Responsible tourism experts share their top tips for successful family half term holidays

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With the October Half Term break just around the corner, leading ethical online travel agent responsibletravel.com’s expert family travel suppliers share 10 top tips for successful family holidays.

For families it’s better to bite off a little bit less, to have a better experience but not see quite as much

Incorporating responsible tourism into family holidays doesn’t need to be daunting. In fact, responsibletravel.com believes that responsible family holidays are the best family holidays, and the resulting authentic, local experiences are the ones which keep children engaged, excited and generate memories that will last the longest. In the run-up to October half term, responsibletravel.com’s member tour operators specialising in family travel (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/family) share their tips for stress-free, successful trips with children.

1.    Talk to the experts:
"Costa Rica is brilliant for families, but make sure that you talk to someone who knows the different areas and gets the right place for the right age kids. It makes the difference between having a good time - and having a really good time. For example, Rio Perdido is better for older children, whereas Monteverde and Tortuguero would be very good for younger children.” Advice from David Orrock of Pura Aventura, (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/costa-rica/travel-guide/costa-rica-with-kids)

2.    See less, but experience more:
“People always go to a country and want to see as much as they can – but for families it’s better to bite off a little bit less, to have a better experience but not see quite as much.” Advice from Rupert Calcott, South African expert for Exodus Travels.

3.    Relax, and let local life take over:
Do as the locals do suggests Tom Power, from Spain specialists Pura Aventura - “It can be difficult for parents who think “What do we do – we’re feeding the children now, but then how can we go out after – bedtime is at eight o’clock, so they’ll be asleep by then…” But in Spain, they [your children] do what you do, at the times you do it. So the conflict of trying to make sure everyone’s in bed at the right time disappears”. You can always have a family siesta!

4.    Be flexible:
Don’t worry if plans have to change, advises Aki Käräjäoja, founder of Routa Travel in Finland - “Parents often have high expectations but it’s better to be open-minded and see how the kids are and how cold it is. So we can make tours shorter, and instead of a full day sledding, we can go indoors and take a few of the huskies. Thinking flexibly is good – if, after 2km, it’s cold and the kids aren’t happy then you have to work around that."

5.    Get on a bike:
From Catalonia expert Vivian Campbell, of Cycle Catalan - “Cycling’s becoming quite popular again, a lot of people are taking it up, so you get families that have just bought bikes and then decide to do a cycling holiday and get really enthusiastic once they’ve been, and it’s like a new thing that they’ll incorporate for life once they go home. It’s healthy but also a nice thing to do as a family. People say it’s the best family holiday they’ve ever been on!"

6.    Don’t be afraid to open children’s eyes to the world:
Experiencing local cultures, often far removed from their own can be a real eye-opening experience for children. Lesley Schofield of responsibletravel.com supplier All Points East says “[The local people] are living a much more simple life than we are. While that still exists in the world, and it exists somewhere that’s safe and pleasant, I think it’s brilliant to get kids out there to discover it.”

7.    Let the experts do what they do best:
"Although it is great if the parents help the kids get all the kit and equipment ready to go in the water, once they are out there, it is really helpful if they, how do I put it politely, back off a bit? Leave the instructing to us, because it is hard for the instructor to do his or her job then. Same thing goes for the husbands who try to teach their wives!". Top tips from sea-kayaking expert Sophie Hurst, owner of Preseli Venture in Wales, UK.

8.    Encourage a love of nature... :
Julian Matthews, founder and chair of tourism action charity Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFTigers) says “I always recommend nature safaris for families, and from a young age, when kids are open to the joys and hands on wonders of the natural world. If you look at any conservationist today, their interest in wildlife was fostered at a young age”.

9.    ...But choose a safari carefully:
Find out what is involved in a wildlife-watching experience, some are more suitable than others. Urpo Heikkinen at Upitrek says “bear watching is a problem as in the hides you sometimes have to be silent for hours. It depends on the nature of the children and how active they are. Sometimes it works, but it’s not for everyone."

10.    Prepare and get kids excited about their holiday destination:
Keep expectations realistic, but get your children enthused about the places they will be visiting and the things they will be doing. David Phillips, from responsibletravel.com supplier Explorers Astronomy Tours in Iceland says “Try and get children interested generally and maintain their enthusiasm as best as you can. Do some reading with them and give them as much background as you can before you travel so that they know roughly what to expect."

All tips are taken from responsibletravel.com’s expanding series of 2 minute travel guides available at http://www.responsibletravel.com/copy/travel-guide-homepage.

Notes to editors:

About responsibletravel.com
responsibletravel.com is the world's leading online travel agent for responsible holidays and a pioneer of responsible tourism. Started in 2001 with backing from Dame Anita Roddick of The Body Shop the site's mantra is 'travel like a local'. It sells holidays that are about more than just a brief stay somewhere - instead it is travel that offers a real connection with the people, the landscape, the culture, the food and the environment. It offers over 7,500 responsible holidays from over 3,000 holiday providers which all support communities and conservation. Handpicked local specialists provide authentic holidays for those seeking adventure, culture, or luxury whether travelling with family, joining a small group or looking for tailor-made experiences worldwide, in destinations as diverse as Italy - http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/italy, Iceland - http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/iceland and Greece - http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/greece

In addition responsibletravel.com:

  • founded and organises The World Responsible Tourism Awards, celebrating 11 years at World Travel Market this year.
  • campaigns for positive change in the travel and tourism industry.

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The company is based in Brighton's North Laine district, England.

Contact:
Sarah Bareham
press(at)responsibletravel(dot)com
01273 829 269 (UK)

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Sarah Bareham
@r_travel
since: 09/2009
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