February 19, 2018

Go International: 6 Family-Friendly Hot Spots


Sacré-Coeur Basilica

One of my personal travel goals, while not explicitly stated in my 2012 travel resolutions, is to take my kids (all four of them) on a trip outside the U.S. I’ve been flipping through my travel guidebooks, and one day I like Peru, the next day I like France, and now I’m back to staying here on the east coast (the current plans in my mind involve a road trip from DC to Boston with multiple historical stops along the way).

I’ve read a lot of blogs that say you need to just do it. Your kids will never be the right age. It will never be the right time. You need to just go. But really, it’s hard to just pick up and go, at least for me. So for now, a good old-fashioned American road trip is a good bet.

Still, I do long to take my kids on a journey to see the world. So I was eager to read a press release I received from Vayama.com with the most family-friendly international destinations. Though to be honest, they took it a bit far saying that for families these destinations make the “travel experience with their children a stress free and memorable experience.” Memorable, maybe, but no destination is going to lead to a “stress free” travel experience.

Anyway, Vayama.com shared the top-six most family-friendly travel destinations. Be sure to let me know what you think about this list:

Hong Kong: There is a lot for families to do in Hong Kong, like visit the Space Museum and Kowloon Park, which has a pond with flamingos and an aviary. Or check out the Hong Kong Heritage Museum with cultural displays, including a children’s discovery gallery. Unfortunately, Vayama.com chose to focus on the casino in Macao and Hong Kong Disneyland, as if there is nothing else.

Cape Town (South Africa): Try the scenic drives at Boulders Beach, and enjoy the opportunity to swim with vulnerable African Penguins. Check out the Warrior Toy Museum on your way. Meanwhile, the Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa. Take a do-it-yourself safari or pick up a local guide at the park’s gate to point out flora and fauna.

Auckland (New Zealand): If you like adventure, head to New Zealand, but bungee jumping was an interesting choice for families (no way am I strapping my kids into a harness). Vayama.com also suggested sailing day trips and “Lord of the Rings” tours, but I’d rather stick to the Auckland Zoo, Butterfly Creek (home to giant saltwater crocodiles) and Sky Tower for breathtaking views of the city.

Paris (France): While Vayama.com does suggest the Louvre, the Catacombs and the Centre Pompidou, they lead with Euro Disney (aka Disneyland Paris). I love Disney as much as the next person (I spent a week at Walt Disney World in November), but if I’m taking my kids to Paris, we are not heading to Disney. Instead, head to the Sacre-Coeur, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

London (England): Stop in the British Museum to see mummies from Egypt and ancient artifacts from all over the world, including the Rosetta Stone. Take a ferry up the Thames River, under the London Bridge, and make sure to visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus.

Cancun (Mexico): One of the hot travel spots exempt from the U.S. travel warning, there’s lots for kids to see and do. You’ll love the Mayan Riviera with plenty of opportunities for your own eco-adventures as you pet turtles and visit with tropical parrots. Also, look out for dolphin swims and jungle hikes.

Have you taken your kids on a trip outside the United States? Where’d you go and how was the trip? Bonus points if you have any tips for taking little ones outside the country.

Photo Credit: Antje Diehm


  1. These are great suggestions and a good solid list! Totally agree – no such thing as stress-free travel especially with kids in tow. We first took our daughter to Canada when she was five months old(started with a familiar country to the US) and continued with several cruises to Caribbean island nations and Mexico over the years. We waited until they were out of strollers and diapers (ages 4 & 6) to go on a European land-based trip to France, Spain and Belgium a couple of years ago. The timing worked out better for our family and we had a great time. We skipped Disneyland Paris but did make it to DisneySea in Tokyo last summer since it was a completely different park. Tokyo surprisingly is actually a kid-friendly city too.

    For my bonus points aka tips – we’ve learned to be very flexible with our itineraries. It also helps to get the kids involved with the planning. Their reactions to seeing monuments they’ve seen on TV or read are priceless. A great transportation system when visiting major cities is a huge plus for us. It cuts down on tiring everyone out and is also a time-saver. Do a lot of research on your destinations. I am grateful for family travel blogs and review sites to help with recommendations in foreign places.

    • Erin Gifford says:

      Mary, thanks for all the great tips and suggestions. My youngest is 2.5 and still in diapers, so we’ll probably do the same as you and wait until there are no more strollers or diapers to carry along. We’re headed to Puerto Rico later this month, and then I’m planning a road trip up to Boston (from DC) for August, so we should get plenty of sights and learning in. We can’t wait! 🙂

  2. Great Post! I took my son to London and we had a great time. We went in July when you can tour Buckingham Palace, it was great! We also enjoyed the Tower of London. My son thought it was cool to meet a Beefeater. Other fun things were checking out Hamley’s, the world’s oldest toy store and taking in the view from the London Eye and cruising down the Thames. Thanks for stirring up all these wonderful memories, you have encouraged me to to write about our trip to London for my next post on my travel blog and have fired me up to start planning our summer vacation!

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