During my time as a travel writer, I’ve been everywhere from Alaska to Vietnam with my son.
Now he’s a well-travelled teenager, I’m increasingly on the lookout for adventurous breaks where we can make memories together.
Here are our stand-out trips for 2020.
Mountain citadel: The incredible Machu Picchu ruins in Peru. Go this year, before the construction of a new airport at the valley’s mouth ruins the peace
You’ll get away with a visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu if you promise your children white-water rafting and mountain biking in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Go this year, before the construction of a new airport at the valley’s mouth ruins the peace.
Elsewhere, take a boat trip from the Paracas peninsula south of Lima to the Ballestas Islands to see sea-lions, dolphins and penguins, followed by dune buggy rides and sandboarding in the desert around Huacachina. Finish in the Amazon with jungle canoeing.
Cost: Two weeks’ B&B, with guides and activities, costs from £2,450 per adult and £2,150 per teenager with realworldholidays.co.uk. International flights are not included.
Surfing on the Basque coast
Fast train lines in France mean it’s a doddle to reach pretty St Jean de Luz in the little-known French Basque region. Stay in the clifftop Hotel La Reserve and take surfing lessons on the Atlantic waves
Fast train lines in France mean it’s a doddle to reach pretty St Jean de Luz in the little-known French Basque region. It’s less than a four-and-a-half-hour journey from Paris (though I’d be tempted to stop in Bordeaux en route).
Stay in the clifftop Hotel La Reserve and take surfing lessons on the Atlantic waves (€40 for two hours, or €170 for five days with ecolesurfhendaye.com). You could even catch a ferry from Hendaye across to Spain.
Cost: Family studios at Hotel La Reserve start at €230 a night (hotel-lareserve.com). Rail Europe (raileurope.co.uk) has returns from London from £177.50.
Explore Sri Lanka
White-knuckle ride: Tourists take a rafting trip in Sri Lanka, which is back on the travel map now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has lifted its travel ban after last year’s Easter bombings
Sri Lanka is back on the travel map now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has lifted its travel ban after last year’s Easter bombings (and yes, I’d take my son there). Climb the hilltop rock fortress of Sigiriya, visit the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, and cycle around the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
An action-packed itinerary from specialists Bushbaby Travel includes rafting in Kitulgala and a 4×4 drive to see elephants in the Minneriya National Park, as well as the beaches of the east coast.
Cost: Two weeks’ B&B in four-star hotels costs from £3,450 per adult, £3,380 per teenager, including activities, flights and a private driver (bushbaby.travel).
Go to Corfu – by train
One tour operator is introducing a train travel trip to the Greek holiday islands of Corfu, pictured. You take the train to Milan and spend the night there before going to Bari for an overnight ferry
Still want a villa holiday by the beach? Make the journey part of the holiday and travel by train. Tour operator Sunvil and its villa arm GIC is introducing train travel to Corfu, Paxos, Parga, Sivota and Lefkas for 2020. For Corfu, you’ll take the train to Milan and spend the night there before going to Bari for an overnight ferry.
Stay in the north-east corner of Corfu by white-pebbled Barbati beach, with its watersports and seafront tavernas. Rent a boat for the day to explore the coast.
Cost: Seven nights’ self-catering in the two-bedroom Villa Ianthi, with pool, plus the two-night journey, car hire and return flight, costs from £1,485pp (gicthevillacollection.com).
See South Korea
On a trip to South Korea, you can explore K-pop culture in modern Seoul, pictured, then take the bullet train to the south-coast city of Gyeongju
Give your teenagers serious bragging rights by travelling to South Korea, where they can visit the demilitarised zone for glimpses of life in North Korea. Explore K-pop culture in modern Seoul, then take the bullet train to the south-coast city of Gyeongju, capital of the 1,000-year-long Silla dynasty.
This new tailor-made trip with Audley Travel also includes hiking on the island of Jeju, with its beaches and volcanic landscape, and the chance to stay overnight in a monastery.
Cost: A 12-day itinerary costs from £3,495pp, including flights, B&B accommodation and excursions (audleytravel.com).
Coast down California
Need for speed: Drive to Lake Tahoe for mountain-biking, kiteboarding, kayaking and rock-climbing, before exploring the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park
The Golden State ticks all the teenage boxes, with American culture, great beaches, buzzy cities and the added attraction of the new Star Wars Rise of the Resistance ride at Disneyland California. Start in San Francisco with a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and a night tour of the island prison of Alcatraz.
Then drive to Lake Tahoe for mountain-biking, kiteboarding, kayaking and rock-climbing, before exploring the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park. Head down the Big Sur coastline to Los Angeles and the journey home.
Cost: A two-week fly-drive with Bon Voyage (bon-voyage.co.uk) costs from £2,495pp, including flights, accommodation and car.
Sail around Croatia
Charter a private yacht with a skipper to sail around the Croatian coast, where you can moor off the island of Vis, pictured
Join another family and charter a private yacht with a skipper to sail around the Croatian coast. Moor off the island of Vis to go abseiling, dive to Second World War wrecks, and explore tunnels built by the Yugoslav army.
Call at the vibrant city of Split and party town of Hvar, and visit the Zlatni Rat beach on Brac and the Blue Cave on Bisevo. Yachts come with paddle boards too.
Cost: Seven nights on a 46ft boat with four cabins for up to ten people costs from £4,431 from August 22 with Dream Yacht Charter (dreamyachtcharter.co.uk). Flights to Split and transfers to Trogir, about 15 minutes away, cost extra.
Go for gold in Japan
The city of Osaka in Japan. With bullet trains, robots and samurai castles, Japan is a child’s playground of a country
With bullet trains, robots and samurai castles, Japan is a child’s playground of a country – and the country will be hosting the 2020 Olympics from July 24 to August 9. It will be stinking hot then, so go in October half-term when it will be cooler.
Specialist Inside Japan has a 12-night Mountains And Culture family activity holiday, which includes a sword-fighting class in Osaka, a soba noodle-making class in Matsumoto, a cycle trip in Takayama, plus visits to the anime film Studio Ghibli and the Osaka aquarium. You’ll get to travel on the legendary bullet train and will be able to opt for extras such as a visit to a sumo stable.
Cost: 12 nights’ B&B in October costs from £2,133pp, including activities but not international flights (insidejapantours.com).
Go biking in Spain
There are plenty of walks to enjoy in the Picos mountains in Spain, pictured. This region is also perfect for biking
Bundle your brood into the car, attach the bikes to a rack and take the ferry to Asturias’s wild coast. Just over 60 miles from Santander is the quartet of new Bufones de Pria apartments with a shared pool. They take their name from the nearby blowholes on the cliffs, through which the ocean spouts dramatic geysers.
The pilgrims’ Camino de Santiago passes by here, too, and is perfect for biking or hiking.
There are plenty of other walks to enjoy in the Picos mountains, as well as to the nearby sandy beach of Guadamia.
Cost: Two-bedroom apartments cost from £150 a night (i-escape.com). Overnight ferry crossings cost from £600 return with a family cabin, plus £30 for a bike rack (brittany-ferries.co.uk).
Learn to dive in Grenada
Explore the crystal-clear waters of Grenada by learning to dive en famille. Once you’re qualified (the PADI course takes about three days), take selfies at the underwater sculpture park
Explore the crystal-clear waters of Grenada by learning to dive en famille. Once you’re qualified (the PADI course takes about three days), take selfies at the underwater sculpture park and head out to the Purple Rain diving site, where bright purple anthias swim above the reef.
A day’s 4×4 hire to explore Grenada’s rainforests, waterfalls and tropical beaches, plus a day’s catamaran charter, are also included in the cost of the break.
Cost: Nine nights’ B&B, including flights, the dive course and two follow-up dives, costs from £2,775pp with Original Diving (originaldiving.com).
Head Down Under
Whipping up a storm: A sand buggy adventure on the sand dunes of Moreton Island in Australia
Australia is experiencing some of its worst summer bush fires in living memory, but Queensland in winter (our summer months, of course) is a far safer time to visit. Take advantage of our long school holidays and spend three weeks in the country.
Trailfinders’ Queensland Thrills And Spills trip takes in the Great Barrier Reef, three theme parks in Brisbane, and Moreton Island, where you can take a four-wheel-drive desert safari and toboggan on giant dunes.
Cost: A 20-night break costs from £2,579pp, including flights, car hire, four breakfasts and some activities (trailfinders.com).
And closer to home…
There are some brilliant family hiking holidays, including some in the foothills of the Himalayas. But to be sure your children are up to them, book a walking weekend in Blighty first. Bag Yorkshire’s three peaks of Pen-y-Ghent (2,277ft), Whernside (2,415ft) and Ingleborough (2,370ft) in under 12 hours.
Alternatively, climb the Lake District giants of Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Scafell Pike. Families are guided and stay in a house run by travel company HF Holidays. Hill-walking experience is a must.
Cost: Three nights’ full-board in Yorkshire from July 31 costs from £459 per adult and £99 per child (aged 12 to 17) in a family room. Three nights from April 10 and from August 14 in the Lake District costs from £434 per adult or £99 per child (12 to 17) on the same basis (hfholidays.co.uk).