And so, the long-awaited trip has finally arrived! Today is the day you are setting off with your family on an adventure to the other side of the world. Excitement reaches its peak as you board the plane. But have you thought of everything you can do to make this long flight even more enjoyable? Once the joy of taking off and landing has worn out, your kids may experience ear pain. Take along some of their favourite sweets or a feeding bottle to suck on. Then, to make the long journey go by as smoothly as possible, you can keep them entertained with games, books or a doodle board (with rim to stop the pencils rolling off).
Your five-year-old mini-traveller is a creative soul, so give him a big drawing book and he will be engrossed with his pictures for hours. For his ten-year-old brother, take along some brain-teasers. He wiIl enjoy doing those with you and it will keep him busy for a while. As for your fourteen-year-old, well, the free mobile app Air France Play is available so she can previously upload playlists that have been specially designed to help her relax or a range of movies, TV shows, cartoons, news stories and documentaries that she can listen and watch during the flight.
Before you leave, buy all the things you need to make a travel diary. In the evenings, the little ones can stick entrance tickets for the places you have visited in the notebook and write all about their busy day. It is a great way to keep those precious memories.
When you travel as a family, you have to learn the art of compromise! Your fourteen-year-old daughter does not want to do the same things as her ten-year-old brother. To keep the whole clan happy, consider everyone's tastes when putting your itinerary together. Up to the age of five, you have no worries visiting one place after another. Perfectly happy in his push-chair, your toddler will go anywhere without batting an eyelid. As for the others, the journey will have to be adapted. Maybe opt for outdoor activities such as hiking, excursions to see wild animals at close quarters or trips to parks. It will be a complete change of scenery for the whole group, whatever destination you choose.
Mountain hikes on the island of La Réunion
Discover the uplands of the island of La Réunion with your flock. Once there, start with one or two easy walks along the sign-posted trails from the small village of Hell-Bourg. Surrounded by lush vegetation on all sides, you will stroll along paths specially laid out to enjoy the island's awe-inspiring scenery. Keep your eyes open, a tropical bird may well land just in front of you, much to the delight of your children.
Next day, visit Kélonia together, the sea turtle aquarium and observatory, before launching on a more ambitious two-day mini-trek in the Cirque de Mafate caldera. Armed with a tent, you will sleep under the stars with a guide who will help you discover all the local flowers. When you get to the end of the trail, the whole family will be blown away by the sight of the Trou de Fer, the highest waterfall on French territory.
46 Rue du Général de Gaulle
97436 La Réunion
+262 (0) 262 34 81 10
Cirque de Mafate
An exotic dip for all the family in Thailand
If there is one activity that brings the whole brood together, then it has to be swimming! So, when you take a trip to Thailand, first make sure you book hotels with pools. If your kids know that a dive is on the cards, you will have no difficulty getting them to go to Sukhothai Historical Park in Bangkok. In the south of the country, book a surprise stay on a beach on Koh Samui, an island an hour's flight from the capital. Pop on a full-face mask with 180° vision and swim together among the parrot fish. In the evening, relax on one of the powder-sand beaches and watch the golden sunset unfold before you. Your kids will be eternally grateful to you and will leave the island with a suitcase full of lasting memories.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Mueang Sukhothai District
64210 Sukhothai Province
+66 55 697 241
Exploring the wilderness of Quebec
Take your group on a four-wheel adventure to the great wilderness of Quebec province. There is nothing like coming face to face with wild animals for a bit of family bonding. Make sure you book a Zodiac expedition in Tadoussac to do some whale-watching.
Food is another major talking point. The youngest has his eyes on poutine (French fries, cheese and gravy), while big sis will not entertain anything other than crêpes with maple syrup? To mix things up a bit and keep the whole tribe happy, give them fruit salad for breakfast or on a picnic in La Mauricie National Park. That is a great way to introduce them to local, seasonal produce. The natural landscapes of the region will seem even more spectacular.
La Mauricie National Park
Chemin Saint François
QC G0X 1N0 Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc
+1 819 538 3232
A castle and Mediterranean-like scenery in Portugal
When you arrive in Porto, your kids will only have one thing on their minds – a visit to Lello bookshop. The luminous interior of this neo-Gothic building provided Harry Potter author JK Rowling with the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The place certainly deserves its title as the “most beautiful bookshop in the world”. Its shelves hold almost 60,000 works in Portuguese, English and French, so no doubt there will be something for everyone.
After this literary interlude, set off on a discovery of the most beautiful scenery in the country in the town of Guimarães, about 50 km to the north of Porto. The imposing 10th-century castle overlooking the medieval centre will whisk the whole family away to their very own tale of chivalry. From there, you can continue the adventure by taking a one-day hike in the surrounding countryside, where majestic olive groves give way to eucalyptus forests.
In the evening, climb on board the cable car and admire one of the most spectacular views in the region. From the top of Monte da Penha hill, a vast panorama reminiscent of the Mediterranean is unveiled before you, while the setting sun's last orange glow lights up the rocky mountain vista. Your little group will be lost for words at the sight.
Rua das Carmelitas 144
+351 22 200 2037
Rua Conde Dom Henrique
+351 253 412 273
Monte da Penha hill