Which family holiday is right for you?

The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Perfect Holiday Match. Image: Supplied

The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Perfect Holiday Match. Image: Supplied

Published Apr 2, 2024


Did you know that families make up a whopping 63% of leisure travel and 30% of global tourism?

As Antoinette Turner, GM of Flight Centre South Africa, says: “Planning a multi-generational trip requires striking a balance. Kids and teens crave adventure and excitement, while parents and grandparents might seek relaxation and cultural experiences. The key is to carefully consider the type of holiday you embark on, ensuring there’s something for everyone, with ample opportunities for family bonding and making memories.”

With so many incredible options available, from luxurious cruises to thrilling theme parks, it can feel overwhelming to choose the perfect match for your family. Here’s everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

1. Cruising

  • Best for: Families seeking all-inclusive fun and the chance to visit more than one destination in one trip.
  • Ideal age of children:
  • Why we love it:  Travel logistics are a breeze (as long as you have a travel agent in your corner), there’s an endless array of onboard entertainment to keep everyone happy, and the luxury of unpacking just once is a major perk for families.
  • Top consideration:  Consider the size and style of cruise ship that appeals to you a bustling mega-ship with non-stop activities, or a smaller vessel offering a more intimate experience.
  • Top travel tips:

– For the most spacious accommodations, look into booking connecting cabins.

– If travelling with older children, a balcony cabin provides a welcome retreat.

– Keep an eye out for fantastic ‘kids sail free’ promotions.

  • Flight Centre’s favourites: Cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises are known for their family-friendly focus. They boast excellent kids’ clubs, free dining options for young cruisers, and sometimes even promotions where third and fourth guests sail for free!

2. Island getaways

  • Best for: Beach-loving families seeking relaxation or water sport adventures.
  • Ideal age of children: Best for younger kids and those who love swimming (don’t they all?).
  • Why we love it: Who doesn’t thrive when lapping up luxury in tropical island paradise? Plus, with all-inclusive options widely available, it’s easy to unwind knowing everything is taken care of.
  • Top consideration: Look for family-friendly resorts with excellent kids’ clubs, supervised activities, and plenty of included water sports options to keep active kids busy.
  • Top travel tips:

– Take advantage of ‘kids stay free’ promotions or special packages available

– If bound by school holidays, consider larger islands, as they often have more availability compared to smaller, more exclusive ones.

  • Flight Centre’s favourites: Beachcomber offers a fantastic collection of family-forward properties in stunning locations. These properties are also celebrated for their all-inclusive packages, making it easier to budget for your holiday.
The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Perfect Holiday Match - Island Getaways. Image: Supplied

3. City breaks

  • Best for: Families with energetic kids interested in museums, history, and bustling environments.
  • Ideal age of children: Better for older kids and teens with stamina for walking distances.
  • Why we love it: City breaks are a fantastic way to immerse yourselves in a different culture, experience a vibrant food scene, and tap into the educational and exciting opportunities iconic cities offer.
  • Top consideration: Centrally located accommodations make exploring more affordable and hassle-free. Remember to strike a healthy balance between sightseeing and downtime to avoid overtired kids (and parents!).
  • Top travel tips:

– City passes are your best friend – they often bundle popular attractions at a discount.

– Book tours or museum tickets in advance to avoid wasting precious time waiting in lines with impatient kids.

– Flight Centre’s favourites: TTC (Insight Vacations, Trafalgar, Costsaver) are great options if you want to incorporate city stays into a larger tour, giving you the convenience of pre-organised itineraries and expert guides.

4. Theme parks

  • Best for: Families with a love for thrilling adventurers.
  • Ideal age of children: Varies by park – toddlers to teens depending on offerings. Keep in mind that some rides will have age/height restrictions.
  • Why we love it: Theme parks offer an explosion of excitement, immersive experiences that bring beloved characters to life, and the convenience of on-site hotels.
  • Top consideration: Crowds can be a factor, so strategically choosing less busy times of year is key.
  • Top travel tips:

– Multi-day passes almost always offer the best value.

– For popular theme parks, consider visiting on a weekday, when possible, as weekends tend to be much busier.

– Get there early to snag easier parking and shorter lines at popular rides.

– It’s usually more cost-effective to stay inside the theme park if your package or the theme park permits this. If you weigh up the costs of being transported to and from the park each day, you may find this adds up versus staying in the park and having access to complimentary transfers or being able to walk on foot.

  • Flight Centre’s favourites: A trip to Disney World in Florida is on every family’s bucket list.

5. Safari

  • Best for: Nature-loving families seeking unique wildlife encounters and plenty of downtime.
  • Ideal age of children: Some lodges have age restrictions, usually 6+ for game drives.
  • Why we love it: Safaris offer an awe-inspiring and educational experience, fostering a lifelong love for wildlife and conservation in young little hearts. They’re also the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.
  • Top consideration: Finding a child-friendly lodge is obviously a must, and not all lodges are created equal when it comes to kid-friendly offerings. Look for lodges known for their dedicated kids’ programmes and age-appropriate activities.
  • Top travel tips:

– Book your safari well in advance, especially during peak seasons.

– Consider less-visited parks or reserves for potentially lower prices and a more intimate wildlife viewing experience.

– Choose malaria-free zones, especially if travelling with younger kids.

  • Flight Centre’s favourites: More Family Collection’s lodges are top-of-the-range and spilling over with family-friendly perks.

6. Skiing

  • Best for: Active families who enjoy winter sports and mountain settings.
  • Ideal age of children: Best for ages five and up, when they can participate in ski school. Some lodges offer daycare for younger kids.
  • Why we love it: Skiing promises plenty of time in the great outdoors, cozy après-ski vibes, and the opportunity to learn a new skill as a family. The stunning scenery is a bonus!
  • Top consideration: Choose a resort that caters to all skill levels, with slopes of varying difficulty. Excellent ski schools are also essential for the kids (and often the parents, too!), and don’t forget about off-slope activities to keep everyone entertained when away from the slopes.
  • Top travel tips:

– Smaller, lesser-known resorts can be surprisingly budget-friendly, even during the peak season.

– For families new to skiing, try booking lessons early in the day or in the afternoon when slopes tend to be less crowded.

– Flight Centre’s favourites: Club Med excels in the ski holiday department, offering all-inclusive packages and top-notch ski school programmes at many of their properties.

The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Perfect Holiday Match - Skiing. Image: Supplied

Advice from Flight Centre for flying with kids

Now that you know the type of holiday you’re booking, you’ve also likely got a destination in mind. The only thing standing between you and your family escape is actually getting there!

Don’t let flying with children in tow be a stressor. Here are some top tips from Flight Centre:

  • Embrace the screen: While you might usually be strict with your kids’ screen time, flights are the exception to the rule. Save your sanity – take full advantage of in-flight entertainment and load up devices in advance with movies, shows, and age- appropriate games.
  • Surprise goodie bag: Ditch the predictable snacks. Instead, pack a small bag with a mix of interesting treats you know your kids love but don’t get often, small toys (think mini-figures, packs of stickers), new colouring activities, or a surprise ‘travel-only’ book – and wrap them all individually. Unwrapping each item is sure to get them excited.
  • Timing is everything: If possible, align flights with nap schedules or early morning flights where kids might snooze some of the way. Overnight flights can be good for older kids who can settle down to sleep.
  • DIY busy board: For toddlers, bring along a piece of strong cardboard and attach interesting items with Velcro fasteners. Include zippers, locks, latches, and small textured items to keep their hands busy and encourage exploration.
  • Be runway-ready: Dress kids in easy-off shoes and layers. This speeds things up for security and adjusts easily for fluctuating airplane temperatures.

Here’s to streamlined, stress-free family travels whether on a beach in Mauritius or skiing in Europe. Enjoy every moment!

Create unforgettable family memories with Flight Centre! Explore our wide range of family-friendly holiday packages.