Best Places to Travel with Toddlers or a Baby
Updated: Aug 5
Are you super keen to travel still now that you have a family but wondering how to pick holiday destinations that are suitable for toddlers and babies? Whilst you still have the appetite for adventure there is definitely more to consider when selecting the best places to travel with toddlers or a baby such as travel safety for kids, what they will eat and how to ensure that the experience is still fun for everyone involved.
As a starting point I recommend checking out my tips for family travel that will answer many of these more complicated questions and help you plan for a fun and exciting trip with your kids. There is also a packing checklist so that you don't forget all the essentials that you never for travel with a baby or toddler. Unfortunately your bags are definitely not as light as they used to be!
It can be a little overwhelming to decide what family travel destination will meet your expectations, as well as being manageable and enjoyable with your kids. You may have travelled a lot pre-kids but are now unsure what will still be fun and adventurous, or perhaps you didn't get the travel bug until now but you really want to get out and start exploring as a family.
Coming up with family holiday ideas can be a little daunting when travelling with babies and toddlers but the good news is that anything and everything is still possible. Approach it with a decent dose of common sense, mix it with a sense of humour, and throw in equal portions of patience and excitement and you have the perfect starting point.
From here put some time and thought into what type of holiday you are after. You may be needing a really relaxing indulgent beach holiday, or maybe you are craving a more intrepid adventure or an entertaining city break. Maybe a combination of all these things would be ideal so you can start to think about what destination can deliver on your wish list. Don't forget the power of a good stopover location which can add contrast to your overall holiday destination. A trip to Phuket for a family could be paired with a stopover in Singapore to add variety.
Want an overseas holiday with minimal stress and worry but plenty to keep you enthralled? These are the destinations for you offering a safe and relaxed trip away.
So I know many of my readers are Australian and don't need any convincing that Australia tops the list for family friendly travel as a safe Country offering top notch services and facilities. Australia has the most amazing beaches in the world along with natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef and stunning National Parks like Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania. If you enjoy discovering new cities then Sydney on a warm sunny day is beautiful with the harbour bridge and opera house as your backdrop and Melbourne is a favourite for those searching for culture and cuisine.
Due to the vast size of Australia the challenge is working out which are your favourite parts and planning an itinerary that matches your needs. If you are looking for some smaller, more unique places to visit in Australia check out my local guides here.
Whether you head to New Zealand for the grandiose scenery, a touch of adventure or perhaps to indulge in some trans-tasman sporting events it will be a Country sure to impress. New Zealand is the perfect place for a self drive holiday making travelling with babies and toddlers super easy as you can either include a child restraint in your car hire or easily bring your own with you as it is included for free with most airlines.
Accommodation in New Zealand is spacious and family style apartments are in abundance, easy to find and well priced. The South Island is my pick for a New Zealand adventure with a toddler. Soak in stunning vistas, visit tranquil Milford Sound and enjoy the cool, active atmosphere of Queenstown and Wanaka. Read more to see what family friendly activities are available in Queenstown and Wanaka.
Visit Buckingham Castle where the kids will be enthralled that there is a real live Queen and enjoy a scenic bus ride on the iconic double-decker buses to reach historic museums and landmarks awaiting exploraration. Run their legs ragged in lush green parks and visit historic Storey Bridge. There are boundless kids activities and places to visit in London with kids - it really has it all for a family break.
For an extra layer of excitement you should check out what West End productions are showing that are kid friendly.
Super clean, efficient and with loads of entertaining things for kids and families to immerse themselves. Singapore is top of the list for a culturally interesting holiday that can be reached with a child friendly, less than eight hour direct flight from Australia. Highlights of Singapore include the popular Singapore Zoo and night safari and taking in the 360 degree view from the observation deck of the Marina Bay Sands after a day in the Gardens by the Bay.
Read my full Singapore story for all the cool things to do with kids in Singapore.
I won't lie to you Switzerland is my all time favourite country in the world and equally ranks as one of the best places to travel with toddlers, babies or kids in general.
An amazingly clean and efficient rail system will see you getting everywhere with complete ease and without the need for a car. Team this with the supreme beauty of Switzerland, magical outdoor adventures and a decent (meaning large!) dose of swiss chocolate and you have a holiday winner for the whole family.
Your biggest concern will be dealing with the Swiss Franc conversion from most currencies!
There are so many highlights for mountain lovers but highly recommended would be Zermatt and the Matterhorn, the beautiful village of Lucerne and saving the best for last - Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.
Fiji is a great choice being a short plane ride from Australia and full of friendly locals who appreciate and love children visiting their country. Fiji is extremely geared for Australian and New Zealand tourists and with that comes plenty of 'packaged' travel options. This is perfect for those who haven't travelled far before or if you just want a short break close to home where you can chill out as a family.
Make sure you head out onto the water for an island excursion and to do some snorkelling or diving to experience the true beauty of Fiji.
Fiji is generally very safe although there have been some isolated political tensions in the past so ensure you check with your National travel advisory to check on the current situation at the time of your travel.
Sometimes Canada can be overlooked as a family travel destination due to the lengthy flight from Australia just to get there. But gee is it worth the trip. Canada consistently ranks highly in lists of the most beautiful places in the world and for good reason with some majestic places to visit. Like New Zealand and the US you have the ease and luxury of opting for a self guided drive holiday through Canada which means you can really experience the whole country at your own pace and to the timetable of your kids.
I am in the process of writing up all my Canada content after visiting for a month and a half with our kids - stay tuned!
Highlights include all of the Rocky Mountains area but in particular the turquoise waters of the glacial lakes in the Banff and Jasper regions. I also loved our stay at Whistler resort and highly recommend a decent amount of time to discover all the highlights at Whistler.
Vancouver Island is another gorgeous location in Canada to visit.
For cities, why not take in the sights of Toronto where you can also take a day trip to Niagara Falls, or Vancouver has to be one of the most gorgeous cities with loads of cool attractions and activities to visit with the family.
Cost to travel to and in Canada can be high so it helps to pre-plan early and book any deals in advance.
Hawaii is no stranger to lists for the best places to travel with kids. With high standards of living and an economy completely geared for tourists. Get your fill of exotic marine wildlife and beautiful beaches while relaxing with the family and taking in the cool vibe of Hawaii.
You can simply visit Waikiki on the main tourist island of Oahu but make sure you do a circle-island day trip with a rental car to see some more authentic parts of Oahu. If you have the time I highly recommend heading further afield with an outer island stay in either Kauai, Mauai or the Big Island. So much better than Waikiki and the natural beauty will blow you away.
A little more intrepid
After a holiday that blends friendly locals and easy, relaxing days with enough culture shock to make you excited about leaving home?
Thailand is a special one for us having been there a number of times and even getting married in Phuket back in 2007. We love it as a family destination for many reasons but predominantly for the hugely friendly locals who always make you feel welcome with your kids.
Thailand fuses beautiful beaches, cultural attractions and intriguing day trip options. It offers super yummy food and is also an extremely budget friendly destination. Five star resorts at great prices means your family can have an amazingly indulgent trip away for a fraction of the cost of domestic travel.
The roads and traffic are very different to Australian standards so don't waste your time trying to self-drive or catch (what can be) lunatic taxis. If you are heading to Phuket I highly recommend Kam from www.kidsonboard-phuket.com. who has driven our family all around Phuket and Khao Lak on several trips. He is super lovely, has a family himself and drives very safely. You can arrange for him to take you anywhere for a good price so no more cocooning your kids inside a thai resort feeling as though you cant take the kids anywhere.
You will need to buy bottled water and for those with babies on formula bring your own sterilising gear. This is as simple as bringing the sachets of steriliser with a container so that you can sterilise bottles from your room.
Food wise there is plenty to keep kids happy - fresh fruit aplenty, tasty baked goods for breakfasts, rice, spring rolls and noodles which keeps most kids content. You need to be a little wary of food hygiene to keep the kids from getting sick. Having said this the only time I got food poisoning in Thailand was during my honeymoon when we ate at one of the five star resort restaurants - never once sick from local restaurants :-)
Phuket is our favourite Thailand destination although I love the area of Chiang Mai as well.
So it goes without saying that anywhere in western Europe will provide fascinating and exciting travel experiences with a guaranteed fusion of culture, languages, cuisines and landmarks. Italy is a favourite for almost every traveller and is a great destination if travelling with toddlers and babies as the culture is very family oriented.
Kids absolutely love pizza, pasta, baguettes, bread and gelati so their tummies will always be full in Italy. Public transport is also reasonably efficient and plentiful throughout Italy making travel without a car nice and easy.
What may be a little more difficult is finding family friendly hotels that will sleep four or more people mainly due to small room sizes, particularly in city areas. Where possible you can now counter this with private holiday rentals on sites like Booking.com but occasionally you will need to fork out for two rooms.
If travelling with a pram still it is worthwhile having a light-weight all terrain version such as the mountain buggy swift to ensure a smooth ride over cobblestones and an easy lift up stairs and onto public transport.
Croatia is a mix of gorgeous beaches, pristine National parks and compelling historic cities. It is easy to see why Croatia is fast becoming one of the busiest tourist destinations in Europe. With an eclectic mix of accommodation options from interesting private rentals to indulgent resorts and all inclusive camping and cabin holiday resorts Croatia has plenty of accommodation choices for travelling families. What is great about the tourist culture in Croatia is the large emphasis on physical activity with a huge array of activities and equipment always on hand to keep you active and keep kids entertained.
For amazing holiday advice on travelling to Croatia (particularly for families) I can't go past www.chasingthedonkey.com for planning family travel in Croatia.
With an ever-evolving tourist scene I wanted to include the island of Borneo, Sabah to the list of recommended family destinations. A little more untouched and wild is how I would describe Sabah compared to your usual Asian holiday destination. The food in Borneo is delicious and healthy, there are a good selection of nice resorts to stay, and there are some really pretty island excursions off shore to keep you busy. Of course a day trip to one of South East Asia's highest mountains, Mount Kinabalu is a highlight of the region.
Additionally there is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation centre which is a must visit if you make it to Borneo.
Go a little crazy
Like living life outside the comfort zone and want to build your kids' resilience and cultural exposure....
Vietnam continues to be a growing family destination as exclusive resort developments continue to sprout up in holiday hot spots and travel options to major regions open up. Hoi Ann is a gem of a place to visit with excellent local restaurants, quaint traditional markets and delightfully friendly locals. Hoi An lights up in the evening as the traditional lanterns line the cobbled and lanes and waterways to bring the night to life.
Of course many travellers head to Vietnam to take in Halong Bay. It is worth the trip however definitely do not attempt to do it in a day trip from Hanoi if you have kids! This makes for waaaay too long a day and the traffic between these places is unlike anywhere I have been. Organise an overnight stay and attempt to book a day trip early in the morning to avoid the masses of tourists.
A word of warning, traffic and driving standards are a white knuckle experience in Vietnam and finding English speaking taxi drivers in some places can prove difficult. It is well worth the piece of mind to pre-book a reputable transfer service at an agreed price.
If time allows, a wonderful side trip from Vietnam is Vientiane in bordering Laos. Kinda like Vietnam but with a far more relaxed and un-touristy vibe, Laos is emerging as a hot spot destination in its own right.
Want some interesting accommodation options in Vietnam - check out this article from Wanderlust Storytellers on Vietnam; Recommended Places to Stay.
Africa - Botswana and South Africa
Not a place I would take our young kids just yet but I strongly believe that a trip to Africa is a life changing experience. Botswana is a crown jewel in the southern African landscape with amazingly good wildlife parks such as Chobe National Park. Here you can take in the grandeur of the African wildlife from a boat or by landrover.
For ease and convenience to experience all that the African jungle has to offer then Kruger National Park in South Africa is phenomenal and close to Johannesburg which is a major arrival port for most travellers.
There will be massive take home lessons for any kids who are lucky enough to experience a trip to Africa. It is a front of the line exposure on how few material possessions are actually needed to put a smile on a kids face.
So why would I not take my kids til they are older? Purely for health and safety reasons in many of the more remote parts (which is where you want to go!) Reality is that travel through Africa can mean minimal health services, limitations on fresh drinkable water and often questionable transport, not to mention that public toilets do not exist in Africa. Wait til your kids are old enough to be responsible for their own safety and are aware of their surroundings and then Africa is a gold class ticket for an amazing family holiday. Check out my in-depth article on Africa here!
Sri Lanka has always been intriguing to me but not somewhere that had sprung to mind to take the kids. Great to see that other families are having wonderful trips there - click here for more.
Don't forget to ALWAYS get some good quality travel insurance before heading overseas with your family.
So what are you waiting for? There has never been a better time to start planning an adventure! If you are ready to book your next family adventure check out these best websites for family travel.
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