Are we there yet? What kids really want from a family holiday

Want a successful family holiday? Involve your kids in the decision-making

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Your seven-year old may not seem the likeliest choice of travel agent for your next family holiday, but involving your children in the planning of your getaway could just be the best decision you’ll ever make.
“It’s a great idea to get your children involved in the holiday decision-making process. It will give them confidence and help them grow into sound decision makers,” says Felicity Tonkinson, Educational Psychologist in Umhlanga and Ballito. She adds that contributing towards family plans also gives children the feeling that they belong to this special group and that their opinions are heard and valued.
“Children often have the most out-of-the-box ideas that spice up a holiday,” says Sharmila Ragunanan, Group Marketing Manager Dream Hotels and Resorts. “They get excited about actively exploring South Africa and the world, rather than passively consuming it.” Ragunanan says one of the best ways to go about delegating some of the holiday decisions to your children is by not giving them too much free reign – unless you want to be tasked with finding a hotel near Hogwarts.
“What should we do? Where should we go?” Those are the two basic questions for any family holiday. Children can help you with answers as long as they’re given reasonable options, says Ragunanan. “Give them a choice on whether they want to have a beach holiday or an active holiday in the mountains.”
It’s important to remind children that their holiday decisions also need to suit the needs of the entire family, adds Tonkinson. She explains: “Some points to draw to the children’s attention could be: affordability, the type of holiday (drive vs flights, beach vs city, hotels vs self-catering) and the attractions and activities on offer.”
Prep school kids can help you with more difficult decisions, but again don’t ask too many open-ended questions as this will result in confusion and frustration, says Ragunanan. “On Monday, should we go zip-lining, go on a nature hike, or stay in the hotel and play board games?” If you have more than one child, allow each child the choice over one day at least.
What are children looking for in a family holiday?
Tonkinson explains that collected the reviews of 22,500 children around the world aged five to 15 and they listed the five most important things they want from a holiday.
Says Tonkinson: “Children between five and 11 want a pool with ‘cool water slides’, they want to be near the beach and be able to participate in activities they can’t do at home. Evening activities are also in the top five, and staying up late is important to them when on holiday. And lastly, they want to go somewhere where there will be other kids to play with.”
Older children between 12 and 15 still want a pool, a great choice of activites or a location near the beach. But, they would also like to have Wi-Fi and a fast Internet connection and they want to be able to take cool photos to post on their social media accounts, explains Tonkinson.
Whichever decision you make with your children about your next family holidays, what is certain, is that family holidays are crucial to any child’s development. Tonkinson explains: “Researchers have studied the role of traditions and rituals such as holidays in family life and psychologists consistently link these kinds of family practices with high academic success, happiness, and emotional well-being for the whole family.”
Tonkinson adds that when both parents make family rituals important, kids are found to have better emotional skills and a greater sense of identity. She says: “A review of a number of research publications on this topic found that the frequent occurrence of family rituals was related to parenting competence, child adjustment and marital satisfaction.”
Four options to consider for your family holidays
Adventures in the Cederberg Mountains
Give your children the option of an activity-filled holiday at Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort in the Cederberg Moutains.
This cosy resort has something for everyone; with beautiful views, a children's playground, pool table, table tennis, outdoor chess, mini golf (putt-putt), outdoor pool, indoor heated pool, and a Health & Wellness Centre.
For the more adventurous teenagers, you’ll find ziplines, hiking, mountain biking (30km) and target shooting, while mom and dad can escape to The Baths resort for some time-out relaxing in the natural hot springs.
A beach holiday in Scottburgh
The KZN South Coast is a popular family holiday choice as it offers everything to make both kids and parents happy.
Scottburgh especially is a fantastic option as it is action-packed during holiday times with beach festivals, exciting water slides and non-stop fun for the whole family. Learn how to surf or scuba dive, go mountain biking or just enjoy the beach with the family.
Located just 200m from the beach and featuring a pool, a playground and a scuba diving academy, The Blue Marlin Hotel has been a family favourite for generations.
Explore Cape Town
You can’t go wrong with Cape Town. There is so much to see and do in our beautiful Mother City. From cultural sites to nature reserves, educational exhibitions and outdoor adventures, the choices are limitless.
Opt for a stay at The Peninsula All Suite Hotel, and enjoy your own private kitchenette for those times that you just don’t feel like going out to eat. The hotel has no less than two swimming pools, a tech room, and a gym. Babysitting services are also available if mom and dad want a romantic evening out.
Discover the bush in Mpumalanga
Taking your children on a holiday in the bush can be a very rewarding experience, and can help you create some unforgettable family memories. It will also instill respect in your children for our planet and its wildlife.
At Jackalberry Ridge, you and your family can experience an authentic and luxurious game reserve. The resort is home to more than 300 species of bird and a variety of game, plus the lure of the big five is just 20 km away through the Kruger’s Crocodile Bridge Gate.
After a busy day of game viewing, your kids can enjoy the lodge’s jungle gym, outdoor chess set and trampoline or cool off in the pool. For teenagers who would like to post their pictures on social media, there is a Wi-Fi hotspot at the reception.

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