June 2014


Historic buildings, amazing galleries, late night dining in romantic settings … things come to mind when you picture a holiday in Rome.  The tricky part for families is these things probably won’t appeal to your kids as much as they do to you.

So how can you make that dream trip to Rome exciting for the whole family?

Make the most of film and literature references

Children are always more engaged if they know something about the attraction you are visiting. If your kids are anything like mine, you’ll find they are more excited about visiting an attraction that they have seen a movie or book than if they know a few facts that Mum has told them. I’ve taken mine to a lot of art gallery’s but the most excited they’ve ever been at a gallery was at the Musee d’Orsay … all because Doctor Who went to the Musee d’Orsay to see Van Gogh paintings. Athens was thrilling not for the Acropolis but because it was home of Athena, who they knew something about from reading Percy Jackson!

Many of Rome’s historic sites have featured in movies and books. Gladiator is an obvious one that springs to mind, as well as the old classics, Roman Holiday and Ben Hur. There’s also the Olsen Twin movie “When in Rome” and the Lizzie Maguire movie.

Trevi Fountain

Choose the right accommodation

Rome is a huge city but it has a fantastic subway network so you don’t need to stay in the heart of things. Just find yourself a hotel or apartment close to a metro station and you will be able to get everywhere easily. Even with how easy it is to get around the city, with kids it’s still a good idea to find a place to stay that is close to some of the places that you want to see. That way if the kids get tired during the day you can head home to rest before going back out again. And if everyone is having a tired day it’s not a big adventure to go out sightseeing for just a few hours before returning how.

So do you go for an apartment or a hotel?

Apartments offer the convenience of space and the ability to cook for yourself. Apartments are great if you have young children. There more space to play during down time, a fridge for snacks and a separate bedroom so if the kids fall asleep early you don’t find yourself tiptoeing around in a dark hotel room! A hotel has benefits as well that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some of the attractions in the older neighbourhoods can be a little tricky to find. If you stay in a hotel you have access to a help desk for directions and advice. And hotels give you an excuse to eat out for every meal. Let’s face it – the food in Rome is awesome so you want an excuse to eat out as often as possible!

Le Colisée (Rome)

Avoid lines

We all hate standing in lines, especially the kids. Spending half a day waiting in a queue with kids is not fun. My kids have a limited period of time that they can remain engaged before they need to run, eat a snack or start picking a fight with their sibling. By the time we get through that line up they’re restless and disinterested.

You can buy tickets online for many attractions. A lot of company’s also offer multi-site passes too. It can be a good way to save money and skip the lines. Entrance to the Colosseum actually gives you a two-day pass to the Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. Instead of lining up for hours at the Colosseum, buy your ticket at either the Forum or Palatine Hill where the lines are much shorter.

It’s a great idea to find out what the quiet days and times are for the most popular attractions that you want to see are. Plan your sightseeing around those times. We usually have a backup plan in case we arrive at an attraction to find the queue is huge. It’s well worth knowing what else is nearby so that you can go see that instead, then come back later when hopefully the lines are shorter.

Incorporate parks into your sightseeing

Rome has a lot of fabulous parks with plenty of space for the kids to run around in. Most have gorgeous fountains and statues, or even ruins and historic buildings to check out too.

Park, Villa Borghese

The ancient moat of Castel Sant’Angelo has been filled in and turned into a wonderful green space with park benches, space to run and a playground suitable for younger children. It’s a great place to let the kids run while you enjoy the view. It’s a nice way to split up your visit to the castle. Tour the museum, enjoy the view, explore the tunnels and when the kids get restless let them burn off energy playing and have picnic before exploring more of the castle.

Villa Borghese, near the Spanish Steps, is a fabulous park. It’s the largest park in Rome and as well as being filled with fountains and statues, it has a playground, zoo, rides and a mini-train. You can tour the whole park by train or hire bikes. The four people bikes are a lot of fun. Your kids might even remember those as the highlight of their trip to Rome. Once you are at the park, give these 5 simple exercises a go. Playground Centre have created a list of easy exercises that just require you and some outdoor fitness equipment.


5 Exercises you can do at your local park Playground Centre

5 Exercises you can do at your local park Playground Centre

Embrace your inner Indian Jones

Rome has it’s fair share of attractions where you are required to stay quiet and not touch anything. But there’s also a wide range of historic sites that offer the chance to climb through tunnels and visit underground chambers. There are plenty of catacombs to explore, although with all the bones they can be a little scary for younger children. The 12th Century Bascilica San Clemente is built atop several older buildings. When you visit you can actually go down into the older layers to see the several older churches, hear a roaring underground spring, walk through ancient tunnels and see a Roman townhouse.

Rather than just visiting the Colosseum and teaching the kids about Gladiators from an audio-tour or movie, why not send them to Gladiator School. What better way to get them excited about ancient history and visiting attractions like the Colosseum than giving them the chance to get dressed up like gladiators and learn how they fought. They’ll learn a lot about life in Ancient Rome while having heaps of fun.

If you are planning a trip to Africa and you are looking for fun activities to do with your family, than a safari tour is one of the best and more fun things to do, perfect for both adults and children. Usually the first country that comes to one’s mind when we talk about safari tours is Kenya, but not everyone knows that actually Ghana has a lot to offer, with less expensive costs and equal beauty and adventure and less crowd.

Of course, we all know that safari tours can be expensive, so in order to save money you could consider several accommodation options on classified sites such as where you will be able to find for example  5 lovely bedrooms villas and apartments for the whole family.

So here are a few ideas on the safari tours you can do in Ghana.

Safari in Mole

When you go on a Ghanaian safari you don’t explore just nature and wildlife, but also culture and history, seeing both natural and manmade West African wonders. Cape Coast and Elmina Castle, for example, besides being surrounded by great nature and wildlife, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, allowing you to go back in time and find out about the history of slave trade.

For those who are charmed by history too, than the 10 days Ghana Slave Trade Cultural Tour is perfect, allowing you to visit both cultural heritage and rain forests and waterfalls, and also some traditional local markets. The Ghana Cultural Discovery Tour is too a great way to discover natural wanders and the history of modern Ghana, following old slave routes, hiking through forests but also experiencing modern Ghanaian culture.

But if pure nature is what you are looking for, together with a touch of adventure, than there are some gorgeous rain forests in Ghana, where you can spot hippos, elephants, monkeys and antelopes in their natural environment. The Ghana’s Ultimate Mammals Experience is perfect for those who want to meet from close distance big african mammals, while those who are passionate about birds and butterflies will adore the Ghana Wildlife Birding and Butterfly Tours, visiting the richest avian bio-diverse rain forests and savannahs in Ghana, for a truly unforgettable experience.

Baboons outside our room

natural obsession

When it’s time to start planning your family vacation, it’s not always easy picking a place that you know everyone is going to enjoy. But with a little luck (and some Internet research!), you can find the ideal vacation for you and your family.

If yours is like most families, not everyone can agree on a single place that would make them all happy. Mom might be fantasizing about spa vacations while dad is determined to take everyone camping in the woods. Meanwhile, the kids are all trying to figure out how to convince them to go to Disney (again).

You can find plenty of vacation spots that will allow each of you to relax and play in a place that you can all agree on. The key is to find somewhere that gives you all something to look forward to during the trip.

Spa Camping

It is possible for mom and dad to both get exactly what they want when you choose a campground that also offers spa amenities. These places also offer plenty of activities to keep everyone outside, active, and entertained during your trip.

On the west coast you will find plenty of camp grounds in British Columbia close to hot springs. If you want to stick to the east coast, you can book a stay at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa in North Carolina. Guests can choose from a variety of lodging options, from tent camping along the river to plush suites with private mineral bath hot tubs.

The Hot Springs Resort is famous for its natural hot springs and spa. You can take everyone for hikes along the Appalachian Trail, go whitewater rafting, horseback riding or fishing during the day. In the evening, mom and dad can go off to soak in the hot mineral baths together and then enjoy a massage. There are plenty of spa amenities to keep mom happy as well.

Spa Beach Resorts

A lot of spa beach resorts are family-friendly, especially those that are a part of the Club Med resort family. They offer so many different destinations for you to choose from, such as the Bahamas, the coast of Mexico, or the Maldives.

These resorts offer a lot of activities for kids and teens as well as parents. You can spend the day getting pampered while the children go to the Kids’ Club. Play a round of golf or go for a dive out in the ocean. 

A vacation with your family at one of the many locations where you can find a Club Med will be something you can all enjoy and will definitely create lasting memories for everyone.

When you plan it just right, you and your family don’t have to settle for the same old vacation you usually take every year. Everyone can get something they will enjoy during your trip.


Photo courtesy of Brian Uphoto on Flickr Creative Commons