This is probably THE question every parents, including me, ask themselves one day, thinking about traveling as a family: “What is the best destination to travel with children?”
Actually, it’s sounds a bit like other big questions: “Where is the best place to live? What’s the best husband/wife? What’s the best job?”, and so it goes. At the end of each question, we can add: “on earth“. Which, of course, means endless and confusing possibilities.
“Best” is so relative. Honestly, I don’t appreciate a lot all inclusive resorts. A lot of people do. I don’t love zoo, my kids does. I love local market places, my husbands prefers hiking. I like the heat, my daughter loves the snow. And no place on earth can be hot and snowy at the same time. So how do I deal with this tricky issue?
Yes to compromise, no to sacrifices
It may sounds terribly selfish and undemocratic (I’ll take the risk), but I listen to my desires above all to choose the ideal destination. And also, sorry, I’m the one planning the trip. I bet my enthusiasm and enjoyment will be communicative! Kids may be amazed by the flora and fauna of the tropical forests of Costa Rica, but if you faint at the sight of a spider, no need to force yourself. You love museums, but you are worried that your children get bored? It’s not impossible, but they will catch up to the beach! Nothing worse than grumpy or frustrated parents who have the feeling of not being at the right place: yes to compromise, no to sacrifices! Whether you’re rather nature or rather culture, luxury or “roots”, unspoilt natural area or busy city, traveling is also a great opportunity to introduce your children to what you like and enjoy.
Your desire would be the first element of the equation. Then comes duration, season, and of course budget -non-negligible factor. Taking the children to see giraffes in Africa, visit the Forbidden City, or climb the Statue of Liberty, why not? Provided you have at least ten days away to enjoy it and not turn it in a marathon for the whole family! Air travel, jet lag, journeys and visits on site are tiring for children: sustained traveling tempo turns even the most dynamic child in a recalcitrant and grumpy one. Renounce to unbeatable rates and prefer a direct flight, if possible overnight. The trip seems much shorter and you’ll overcome faster the jet lag symptoms. If you don’t have enough time, choose a closer destination: the possibilities often abounds less than three hours from home. Season can also help to choose the right destination: do your best to avoid the monsoon and the mosquitos for health reasons, the most rainy moment of the year for mood reasons, or an unbearable heat for both reasons.
Useful cunning arguments not to give away
About the money aspect, no need to be an eminent mathematician to assume that family travel is more expensive than traveling alone. Four, five or more plane tickets are a major expense. The good news is that usually, when the long-haul flight is very expensive, the cost of local living is much less so: as in South America and in most countries in East Asia (obviously not talking of Tokyo). As an european family, traveling with children in the US is rather advantageous: there are restaurant’s “kid’s menu” for a few dollars, and standard rooms with two double beds, that parents and children can share at no additional cost. In Europe, by contrast, eating in restaurants and sleeping at the hotel is very expensive for family. In large cities, renting an apartment for a few days is a convenient and money-saver solution. So before deciding, it is better to consider the overall budget rather than only the airline tickets’ price.
Travelers are dreamers
Once the factors have been considered, you shake the whole and obtain your ideal destination. May be it’s not your top-ultimate-dream destination that came along, but yet it’s the greatest one and the most appropriate considering what you like, the time you’ve got, the money you can spend and the age of your children. This it is your own best destination to travel with your kids.
Don’t be desappointed if this realistic answer may not absolutely fulfilled your wanderlust. Keep dreaming. My wish, still not granted, would be to cross Russia by train, with kids enjoying as much as I do the endless, romantic and snowy landscape at the window, day after day. Sure, I’ll have to be really enthousiastic to sell them that (and also to be locked in a small train cabin with my entire family for almost two weeks)! Actually, may be it’s not so bad this dream didn’t come true. After all, that’s what travel dream are made for, aren’t they?
So what would be your best destination to travel with kids?