Traveling with kids brings magic into life. Their eyes sparkle with wonder and their imaginations see endless possibilities with every new experience.
Even though bringing kids on trips can be hard, there’s nothing quite like seeing the world through the eyes of a child again. Here are a few ideas for catching some magic with your kids while they’re still young.
Editor’s note: Save these ideas for when it’s safe to travel again, and always follow all COVID-19 restrictions, rules, and safety regulations both at your destination and upon returning home.
Sleep in a Glass Igloo Underneath the Northern Lights in Lapland, Finland
Visiting the home of Santa Claus in Lapland, Finland may be one of the most unique adventures you can have with your kids. With the Aurora Borealis visible more than 200 days every year (about every other day), it’s almost a sure bet you can catch one of the most beautiful phenomena known on earth. Many accommodations include glass ceilings where you can view the northern lights at any hour of the night. You can also enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride, cross the arctic circle, enjoy a meal at an ice hotel, and visit Santa’s Village.
Pro tip: Scandinavian Airlines (Or SAS) often runs a sale where kids fly free when accompanied by an adult.
Walk the Cobblestone Paths of Mont Saint-Michel, France
Mont Saint-Michel is a dramatic, 1,300-year-old abbey built into a small, granite island off the coast of France. You’ll know it from pictures taken of the island when it is surrounded by water, but you’ll remember it for the cobblestone pathways, imposing towers, hidden spiral staircases, light-filled cloisters, and quaint pubs filled with all the charms of a modern-day Hogwarts. You may also recognize it from the Disney animated feature Tangled, which draws inspiration from the unique island.
Climbing the steep, cobbled paths of Mont Saint-Michel will make your kids feel like they stepped into a fairy tale. Whether they’re immersed in the adventures of Harry Potter or enamored by the tale of Rapunzel, they will truly feel transported in this unique landmark in France. The stairs aren’t too much for kids, and when they tire, you can let them loose in the sand outside the island.
Pro tip: Book a hotel located directly on the island. You can watch the sunset, sneak out at midnight to see the abbey lit up, and wander around in the morning before the tourists arrive.
Climb the Great Wall of China
One of the best things about the Great Wall of China is you can actually climb it. Little and big kids with lots of energy will tire out on the steep climb near Beijing. There are towers to explore and lookouts for playing pretend games. You can stop where you need to and go back when they’re tired. If you’re not feeling as adventurous, there’s a great cable car up and a toboggan ride down.
Pro tip: Plan to arrive early in the morning, if possible. The light will be amazing for pictures and you’ll avoid any crowds that may come your way.
Cruise the Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador near the equator. They’re known for unusual volcanic formations and a variety of flora, fauna, and wildlife on which Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, the premise for the theory of evolution.
Your kids will never tire of seeing the bold, unusual wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. From a safe distance, they’ll get to see marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, tortoises, rare birds, and possibly dolphins and sharks.
Pro tip: The Galapagos Cruise Links are a great way to find a ship and a date to take your trip. There are strict regulations for cruising the Galapagos to prevent harm to the ecosystem, thus, any cruise you’ll find yourself on will be limited in the number of passengers. Although there are a few larger cruise lines gaining access to the Galapagos (such as Disney, Celebrity, National Geographic, and Silversea), there are quite a few smaller cruise ships that may interest you as well. If you’re on a budget, you can save a lot of money by staying in a city on one of the islands and by booking individual tours when you arrive.
Fly Above Cappadocia, Turkey in a Balloon
The photos of hot air balloons floating over the unique landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey have captured the imagination of Instagrammers the world over. Kids will love the Star Wars-like landscape, fairy chimneys, underground city, and easy, interesting hikes. There are countless caves and you can hike, explore, and climb anywhere you want. Even if you decide to forgo the balloon ride, you’ll love the view from the ground.
Pro tip: Book a cave hotel for some extra ambiance.
Hike through Petra, Jordan
Petra, an iconic ancient city carved of red sandstone more than 2,000 years ago, will leave your whole family full of awe.
You may know it from an Indiana Jones movie, but you’ll be surprised at how much more there is to the city. Once a thriving center of trade with more than 30,000 residents, the extensive site includes cave dwellings, tombs, temples, an amphitheater, a monastery, a treasury, and more. If you want to adventure through time with your kids in one of the most incredible archaeological sites in the world, this is the place to do it.
There is a lot of walking involved with visiting Petra, so be prepared with appropriate hiking shoes. You may also want to consider hiring a horse, donkey, or camel. Also be aware if you’re taking children that there are steep drop-offs and you’ll need to keep a close eye on your little ones.
Pro tip: Buy tickets for Petra By Night to explore the city by candlelight.
Walk with Penguins at Boulder Beach
Boulder Beach near Cape Town, South Africa is the only place in the world where you can get close to African penguins. The picturesque beach is home to a colony of nearly 3,000 penguins. Your kids will be absolutely mesmerized by the penguins walking on the beach–and you don’t have to go to Antarctica to see them!
Pro tip: Combine this trip with a South African safari for more wildlife activities.
Explore the Ancient Temple Complex of Angkor
Angkor is one of the largest religious archaeological complexes in the world. It was originally built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple designed to represent the home of the gods. The soaring, sandstone complex near Siem Reap, Cambodia is filled with secret rooms, hidden passageways, interesting paths, and trees growing right through the walls. It’s every kid adventurer’s dream. Your kids will also love the overly-friendly monkeys and tuk-tuk rides.
Pro tip: Avoid the hot season, if you can. The oppressive heat will make visiting with kids much harder. It does rain a lot in this region–especially during monsoon season–and there’s always plenty of mud. The locals wear flip flops for easier cleaning.
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