Guest post: Jake Oliver.
There’s nothing I love more than family holidays; the chance to visit exotic regions and discover new cultures alongside my favourite people in the whole world! It turns out I’m not alone; according to the Family Holiday Association “49% of British people said their happiest memory is being on holiday with their family”.
However, when I think back to my favourite family holidays, I’ve found that my most memorable and enriching vacations were those which strayed from the typical tourist path. By planning vacations to unusual destinations that haven’t been deemed as conventionally ‘family friendly’, I’ve been able to experience uniquely exciting activities with my loved ones, taste a diverse array of local delicacies and explore new interests; many of which we never even knew existed before departing.
I think that families of all shapes and sizes can benefit from international travel. By visiting unusual regions and participating in unique excursions as a family, you can broaden your children’s cultural horizons, create cherished memories that will last a lifetime, and instil within your children a sense of pride in their achievements. To help those who are interested in showing your family the world , here are some of my favourite types of adventurous family holidays that you might wish to try for yourselves.
Learn new skills as a family
Rather than book a vacation where you simply visit tourist sites, why not plan a holiday where you can learn new skills as a family? For so many years I have envied the keen sailors that master the waves on foreign shores, and it is only in recent years that I’ve discovered you can book ‘learn to sail’ holidays! Regardless of your current skill set, there are now several organizations within Britain as well as across Greece, Malta, the British Virgin Islands, Thailand and across the globe, which enable you to learn how to sail yachts, catamarans and monohulls with your loved ones.
Even if you’ve never set foot on a boat, you can book holidays where your family will be taught by a professional sailor as you get to grips with navigating the high seas. However, when booking these types of adventurous excursions it is worth bearing in mind that, as this travel guide advises; “You’re on holiday to relax and unwind so make that is your top priority. You will most likely acclimatise to the motion of the boat in time. Go easy on organised activities until you find your ‘sea legs”. By taking your time, and checking the age restrictions of particular ‘learning to sail’ companies, you and your family can learn a new talent together which you can then utilise to discover new aspects of your favourite foreign destinations from a unique nautical perspective.
Broaden your cultural and culinary horizons
Although all-inclusive holiday resorts offer a wide range of amenities and family-friendly activities for groups of all ages and interests, I’ve found that the best way to discover the true character of a region is to venture outside these commercial zones. After all, what’s the point of venturing abroad if you’re only going to sample shops and restaurants which you can visit whilst at home? By booking coach tours and expeditions which transport you outside of this conventional ‘tourist strip’, as well as participating in local food festivals and cultural events, you can experience the various culinary delights and marvel at the natural wonders that are only exist within the unique region . For example, one of my fondest family holiday memories is whale shark diving in Cancun, which was swiftly followed by cochinita pibil, a tantalising pulled pork dish marinated in spices and wrapped in banana leave. Better than simply staying by the pool and dining on the hotel’s burger and fries any day!
Forge lasting bonds with local communities
For many years, the term ‘volunteering abroad’ has been associated with students on gap years. However, you may be surprised to find that there are numerous international volunteering opportunities that are specifically organised with families in mind.
In fact, it was through a fellow blogger, Mums Do Travel, that I found links to organizations such as the Adventure Company, Hands Up Holidays and Earthwatch. From farming projects and beach cleaning initiatives, to teaching English as a foreign language and missions to preserve the native wildlife and environment, these types of volunteering vacations will enable you to forge long-lasting relationships with fellow volunteers as well as the local communities of the region you choose to visit.
Not only will these excursions introduce your family to mesmerising regions across the globe, but they will also equip you and your loved ones with the necessary resources to actively help others. Even if you only book a short term volunteering vacation, you and your family will be able to collaborate with local communities in order to conserve the environment, build new medical facilities, support agricultural initiatives, and safeguard the welfare of endangered wildlife. As fellow travel blogger Thomas Bernier aptly puts it; “These memories will create a bond that nothing can erase…It can also give a new perspective on the relationship and cement the bond forever”.
So if you’re about to book your next family vacation, why not forego the all-inclusive holiday resort, take a walk on the wild side and discover the benefits of an adventurous international excursion? You never know what you might find, and it may just be more affordable than you think!
Want to know more about Jake and his adventures? Head on over to his blog for more great tips and stories!