Katy Holland: Holidays with a heart – they're all the rage for adventurous families
Are we there yet? Whether through 'voluntourism' or donation schemes, 'holidays with a heart' are the hottest thing in family travel.
Sunday 04 April 2010
Did you do your bit for Sport Relief? My kids put me to shame by running themselves ragged, while all I managed to do was sit on the sofa. But I've found a way I can help those in need by going on holiday.
Whether through "voluntourism" or donation schemes, "holidays with a heart" are the hottest thing in family travel. Families with children as young as six can journey to all corners of the globe to help impoverished communities, protect endangered species, or get involved in environmental projects. Specialists in this field, Hands Up Holidays (020-7193 1062; handsupholidays.com) reports a leap in bookings in the past two years. According to managing director Christopher Hill: "Parents are increasingly interested in instilling in their children an ethic of giving something back."
An example of a typical Hands Up family trip to Morocco combines three days helping to build a school library in a Berber village with hiking in the Atlas Mountains, exploring Marrakech, and staying in a beach riad in Essaouria.
Other family operators with a conscience include Families Worldwide (0845 0514567; familiesworldwide.co.uk) and the Adventure Company (0845 6090889; adventurecompany.co.uk), which has just launched a new family programme in Thailand where little ones can teach English to other children and help with beach clean-ups.
If your kids are still tiny, or you just don't have the time or energy for this kind of adventure, you can still do your bit by simply choosing the right hotel. Last year, the Polmaily Hotel in Invernesshire (01456 450343; polmaily.co.uk) began donating 20 per cent of its gross profits to charity. To date, owner Ian Hallifax has raised £150,000 for charities including the RSPB and Save the Children.
The hotel provides a haven for stressed-out families and their children: they get a safe environment to run free range – including a vegetable garden to dig in – while parents can soak up the beautiful environment or relax in the cosy bar. Now that's what I call a holiday with a heart.
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