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How Do I Choose the Best Places to Travel with Kids?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
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Choosing the best places to travel does not have to be a difficult task, and you do not need to choose a place that is specifically designed for kids. Remember that the quality of the experience will depend on the happiness of everyone in the family, not just the kids; in other words, if mom and dad are bored, the trip is not likely to be rewarding for anyone. Start by making a list of places to travel that will interest mom, dad, and the kids. Narrow down the list according to your budget, and then discuss which two or three options seem the most interesting. From there, begin your research.

Researching places to travel can be one of the most fun steps of the entire process. This is the time when you get to find out what a particular place has to offer everyone, including the kids and parents. You will find that most places are "family-friendly" if you look hard enough, though some places are more family-friendly than others. Choose places to travel that will offer the kids some kid-time and also some cultural opportunities, like a children's museum or a walk along a particularly stunning beach.

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A few options may jump out at you as far as the most appealing options, so now it's time to consider logistics. Think about how you will get yourselves and the kids to these new places to travel, where you will stay, and whether you can afford the trip overall. If you will be staying in a hotel, be sure to consider your choice carefully; high-end hotels may not be the most kid-friendly places, and choosing a hotel with a good pool is usually a crowd pleaser. If you need to rent a car once you get to the new places to travel, be sure to consider whether you need to also rent a car seat for young children.

Road trips are great for adults, but kids may get restless after a while in the car, especially after traveling by train or plane to get to a particular destination. Try to choose a destination with several activities in a relatively centralized location to minimize time spent driving. If this is not possible, see if you can make the transportation part of the fun: riding a train may be a new experience for the kids, and it will allow mom and dad to relax instead of drive.

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Discuss this Article

popcorn
Post 14

When I was looking at lists of the top 10 places to travel with kids I was really surprised how many lists recommended taking your kids to a zoo for a day. While this can be fun, it certainly has its downsides. All that walking isn't that much fun in the summer heat. Plus, if you are looking for the best places to travel in December, the zoo is out of the question due to the winter weather.

I think the best thing to do in the winter with your kids is to take them somewhere where they can have fun and learn a bit too. There is a maple syrup farm near our town and it's great fun going there, learning how to tap trees, and enjoying the sweet treats made from the syrup. Plus, they offer dog sled rides and all sorts of arts and crafts.

Sara007
Post 13

While I love my kids, when they come on vacation with us I usually am on the eye out for cheap places to travel. The problem with three extra bodies, is I am sure you know, is the costs of your travel plans can skyrocket.

We recently went on a family vacation in the fall and some of the best places to travel in October I have found are those that have free and low-cost Halloween events for kids. Whether it be a hosted costume party or craft sessions, anything that keeps the little ones busy is great. Salem, Massachusetts is a fantastic stop in October as they hold scary events all month long. Plus, there are also great events for adults.

Crispety
Post 12

@Sunshine31- Cruising is really fun, but two of the top 10 places to visit in my opinion are Los Angeles and New York City. We took our kids to Los Angeles last summer and it was amazing.

We got a City Pass which was like a package that offered us admission to a ton of attractions in Southern California. We went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the L.A. Zoo, Universal Studios, the Hollywood Museum, Legoland, and a bunch of other places. We also stayed in a cabin in Big Bear Mountain and really enjoyed our time there.

New York is also fabulous for kids. There are a lot of family friendly Broadway shows and attractions for kids. When I took my daughter we went to the American Girl store and spend the whole day there. You can buy a package that lets you get a doll and have the doll go to the salon and get her hair done while you dine in their café.

We also went to the usual sites like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State building. The only thing about New York is that you will come back tired because you are constantly on the go. I found Los Angeles to be more relaxing.

sunshine31
Post 11

I have to say that one of the best places to travel is the world with kids is a cruise to the Caribbean.

There are a lot of family cruise vacations that are all inclusive that not only offer some relaxation for the parents but also offer a great time for the kids.

About two years ago my husband and I took our kids to a cruise on the Oasis which sailed to the Eastern Caribbean. It was supposed to be the biggest cruise ship and it was part of Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

They also have the Allure which is the sister ship to the Oasis. The nice thing about this ship is that there are so many activities on board that the kids won’t want to get off the ship. They also have structured activities for kids based on the age group that is like a camp.

My kids did rock climbing, surfing and played in the water park when they weren’t in the camp. What I like about going on a cruise is that the trip is already paid for and the only thing that you had to pay for was the excursions because most cruise lines include the gratuity with each ticket.

shell4life
Post 10

@Oceana - Since your budget is low and you are short on time to prepare, I would suggest going to several fun places near your home that take less than three hours to reach. Kids that young really cherish going to new places, even if the activities offered are simple and imagination is required.

I took my kids to four parks in one week, and all were within two hours driving distance of my home. We would leave early in the morning with a picnic basket full of lunch and a late afternoon snack, and we would return that night.

They absolutely loved playing on different playgrounds, hiking nature trails, and walking beside the lakes. They made up stories and acted out roles, and I just sat back and watched them make their own fun.

All I had to pay for was gas and food. Since I made the lunches and snacks with groceries I had already bought, the food was pretty cheap.

Oceana
Post 9

Does anyone know a great cheap place to travel to when you have young children? My boy is five and my girl is seven, and I know they would be bored by museums or historical destinations. Amusement parks would be too scary for them, and they wouldn’t be tall enough to ride the best rides, anyway.

I can only spend a couple hundred bucks on our vacation, because times are tough. I would appreciate any suggestions you can give me, because I am out of ideas. It needs to be something that doesn’t require reservations in advance, because my vacation days start next week.

StarJo
Post 8

@lighth0se33 - There is something about the ocean. It provides endless entertainment and fascination to young children, and adults are drawn to it, as well.

My husband and I took our five-year-old daughter to the ocean ten years ago, and she has been obsessed with it ever since. We try to go back every summer, because it’s something everyone can enjoy.

When she was little, we took her to the aquarium, and she absolutely loved being able to see the marine life up close. We took her walking on the beach just before sunrise, because this is when you can get the best seashells, as no one else has had the chance to grab them yet.

Even though she is a teenager now, she never refuses a trip to the ocean. I think the love of it is in her blood, because I can’t stay away from it.

lighth0se33
Post 7

I knew that everyone in my family would enjoy going to the ocean, so we decided that would be the best choice. The drive would take eight hours, so I made sure to bring along several things to keep my young kids entertained. That way, I could reduce the number of times they would ask, “Are we there yet?”

I packed several travel size games for them to play. I also brought along the laptop that plays DVDs so they could watch some of their favorite movies. This made the drive so much easier.

Once we got there, the kids didn’t even need us to have fun. They made sand castles, jumped waves, and looked for fish, so this gave me and my husband time to relax in beach chairs and soak up the sun while listening to the soothing sound of the waves.

John57
Post 6

As much as I would like, there is no way our budget would allow an expensive trip for our family. We find creative ways to take trips with our kids that we can afford at the time, and don't have to worry about taking a year or so to pay for.

One of our favorite things is to find cities that have a lot of interesting museums and attractions that are free or inexpensive.

There are many cities that have free museums that are interesting and a lot of fun. I am not talking about places that are boring and kids would not have any interest in. Many of them are very interactive, educational and fun at the same time.

We also like to find a hotel that has a water park attached. A swimming pool is always fun, but a place that has slides, a small lazy river and other water features is really fun.

We will order pizza and spend a lot of fun time as a family in the water park area for hours at a time.

By finding different cities that have attractions like this, we also get to explore more of the country than we would if we always stayed close to home.

SkyWhisperer
Post 5

@NathanG - You raise a good point. I think it’s important to have some tradeoffs too. I am willing to take my kids to theme parks, but I also want educational experiences thrown into the mix too.

One year we took them to a theme park in Florida, and the next day we took them to the Kennedy Space Center. We loved it; the kids complained about going because there were no roller coasters. But once they got there, stepped in the flight simulator and saw some of the shows, they had a good time.

myharley
Post 4

Our experiences at Disney World have been wonderful. My husband was a little hesitant at first because he didn't think it would be very interesting for adults.

There is so much to see and do there for people of all ages, and he was impressed. We got a park hopper pass so we could go from park to park.

Even though my kids enjoyed the rides, I think the best day was when we went to Animal Kingdom. You really felt like you were on a safari in Africa. Not only was this entertaining, but educational as well.

I think a key when planning a trip to a busy place like this is timing. We went in September, right after most kids were in school. I can honestly say we didn't wait for than 10 minutes for a ride, and most of them had no line at all.

I know this would be different if you were there over Christmas break. I know one family who went there over Christmas, and the park was so full that they couldn't let any more people inside.

That is not what I would call a fun vacation by any means. If I plan a trip to a place like this in the future, I will definitely think about doing it during the off season again.

NathanG
Post 3

@EdRick - We’ve been to every major theme park in Florida, and I think these rank as some of the top places to travel with your kids. However, even then you need to be discriminating. For example, Disney World has a number of different theme parks.

The signature theme park, Magic Kingdom, is great for starters, but you have to understand that this is geared mostly for little kids. When my son was 11 he was definitely not interested in Magic Kingdom. So we took him to one of the other theme parks that had more roller coaster rides and “grown up” entertainment.

The absolute best place was Universal Studios (not affiliated with Disney) which had a lot of wild rides. We avoided the rides ourselves but the kids had a blast.

EdRick
Post 2

@ElizaBennett - I agree with you about theme parks. When we take my son, we often go back to the hotel in the middle of the day to take a nap, then come back later when the sun is not quite so hot.

We took him to Disney World last summer, and he had fun, sure. But the year before, we took him and his cousin camping to save money for the big mouse the next year - and I swear he had more fun camping! They had to make more of their own fun, but they *did.* I think in ten years, he'll remember that he went to Disney World, but not many of the details. Whereas I think he'll have rich, detailed memories of that camping trip.

Of course, he has friends that I wouldn't take into the woods if you paid me. Like you said, know your kids! Stretching them a bit is OK, but don't expect a personality transplant.

ElizaBennett
Post 1

There's really two decisions here: choosing your destination and then choosing a place to stay. And both decisions will need to be based in large part on the ages and personalities of your kids!

How old are they? How patient? How often do they need to eat? How far can they walk? Do they like outdoor activities like biking, or would they rather stay in the air conditioning? I'm not suggesting that you plan your entire vacation around what will make your kids happy, just that you keep in mind their capabilities. If you try to push them too hard, you'll regret it.

Often, things that are supposed to be fun places to travel for kids wind up being exhausting for them, like theme parks. How many times have you seen tired, flushed, cranky kids waiting in line for a ride?

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