The holiday wish list

By on November 29, 2008
The end of the year is one of the rare occasions in a family’s hectic schedule that allows us, for better or for worse, to all be together. With school trips and extra curricular activities encroaching on family time, the true family holiday is a scarcity. So when you do have the opportunity to go away  together, it’s important to make it a memorable holiday for all the right reasons.Asking my tribe where they would like to go on holiday is always a mistake.
After ignoring the predictable “away from you” comments from the older teen and with a little financial negotiation I was presented with this year’s holiday wish list. Top of the list the inevitable Disneyland making it’s yearly appearance; not the local variety but the star-studded Californian version in the land of Obama. Next came Finland and  Iceland. They couldn’t decide which was better, both offering a glimpse of Santa’s helpers along with the northern lights which featured in a recent school project. Up next, New York.  I blame ’CSI’ and Tom Hanks for that one. Hawaii, another perennial favourite and cruising down the Nile to explore the Pyramids which appealed to me.
Australia made an appearance and my better half suggested taking a hike! It turned out to be on a rope-way walk above the jungle in Costa Rica. Okinawa made an appearance for its sheer ease. I added Spain for a spot of European surf and snow, and Dubai for its over the top hotels.All destinations except Okinawa require the long haul but that’s not the nightmare it once was. These days with seat-back TVs, kid channels, built-in game consoles and fun packs, airlines are trying to make the whole journey more painless. Plus you can turn long haul flights into an advantage by including a stopover in Hong Kong, Bangkok or Singapore  and get two holidays for the price of one. Flicking though the brochures or surfing the net, there is no shortage of destinations, exotic adventures, island retreats and cool eco-tours. More now than ever before, the family can see and experience pretty much anything around the globe and with exchange rates spiralling, the Yen is king again. So use those air miles and tick off a few holidays of a lifetime from the list.
Wish list favourites – Top destinations
Space age luxury
With direct flights from Narita, the futuristic world of Dubai is only hours away. Winter is the perfect time to indulge in the extravagance. The newly opened Atlantis hotel boasts an incredible location on the man-made Palm-island with an amazing array of attractions. If the 21st century mix of tack and fantasy doesn’t appeal, take a trip to the Souks. The dessert is close at hand and the Camel racing “is-not-to-be-missed.”Mickey and more Mickey
Back on more familiar territory the allure of Mickey is too strong to ignore. Superior in all aspects to its Japanese counterpart, Disneyland, despite my grumbles, is a guaranteed family pleaser and makes for an effortless Christmas. With a seemingly endless list of attractions both inside and outside of the park; mum can sneak in a quick trip to Rodeo Drive and the tribe can walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Spanish Snow
Down In Andalucia, breakfast in the Mediterranean marina of Puerto Banus, and then jump in a rental car and within two hours find yourself at the foothills of Sierra Nevada, giving Granada’s glorious Alhambra a quick once over before strapping on your families skis in Spain’s southernmost ski resort. There is a lot to be said for sitting at the top of a mountain with a glass of cava and a plate of paella, and seeing the kids enjoying themselves on the sun drenched slopes.

Dinosaur Kingdom
Ecotourism is the byword for any green family travelling the world these days; uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel. Costa Rica has all the jungle and beach you could wish for. National parks, wildlife refuges and private reserves protect over twenty five percent of the country – more than in any other in the world. So there’s plenty to keep little explorers happy. Share the golden beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park with the Capuchin monkeys and on a clear night you can see the Arenal volcano spluttering lava.

G’day Playmates
Australia is a magical world all of its own. Putting a shrimp on the barbie for a Christmas feast is always appealing. Exciting cities, stunning  beaches and tropical rainforests. Walk through the rainforest one minute and be surfing the next. The country’s favourite family holiday destination is the Gold Coast which boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, 70 kilometres of beaches and fantastic theme parks.

King Tut’s trip
Whether you’re looking for an educational trip full of history or simply relaxing at the Red Sea; New Year is the perfect time to play Indiana Jones. Begin your adventure in exciting Cairo visiting the world famous Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx – even the youngest of the family will be amazed at these magnificent wonders, of the ancient world and that’s before taking a Felucca down the worlds longest river.

Doorstep tropics
Being only a few hours away and technically a domestic adventure, is half  the beauty of Okinawa. Beautiful turquoise waters, resort-style hotels, quiet islands with every water sport imaginable and spas for the grownups along with nine world heritage sites and an aquarium of Guinness book proportions. You could do a lot worse.

About Neil Thomsen