Teach kids a thing or two without them even realising on holidays that combine learning and fun, says Emily Ashwell
When school’s out for summer, most children want to cut loose and have fun, whereas parents may be more keen to see them pick up a credit or two, or at least to keep their brains in gear so the return to school is not such a shock.
If your clients want to give their children a holiday that offers something a bit more educational than waterslides and sandcastles – but is also so much fun they won’t notice they’re learning – here are some of the best options to complement classroom learning.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Close to home: Suggest Toulouse in France to give children an inspiring experience of science and technology in action. The Space City adventure park has an Imax and planetarium, moon walk simulator and rocket-themed climbing frames, and children can even fly a spaceship. Teenagers may enjoy a visit to the Airbus factory in Toulouse, where themed tours include a look at the A380. Next year Airbus is opening the Aeroscopia aviation museum.
Sample price: Brittany Ferries offers Au Village Homps gîte, which is suitable for a family of four and 45 minutes’ drive from Toulouse, from £462 per week. The price includes property rental and return ferry crossing to France.
Farther afield: For pupils studying for GCSE and A-level biology, there can be no more inspiring destination than the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin’s studies there helped shape his theories of evolution and natural selection. Several tour operators feature family trips to the Galapagos. The Adventure Company’s Rainforest and Evolution Adventure includes the Galapagos and an Ecuadorian rainforest stay with a guide from the indigenous Huaorani community.
Sample price: The Adventure Company’s tour starts from £3,299 per person with flights and accommodation.
Close to home: Almost every pupil studies Shakespeare, and seeing his work on stage can bring those words alive in young minds. Look at listings for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, or Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London, for the Bard at his most authentic. Reluctant teens could be tempted by a celebrity name – former Dr Who David Tennant is starring in the RSC’s Richard II this autumn in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Sample price: Superbreak sells the three-star Travelodge Stratford-upon-Avon from £79.25 per person, room-only. The price includes one night’s accommodation and a ticket to Hamlet at the RSC on June 13.
Farther afield: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird, set in Alabama, is a staple of the English Literature syllabus, and with 2013 marking the 50th anniversary of many of the original civil rights protests, including Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, schools are even more likely to focus on this popular novel. Alabama’s largest city Birmingham has a Civil Rights Institute, which tells the story of the movement. To Kill A Mockingbird is set in Monroeville, where visitors can head to the Old Courthouse Museum to immerse themselves in the book’s setting. Afterwards, the family can relax on Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches.
Sample price: Premier Holidays offers a 14-night Alabama fly drive from £1,499 per adult, £799 per child, for an October departure, including flights, room-only hotels and a two-door car. trade.
Close to home: Glaciers, volcanoes, desert plains, hot water shooting out of the earth and bathing in the amazing Blue Lagoon – Iceland offers geography with a wow factor. Although it can be expensive, many operators sell tours with plenty of excursions included so clients can budget ahead. It’s easily navigable in a few days too, making it a great half-term trip.
Sample price: Regent Holidays has a five-day South Iceland Short Break from £685 including flights, accommodation and excursions. It includes Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir hot spring area, a whale watching safari (summer only) and the Blue Lagoon.
Farther afield: A tour of Borneo will bring a whole range of issues studied in geography to life, including the chance to spot the endangered orangutan. Explore’s 12-day Borneo Family Wildlife tour visits a variety of habitats, from coral reefs to jungles, and includes a visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre to learn about conservation, and a stay in a traditional longhouse where kids will learn how local tribes used blowpipes to hunt.
Sample price: Explore’s 12-day Borneo Family Wildlife Tour is suitable for children aged five and over, and starts from £2,457 per adult and £2,111 per child, including flights, accommodation, some meals, transport, driver, tour leader and local guides.
Close to home: Ancient Egypt is often studied at primary school level and a visit is a great way to introduce a family to soft adventure holidays. Combine with the Red Sea so mum and dad get a bit of relaxation too. Exodus has a Feluccas and Pharaohs tour, which includes visiting the Pyramids at Giza, the temples of Karnak and a Nile cruise.
Sample price: Exodus’s tour starts at £1,339 per adult and £1,205 per child for 10 days, including flights, accommodation, tours, and most meals. Children must be five years or older.
Farther afield: For an all-round trip that covers plenty of US history, try one of the family-orientated Tauck Bridges tours sold by North America Travel Service. The National Treasures Philly to DC tour includes Washington DC, for the chance to learn about the National Constitution, and Amish Country, where they’ll visit a family and experience life with no cars or iPads. The tour also includes battlefields of the American civil war and the International Spy Museum in Washington DC.
Sample price: North American Travel Service offers a seven-day National Treasure: Philly to DC Tauck Bridges tour, from £2,699 per adult and £2,179 per child under 12, including flights and accommodation.
Close to home: Holidays are the perfect way to enthuse a youngster about sport or give them the opportunity to hone their skills. Southern Europe has a handful of resorts with really outstanding sporting facilities, from one-offs such as La Manga Club in Murcia and Forte Village in Sardinia, to chains including Club Med and Mark Warner.
Sample price: Seven nights’ half board at Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes starts from £655, departing May 4. The price includes flights and transfers, clubs for kids and teens, watersports and tuition, use of tennis courts, fitness classes and mountain biking.
Farther afield: The Caribbean is a fantastic place for sports fans. Resorts are well-equipped for outdoor activities and there are often sporting events, such as this year’s Barbados Legends Tournament 2013 in June, where former Premiership footballers play against each other and Barbadian footballers in a two-day tournament. Buccament Bay Resort in St Vincent is the perfect sell for a sporty family, with several sporting academies on offer. Pat Cash is serving up tennis tuition, Alec Stewart is batting for the cricket academy and Teddy Sheringham and John Barnes will be at the football academy.
Sample price: Caribtours offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £6,148 per family, based on two adults and two children sharing a one-bedroom Deluxe Garden Villa with plunge pool, including all flights and transfers. Academies are included in the rates.
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