The Family Vacation Nobody Ever Considers

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A man and woman going for a walking holiday.

When booking a vacation with the family, we often get drawn back to the classic hotel resort package that has a kid’s park, or a private villa with a lot of space. But, there may just be another option that is rarely considered: a walking holiday.

What is a walking holiday?

A walking holiday is exactly what it sounds like. You head over to a place like Santiago Ways and decide on a route, difficulty, length, and time frame. For example, a 150km Camino Portugues coastal route that passes through historical pilgrim pathways that were used as a trade route hundreds, and even thousands of years ago.

You spend most of the days walking and, if you have booked with an organization that provides a package and set route, you have a different hotel to stay at each night.

Is this all that child friendly?

So, the above sounds like a horror holiday for some families with a toddler – it can be a challenge, but it’s certainly possible. But, there are plenty of routes that are purposely planned to be child friendly. Instead of 25km stages between hotel stays, it could be 10km, or 20km when cycling. Instead of mountainous terrain, it can be flat walking trails. Instead of being in the remote countryside, it can be village hopping.

For babies, they can be carried on a baby carrier intended for hiking (and bit like a child seat backpack). For 3-5-year-olds, this is a little more tricky, but they could be in a safe child’s seat on a bike or in a stroller. And, for 6 to 16-year-olds, they can happily walk but the distance may vary in how quickly they get tired. They may not have considered walking as fun before the holiday, but they will see the value in it after.

When it comes to the hotels, they’re all checked and verified by the organizer – there are minimal risks here.

The benefits of a family walking holiday

So we’ve talked about overcoming the issues, but what about the fun?

Whilst the hotel-hopping may sound unsettling to some, it couldn’t be more exciting to most children. Never bored by the same four walls, they will have a wide range of new experiences simply from the accommodation alone.

But the day-to-day walking is also a character-building experience. Children are often deprived of being surrounded by nature, and this is a great way for children to experience a wide variety of landscapes, animals, and activities – as well as learn new skills like orienteering, map reading, and basic safety.

It’s also a very cost-effective vacation. There’s no need to spend all that money on the usual daily activities like swimming pools and restaurants of a normal vacation, because most of your time is being taken up by being on beaches, tracks, forests, animal farms, and picnics.

Final words of advice

There certainly is more to think about when booking a walking holiday for a whole family. Children should have rests every hour, have some backup transport like a scooter, stroller, or bike if they do turn against the idea of walking one day, and of course, should be very careful in the heat.

Don’t forget snacks, spare clothes, a towel, and a small medical kit. Remember, it’s not just about distance, but also the ground you’re walking on. A child-friendly route should be more than just limited mileage each day, but should have a flat surface to be safe for a young child and their stroller – unless they’re older. To help decide on a child-friendly route, browse the Camino de Santiago routes.

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