Taking your kids on a far-flung trip isn’t as challenging as it may sound. Yes, there are logistics to think about, and planning ahead is necessary, but you’ll find that traveling abroad will open up your kids’ eyes to new places and lifestyles. Their senses will be lit up with the exposure of dynamic and diverse foods, languages, cultures, wildlife, and landscapes. And, of course, the best part of all is the family bonding time and all of the indelible memories that you’ll create along the way.
The first step is to decide what type of trip you want. Do you have images in your head of your kids playing in the sand at an all-inclusive resort or navigating a city or zip-lining over treetops in the jungle? Once you know what you want to do, you can narrow down where to go. Keep reading for inspiration on the best worldwide destinations for family-friendly travel.
There’s much to do for families in the Emerald Isle, an island country with rolling hills in every shade of green, windswept landscapes dotted with farm animals, and vibrant smaller-sized cities. You’ll explore castles (don’t forget to kiss the Blarney Stone), churches, and fortresses here, and Ireland is home to six national parks. Explore at your own pace, rent a car, and drive the Ring of Kerry scenic loop around Iveragh Peninsula to see enchanting towns and dramatic coastal landscapes. From The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to Dunluce Castle to Whiterocks Beach, exploring Causeway Coast will certainly be a highlight. Of course the craggy Cliffs of Moher, on the southwestern lip of the Burren region in County Clare is worth a look-see. You'll notice that there's something to do every month.
Start your family adventure in Dublin, the capital city, and check out the Dublin Castle, Dublin Zoo, the Trinity College Library, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Kids will also get a kick out of the National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland and the National Wax Museum.
Tip: Airbnb will offer you a plethora of options for accommodations, including unique stays in the heart of Dublin or in the countryside at a farm, or in a cottage along the coast.
Hidden from the outside world in the Andes Mountains of Southern Peru, out of view from the nearby city of Aguas Calientes, sits Machu Picchu, an Incan citadel built in the 15th century and later abandoned during the Spanish conquest. Walking through the grounds, past man-made stone irrigation terraces, up and down stone staircases, and near remnants of houses built in rows, where llamas poke their heads in and out, is one of the most ethereal experiences you’ll ever have with your children.
Tip: Book a room at Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel in Aguas Calientes for two nights so you can explore Machu Picchu twice, once in the early evening and once in the early morning. This will also enable you to hike to the Sun Gate, an easy kid-friendly hike with stellar views.
You could spend weeks in Tokyo and not see everything. Kids will have a blast at Disney Tokyo, the Samurai Museum, and the Ghibli Museum. Take your family to one of the animal cafes: cat, owl, or hedgehog. You’ll sip tea or coffee while your little ones gently play with the creatures in a safe and clean environment. Have your kids’ fortunes read at Sensō-ji Buddhist temple and wander the lovely grounds. Stop at Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine, which has an enormous garden.
The Harajuku district is where you’ll find street food, bump elbows with colorful teenagers wearing brightly-hued pony tails, and see avant-garde art. One of the most amazing facts about Tokyo is that even though the city is home to nearly 14 million people, you’re never very far from green spaces or parks. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Ueno Park are perfect destinations for taking a break from exploring and sightseeing.
Tip: For truly unique behind-the-scenes city adventures, as well as family-friendly accommodations, utilize the services of Abercrombie & Kent, expert travel planners that can arrange for private Taiko drumming lessons or introductions to Sumo wrestlers on a custom booked tour.
A trip to this northern island nation won’t disappoint. Your family will see geysers, volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers, and so much geothermal activity that you’ll understand how local Icelanders can heat their homes relatively inexpensively. You’ll drive past moss-covered hills and wonder where all the trees and forests went. Visit the famous Blue Lagoon thermal pools, Gullfoss Falls, and spend time wandering around Reykjavik, the country’s largest city and capital.
Tip: Consider booking a farm stay or accommodations in a bed and breakfast for a unique family-friendly Icelandic stay on the land of fire and ice.
You’ll find that there’s much to explore in the city of London, including new attractions and family-friendly entertainment. You may consider booking a city tour to make the best use of your time and to see the important sites: Tower of London, Tate Modern, British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, and more. Harry Potter fans will love the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, and little kids will have fun at Sea Life London Aquarium and the London Transport Museum.
Tip: Start by booking accommodations in central London, where you’ll be within walking distance to many of the sites and attractions. While it’s more expensive than finding a room farther outside of the city, you’ll make up for it by saving on transportation costs.
No matter what ages your kids are, everyone in your multigenerational family will love spending time together under a star-filled sky, roasting marshmallows, riding horses, fishing, and playing in a spring-fed river. Get back to nature on an adventuresome vacation like no other with a stay at The Resort at Paws Up, a luxury dude ranch located just east of Missoula, Montana.
Thrill seekers will love taking an ATV through rugged landscapes, river rafting, rappelling off of a 170-foot cliff, shooting sporting clays on a guided course, and making their way through The Sky Line Aerial Rope Course. Take it slow and hike through the 100 miles of wilderness trails, admiring the wildflowers on the forest floor. The Kids Corps of Discovery will get your little ones off of screens and into nature, making friends as they play outside. And, if options are what your family needs in terms of dining, options are what they’ll get. The resort has two restaurants—one casual, one fine dining—and the chefs are more than accommodating for particular needs or tastes.
Tip: You’ll be able to plan out your activities and dining program in advance with the resort’s concierge services. There are a number of fun happenings and events at the resort year round including wilderness workshops, special musical guests, cooking classes, and more.
Just south of Florida, in the Bahamas archipelago, sits Bimini. A trip here will surely ease your family into international travel as the island is just 50 miles from Miami. Head straight to the beautiful beaches, stretching from Alice Town to Bailey Town, include Porgy Bay Beach, Radio Beach, and Blister Beach. Kids will love looking for washed up conch shells dotting the sand.
Book a stay at The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, a beachfront property that offers an on-property beach, jet skiing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. When you’ve worked up an appetite, check out The Beach Club for casual kid-friendly fare.
Tip: When you need a break from lounging on the beach, take a golf cart to Gallant Lady, a sunken ship with exposed rusty parts, and spend some time shopping at Fisherman’s Village.