still, I’m more than up for the challenge of helping you to find your dream break. So, here’s Part 1 of my Top 10 Family Travel Destinations 2015 – and do please share your holiday plans and tips below:
1. Japan. We fell completely in love with Japan, its spectacular beauty, the craziness and its people when we visited Tokyo and the Japanese islands in the autumn; and one of the things that really surprised us (apart from the controls on the loos – press the wrong button and you’re in for a completely unexpected experience) was how incredibly affordable it is. You can go on the subway for £2, enjoy a proper conveyor belt sushi dinner for a tenner, and there is an endless array of things to look at from temples to neon signs which are completely free. Plus, the decline of the yen and the strength of sterling makes it even more affordable. In fact, according to ABTA, Japan is now cheaper than the US or Dubai. Add in that and the fact they have places where you can just go and stroke rabbits or cats for the hell of it and all those cultural experiences and you’ve got an absolute family holiday winner. The weird thing is, when we returned back from Japan, I discovered lots of other families we knew we were planning to go or had just returned as well. It’s also fantastic for skiing, apparently. Yes it’s a longish flight (12-14 hours) but you arrive in the morning, wide awake and ready to explore. So, what are you waiting for?
2. Florida. Of COURSE the Sunshine State is still massively popular with British families, but as fabulous as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios are, I think we’re going to see more families deciding to either cruise-and-stay (and I can’t recommend this option highly enough, best of both worlds) and also choosing to travel round a bit more, discovering gems like the Keys, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.
3. Scandinavia. Our love of Nordic noir, Abba and all things Scandi shows no signs of abating – and Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark all make fantastic family holiday destinations, particularly during the midnight sun, when there’s endless sunshine, outdoor festivals and magical things to discover. Whether you decide to rent a cabin on the Swedish archipelago, hang out in Helsinki, visit the superb museums in Stockholm, explore the palaces of Denmark or go in search of Viking stories in the Norwegian Fjords, the laidback lifestyle makes it very easy to relax, even if you’re travelling with small children.
4. Barcelona. City breaks for families are really growing in popularity, and the more I visit Barcelona, the more I’m convinced it’s the ideal city break destination if you’re travelling with kids: the combination of fabulous beaches, mind-blowing architecture and art everywhere you look, plus amazingly fresh affordable food makes it an absolute winner.
5. Greece. From exploring ancient ruins in Athens to discovering hidden coves, villages painted in ice-cream colours and sailing round the islands (including our personal favourites, Rhodes and Symi), Greece is the perfect option for a family holiday and continues to give great value; of course it can get fiercely hot in July, so my top tip is to go as late in August as you possibly can.
And it will be no surprise that one of my biggest tips for an unforgettable family holiday is a cruise; it really is one of the best ways to take your family to explore some of the world’s most extraordinary destinations, it’s a brilliant value holiday (food and all those amazing places on your itinerary included) and with so many state-of-the-art ships sailing from Southampton this year (including Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, the sister ship to Quantum of the Seas), plus Disney Cruise Line sailing from Dover, I predict family cruising is going to be MASSIVE in 2015.
So that’s the top 5 of my Top 10 Family Travel Destinations 2015 – next week I’ll reveal which places have made 6-10.