Howe to improve holidays with children

Hey mum, let's check out some ancient ruins

A friend of mine has just jacked in her rather well-paid job to go travelling. Nothing remarkable about that, you may say, but she happens to be the mother of a very lively one-year-old - and she's taking him with her. She says she wants to see the world "before it's been trashed" and her first stop, apparently, is Machu Picchu. (She doesn't believe in doing things by halves.) Personally, I reckon she's being a little extreme: not many people consider a lost city on top of a mountain in Peru as the ideal place to take a toddler on holiday. I've tried to suggest a gentle introduction to traipsing round ruins with tots in tow - start at Legoland and see how it goes, perhaps? - but to no avail.

Is it me or my pal who has lost her marbles? At first I thought there was no question, but I've recently started to dream about packing up and taking my brood to join her. The main obstacle (apart from the small matters of my job, my mortgage and the fact that school holidays dictate our every move) is that I'm a big scaredy-cat, and I'd need to have it all laid on for me: luxury accommodation, bodyguard, nanny...

I have no real excuse, though, because there are plenty of tour operators out there that will cater to my every whim. Take the Adventure Company (0870-794 1009; adventure company.co.uk), which organises an amazing array of child-friendly trips - outside term time - to historical sites around the globe. Its Land of the Incas family holiday includes accommodation, guides and transport, and you can even extend your trip to take in the Amazon rainforest.

Of course, you don't have to go all the way to Peru to explore the wonders of ancient civilisations. Parents of budding historians and archaeologists can hot-foot it to Greece or Italy for a long weekend and take in some of the most impressive sites in the world. If you don't want to go it alone, check out Exodus (0870-240 5550; exodus .co.uk), which offers some well-organised family ventures, including an eight-day sojourn taking in Vesuvius and Pompeii. Stay in a beach-side hotel; explore the ruins at your leisure and then discover the joys of Italy's real national treasure: the authentic Napoli pizza.

But the things my kids say they really want to see are the Great Pyramids. In the past 18 months I've done two school projects on them, so I'm a bit of an expert. As every schoolchild knows, the Great Sphinx at Giza is slowly being eroded. This 4,500-year-old man with a lion's head is disintegrating, according to experts. Some blame a rising water table, while others point the finger at the terrible air pollution caused by Cairo's rapid expansion and 2,000,000 cars, but what is certain is that time is running out to see this incredible statue.

Explore's new Highlights of Egypt seven-day Family Adventure (0870-333 4001; explore.co.uk) offers the chance to do just this, and the kids will also get to learn to read hieroglyphics and travel by calesh, donkey, camel and boat across the Nile.

Fantastic. All I need is the courage to do it. I'm taking it one step at a time. First stop Legoland, next stop the world ...

Katy's top tip

Take the kids to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, in south-west Turkey with Exclusive Escapes (020-8605 3500; hiddenturkey.com). Family accommodation, private guide and driver are all included.

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