As kids get older it can feel like you’re dragging them away from their mates when school holidays come. We travel less these days, but we want to travel deeper – to use our time to learn or experience something new together and deepen the family bond. Trips need a great angle to get the tweens and teens approval. A long weekend, or part of a week can be a fantastic solution.
Here are some winners from the last couple of years:
Climb a Mountain
Turns out it’s not actually so difficult to get kids to climb mountains, they seem to like the idea of a challenge, a peak, rather than a never ending walk on flat or a circle. Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District was our first, and a white lie gave us momentum, as well as sweets and Sarah’s mountain climbing with kids tips.
See a show
As an ex drama teacher I firmly believe there is something akin to soul food in going to see a really great piece of theatre as a family. Matilda has been so far my favourite musical, but Hetty Feather blew us away too, and if you’re in London, Covent Garden Street Theatre is a great way to pass the time on a pay what you can afford basis. If you’re looking for the best things to do in London with kids while you are there, check out Family Traveller’s tips.
Bring the Books You Share to Life
Another place to combine theatre, fresh air and the landscapes that inspired great literature, is Malvern. It ticked a lot of boxes for us last year. Walk among the hills, landscapes and lanterns that inspired Lord of the Rings and Narnia. Plus cool cafes teens and tweens will love.
Learn to Surf
We had our surf lesson with Gower Activity Centres, during a long weekend around Swansea Bay and Gower, Wales, on stunning Rhosilli beach. Our instructor Carwyn was absolutely brilliant with us all. The kids were soon up and surfing away, it was pretty amazing to witness, they made it look so easy. I couldn’t get past my knees, but it was great fun trying and being in the water together was a wonderful bonding experience. The Bay Bistro and Coffee House afterwards was top notch. See the full trip to Swansea Bay and the Gower.
Andrew Price from Dryad Bushcraft also presents ITV’s Coast and Country, so was a brilliant and knowledgeable host. We sat transfixed round the campfire as he put the Gower, Wales into historical and cultural context for us. We titled whittling, firelighting, foraging and Andrew encouraged a deeper reverence for both knives and fire. It was a joy to watch the kids’ sense of achievement and to learn together.
Dryad Bushcraft is one of the UK’s leading Bushcraft and Wilderness Survival training organisations, with a range of courses covering everything for the beginner, through to the advanced practitioner, and can also tailor the contents of our courses to your specific requirements. You can even do a family sleepover!
Sleepover on a Pirate Ship
Our whole experience of sleeping over on the replica of The Golden Hinde – Sir Francis Drake’s ship that circumnavigated the globe – was utterly, spellbindingly, amazingly brilliant. It totally fed my soul! We all need to laugh, play, time travel and to wake up in charge of a pirate ship heading out onto the Thames. Brilliant value too.
The actors were high energy, full of laughs and so skilled at keeping kids engaged through character, action and humour. They turned kids to putty in their hands, even the most defiant and uncertain ones. The youngest became lovingly referred to as “Biscuits” the most unruly became the top swordsmen. It was all one big gloriously funny game. Read our Golden Hinde Sleepover post for the full run down and video!
Sleepover at the Natural History Museum
‘Going to the Airbnb base camp at the Natural History Museum was a once in a lifetime opportunity, it was amazing. My favourite thing that we did was the Dino Snores Treasure Trail, and we had to do crayon rubbings to build the dinosaur’s picture and copy the letters down in the dark. I enjoyed the t shirt designing too.
Learning about Mary Anning the fossil hunter and how many fossils she found was so interesting, we learnt a lot at the museum. I slept really well on the comfortable beds we had, it was so silent when we went to bed.’
L, aged 10. Read more about our Natural History Museum sleepover. Suitable for 7-11 year olds
Head to a festival
We’ve been festivalling since the kids were in nappies, but now they are older I am so glad we have festivalled together as I think it will be brilliant life experience for when they go solo! Here’s how I got on solo parenting at Camp Bestival last summer and some of our Camp Bestival posts from the years. This year so far we’re heading to Blue Dot at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, and my brother and his family will be reviewing Elderflower Fields family festival in Sussex.
I don’t think you can beat Amsterdam for a family short break – great galleries and museums, awesome outdoor spaces and the kind of snacks that make perfect bribe materials – waffles and pancakes! Here’s what we loved as a family in Amsterdam.
Hit a theme park
Continuing the Netherlands theme, we had the best time at Efteling. I’ve never seen such a clean, magical theme park space. As a grown up I found Efteling hit a magical note in my heart that theme parks often fail to reach. It has a fairytale theme, but really explores the light and dark side of that in a way that will appeal to little ones and to teens and tweens – plus there are plenty of challenging coasters.
We’re spoilt for choice in the Peak District, when it comes to traffic free and flat cycle paths. We live here and run two Airbnbs between The Manifold Track and the Tissington Trail both cycle paths along old railway lines. Manifold has Thor’s cave and paddling at Wetton Mill cafe, guaranteed to add extra excitement to your cycle. Tissington is often called one of the prettiest villages in the UK, with it’s avenue of 200 year old lime trees, duck pond and Jacobean Manor. There is a tea room in the village, or snack bar and picnic tables on the cycle track.
The Peak District is also a great spot for Wild Swimming, here are some places we’ve been recommended for splashing, paddling and swimming with kids.
Whether you like back to nature or glam comforts there is a camping experience to suit all. Dad always taught me that camping forces you to switch off and appreciate the simple things in life as you return to getting the most simple tasks done. We camped at Gradbach in the Peak District, with our own kit and minimal facilities and at Embers in a glam bell tent pitched for us.
Boggle Hole YHA
Guaranteed to fire the imaginations and a very cool place to hang out with other families, Boggle Hole youth hostel is in its very own cove, with family rooms, a great bar, nature activities and a walk to Robin Hood’s Bay possible when the tide is out.
Can’t wait for our next mini adventure now! What have you enjoyed?
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