It’s cold outside, so I thought I’d warm you up by revealing the top family travel trends of 2020. Unfortunately, my family holiday knowledge consists of “Dubai’s incredible”, “Book Ikos” and “Ibiza’s way more kid friendly than you’d imagine”. Fortunately, top travel writer Dom Tulett was able to help.
Dom is one of the 37 authors who have contributed to the recently released travel guide Kidding Around: Tales of Travel with Children.* He will be speaking about travelling with children as part of the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival at Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show Olympia London on Saturday 1st February from 1pm – 1.45pm. And he very kindly agreed to answer all my questions regarding 2020’s top family travel trends.
Sit, read, enjoy and, when all is said and done, don’t forget your toothbrush.
Where are going to be the hot family destinations in 2020?
There are no great surprises, to be honest. Within Europe, Italy will always be a favourite – proximity to the UK, reliable weather, fascinating sites, incredible (and, crucially for kids, familiar) food. For families looking to fly longer haul, the USA and Thailand remain high on the hot list.
What are the best city breaks for families to take this year?
Some of the best within easy reach of the UK would be Istanbul, Oslo and Rome. In each case there is a tantalising mix of history, architecture and fabulous food. Wandering through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, marvelling at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo or climbing the steep stone steps of the Colosseum in Rome puts young travellers in touch with the history of the place. These destinations are relatively close to the UK, but the experiences are worlds away. And there’s great ice cream in each city too.
What trends seem to be emerging in family travel?
Ethical travel has, quite rightly, been on the rise for some time now and there’s no sign of that slowing. More families are considering their carbon footprint and taking road or rail trips, rather than flights. Major tour companies are offering a greater number of group family trips, offering a degree of safety-in-numbers for travelling parents.
Can you suggest somewhere not too expensive, but slightly off the beaten track for families to go this year?
North Macedonia. Cheap, direct flights from UK airports to destinations such as the ancient town of Ohrid make this relatively unexplored section of Europe an interesting destination for adventurous families. Lake Ohrid, whose shores extend into Albania, is a highlight for its beaches and clear, blue waters.
Which destinations are likely to provide the best value for money for parents in 2020?
Aside from North Macedonia, the whole of southeastern Europe is growing in popularity and accessibility. Destinations such as Albania and Serbia are seeing more visitors, and offer much better value than nearby Croatia.
If money was no object, where would you advise a family to go?
I would recommend a private (or small group) African safari. Driving through the continent’s national parks to see animals such as giraffes, zebras, elephants and lions in their natural environment is an incredible experience for travellers of any age. Combine this with a dawn hot-air balloon trip over the savannah to spot the animal movements from above. If this can be timed to coincide with the great migration, all the better. For families with older children (in many cases the minimum permitted age is 15) a day trekking into the rainforests of Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo to spot mountain gorillas will be an unforgettable experience.
What are the three main mistakes families make when booking a holiday?
1. Thinking it will be too difficult…
Some families will miss out on inspiring trips by fearing that they will not be able to manage it. Here is why they can. Getting your kid ready for each day at nursery is tough, going to the swimming pool is tough, getting them to brush their teeth is tough. Travelling is no tougher than any of these really, yet the rewards are so much greater than those gained battling away on the familiar turf of home.
2. Thinking is will be too easy…
We had plans to travel to Australia when our daughter Heidi was four months’ old. A year later, we had a fortnight in Colombia booked and paid for. On both occasions, we had been too ambitious, neglecting to feel our way into travel with children by first taking a shorter, easier trip. In the end we didn’t book the Australia tickets, and we cancelled the Colombia trip, taking a hit on the costs. But it was the right decision – I fear we may have been put off travel long term had we taken Heidi on a lengthy trip before she was ready, before we were ready. Ultimately, Heidi’s first trip was to Carcassonne in France. The flight went well, the break was a success and we had our first rush of genuine confidence.
3. Being too inflexible with their plans…
Meals need to be planned (to some degree). As do changes of clothes, public transport connections, and routes to the nearest hospital should anything bad happen. But very little else really needs to be planned to precision, let alone executed to precision. It’s absolutely fine to have a day sitting in one place, doing very little, watching television if that’s what’s needed; that’s infinitely preferable to driving yourself to frustration on some mistaken notion that certain things have to be achieved, experienced, ticked off a list. Spending time together should be the primary goal; if that happens peacefully in sight of a magnificent attraction, then that’s a blessed bonus.
Finally, tell us a surprising destination that’s worth trying in 2020.
I would say somewhere in west Africa – The Gambia, Liberia, Senegal. There are minimal time zone differences between the UK and that part of the world, and each country crams a lot into a small area – distinct cultures, beautiful beaches, wonderful wildlife spotting opportunities.
Looking for more family holiday inspiration?
Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show takes place at EventCity Manchester from 16-19 January 2020 and Olympia London from 30 January-2 February 2020. Adult tickets usually cost £11*, but if you go to the event website and use the code FATH you can get two tickets for £15**. Oh, and be quick, as the offer is only available in advance. The Manchester box office closes midnight 15 January and for London 29 January 2020.
Until next time…
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