The top 10 holiday activities to do before you’re 15

 As parents we know that time flies and that the clock is ticking before children grow up into teenagers and don’t want to be with us any longer especially on holiday. So before it’s too late – before they are 15 (although this might be already the limit) – we have to make the most of every minute with them and do fun things together. Holidays create memories which last a lifetime so it’s important to make the most of holiday activities. You don’t need big spending money to have fun. Whether you’re on an international break or staying closer to home with cottage staycations, the simplest things in life are usually cheap and cheerful.  Here are London Mums favourite holiday activities to do before kids are 15.  

holiday activities


Build a sandcastle on the beach and bury someone in the sand (preferably mum or dad)

This is actually one of my favourite holiday activities. This is also my son Diego’s main game while we are on a beach.

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He’s 11 now but still cannot resist building some work of art with sand and shells, making interesting shapes with bucket and spade. 

holiday activities

Although Italy is our preferred location for this activity, we have build castles in Poole (Dorset) sand beaches, as well as in Cornwall. 

holiday activities

Collect shells and stones

Diego and I have a passion for shells and we always look for them on the beach wherever we go on a seaside break. It is a time we both treasure that becomes a bonding exercise above and beyond collecting shells. Over the past 11 years we have collected amazing shells, though, too.

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When we are not on a beach we turn our interest to stones which can be found everywhere even in London. Just to say that you don’t need to be at the seaside to find these precious moments. 


Go on top of a volcano 

Going on top of an active volcano would be such an exciting activity but might involve a certain amount of risk. We opted for a safer option and visited Lanzarote (Canary Islands), an incredible volcanic island (there are 300 volcanos that are not active with the exception of one), with black volcanic beaches, gulfs that seem strange mixes of lunar and infernal landscapes. The biggest volcano there is the Mountain of Fire (created in the 1730s) located at the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya. Diego is posing here on top of a small volcano – it felt big to him at the time!  holiday activitiesYou can also watch the fire from a hole of the only active volcano and mini-geysers. It is also possible to take a camel ride across the volcanic landscape. Next we will be planning on top of Vesuvio (Napoli in Italy) and Etna (Sicily, Italy) which are both tall and active volcanos. 


Eat ice cream for lunch 

holiday activities

I know it’s naughty but who would not want to stuff herself with ice cream for lunch. A cool parent would do it once in a while to relax, have fun and not worry about y0ur fives a day. It’s one of the best holiday activities especially if you are at the seaside. 


Go bargain hunting with pocket money in local markets

Who doesn’t like to find a bargain? Wherever we travel we love visiting local markets and find deals on pocket money. We did just that in Paris while on a road-trip to France (from London) some time ago. At the end of the visit, each one made a show and tell presentation with the items bought. 

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Every Summer in Italy we attend the children’s market in the main Piazza in Faenza. Local children sell their old toys and books and other children buy them.

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This is perfect for kids to learn negotiating skills and get themselves a bargain with their pocket money. For Diego it is still a highlight of the holiday and a topic of conversation for many months afterwards. 


Go on a long road trip 

As a family we have gone on a few road-trips from London over the years: France, Yorkshire, Cotswold, Cornwall, the Isle of Wight.

Our trip to France was the most exciting as it involved visiting cities as well mountains. We have certainly created life memories. 

holiday activities

Snorkel and watch colourful fishes 

holiday activities

October half term is probably the best time of the year to escape to a sunny destination. A few years ago when Diego was 8 we took him to the Red Sea to show him colourful fishes. He was not a confident swimmer before this holiday but after six intense days of snorkelling he lost any fear of water or sea animals. While at the beginning of the week it was difficult to keep him in the water for more than 10 minutes, at the end we could not get him out! We enjoyed long swimming sessions together for the first time in 7-20 metres deep water alongside each other watching colonies of clown fishes around their anemones and protecting their tiny eggs. It felt like experiencing Disney’s movie Finding Nemo in real life. Simply priceless!holiday activities Hurghada coral reef

Diego had so much fun snorkelling around the wonderful and still intact Coral Reef and exploring the natural beauty of the Hurghada resort in the Makadi Bay. He even forgot that he was scared on swimming in deep open waters! 


Look at the falling stars 

Every year on 10 August during our Summer beach break in Italy, we look up toward the sky at night as it’s la notte di San Lorenzo. The Night of St. Lawrence or Night of the Shooting Stars is one of summer’s most awaited and beloved events in Italy, when people gather outside, in parks and squares, at the beach or at the mountains, to admire the night sky and hopefully catch a falling star – so you can make your wish.

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The Perseids have been referred to as the “tears of St. Lawrence” in the Catholic tradition, since 10 August is the date of San Lorenzo’s martyrdom. He was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome under Pope Sixtus II and was martyred during the persecution of Emperor Valerian in 258.

Some say that if you wish upon a falling star, you will fulfil your dreams. Over the years I have wished upon hundreds of stars but not many dreams came true. Nevertheless falling stars are a true spectacle of nature and this year I will be there at night searching the sky once again. 


Make a new friend and speak a foreign language 

holiday activities

Learning foreign languages at school is not as easy as learning on a holiday while getting new friends. A few years ago, while building a sandcastle on the beach in Italy, I saw Diego making friends with some new boys and they were chatting away. Afterwards he came to me and said ‘Mum, these boys are from Australia’ and I wondered what Australians were doing in our poor looking seaside … so I approached them and it turned out that they were from Austria. They were excellent at speaking English and entertaining the beach boys in a foreign language. It’s always been one of my favourite holiday activities and the one that made me want to study foreign languages at University. 


Visit film locations of your favourite movies

My son and I have done most of the above holiday activities but for our deep love of films, we haven’t visited enough film locations around the world. This is at the top of our wish list and we intend to visit film hotspots of movies we love.

holiday activities

Some of our favourite movies include:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn  – New York City is a city featured in lots of amazing films.

Spider-Man movies – New York City

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Roman Holiday also starring Audrey Hepburn – Roma 

Swallows and Amazons – Lake District

Paddington and Paddington 2 – London – next time we’ll go around town we will need to create a map of the main locations such as Window Gardens and of course Paddington Station (where the bear’s name comes from).

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Harry Potter – check our review of the Warner Studios where most scenes were filmed – What to expect from the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Bros Studios –  but there are other locations across the UK that we want to visit as well. 

Mission Impossible – Ghost ProtocolDubai – Ethan has to make his way across the eye-wateringly tall Burj Khalifa undetected, and decides the best way is to scale the outside of it using his special glue gloves. During the scene, there’s a stunning view of Dubai’s skyline.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Greece – Much of the film is set around the island of Kefalonia, specifically Horgota Beach where Penélope Cruz and Nicholas Cage enjoy a splash in the clear Aegean waters. 

There are so thousands of other movies that are set in fabulous backdrops. Visiting film locations is an activity that would combine our passion for movies and travel. The best at last! 

Please send us your recommendations for other film locations you have visited that we could add here. 

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