Family holiday ideas for school-aged kids

The golden years for family travel

Once your children start school, learn to read and become inquisitive about more than just their immediate environment the world opens up in extraordinary ways. These are golden years for family holidays with myriad possibilities but some things are best done sooner rather than later, before the magical innocence of childhood disappears forever.

A perfect example of this is visiting Santa in Finnish Lapland, where kids can visit a reindeer farm, take a sled ride and go snowshoe walking and it’s all about the wonder of Christmas. For obvious reasons you’ve only got so long to make this work.

Theme parks

Similarly with theme parks some are better than others and they do have a use-by date for kids. The name Disney is synonymous with the term ‘theme park’. What started with a single Disneyland in Anaheim, California has grown to include Disney Parks in Florida, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. There are hotels at each location, if one day isn’t enough, and there are Disney cruises if you need a fuller immersion.

The original Legoland can be found in Billund, Copenhagen next to the original Lego factory and will be a hit with every child for whom the coloured bricks hold some appeal. There are other Legoland parks in England, Germany, California, Florida and Malaysia.

At this age children benefit from being active, so cooping them up in a car for a lengthy road trip without time to run about is not ideal. Adding some adventure and excitement to any trip is a good idea, through special interest activities such as digging for fossils. Unknown to many, Queensland has its own dinosaur trail on the Overlanders Way running from Townsville to Tennant Creek, but like all things dinosaur, unless they go on to become paleantologists, the holiday’s shelf life is limited.

City breaks

For city breaks, focus on places with unique or quirky sights that children are likely to remember – think Eiffel Tower and gondolas – great museums with well-developed kids’ education programs (so they can absorb the exhibits at their own level and pace) and food that’s not too challenging. Barcelona, Paris, London, Athens, Prague, Venice, Naples, Washington DC, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo all come to mind but there are infinite other possibilities.

In Australia, Canberra is one of the best short break destinations with plenty to see and do. Similarly the museums and institutions of Washington DC have infinite appeal.