We love a vacay. You love a vacay. We all love a bloomin’ good vacay, especially family ones. They’re the best ones and that’s because everything about them totally rocks. Trying to squeeze four human’s worth of clothing into two slimline bags, waking up in the wee hours of the morning to greet your airport taxi driver, seeing the excitement in your little ones’ little eyes as you board a massive plane and fly to a tropical paradise halfway around the world to make the sort of memories you’ll soon print off at Happy Snaps, carefully cut out and use to make a holiday montage you’ll then pop in a frameless-picture-frame and hang in your downstairs loo. Like we said, they’re the best.
But there is one thing that’s a teeny-tiny bit better: swapping your standard “fun and relaxing” vacay for a family adventure; something a bit out of the box; something a little bit leftfield; something a little bit life-changing, your little ones protesting as you wake them up before dawn and lead them into the early-morning chill, only for their eyes to be yanked wide open an hour later as your caravan of camels climbs over the final dune and you get to see the Agafay desert at sunrise. Or the sound of them breathing into a brown paper bag to control their excitement as a pod of dolphins pokes through the water and starts swimming right next to your kayaks. Or the involuntary shrieks of euphoria disappearing out of earshot, along with their bright red safety helmets, as they speed over a South American jungle canopy on a zipline. Or riding-in-a-hot-air-balloon-slash-swimming-with-whales-slash-seeing-an-iceberg-in-real-life together. They’re the sort of vacays your kids will never forget.
If you’re a family that’s semi-thinking “now’s the time for a little dollop of adventure”, you might want to do a little air punch because there are just so many “jaw hits floor” wonders out there. So why not make your nerves rattle, your eyes fizz and your brains whir, and then bottle these emotions and memories to be enjoyed again at family dinners for decades to come - and here are some great ones to get you started:
1. Change Your Browser To Safari
We know this is a slightly cliche one to kick things off with, but if you’re looking for a “go big or go home” adventure, it doesn’t get any bigger than popping a pair of binoculars around your kids’ necks and ticking off the Big 5. But not at the cliche safari spot of ye olde Kruger Park - at one of the smaller reserves that are pretty much the perfect wildlife playgrounds for any wildlife-worshipping family. Cue our favourite province of them all: KwaZulu-Natal. Here you can camp around lakes, explore the reefs, kick back on the beaches of the Indian Ocean coast, learn how to track animals, boost your bush skills, get involved at cheetah and elephant conservation centres and, if that somehow isn’t enough to leave you absolutely buzzing, you can also enjoy some of the best kayaking, snorkelling and mountain biking spots… ever. Oh, and there’s a croc farm, as in crocodiles not footwear, and what kid doesn’t love crocodiles? Better yet, do it in a hot-air balloon.
2. M Is For Magical Morocco
If we had to try n’ describe Morocco in 1 and a ½ words, it would be: all-encompassing, as in Morocco pretty much has everything a family of friendly buccaneers could possibly want from a vacay. Ev-er-y-thing. You’ve got snow-capped mountains overlooking open-air spice markets. Deserts that have been boiled-dry. Endless sand dunes that ripple as far as the eye can see. Super-hustly-bustly souks. Terracotta riads. And buildings that have covered in coral paint and then had tons of china plates stuck to them (aka the perfect Insta-stories backdrop). And that’s just a small slice of the adventure pie. You and your squad can also traverse the Atlas Mountains, plod across the Agafay on a caravan of camels, camp under the stars in desert Berber tents and then sign off your trip by chillaxing on the cosmopolitan beaches of Essaouira in your matching ponchos. What a downstairs-loo-photo that would be.
3. Welcome To The Wild, Wild West
You might think us weird for a moment, but how cool would it be to become a cowboy (for like a week or two max.)? Imagine: dressing up in tasselled-chaps and leather hats, popping a couple of cap-guns into your holsters and staring out across the jagged canyonlands in America’s south-west, as you play Ennio Morricone’s score from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly through your phone before stargazing from the entrance to your tent with your mouths wide open. Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, the Valley of Fire, the Grand Canyon - you’ve got your pick of some pretty awesome national parks that you can then explore - and it’s not just about taking on the trails in your spur-adorned hiking boots either. There’s a bunch of wild watersports, horseback adventures and, if you’re up for it, you could even spend a night in a hogan (mud hut) and experience some Navajo hospitality firsthand. Talk about cool, huh?
4. Very Special Vietnam
If the definition of adventure is taking a deep breath and enjoying an unusual and exciting experience, then it doesn’t get more adventurous than exploring the otherworldly pocket of Asia that is Vietnam, where even bedtime becomes part of the forget-me-not moments you can’t quite believe are real. Everything about this mysterious place will see you return home with the most amazing selection of pinch marks down your arms. Wandering the streets of Hanoi, slurping your way through foodie paradise one chicken and rice noodle broth at a time, camping in a misty forest beside the abandoned Cathedral pour Bavi, sleeping aboard a Chinese junk as you make your way around the “I can’t believe what I’m seeing” Halong Bay, slurping down more pho on a food tour of Saigon, and ambling the bustling streets of Hoi An - there’s no adventure on the planet that’s as far-fetched, unbelievable and real as those you’ll stumble across in Vietnam. At least, we don’t think so.
5. Can We Get A Phwoar For Finland
We’re not sure if it’s a medical condition, but we can’t make it through a blog post without dedicating at least one section to facts, and this time the bottle has landed on Finland, so let’s do this:
Fact No.1: There’s a place called Ranua and it’s awesome for arctic wildlife adventures.
Fact No.2: You can feed polar bears here. Real life polar bears.
Fact No.3: Family vacays here mean snowmobiling through the arctic tundra.
Fact No.4: There are even little kiddie snowmobiles to hire.
Fact No.6: You’ll get to put a big, fat tick on your bucket list, next to words “Northern Lights”
Fact No.7: To finish your vacay in seasonal-style, you can visit Santa… in Lapland. Boom.
6. Go Crazy For Costa Rica
Costa Rica is basically a huge playground where you can relive all your childhood fantasies, but through the eyes of Robinson Crusoe. Yup, it’s totally epic, in that it’s impossible to cram all the uber-awesome bits into one paragraph. But we’re still going to try: [take a deep breath] there’s national parks that will make you gawp, volcanoes that will make you rub your eyes, waterfalls so beautiful they could break the internet, rainforests, cloud forests, subterranean cave labyrinths, and 300-plus postcard worthy beaches. Hot springs, scuba diving hotspots, coral reefs, river rafting, super-fast ziplining, highwire walks through thick jungle canopies, turtle sanctuaries, animal sanctuaries of every kind and, if you’ve got any air left in your lungs, the sort of life-affirming sunsets that will change each of your lives… forever. Basically, we think we saved the best until last.
Thanks for reading. Have you heard of Holiday Tots? They're experts in child friendly holidays and recently reviewed our awesome quick dry travel towels too! For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.