Family holidays that are more than ‘fly and flop’.

From Borneo to Costa Rica, Juliet Twena says that there are plenty of adventure trips perfect for young children to enjoy.

BEFORE having my two very spirited young children, neither myself nor my husband were ‘fly-and-floppers’.

To us, ‘all inclusive’ conjured hellish visions of manic buffets, watery cocktails and that mad dash to the sunbeds to commandeer your spot, beach towel at the ready.

We soon realised there was much more to this category of travel and also just how easy this option is when you have two under-fives in tow. Not being constantly tugged on the sleeve for a snack, an ice cream or a soft drink has its benefits.

With that said, there is no denying my innate craving for adventure. I dream of taking the children to see the orang utans in Borneo, going on safari with them to see wild elephants in Sri Lanka and showing my daughter, Cairo, around the city after which she was named.

You might well think such escapades are off the cards with children – but have I got news for you?

There is an entire genre of operators running family trips to these exotic destinations, and then some. The options really are inspired.

Below are just some of the destinations which I am dying to experience with my children, along with details of age restrictions and trusted operators with whom I would highly recommend travelling.

1) Costa Rica

I am a huge believer in introducing my children to the whole wide world through travel – and what better way to learn to appreciate the planet we live on than through the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica?

Towering volcanoes, unspoilt beaches and tropical rainforest are all part of this family-friendly holiday, with visitors able to journey from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean through one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world.

Discover cloud forests, which are home to the magnificent resplendent quetzal [bird], learn how to make chocolate and zip-wire through the forest canopy. It is a magical experience.

Explore offers an amazing two-week Costa Rican rainforest and wildlife adventure.

There is a maximum group size of 16 and the trips include an experienced tour leader and driver, boat crew and local guides.

This particular trip is suitable for children aged seven and above although, on certain trips, there may be some flexibility to accept children from the age of five if they are travelling with older siblings.

2) Borneo

Pack up the troupe and head to the jungles of Borneo. How incredible does that sound?

If you have small ones, then chances are you’ve spent many a day at Durrell saying hello to Dana and co. You also probably know that orang utans share 97.6% of their DNA with humans. Perhaps you’ve thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to take the kids to see these gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat?’ I know I have. In fact, I think it every single time we visit the Zoo.

But there is even more to Borneo than the orang utans. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife on a cruise down the Kinabatangan River, soak up the relaxed beach vibe on glorious Dinawan Island and explore the unspoilt wilderness of the Kinabalu National Park

Intrepid Travel offers a ten-day family holiday, which includes an experienced tour leader, private mini-van, boat and domestic flights, alongside lots of fabulous activities and experiences.

Again, the maximum group size is 16 while the minimum age on this one is five.

3) South East Asia – one for the teenagers

While there are plenty of options in South East Asia for the younger ones, I couldn’t leave the tweens and teens out, could I?

Generally, these South East Asia trips cover Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand so if you want to tack on a little beach time at the end of your adventure, then you are in the right part of the world. The reason I have chosen this part of the world as my recommended ‘teen holiday’ is because this destination is great for an activity-based experience. There are cycling excursions, guided walking tours, kayaking expeditions and nights of boating on Halong Bay, all of which are bound to keep even the grumpiest teen smiling. Let the family bonding commence.

Exodus Travel offers a 14-day South East Asia adventure which includes an experienced tour leader, travel by private minibus, boat and bike. The minimum age is nine. It promises lots of activities and experiences all wrapped up in one glorious trip.

lFor more details on these and many family trips and adventures please get in touch.

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