I often have people ask what are some of the best places for a family friendly holiday. We definitely have some favorite family destinations due to their culture, affordability, and openness to children. Still, I’m a firm believer that most anywhere in the world can be family friendly, depending on your needs.
There are a few different criteria we consider for whether a destination will be a family friendly holiday. Here are two of our main considerations for the best places to travel with a baby!
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Family Friendly Holiday: Child Friendly Accommodations
This doesn’t just mean places to stay, although that can certainly be part of it. No, by this I mean that a place is willing to accommodate the presence of children by providing resources to make a visit easier for parents and families. In this sense, Scandinavia is surely one of the most family friendly holidays we’ve experienced.
Types of Kid Friendly Resources
We were blown away by how pretty much everywhere we went in Scandinavia, there were a variety of resources to make things easier for families with young children. For example, every museum we visited had a full children’s guide or activity, almost always with a small prize at the end. Each also had a dedicated children’s area with hands on activities, crafts, and opportunities to climb and play.
Related: 7 Reasons to Visit Sweden with Kids
Scandinavia also epitomized child-friendly resources on transportation. Tickets on everything from trains to trams to airplanes offer discounts for children. The long-distance trains offered entire family sections, each of which had a dedicated space for play. They housed books, videos, and even climbing structures! We were blown away. Restaurants offered healthful and diverse children’s meals, and always had high chairs available. This especially made it one of the best places to travel with an infant who needed to be contained!
Advantages of Family Friendly Resources on Vacation
Places like Scandinavia made a baby friendly vacation very straightforward. We didn’t need to bring a bunch of our own equipment because so much was provided for us there. Changing tables were abundant (in both women’s and men’s restrooms!). Many hotels, home rentals (get $55 off your first stay by using that link!), and restaurants provided things like baby beds and high chairs, and there was no concern about finding children’s medical supplies if needed.
We were able to travel very light when visiting Scandinavia because we could easily source what we needed while there. Even though we have a lightweight baby bed and high chair, it’s so nice to not need to bring them along at all!
While I’ve used Scandinavia as an example, a family friendly holiday based on these types of resources isn’t limited to Nordic areas. All-inclusive family holidays such as cruises and resorts often have these same benefits. We’ve found them in many places around the US, and all through Eastern & Western Europe and the Middle East. Wherever you go, it’s worth checking in advance to see what kinds of accommodations are available.
Overall, it feels easy and straightforward to take a family friendly holiday to places that have resources and accommodations for kids. Traveling with kids has a lot of extra logistics, so it’s always great to minimize the amount of stuff and planning you need to take on!
Family Friendly Holiday: Welcoming to Kids
We’ve also visited a number of places that, while they have very few accommodations for kids, make great family vacations because of how welcoming they are to kids. This is exactly how we felt when visiting India and Southeast Asia.
Family Vacation Spots that Welcomed Kids
India, in particular, had very few accommodations for kids. Only the nicest hotels provided high chairs and baby beds, and it’s pretty much impossible to install a carseat in a tuk tuk (find more info on traveling with a car seat here). The food is often spicy, and hardly anyone caters it to small palates. Children’s activities and play areas are very rare.
And yet, most Indians are incredibly warm and welcoming to children. They included our kids in pretty much any meal, gathering, or activity. There’s basically no expectation that kids should be silent and still. If a child does fuss, no one will be annoyed. Instead, they’ll probably just offer candy to try to make the kid happy.
In addition to India, several parts of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia, seemed to exhibit similar attitudes when we visited.
Advantages of Family Vacation Spots that are Welcoming to Kids
While traveling in these types of family vacation destinations, we did have the inconvenience of needing to transport basically all of our own gear. We had to bring a baby bed, hold the baby on our laps to eat (or use this portable high chair), and provide all our own entertainment (definitely no crayons or play areas at restaurants).
This obviously means there a number of extra logistics. Still, it’s really nice taking a family friendly holiday where kids are not at viewed as inconvenience. For us, that alone makes a destination one of the best places to travel with a baby. Even if it’s a random stranger or or a restaurant employee, there is no shortage of hands to hold a fussy baby. And this isn’t always true, but many of these places also tend to be affordable places for family travel once you arrive.
Since there are very few dedicated children’s spaces, kids are typically very welcome and expected in a variety of “normal” spaces. What may feel like an adult-focused space in a museum in other parts of the world feels very open to all ages in India. Historic sites are rarely silent or entirely hands off. Day to day life is open and available to families.
Best Places to Travel with A Baby: How to Decide?
Obviously a variety of factors contribute to a family friendly vacation. The great thing is there are so many options for the best places to travel with a baby! Babies live all around the world. We’ve never visited somewhere that we felt was a miserable place to travel with kids.
That said, consider evaluating what your travel priorities are. Do you want kid-focused fun and engagement? And do you prefer to have a relatively hassle-free experience and not worry about having to either bring a bunch of gear or make do without it? Do you want your baby friendly vacation to be pretty easy and to closely mimic life at home? If so, I recommend places like Scandinavia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Jordan, South Africa, and Oceania. All these places to travel with an infant have plenty of family friendly resources, gear, and infrastructure.
On the other hand, perhaps you prefer an experience where there isn’t much catering to kids, but they are very welcome in everyday life. Do you not mind bringing any baby-specific gear along, or are you okay getting along without it? Are you okay with strollers likely being inconvenient? Are you comfortable babywearing? Do you want an experience where kids tend to be immersed in normal society? Do you want a family friendly holiday where locals tend to be delighted to see, hold, and touch your kids?
If these things ring true for you, I’d recommend places like India, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Morocco, Mexico, the South Pacific, or Southern Greece and Italy.
Best Places to Travel with a Baby: Anywhere!
At the end of the day, babies really do exist around the world. People raise children around the world. But different places vary in how they involve kids in day to day life. Places to travel with a baby also vary in the types of baby gear they commonly use and provide for visitors. But pretty much anywhere can be welcoming and wonderful for family travel.
I hope this helps you decide on your personal choices for a family holiday and for the best places to travel with a baby!
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