Our essential guide to planning holidays with your grandchildren
15 minute read
Holidays with grandchildren can create lasting memories. We highlight spectacular holiday destinations that offer adventure, wonder and relaxation.
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In this guide, we highlight key sites, tips and activities to help you decide on a destination that’s ideal for you and your grandchildren. These options are based on the variety of activities available for kids and adults of all ages and popularity with other families. We have also included a section that includes tips and ideas for setting healthy ground rules when taking grandchildren on holiday.
Here are the destinations covered:
● Best family holidays in the UK
- Windsor and Legoland
● Best family holidays abroad
- Costa Rica
- Granada, Spain
● Setting ground rules when taking your grandchildren on holiday
- Planning activities with everyone in mind
- Managing screen time
- How to handle sibling flare-ups with a single word
- Letter of permission to take grandchildren on holiday
Best family holidays in the UK
Windsor and Legoland holidays
Windsor offers plenty of attractions, from watching the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle to playing at Legoland, braving an Escape Room experience, to visiting the Royal Windsor Maze. You even have the perfect excuse to go inside if it starts to drizzle and head to Dr Choc's Windsor Chocolate Factory to design your very own chocolate bar.
Windsor is also well connected to London so it makes an ideal base for families wishing to access the capital while staying in a historic place.
Family holidays to Cornwall
With its stunning coastline, castles, gardens and heritage sites, Cornwall makes an ideal holiday destination for all ages. It is said King Arthur was born in these parts and Merlin is buried in a cave along the coast not far from the village of Tintagel. There are also attractions such as Dairyland Farm Park, Camel Creek Family Theme Park and Pirate’s Quest in Newquay. If your family loves animals, Cornwall has a vast range of aquariums, zoos and even a seal sanctuary.
The Eden Project makes for a particularly unique and fascinating day trip. It’s a reclaimed china-clay pit turned experimental garden oasis with the largest indoor rainforest in the world.
If your grandchildren are a bit older, they’ll likely enjoy some of the more adventurous activities on offer in Cornwall. From surfing to go-karting to beach buggying and sailing there’s something exciting to do.
Family holidays to Edinburgh
With its combination of views, history and hearty food, it’s no wonder the capital of Scotland is the second most-visited place in the UK. Kids will love the Treasure Trails that lead you through the city on foot, and attractions like the Camera Obscura, Dynamic Earth and Chocolatarium.
You can wander around Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia, climb the ancient volcano called Arthur’s Seat, watch a street performer on the Royal Mile or simply explore the nooks and crannies of the Old Town. For an authentic Scottish experience, attend a dance-cum-gathering called a ceilidh at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
There are many themed tours, including a Ghost Bus designed especially for kids. You can also venture outside the city on excursions to seaside towns like North Berwick and Anstruther. The grandkids won’t even realise they’re learning.
Best family holidays abroad
Family holidays to Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a captivating destination. Children will find endless sources of adventure, with hanging bridges, volcano hikes, zip-line canopy tours and beautiful waterfalls to choose from. You can also go on a whale-watching trip.
A direct flight from London to Costa Rica will take approximately 11 hours. British nationals do not need a visa to enter. Although the majority of people speak Spanish as a first language, you can get by with English easily, especially in tourist areas.
Rio Celeste waterfall in Costa Rica
Family holidays to Canada
This vast country has so much to offer visitors. Children will love the natural beauty of places like British Columbia on the west coast and the incredible Niagara Falls on the east. Canada is great for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, as well as less common winter pastimes like ice fishing and snowshoeing.
The cities are no less captivating, including the historic French-speaking city of Montreal, home to delicious cuisine, parks and SOS Labyrinthe, the world's largest indoor maze. The capital Ottawa offers interactive experiences at the Children’s Museum, with toys, games, costumes and hands-on artefacts. In Toronto, you can catch a Blue Jays baseball game, ride up the CN Tower or visit a terrific aquarium for kids.
Western Canada has the vibrant city of Alberta, home to six UNESCO World Heritage sites. There’s also Vancouver Island which is great for nature lovers and has many accessible gardens and parks to explore.
It’s also worth discovering Canada’s indigenous history and traditions. To engage with the culture and try the cuisine, you can visit a community or a reconstructed ancient village like the one outside Quebec City, called the Onhoüa Chetek8e Huron Traditional Site.
Family holidays to Granada, Spain
Granada is a food lover’s paradise, so if your grandkids are foodies in the making, you’re in for a treat. The Alcaicería, a former bazaar dating from the city’s Islamic era, is a must-see. So is the Alhambra, a fortress that combines mediaeval Islamic, Renaissance Christian and modern architecture.
Granada is located at the confluence of four rivers and is just an hour’s car journey from the Mediterranean coast. Family-friendly Almuñecar Beach is a good choice for beach activities with plenty of pubs and restaurants along the beach. Granada is also at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, a well-known skiing destination which has been declared a biosphere reserve.
Family holidays to the US
With a country the size of the US, there are endless places to go and things to do. Tour the Broadway shows geared for kids and grab an authentic slice of New York pizza, or experience the south in New Orleans for its Creole cuisine or Nashville for its country music scene. Or spend your entire trip in California where you will discover unique places such as Universal Studios Hollywood, Huntington Beach also known as Surf City USA and Sequoia National Park, home to the largest tree on earth
Individual states are the size of European countries, if not larger, so take advantage of this by planning a road trip. It’s also a great way to see the diversity of American culture and visit places of natural beauty like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York City
Family holiday to Cyprus
This island is popular among lovers of Greek mythology, warm weather and beautiful sandy beaches.
If you want to take your grandchildren to experience history, Cyprus is the right place. Standouts include the remains of Roman baths, monasteries, Byzantine churches, a temple to Apollo and an amphitheatre where classical plays are performed. The ancient site of Kourion is situated atop a coastal cliff and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean as well as grand monuments and mosaics.
If you’re looking for a more active holiday, consider taking an adventure on horseback in Pathos, heading to the Aphrodite Waterpark or one of the activity parks scattered throughout the island.
Kyrenia Castle, Northern Cyprus
Setting ground rules when taking your grandchildren on holiday
When you first break the news to your grandchildren that you are taking them away on holiday they might not be able to contain their excitement. That’s why it’s probably best to wait a day or two before you start establishing ground rules. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Planning activities with everyone in mind: Have a group chat to gauge which activities you’ll collectively enjoy the most. You might be willing to try out laser tag if the children are game to try something you’d like to do.
Get in the holiday mood by making a playlist through a music streaming service. You may even get the grandchildren singing a few of your favourites by the end of the trip. The playlist will also be a nice memento.
It’s also worth setting expectations about activities that may not be appropriate for a child or grandparent (i.e. extreme roller coasters).
- Managing screen time: You also should discuss overseas mobile roaming charges with the children and their parents. Perhaps only stream when you have access to free Wi-Fi in a hotel or restaurant. While you’re on the topic of digital devices it could be mutually agreed that screen time is limited to when everyone is having downtime.
- How to handle sibling flare-ups with a single word: If siblings start to get on each other’s nerves (or yours), have a code word that signals for everyone to take a quiet moment. The sillier the word, the better. Humour can often diffuse a fractious situation and remind everyone that they are there to have fun.
Wherever you choose as your next family holiday destination, make sure you have the right travel insurance. Learn more about cover with Age Co.
Do you need a letter of permission to travel with your grandchildren?
When travelling in the UK, a letter of permission to travel with your grandchildren is not required by law. However, it can be a good idea in case of any issues or emergencies to print out on paper the names, addresses and phone numbers of the parents.
You must, however, get permission from everyone with parental responsibility before taking a child abroad. You may have to present a letter from the person with parental responsibility at a UK or foreign border. The letter should include the parent’s contact details and information about the trip. There are free templates online to choose from.