Best Family Holiday Destinations

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Welcome to the last travel round-up of the year – it’s a bumper edition, with some truly inspirational blog posts. Thank you to everyone who has contributed. I asked for your favourite travel posts of 2018, and I’ve been amazed by the variety of topics which you chose to share. From overnight UK caravan trips, to four-month long adventures in Africa, from musings on how travel shapes us, to lessons learnt when trips don’t work out as planned, I’ve enjoyed reading every one of these posts. Do click through to read them in full on the original sites.

Africa: road trip

Jenny Lynn of Travelynn Family has chosen a post about her amazing four-month overland adventure exploring sub-Saharan Africa with her husband and their two young sons. Jenny says: ‘Living life in a Land Rover with the luxury of time together as a family was extremely special and those nights huddled together around the campfire with the stars of Africa watching over us will be forever etched on my mind.’ This helpful post answers the many questions which Jenny has been asked about the practicalities of their trip.

FAQ: Overlanding Africa with kids

Barbados: multi-generational trip

Tanya Barrow of Mummy Barrow has been going to Barbados for years, and shares a post about her most recent trip there. Tanya says: ’We now know Barbados really well (ten years worth of visits) yet still find new things to visit every time we go. This year was the first with three generations as my parents came along, as well as my daughter’s new husband. It really was the perfect holiday and perfectly demonstrated that multi-generational holidays work! Barbados offers the perfect backdrop for busy days being a tourist, and lazy days on the beach.’

Reflections on Barbados — Part 3

China: Great Wall

A visit to the Great Wall of China has been on Leona Bowman’s bucket list for a very long time. Leona, who blogs at Wandermust Family finally made it there this year, with her husband and their toddler. Leona says: ‘2018 has been our best travel year to date completing our round the world with our toddler in tow but perhaps our favourite experience was hiking the Great Wall of China! It is such a breathtaking site and was wonderful to watch our little girl hike/toddle the wall like a pro! It is something that we would love other families to consider doing so in this post we round up all our top tips and advice for hiking the great wall of China with kids!‘

WALKING THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA WITH KIDS

Croatia: Plitvice Lakes 

Rim, who blogs at Curious and Geeks, shares a post about a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site which she explored on a summer trip with her husband and their two young children. Rim says: ‘During our family road-trip in Croatia, we spent a day in Plitvice Lakes and we were all amazed by its beauty. The different colours of the lakes were stunning and the kids were so happy to spy little fishes, snakes, to run after dragonflies and to have a picnic just by a waterfall. It truly deserves its UNESCO title and should be included in every Europe bucket list!’

Plitvice Lakes with kids in one day

France: sledging in La Rosiere

Kirstie Pelling of The Family Adventure Project always looks for different outdoor activities to take part in when she’s on her travels. She and her family relished the experience of trying out the simple wooden sledges which were used by mountain children to get to school in the 1900s. Kirstie says: ‘My favourite post of the year was about paret sledging and writing it took me back to the icy beauty of La Rosiere at night. With Mont Blanc watching over us and the ski lifts closed we entered a brave new dusky world with our tiny traditional sledges. Brave because there was no one to rescue me when I fell off .Which I did, a lot…’

A Most Unusual School Run: Paret Sledge Descent in La Rosiere

Germany: Ruhr iron plant

Catherine Boardman of Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays found an interesting and unusual way to break up the drive from Calais to Berlin this summer: a visit to a disused iron plant in the Ruhr. Catherine explains: ‘Landschaftpark was a huge ironworks that has become a park. You can clamber up the Blast Furnace, nature has been allowed to take over the old works and at night the whole site is lit up with an amazing light show.’

HAVING A BLAST AT LANDSCHAFTSPARK DUISBURG NORD

Finland: cross-country skiing

Trish Burgess of Mum’s Gone To learnt a new skill on a winter break in Lapland with her husband: cross-country skiing. They enjoyed the experience so much that they want to do it again. Trish says: ‘At the beginning of 2018 we travelled to the north of Finland for a week of cross-country skiing. This post will give readers an idea of what the sport involves, what kit you need and why the snowy Lapland landscape is the ideal place to learn.’

A beginner’s guide to cross-country skiing

Greece: Sifnos

Clare Thomson of Suitcases and Sandcastles regularly spends holidays in Greece. She believes that you need to get off the beaten track in order to find the best Greek islands. 

Clare says: ‘I’ve chosen this post because the Greek island of Sifnos is the sort of place I’m always dreaming of discovering on my travels. It’s a picture-perfect Greek island that smells as good as it looks. A Greek island that’s absolutely gorgeous yet hasn’t been discovered by hordes of tourists. We often visit the Greek islands as a family but we rarely go back to the same place twice because there are always so many other places to be discovered. But Sifnos is the island that just might tempt us to return.’

Things to do in Sifnos

Italy: Genoa city break

Samantha Rickelton of North East Family Fun thoroughly enjoyed a short break with her three children in the city of Genoa in Northern Italy. Sam says: ‘Genoa was a real highlight of the year for us and I’d certainly recommend as an alternative family break. There is so much to do from street theatre to aquariums, boat trips and parks and you can spend your afternoons playing in Nervi’s Lido’s and eating the best pasta (with pesto of course).’

How to spend a weekend in Genoa with kids

Malawi adventures

Karen Beddow of Mini Travellers went to Africa with her husband and their three daughters this year, to Malawi. Highlights of the trip include seeing animals in the wild, taking part in community projects and camping on an uninhabited island. Karen says: ‘This is my fave post of 2018 because it was the culmination of lots of other posts creating content about a trip we truly loved. It was such a special trip with some incredible experiences and it made me proud of my girls each day. The videos we made will be treasured forever and have been watched by thousands. I’m genuinely proud of it.’

14 Nights in Malawi | Our Malawi Family Holiday with Responsible Safari Company

Malaysia: wildlife tours

Cathy Winston of Mummy Travels has chosen to share a post about an ethical wildlife tour and a sea safari in Malaysia which she experienced with her five year-old daughter.

Cathy says: ‘Our big trip of the year, it was our only holiday outside the UK and Europe – a last-minute escape to the sun, we found fascinating wildlife and gorgeous scenery.’

A LANGKAWI TOUR WITH KIDS – VENTURING INTO THE MANGROVES

Oman: road trip

Ioana of Zen Babytravel really enjoyed exploring Oman with her family. They hired a 4×4 and travelled around the country, staying in six different places during the trip. Ioana says: ‘A country of contrasts which took us by complete surprise and left us in awe and longing for more. Over 10 days we took in the stunning turquoise shades of the Arabian sea, snorkelled with huge green turtles and watched dolphins, trekked in dramatic canyons and indulged Al Hajar mountains, swam in lush wadis and rid the shifting sands of Wahiba, watched turtles laying eggs and baby turtles heading back to the sea.’

Luxury and adventure holidays Oman with kids: 10 days itinerary

Portugal: child-free break

My blog is Mums do travel, and my favourite post from this year is from a trip which I went on with my husband. We left our teenagers at home, with the eldest in charge, and headed off to Portugal’s beautiful Algarve for four days this spring. I really enjoyed exploring a region which neither of us had been to before, as well as having some rare time away as a couple on our own. It reminded me of our travels when we were in our twenties, before becoming parents. Our youngest is now nearly 16, and I hope that we’ll be able take more trips like this one before too long.

A four-day trip to the Algarve, Portugal

Portugal: Roman ruins

Mary Proctor of Over 40 and Mum to One has chosen a post about an ancient site in Portugal which she visited with her young son. Mary says: ‘I’m always keen to get away from the busy seaside areas whenever we’re away and the Roman Ruins of Milreu are a little hidden gem. It’s not far inland from Tavira on the Algarve and we had the site to ourselves when we were there.  It’s definitely worth a visit.’

Exploring the Roman ruins of Milreu

Sweden: sailing adventures

This year Monika Roozen and her family bought a sailing boat. Monika is currently living in Sweden, and she blogs about her life, travels and sailing adventures at Mum on the Brink. Monika says: ‘Every journey starts with a dream. Our summer Baltic adventure was no different: we’d put off sailing for years as something only the rich could afford, but the seas and lakes had a mystical pull on us. I did the sums and a used sailboat and costs are less than that of a new small car, less than the cost for five of us to head to Orlando for two weeks in high season. We took the plunge, bought the boat and after much prep set off. Our first leg… a collection of small disasters.’

Sailing Diary #1- Our First Sail, a Collection of Minor Disasters

Thailand: responsible tourism

Emma of Wanderlust and Wetwipes shares a thoughtful piece about responsible and sustainable tourism, following a family trip to the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi. Emma says: ‘This was the trip that really had the most profound impact on us. Responsible travel and tourism is critical in how we all approach holidays in future and I really saw an uptick in interest both from families who travel and from the authorities in popular destinations. It’s not done by any stretch but that’s why we all need to do our part!’

The other side of “paradise”

UK Centerparcs: moneysaving tips

Amanda Whitttingham of Mummy 2 Twindividuals is a big fan of Center Parcs, and has some great advice on how to make it more affordable when you stay there. Amanda says: ‘We’ve been lucky enough to fit in three Center Parcs holidays in two years. That may seem extravagant as this luxury resort isn’t known for being budget friendly. However we found ways to keep costs down and show that it is accessible if you plan your stay and go with frugal mindset.’

How to do Center Parcs on a tight budget

UK Devon: digital detox

Emma Dowey of Emma Me and B Make Tea enjoyed a break from the internet on a family trip to Devon this spring. Emma and her husband have been trying to cut down on the time that they spend online and to spend more quality time as a family. Emma says: ‘For this travel round-up I’ve chosen our stay in Exmoor at West Withy Farm. The cottage was wonderful and with limited 4G and WiFi it meant we could properly switch off for a few days and enjoy everything that Exmoor has to offer. If you’re looking to have a bit of a digital detox in the New Year then I can certainly recommend.’

How to Have a Digital Detox Family Holiday at West Withy Farm in Exmoor

UK: camper van trip

Zoe Holland of Juggling on Rollerskates says that her favourite travel post from this year is one about a half-term camper van trip with her two young children. The van which they used is called Sally. Zoe says: ‘We spent 3 nights driving across Gloucestershire and Warwickshire in Sally and we genuinely loved every minute. It was a bit out of my comfort zone travelling on the road solo with the kids…..but it was fab! Hopefully we’ll be off on the road again in 2019!’

Review: Wanderlust Camper Co, For Family Friendly Road Trips

UK: first-time camping tips

Chloe Bridge of Sorry About the Mess went camping with her young children for the first time this year. She and her husband were experienced campers before becoming parents, but they weren’t sure if camping would work with the kids. Chloe says: ‘2018 marks the first time we went camping as a family. We had no idea whether we would turn out to be the camping sort of family, so it definitely felt like a big new adventure. It turns out that we loved camping as a family, but camping is a bit of a learning curve for first-timers, so I wrote this post about everything we learned.’

10 tips for your first family camping trip

UK: Haven Holidays

Natalie Ray of Plutonium Sox is sharing a very honest post about a UK holiday which didn’t work out as planned. Natalie is careful to mention the positive aspects of the trip, as well as the negatives. Natalie says of her account: ‘I was worried about posting it but the response was incredibly positive. I think it’s important to share bad travel experiences as well as good. It shows people that we all face the same struggles and not everything goes to plan.’

Why Haven holidays are not for us

UK Lake District: Beatrix Potter

Pollyanna Hale of The Fit Mum Formula has been a Beatrix Potter fan since childhood, and was delighted to be able to explore the author’s home and world on a family trip to the Lake District. Pollyanna says: ‘I’m not actually a travel blogger I’m a health & fitness one, but decided to do this post this summer as it was such a magical trip. Though on the fitness note all those hills and country walks sure are a good workout!’

We Enter The World of Beatrix Potter

UK: Shetland

Janice of Scots 2 Travel shares a post about the family-friendly island of Shetland, featuring some very cute seals and ponies, beautiful beaches and some excellent free museums. Janice says: ‘In the run up to the Up Helly Aa Fire Festival I’m highlighting a post about family travel to Shetland. It just shows that you don’t have to go abroad to experience somewhere truly magical, rich in Viking history, with scenery and adventures for big kids and wee ones.’

EXPLORING THE SHETLAND MAINLAND – WITH KIDS

UK: Wales

Ella of Typical Mummy has chosen a post about an area which she loves in North-West Wales. Ella says: ‘The Llyn Peninsula holds such a special place in my heart so writing a post about it had been on my “to-do” list ever since I started my blog. It is a really special place and proves that you don’t always have to go abroad to have great family holidays!’

Our Top 5 places for Family Holidays on the Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales

UK: Wales camper van trip

When it comes to tents, Victoria of Lylia Rose is not a happy camper. Victoria’s husband, however, loves camping. This year they decided to buy a camper van, and after their first trip in it Victoria said: ‘I loved the fact we just pulled up and were done.’ This post is about that trip, and she says: ‘This travel post is special to me as it’s the first time we camped in our new camper van for one night and my very first time sleeping in a camper!’

Kid-free travel review – Our first campervan trip to Greenways of Gower, Oxwich Bay

USA: road trip advice

BritMums co-founder Jen Howze blogs at Jenography. Jen grew up in the US and has years of experience of road trips around that huge country. She’s put together this very helpful post sharing her best road trip advice. Jen says: ‘I really enjoyed writing this piece featuring strategies for road trips because it was an opportunity to think about all the great trips we’ve taken with the kids. They definitely had their own ideas too about what makes something fun, different and interesting. Road trips are a way to really experience a place through the sights, the meals, the snacks, the signs. In Texas, where we do most of our road trips, you see a beautiful part of the countryside and small towns — but this list works no matter where you’re going.’

10 Do’s and Don’ts for the Great American Road Trip

USA: road trip

Hannah Jull of The Mum &The Mom is a mum of four (soon to be five) currently living on Vancouver Island, and this year she acquired a caravan. You definitely need to check out her post to see the seriously gorgeous caravan interior which she and her husband created for their family road trip. Hannah says: ‘This summer we had a surprisingly easy and fun trip – and a new travel experience for us, as we renovated a tiny caravan and went on a big US road trip down from Seattle to Utah, then up through Yellowstone Park and Colorado. There are a few posts on my blog in the ‘tiny trailer’ series but this is a good start point. In short, it was a trip we can’t wait to do again somewhere new as soon as the new baby arrives!’

THE TINY TRAILER, PART II

Travel advice: flying

Victoria of Travel Vixta shares her tips and advice on flying with babies and young children in her favourite post of the year. Victoria says: ‘This is my favourite travel post as it covers everything families need to think about when flying with babies or children. We have flown so many times with both our children as babies and children and people always ask for advice.’

Your ultimate guide of tips when flying with young children and babies

Travel thoughts: how does travel shape a child?

Karen Edwards of Travel Mad Mum shares her thoughts on how travel is shaping the personality of her four year-old daughter, Esme. Since Esme was born the family has spent two years travelling full-time, and has visited more than forty countries.

Karen says: ‘Travelling the world with our kids since they were tiny babies has been fun to say the least. The most I ever wanted from the experience was to develop compassionate, caring and adventurous individuals. Seeing our daughter, who turned four this year, start to develop into a child with those characteristics has been nothing but heartwarming.’

THE PERSONALITY OF A FOUR YEAR OLD THAT’S TRAVELLED MOST OF HER LIFE

Travel thoughts: when trips don’t go to plan

Ellie Thouret of Five Go Exploring has written a very frank account of a weekend break with her husband and their three young children which didn’t work out as hoped. The family rented a house in England’s Lake District. Although they love the area, Ellie says that the trip was ‘an unmitigated disaster’. She says: ‘I’ve chosen this post because it’s real. I’ve had some lovely feedback from other parents about my honesty in this account. Family travel isn’t always glamorous and fun-filled memories, and I think it’s important for people to read about real-life struggles.’

A Family Trip Gone Wrong

Finally

This is my last post as travel round-up editor, as I’m stepping down from the role. I’ll still be posting over on my blog Mums do travel, and on social media, so do keep in touch. I’ve really enjoyed reading and sharing all of the featured blog posts – thank you to everyone who’s taken part.

Wherever you’re off to in 2019, happy travels!

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About Gretta Schifano

Gretta Schifano is an award-winning blogger, journalist and social media manager. Gretta writes about luxury, cultural and active family travel with teens, and trips when parents escape without their kids. Winner of the 2016 Women in Marketing Award for Best Social Media Campaign and the 2014 BritMums BiB Award for Best Travel Blog, she lives with her husband and teenage kids in the Surrey countryside, near to London. Gretta previously worked as a BBC radio producer, has lived and worked in Italy and Spain and loves exploring new places, chocolate and kindness.

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