Admit it – you had forgotten, hadn’t you? What with the children barely back at school, and you still struggling to keep up with work, thank-you cards or resuming regular running, somehow – somehow – the next school holiday (half term runs from February 12-20 this year) is already looming and you haven’t done anything about it.
And this half term really does matter. In the past, the February break has been almost an afterthought. Easter, Whitsun, summer – as parents, we are all over those, maxing out our annual leave to seize every sunny day we can. But, we reasoned, who wants to blow their five precious days of holiday in mid-winter? This time round, after the time we have all had, we just can’t wait.
In fact, February is precisely the time of year when we most need a holiday. The schadenfreude is off the scale as your plane lifts up out of freezing fog in the UK and sets you down, hours later, in a destination so sunshine-bright and gloriously unfamiliar that it might as well be another planet. And February is a prime month for travel. It is blue-sky season in the Caribbean and the Maldives, and the peak month for snowfall on Alpine slopes. There is also plenty to excite little ones closer to home.
Thank heavens, too, for grandparents, who often muck in during that vital week, bonding with our precious bundles by whisking them off to feed goats at farm parks in the Cotswolds or even – for the intrepid – taking them to see the sloths of Costa Rica’s national parks if mums and dads really can’t get out of the office.
Half term may be just a week, but that is still a nine-day stretch which is certainly long enough for an adventure. And while the rules for travelling with children in a pandemic add an extra level of admin, there are still plenty of options to get away no matter the ages of your family brood. Not to mention that things just got simpler with day two tests dropped for the vaccinated from February 11. So go on, book an adventure that will put a spring in your step until spring, and send the children back to school with their eyes a little wider, and horizons a little broader.
King Tut’s wow-wow trip
For: younger children
Most primary-school children learn about ancient Egypt, so a trip there will really bring the subject to life and deepen their understanding. Stubborn Mule, which specialises in family adventure travel, has created an engaging itinerary for younger children that includes riding camels around the Pyramids at sunset and donkeys through the Valley of the Kings, delving into tombs to discover mummified remains and Tutankhamen’s treasure trove, and – with a nod to Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, also out this February – sailing along the great river and sleeping out on deck.
Entry requirements? A full course of Covid-19 vaccination for adults, or a negative PCR test taken with 72 hours; children under the age of six are exempt. Passengers have to complete a health declaration on arrival and provide confirmation of health insurance.