Are all family tours family-friendly? 

 

With the family travel industry booming in recent years, you have to cut through the noise to see real family-friendly tours. It seems every destination marketing team are pitching themselves as family-friendly. if you spend enough time online you will find pretty much every town, city, and country being referred to as family-friendly. Whether in the words of blogger, a so-called travel expert or clever marketing team. The term ‘family-friendly tours’ produces a staggering number of 415,000,000 results!

 

But surely they can’t all be family-friendly tours?What criteria do these destinations fulfil in order to attain this coveted title?

Price

Once you make the move from travelling solo or with a partner, to becoming a family, your credit card is going to take a hit. Flights, rooms, activities, and more mouths to feed all add up. Destinations that are considered to be better value for money, therefore, remains a popular option for families. So think family-friendly tours in Thailand, Vietnam, Bali. There are less family-friendly tours in Seychelles, Monaco and the Maldives…think of these as more couple orientated.

 

Read more: Our destinations

 

Tours that include transport, entertainment, activities and accommodation as well as some foods, are becoming more and more popular. Whilst the initial price can sometimes be hard to swallow, it allows for fewer surprises. It is much easier to budget when you know the full price upfront. Rather than coming back from holiday to find you have spent a lot more than you thought you would.

We try to get families to immerse themselves in the local culture

Attitude to families

In many cultures, the family is at the core of everything and so their acceptance of children stands out head and shoulders above others. A great example of this is the Sultanate of Oman. Richard, the CEO of two point four, lived there for 5 years and his son was born there. Family is so important to the Omani people, that no matter where you explored in the country, people would greet you and your children with open arms. This makes Oman perfect for family friendly tours. The Omani people are so open and warm and their interest in your children can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. They will want to take selfies and pick your child up. Whilst for a European, this can seem a bit strange, it is perfectly normal here.

Family-friendly accommodation

A lot of people will only consider a destination if they have hotels and villas specifically catered for children. This might range from special child only menus or could be playrooms kitted out in padded flooring with a variety of toys from home. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s not what two point four experiences are about. All of our accommodation is inspected with children in mind to make sure it is safe and suitable for families. Where possible, we try to get families to immerse themselves in the local culture. All children should be encouraged to try new foods and to use the natural surroundings as a playground. John Marsden, who is an Australian author and school principal was recently featured in the Guardian.  He stated that.

“….part of that is a fear, in particular, of physical injury,” he says. “Of course, all reasonable parents are concerned about physical injury to a child, but if that overrides everything else then what you have instead is a kind of slow death by emotional damage which is so awful to witness.

Marsden runs two private schools in Victoria, both housed on extensive bushland campuses. Children climb trees, ride bikes, camp and don’t wear uniforms. They are expensive schools to attend but Marsden believes all schools can address the “boring”, “antiseptic” lives of contemporary children and young people, lives which are lived primarily through second-hand experiences, he says, and devoid of grazed knees.

We try to promote the use of imagination and exploration

Let me entertain you

Sources of entertainment for children are one of those subjects that divides opinion and rightly so. The growth of screen-based entertainment in the least decade has been phenomenal. But is this the future, or are we likely to see parents turning their back on handheld devices as their side effects become more apparent?

Taking a stance on this is important and to a degree, this is at the core of what we are trying to do. Remove distractions and create an environment where parents and children can engage with one another in a meaningful way. This is at the heart of every two point four family friendly tour.

Excessive screen time has a number of detrimental effects on both children and the family. We would never deny that tablets have their place and occasional use is not an issue as every parent needs a distraction every now and again. But if a child becomes reliant on apps at a young age, this, in our opinion, could lead to problems in the future.

We try to promote the use of imagination and exploration as sources of entertainment, rather than short term sensory overload. Just spending time on a beach exploring rock pools, wandering through a nature reserve or a jungle, observing animals and interacting with each other are all simple ways to entertain children. All of our itineraries are designed to make sure that families have this time together as this time with your children is more valuable than anything. Shared time in nature, adventure and culture will create much more memorable experiences than any computer game can.

Proximity

Lets not lie to each other, the thought of being on a long haul flight with a child can be pretty daunting but more and more families are willing to overcome this short term pain for long term gain. You can find some more information here on our tips and tricks to handle young children on a flight which have been tried and tested. However, only you as the parent knows what will work for you and your children and whilst like a lot of parenting scenarios, it is important to remember you are not on your own here. Thousands of parents all around the world board flights with their children every day. This diagram below explains how to mentally prepare for this.

 

Read more: Tips on flying with a toddler

 

The only person who can decide this is you

Conclusion

We have said over and over again, no one can tell you how to be a better parent, or what is right for your family. The only person who can decide this is you. So whilst a destination might be declared as family-friendly, this doesn’t mean it will be the most suitable for you. Some parents love the idea of spending days in a theme park whilst for others, this is their idea of hell. Being different is good and what separates us from a lot of other species so we would suggest listening to other people’s opinions and allow them to influence you but never let someone decide for you.