With the world opening up, where are you going to take the kids? Explore looks at the big trends and prime destinations for international family holidays in 2022.
• A Roman holiday
There are plenty of things to do with the family on a holiday to Europe.
Craig Bowen, managing director of Cruise Traveller, said: “Many people think of Europe in terms of adult travel, and while that is certainly true, there are real family bonding experiences available if you choose the right trip.”
The experts suggest if you’re visiting the United Kingdom and Ireland, take a road trip to out-of-the-way places, like Snowdonia Park which offers beautiful hikes to historic sites such as Harlech Castle.
The Mediterranean’s warm waters and beaches are perfect for families looking for fun in the sun. But in cities like Rome and Athens, teenagers who love history can get a healthy dose of ancient ruins and museums.
The experts say it’s best to visit in the shoulder season as flights and accommodation can be expensive, and spring and autumn tend to be less busy.
For something slightly offbeat, Scandinavia, while it might be pricey, has extraordinary natural wonders. Take the kids to see the Northern Lights or experience the culture of cities such as Oslo in Norway or Copenhagen in Denmark which are both safe and easy to get around.
Personal travel manager Lana Kanchik said: “Start planning and booking now as a lot of people around the world are travelling already and it is always challenging to get rooms in the popular places as many don’t have a lot of hotels to choose from.
“The best time to visit Europe is April to June and October to November when the weather is still nice, especially in the southern part of Europe, Turkey and Spain.
“If you are after Christmas markets then November-December is your time. They are all absolutely beautiful, offering different local food and famous mulled wine.”
• Return to the Land of the Long White Cloud
Travel between Australia and the Land of the Long White Cloud is imminent and the experts are telling us to book early, particularly if you want to take the kids skiing in New Zealand.
“There’s something for everyone, with countless activities for families of all generations to enjoy. Whether it’s experiencing Middle-earth with a visit to Hobbiton – the world’s only living film set, or nature and wildlife encounters and immersing yourself in New Zealand’s culture – you’ll be spoilt for choice,” said a representative from Pure New Zealand.
“Spring and autumn offer the best deals, sunny days, but with fewer crowds. Winter in New Zealand is the best time to visit if you’re enthusiastic about snow, and spring is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking.”
One of the best ways to reintroduce New Zealand to the family is booking a motorhome or a campervan and touring the country. Some of the things to do with the kids include: a visit to the Manea – Footprints of Kupe Experience to learn about the beginnings of Maori nationhood; zipline through an untouched native forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours; and see exotic animals at Orana Wildlife Park, the country’s only open-range zoo.
New Zealand is also blessed with great accommodation for the family, ranging from budget to something a little more fancy.
If you’re taking the kids hiking, Heartland Hotel Queenstown is tucked away in the hills and the distinctive A-line chalets have sweeping views of Lake Wakatipu.
For something a little different, try Mahaanui Farmstay near Gisborne on the North Island. There are plenty of activities on offer, including fishing, kayaking or cycling.
• Family fun in Fiji
Travel to Fiji is well and truly back on with plenty of resorts taking children under 12 for free. All airlines have been reporting demand going through the roof for the Isles of Smiles since it was announced it would open to Aussies on December 1.
“When thinking Fiji, why not think extended family travel?” suggested Mr Bowen. “Bring your multi-generational troop from grandma to grandkids and all the cousins in between on a trip that’s more than beaches and babysitting.”
Fiji is most pleasant to visit from May through to September. If you’re planning on heading in December you’ll want to book as soon as possible, with plenty of demand during school holidays meaning resorts and activities will fill right up. And Fiji is known for its abundance of resorts and great kids club programs.
There’s affordable four-star luxury at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort on the Coral Coast. For the teens, there are daily activities such as spear-making, Sigatoka Sand Dunes adventures, a tour to Tavuni Hill Fort, and hikes to local landmarks Bebe Hill and the Enchanted Pool. The program is designed to be culturally enriching, educational, interactive and fun.
Much of Fiji’s greatest draws are underwater, making it a great destination for kids to learn diving and snorkelling and adults or more experienced divers will have plenty of options on where to dive.
• Say Aloha!
If you’ve watched Lilo & Stitch, you’ll remember: “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind.”
Like other destinations in the South Pacific, Hawaii has fantastic hotels and resorts suitable for the entire family.
On the sunny shores of Poipu is the decadent Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, with plenty of pools, a championship golf course and ocean-view dining. The property hosts a traditional luau where the kids can learn about Hawaiian culture and also has a kids’ club where the little ones go swimming, cook in the kitchen and play outdoor sports.
Located on the Big Island, prices for the Volcano Inn start from about US$160 per night, despite its four-star status and scenic location. Set amongst a rainforest, a two-minute journey to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the resort’s 24/7 hot tubs and island-style breakfast is all part of the fun.
This family spirit filters through all of Hawaii, with endless activities for the children and adults.
The kids can pat sea lions at Sea Life Park, learn to surf on Waikiki Beach, spot whales on an island tour or go snorkelling in the protected shallows of Kauai or on the Kona Coast in search of tropical fish, turtles, dolphins and more.
If the shallows aren’t satisfying you, you can even go more than 30 metres below the surface with Atlantis Submarines.
Families can also gain a cultural understanding of the area by dancing some hula at the Smith Family Garden Luau, the Polynesian Cultural Centre or plenty of other lively spots on each island. There’s also plenty to learn and explore at the Bishop Museum, when you see live lava in action or at Imiloa Astronomy Centre where you can learn about the sky full of stars you see above you.
If another day of sandy feet is too much to bear, you can break it up with a trip to Wet’n’Wild Hawaii, where more than 25 attractions await your little ones.
There are also endless natural spaces to explore, such as hiking in Iao Valley State Park or a zipline ride over the shores of Kualoa Ranch.