Tips for family adventure holidays with children

The kids are crouched under a tree, festooned with goats.

These ungulates look ugly, but they produce a priceless product for the beauty industry: argan oil.

Experiencing different cultures will open your kids’ minds to life outside their own world.
Apparently, the traditional way to extract the oil is to fossick through the dung for kernels of ‘liquid gold’, left after the goats digest the tough husk.

This is one of our memories of Morocco, the first of many adventure trips undertaken as a family.

It’s one of the fastest-growing experiences in the industry (family adventures, that is, not fishing through goats’ dung…) Paddy Scott, national marketing manager for My Adventure Store, recently returned from a family trip to Nepal.

He gave the kids a small allowance to spend at the markets, to meet the locals.

“My youngest son initially didn’t understand the concept of bartering, and kept putting the price up, not down, much to the hilarity of all involved,” Paddy laughs.

In the past year, My Adventure Store has seen a 150 per cent growth in family bookings to Brazil, 120 per cent to Italy and 116 per cent to Peru. Morocco and Malaysia come in 4th and 5th.

Vietnam continues to be a perennial family favourite, as a gentle – and affordable – introduction to adventure travel.

There’s been a 43 per cent increase in bookings for family tours with Intrepid Travel this year.

On an Intrepid trip to Vietnam last year, we tore through the streets of Hanoi in cyclos, slept on a boat in Halong Bay, and explored the Cu Chi tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City.

A group family tour is the perfect way to explore Vietnam, as the adults form a ‘human shield’ around the kids to cross the chaotic roads.

“It’s important to expand kids’ horizons beyond their home and school, or a hotel with homogenised restaurants and limited interaction with the local culture,” Paddy says.

Here are his top tips for families considering an adventure holiday.

Make sure a large portion of the trip is organised before you go. Even if you mastered independent travel in your life before kids, it pays to be prepared with a Plan B if the unexpected happens.
Try as many foods as you can, but listen to the advice of your tour guide as to which ones are safe. By the end of the trip, the kids might surprise you by trying the spicy meat or strange fruits rather than burgers and chips. Use hand sanitiser before every meal.
Get your kids to keep a diary while you’re away, to jot down memories. Empower them to record their unique experiences by providing each with some kind of camera.
Visit the doctor before departure to ensure all vaccines are up to date, and any medical requirements specific to the destination are taken care of.
Book with a travel agent so you always have a point of contact, and register your travel details with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Experiencing different cultures will open your kids’ minds to life outside their own world: they learn to appreciate what they’ve got, and form a new chapter of family folk law.

And, of course, it’s excellent ammunition.

During arguments with the kids, we can always turn around and say, “Why should I listen to someone who plays with goats’ poo…?” Now that is priceless.

The writer and her family travelled to Vietnam courtesy of Intrepid Travel.