The summer holidays are here, and already I hear working parents around me stressing about how they haven’t planned their family’s summer break. Some are good at this, booking tickets and hotels four months in advance, even writing up packing lists and day-by-day itineraries. Others aren’t as organised. But there is still hope for us last-minute vacationers. Children love a family holiday and though they may raise the bar by announcing they want to go to Disneyland, most of them are easily satisfied with far less. For parents who feel they’re too late to make a summer holiday plan, here are five stress-free ideas that can still be pulled off with very little effort.

Castles in the Sand

This is an absolute no brainer. From Goa to Southeast Asia, no matter what the weather, children love the splash of water and the ultimately relaxing sensation that playing in the sand provides.

Child’s Play

Pick a place with playgrounds, zoos, parks, (including amusement parks) anywhere, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Even Mumbai, despite the heat, so long as you throw in Esselworld, Kidzania or Imagica.

Animal Planet

Home stays and farm stays are great because they are usually cosy and child-friendly. On farms, there is also likely to be the lure of fruit-picking in summer. Many also have animals around, a hot favourite with most kids, who are then entertained for hours. Comb the internet for something that suits your interest and the distance you want to travel.

Head for the Hills

Kids love the hills. They enjoy walks with parents — through forests, exploring the jungle’s insects, examining spider’s webs, and imitating the calls of birds. From the Nilgiris to the Kumaon, from Matheran to Manali, there are plenty of places to go to, even if you’re planning at the very last minute.

City Breaks

This can be anywhere in India or abroad. Much to my surprise, my daughter loved Bangkok. I thought she would be bored, but she loved the markets — her favourite was the early morning wet market with tables and tables of live fish.

Once you’ve decided where to go, get your child involved in planning the holiday, even if it’s merely to share details of what the trip entails. I’ve found that the anticipation, packing, planning, and talking about the trip makes my daughter almost as happy as taking the trip itself. And that’s my final little tip — to make the holiday last longer than it really is.