Travel calendar

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

JANUARY
Cape TownTable Mountain, Cape Town
Why? Breathtaking scenery, a dependable climate, plus it's excellent value for money. The area is very straightforward to explore, generally hassle free and no innoculations are required. Getting here's not a problem either, with plenty of night flights making it much easier on you and the kids. The city itself boasts good, affordable hotels, high food standards and plenty of excellent beaches including one just for families. Table Mountain towers over the city and you can take trips to the top by cable car. The Cape of Good Hope is a great day trip, Green Market Square sells every conceivable knick-knack, while the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront provides an entire day's diversions, including boat trips, seal watching, museums, a shopping mall, bistros and cinema. Health standards are consistently high.

  • Will suit: all ages from infants to teenagers, including those on a budget
  • Flying time: about 12 hours
  • Time difference: GMT + 2 hours, so no jet lag
  • Average temperatures: 26°C
  • Tourist information: www.southafrica.net, www.gocapetown.co.za

FEBRUARY
South-west Florida

Sarasota, FloridaWhy? Avoiding much of this region's more superficial facade you'll discover wilderness, wildlife and wide open beaches on Florida's lesser known Gulf coastline. Sanibel Island has outlawed high rises, while neighbouring Captiva is regarded as the shell-collecting capital. The virgin sands are strewn with sand dollars, conch shells, even turtles laying eggs. Dolphins regularly cruise the shoreline. You can get closer still by hiring out a boat, kayak or canoe to explore the outlying islands and mangroves. Taking a fly-drive via Fort Myers offers the freedom, flexibility and variety to explore both islands at leisure. Restaurants are entirely geared up for children with special menus, toys and highchairs. For kids, it's a chance to get close to nature without compromising on home comforts.

  • Will suit: all ages and those on a budget
  • Flying time: About 10 hours
  • Time difference: GMT minus 5 hours, so expect jet lag for the first couple of days
  • Average temperature: 23°C
  • Tourist informationwww.visitflorida.com

MARCH
Algarve, Portugal


Algarve, PortugalWhy? A balmy, year-round climate with easy, inexpensive and frequent flights from all the UK airports making this holiday spot accessible to all. Superb family facilities and especially renowned for its excellent sports amenities, golf courses and health clubs. Many hotels and resorts now offer flexible children's programmes and more are adding them every season. Most are free of charge and offer a variety of entertaining and educational activities allowing kids to drop in and out depending on their interests and your family's day-to-day plans. Villa rentals are equally good for families here. Spotlessly clean, tastefully furnished and consistently built to high standards mostly with pools, you can book ahead with confidence.

  • Will suit: all ages - temperatures at this time of the year are mild, which is ideal for little ones
  • Flying time: 2-3 hours
  • Time difference: None - GMT applies
  • Average temperature: 19°C
  • Tourist information: www.visitportugal.com

APRIL
Cyprus

CyprusWhy? Combining beautiful beaches, transparent seas, picturesque villages and ancient sites. Spring temperatures are just right for families. Over half the island's visitors are British, so you can depend on English-speaking companions for the kids, not to mention familiar menus and newspapers when you want them. The quality of its accommodation and hospitality of its people are pretty much guaranteed, and your brood will be welcome just about everywhere. Healthcare is good overall and crime rates are low. All the major tour operators offer affordable packages to the well-serviced, main coastal resorts. If you want to explore, several others offer flexible self-drive tours and fly-drive packages. Mini-cruises to nearby Israel and Egypt are easy to arrange.

  • Will suit: all ages
  • Flying time: 4-5 hours
  • Time difference: GMT plus 2 hours, so not much jet lag
  • Average temperature: 24°C
  • Tourist information: www.visitcyprus.com 

MAY
Mauritius

MauritiusWhy? A natural paradise enhanced by sophisticated services is a dream come true with kids in tow, though you can expect a costly price tag. The modern deluxe beach hotels have high-quality food and a child-friendly approach. Aside from the spectacular beaches, sightseeing ranges from nature reserves and waterfalls to Hindu temples. Getting out and seeing the island is straightforward. Take the bus into Quatre Bornes to enjoy the vibrant market, visit the shops at Grand Baie, the botanical gardens at Pampelmousses and the on-site factory at the Mendine sugar plantation. Local restaurants serve traditional Creole cuisine at fair prices. No compulsory innoculations are required, and hygiene and safety standards are high across the island. Plentiful night flights make this longer haul flight easier to contemplate.

  • Will suit: all ages, but be sure to take special sun precautions, especially with infants
  • Flying time: 12 hours
  • Time difference: GMT plus 4 hours, but jet lag should be minimal as you're flying north to south
  • Average temperature: 29°C
  • Tourist information: www.mauritius.net

JUNE
Majorca

Palma de MajorcaWhy? A chic and strikingly scenic alternative to the overdeveloped costas. New construction has been restricted here and much of the island has been given over to national parks. As the largest of Spain's islands it still offers some of the safest and cleanest beach life on the Med, with a resort to suit every taste and pocket. The capital Palma is sophisticated and self-assured, and well worth a visit. Limestone caves at Cuevas de Arta and Cuevas de Campanet introduce kids to a fantastic underworld grotto. The Spanish tourist infastructure is fully established, of course, so you can depend on cheap car hire, good healthcare, plenty of English speaking staff, plus varied menus to suit kids' notoriously unimaginative palates
 

  • Will suit: all ages, including those on a budget
  • Flying time: Just over 2 hours
  • Time difference: GMT plus 1 hour
  • Average temperature: 25°C
  • Tourist information: www.illesbalears.es, www.spain.info

JULY
The French Alps

French AlpsWhy? Well, it sure makes a change from cleaning sand (and come to that, snow) out of every nook and cranny. Adrenaline junkies will appreciate the awesome splendour of the mountains, gorges and lakes. There's plenty of open space to spread yourselves about and, what's more, it's rare for children to be excluded from anywhere or anything. Most peaceful are the Queyras region and the Vercors; to escape even further try the national parks of Vanoise or Ecrins. The most spectacular day trip of all has to be the cable-car ride from Chamonix for stunning views of the peaks.

AUGUST
Pembrokeshire, Wales

PembrokeshireWhy? An idyllic country retreat overlooking a picturesque coastline serves as the ultimate family getaway, but with far less of the 'getting there' factor. Traditional country pubs and village inns serve up fresh seafood and home-reared meats. What's more, there are more clean 'Blue Flag' award-winning beaches along the 180 miles of coastline than in any other county, meaning you can pack your kids' buckets and spades with confidence. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, some of the UK's warmest temperatures are recorded here. Try your hand at waterskiing, diving, parascending, abseiling, golf, horse riding and quad biking. Inland parks, gardens and castles add variety to the choice of days out. August is the month for Pembrokeshire's County Show, while the costal town of Newport holds its annual regatta.

 

  • Will suit: all ages, especially larger families/groups and those with infants
  • Driving time: 3 hours from the Midlands, 4 hours from London via the M4
  • Average temperature: 21°C
  • Tourist information: www.visitpembrokeshire.com

SEPTEMBER
Island hopping around Greece

Sunset in GreeceWhy?
Unfailingly warm and relatively crowd free at this time of the year. As well as individual island specialists, all the mass market operators go to Greece, which helps keep prices down. Between November and March transfer services remain skeletal, but during September the vast network of ferries still operating make wandering from one island to another a breeze. With inexpensive taxis, campsites and hotels, you can allow yourself plenty of freedom and flexibility. Haggling is still the norm, so in low season you can bet on even better rates. If you fancy visiting a clump of several islands in one go, you're best off heading for the Dodecanese or the Cyclades. The Sporades and Peloponnese also have reliable, regular services. Internal flights with Olympic Airways cover 30 island and mainland airports.

  • Will suit: all ages, but with infants and toddlers try to pick islands that are small enough to stroll
  • Flying time: 3-4 hours
  • Time difference: GMT + 1 hour
  • Average temperature: 27°C
  • Tourist information: www.gnto.gr

OCTOBER
Canada

Alberta, CanadaWhy?
An all-round destination you can really throw yourself into, British Columbia alone has more than 16,000 miles of coastline. There's dramatic architecture teamed with stunning autumn foliage and the spectacle that is Niagara Falls. Countless outdoor activities - from trail rides to white water rafting to whale watching in Nova Scotia - are available, making this a great destination for restless teens. Tour operators offer a choice of eastern or western seaboard holidays, with a few whistlestop trans-Canadian tours by rail or air for families who want to sample all the highlights. Self-drive tours by motor-home let you set your own pace, but much will depend on your childrens' ages and levels of endurance. Healthcare is excellent, but be sure you have sufficient comprehensive insurance.

  • Will suit: all ages, particularly older children and teens
  • Flying time: 7-10 hours
  • Time difference: GMT minus 5 to 8 hours, depending where you land, so expect some jet lag
  • Average temperature: 14°C but, depending where you are, it can change dramatically in an hour
  • Tourist information: www.canada.travel/

NOVEMBER
Canary Islands

FuerteventuraWhy?
Virtually guaranteed winter sun and safe beaches the shortest possible flight from home. Even in the depths of winter you can expect better weather than during a typical English summer (bearing in mind January and February see the most rain here). The Canaries are resolutely hassle free, small enough to explore and you don't need any innoculations. While most tour operators offer affordable stay-put, sun-and-sea packages, collectively the islands offer an astonishing range of natural scenery - from lava deserts and cactus canyons to mountains and forests. Whether you choose to be in the thick of things or to escape to a more secluded family resort, you can still make the most of days out because each of the seven islands is easy to navigate by car.

DECEMBER
Caribbean

Caribbean beachWhy? It has excellent, warm weather and sea, particularly during Britain's chilly, damp winters. It's the perfect place for a luxurious family break - hotels and villas are of a very high standard, children are welcomed with open arms and there are very good facilities for babies and toddlers but with no compromise on standards for adults. Added to this are a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, plus safe, beautiful beaches of white sand and hideaway coves cooled by gentle trade winds. These make the perfect retreat, where children can run, swim, splash and scream without restraint. The further south you go, the marginally better weather you can expect. No immunisations are required.

  • Will suit: pale and flagging parents, but all ages catered for
  • Flying time: 7-9 hours
  • Time difference: GMT minus 4-5 hours, so expect some jet lag for the first couple of days as east-to-west travel is always the most disruptive
  • Average temperature: 29°C
  • Tourist information: www.caribbean.co.uk

The world's your oyster...
Although travel agents assure you they offer the best deals, as often as not they're privy to incentive options that offer them added perks and maximise their own commission. Keeping an aircraft grounded costs a good deal more than flying it, so airlines need to guarantee bums on seats. Consolidators buy discounted blocks of tickets from the airline, then sell them on at a reduced price. Though you're guaranteed a cheaper ticket, there's nothing to stop these companies charging whatever price they like. The best protection you have is to keep looking until you find a price you like.

To compare fares with various airlines try www.flightline.co.ukwww.lastminute.com, www.cheapflights.co.ukwww.charterflights.co.uk and www.farebase.net. Alternatively, for Europe try the low cost, no-thrills airlines such as www.easyjet.com, www.ryanair.com, www.bmibaby.comwww.monarch.co.uk and www.flybe.com

Ask another Mumsnetter...
Who needs travel agents when Mumsnet Talk Travel forums are at your fingertips? For suggestions on everything from wild camping to long-haul luxury, it's the easiest way to seek advice from other parents who've been there, bought the straw donkey and lived to tell the tale.

Want to check out specific accommodation or rate somewhere you've stayed? Mumsnet travel reviews cover everything from self-catering cottages to five-star bliss, whether you want to a weekend away or a month in the Maldives.

Last updated: 19-Sep-2013 at 4:51 PM