How to improve holidays with children

Hey Mum, let's rough it in the wild
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The Independent Travel

Of course, all it's really done is drive me mad - but he has learnt a thing or two in the process. Apart from understanding, for example, that children with huge footballs should never, ever play indoors, he now knows that England isn't part of America, that the Red Sea is actually blue, and that there's no such place as Old Zealand, no matter how hard you look.

He has also discovered that the tiny spots of mud next to Scotland are, on closer inspection, the Outer Hebrides, and for reasons only known to him, he wants us all to go there. I've said no - I don't do mudspots in Scotland. But now I'm having second thoughts, because I've noticed that people who visit this part of the world love it so much that they tend to keep it very quiet. In fact, one of my friends has asked me not to mention the Isle of Harris in my column because she thinks it should be kept as a beautiful unspoilt secret, just for her.

So I won't let on that the beaches are apparently better than in Western Australia, or that your kids can run free and wild, or that you can stay in Amhuinnsuidhe Castle (0131-476 6500; right on the shore. This is about as far "away from it all" as you can get without going all the way to New Zealand, although it may take you just as long to get there, because it involves lots of boat rides.

Talking of unspoilt islands, has anyone heard of Hvar? It's not even featured on Stan's globe. Yet this little-known Croatian outpost is the beautiful setting for a new family holiday from Activities Abroad (01670 789991;, which provides lots for kids to do, from kayaking to riverside treasure hunts, a world away from the tourist trails.

Other new family-friendly offerings for those looking to escape the crowds include Explore's trip to Madagascar, where you can stay on the offshore island of Nosy Be (0870-333 4001; Its guides will even take you tarantula-spotting after dark. But if that's not on your list of Fun Things To Do, you can opt for cooler climes and go to Nova Scotia. Frontier Canada (0208-776 8709; features a great opportunity there, where your kids can indulge in old-fashioned outdoor fun, with llama trekking, basketball and volleyball matches.

But for the ultimate off-the-beaten-track family holiday where you won't see any other people at all (apart from your own private chef) you need to go to Zambia. The new and very unusual Chongwe River House (00 260 97772 905; is the perfect place to stay. It is set way out in the bush, so your kids can make as much noise as they like, as long as they don't scare the elephants. And the best thing about it is the huge national park, your private garden - the perfect place to take children with a penchant for kicking giant inflatable footballs around.

Katy's top tip

Check out the Italian South Tyrol for a refreshing alternative to the popular tourist destinations of Italy. Visit or call 00 39 0471999308 for a selection of family-friendly farmhouses.