The Best Age to Travel the World
A question I get a lot is: what is the best age to take my kids to _______. Fill in the blank with anywhere: Hawaii; Europe; Africa; Australia. The answer is to some extent specific to the place, but it’s also specific to the family. Some families aggressively avoid long flights with kids under two or three. Others continue their travels shortly after their kids are born. It’s often a choice among adventure with some hassles, a little less adventure with fewer hassles, or opting out completely for a few years.
Let’s get this out of the way first, since it’s what a lot of parents think about when pondering travel with young kids. When our first child was born, our pediatrician told us that it’s hardest to fly with kids between 6 months and 2 years old. He had a point. Around 6-7 months kids start crawling and they don’t want to sit still on an airplane for a long period of time. That didn’t stop us though. We took each of our three kids to Europe during that age range – my oldest at nine months, the middle at 11 months and the youngest at 15 months. The flights weren’t easy, especially for my wife (see my tips for flying with kids). But are we glad we went? Absolutely. It’s never fun walking around a plane with young kids, or hoping that they don’t decide to start screaming. But the flight is always over in 12 hours or so regardless of how good, or bad, your child is. Then it’s on to the vacation. Don’t worry too much about the flights – they’re a (sometimes uncomfortable) means to an end.
As with airplanes, I’m not concerned with jet lag. Until the kids were six or so, every time we would travel to Europe we would have two or three kids wide awake from roughly 2am to 5am the first or second night. Young kids aren’t going to be able to entertain themselves so it requires active parental involvement. But once we got past those few hours, we were good the rest of the trip.
At around six or seven, though, something magical happened – our kids no longer got jet lag. My wife and I may be up for a couple hours in the middle of the night, but the kids are, almost without exception, now sleeping through the night and are immediately on European time. I have no idea how they do it. And when I took my daughter around the world in two weeks at the age of ten, she never woke up jet lagged – she instantly adjusted her body to wherever we were, through 24 time zones. My jet lag tips are here.
The much larger focus should be on where in the world is appropriate for a child. I’ve had to deal with ages frequently – not because of what’s easiest, but because of specific age restrictions. My son and I had wanted to go on the LEGO Inside Tour since hearing many years ago. We waited until he was seven and it was an incredible experience – well worth the wait. My review is here. Unfortunately LEGO has since changed its minimum LEGO Inside Tour age to 10. I’m glad we went when we did.
Likewise, we’ve wanted to go to the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Thailand for over a decade, but the minimum age is 10. As soon as our youngest was 10, Covid hit so we’re still waiting to go. And years ago I wanted to take my daughter to Longitude 131 in Australia when I was sketching out a trip to Uluru, but it also has a minimum age of 10. Usually there’s a good alternative hotel nearby, but sometimes the best hotel and one central to a travel experience simply doesn’t accept kids, and there’s nothing you can do but wait a few years to go there.
I do appreciate when hotels have an age requirement, but they lower the minimum age during specific periods so that families can visit. Jicaro Island Lodge in Nicaragua does this. Typically no children under 12 are allowed, but between March 15 and April 15 (spring break) and July 1 to August 20, they allow 8-11 year olds.
My most frustrating age-related hotel experience was at the Sandals Halcyon Beach in St. Lucia. I was invited to a friend’s wedding and she asked me to take photos at the ceremony. Great, I thought, I’ll bring my 5-year-old daughter – she loves weddings. My call with Sandals went like this:
- “Can I bring my daughter to a wedding there?”
- “Yes, but you can’t stay here since it’s a couples-only resort.”
- “OK, no problem, we’ll stay elsewhere and come in with a day pass.”
- “That’s fine, but you can’t bring a camera in on a day pass.”
- “Yes, no cameras are allowed if you’re not staying at a Sandals resort.”
- “OK, are there any Sandals Resorts for kids where we can stay and then come in for the wedding at Halcyon with a camera?”
- “Yes, you could do that if you were staying at a Beaches Resort.”
- “Great, book me there.”
- “I’m sorry, we have no Beaches Resorts on St. Lucia.”
So basically, there was no way to go to a wedding at Sandals with a child and a camera. In making this an impossible place to bring my daughter and camera for a one-hour wedding, they also damaged the entire hotel brand as far as I was concerned. Is it fine to have their own policies? Sure. But will I ever consider staying at a Sandals or Beaches resort in the future? Nope.
So what age do I recommend for different areas? Based on my experience taking the kids to more than 60 countries and all seven continents, here are my thoughts:
The Best Age for Europe, North America and Australia – all ages
Overall, as a California-based family, we’ve felt the most comfortable in Europe, Mexico and Canada with very young kids. Some countries are more child-friendly than others – it’s not easy to find a public restroom in Paris when your child desperately needs one, or a dad-friendly diaper changing station in the Netherlands. But I wouldn’t hesitate to take children of any age anywhere in Europe or North America. Transportation works well, the food options are extensive and very child-friendly, and people everywhere there seem to enjoy kids. We’ve found great playgrounds in virtually every European town we’ve been in, from Heraklion, Crete to Oslo to Paris to Salzburg, Austria to Cortona, Italy. Not all cities are stroller-friendly – think cobblestones and narrow sidewalks – but that just means you need to walk a little slower, which is the best way to see European cities anyway. For very young children, slings and Baby Bjorns work great.
I was also very impressed with Australia. I took my daughter to Sydney when she had just turned four. We had a great time. She particularly enjoyed seeing/touching the Opera House, holding a koala, and petting wallabies and kangaroos. She was offered free “babyccinos” at every coffee place we stopped at – basically just foam or steamed milk with chocolate shavings. And even though we were supposed to purchase tickets for her most places (kids 3 and under are free on public transportation), I was highly encouraged by every ticket seller to say that she was three, even when I was trying to be honest.
And the North American National Parks are similarly kid-friendly for any ages. Of course if you want to hike your kids should be a little older, or you need to be willing to carry them. But if you’ve always wanted to road trip around the US or Canada and explore the parks, go ahead and take the kids.
The Best Age for South America – six
I took my son to Santiago, Chile, Easter Island, and Iguazu Falls, Argentina when he was six. It was a GREAT trip. We had fun walking everywhere, seeing the sights and learning about the history. Easter Island was amazing because of its remoteness and of course for the Moai. Iguazu Falls was pure adventure. I don’t think that it would have been as good a trip if he had been younger – he just wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. And 40 hours on airplanes in 12 days is a lot for anyone, but especially for younger kids.
For more active trips to South America, eight is a good age. Our daughter at 7 complained a little on long hikes in Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, but at 8 she was great hiking around the Galapagos. And I traveled down the Rio Negro in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest with an 8-year-old and it was my favorite kid trip ever.
The Best Age for Antarctica – eight to ten
Some places are surprises. When I called National Geographic about the minimum age for their trips to Antarctica, I was told that there’s no minimum age but that they’ve found that at eight or so kids are really able to entertain themselves on the ship and appreciate the experience. After going there with my daughter, I agree completely. It’s extraordinarily kid-friendly and a perfect place to take an eight-year-old (my post is here). I wouldn’t have wanted to have much younger kids since they would have been a little bored on the ship and their legs would have gotten tired on the multi-hour Antarctic hikes.
Our second trip we went with Adventures By Disney, with a minimum age of ten. Every kid is different so I can’t really argue that, but overall 8-10 seems reasonable.
The Best Age for Asia – six
Hong Kong was another interesting destination. I took my daughter when she was five and studying Mandarin in school. It was fun to see the city through a child’s eyes, and we did all sorts of things that I hadn’t done in six trips there before – HK Disneyland, Ocean Park and Lantau Island – in addition to the standard things like Victoria Peak, the Star Ferry, the temples and the markets. It was a great trip, but I think my daughter was a little young to really appreciate the culture and the food. As with my son in South America, six would have been a better age to introduce her to Asia. I verified this when I took my son, at 8, to Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan, and my daughter, at 9, to Bali. Those trips were just a little more enjoyable. And my youngest daughter, at 7 and 8, LOVED Tokyo and Kyoto.
The Best Age for Oceania – six
All of our kids loved Bora Bora, but our six and eight year olds got a lot more out of it than our four-year-old. Our youngest was too small to enjoy the water sports, and the long walk back to our overwater bungalow from the beach and pool was tiring for her. The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora was very kid-friendly, but if we were to advise other families we would tell them to wait until their kids are at least six.
The Best Age for Africa – six
Africa is similar to developing Asia when it comes to ideal ages. I have friends who have taken their kids on safari every year since birth and had no issues. But based on my experience of taking my kids at 6, 8 and 10 to Tanzania and Kenya, I would say six is a good age. My daughter had a great time seeing all of the animals, and she was even fine on 10-hour game drives. That would have been a lot of time in the Land Cruiser for younger kids. My safari post is here.
The Best Age for Disney Cruises – three
Cruises are an experience not necessarily tied to any destination. We’ve done three Disney Mediterranean cruises – when our kids were 1, 3 and 5, when they were 4, 6 and 8, and again at 6, 8 and 10. My general guidance is that the Disney cruises are best for kids over two based on our experience, and three based on the comments below (Disney has apparently changed its kids club ages since our first sailing). If you’re taking older kids on a cruise and as a result a very young sibling is coming along, you can make that work – there are nurseries and activities for even the youngest of travelers. And if a cruise is appealing because of the destinations and you’re planning on leaving your baby in the nursery while you go onshore, go for it. But I wouldn’t take a very young child and think that he/she is going to get much out of the experience. My review of our Disney cruises is here.
The Best Age for Activities
All children are different, so you’re the best judge as to whether your kids are ready for more active holidays. These are the ages that our kids seemed comfortable with various activities:
- Bicycling: 8
- Hiking (long hikes): 7
- Hot Air Ballooning: 7
- Kayaking (solo): 7
- Mini-Segways: 6
- Paragliding: 10
- Parasailing: 6
- Camel rides (solo): 12
The Best Age for Travel: Summary
All travel is good, and the benefits are cumulative. Difficult 10-hour flights at one year old lead to extraordinarily easy 15-hour flights at five years old. But there are better, and easier, places to go than others. A lot of the world can be seen from birth, with some places better saved until kids are six and others until they are eight. But that’s just been our experience. What great, or awful, trips have you had with your kids when they were younger? What are your recommendations on the places I mentioned or others?
And as a follow-up to this post, I created a list of the destinations I would recommend at every age, from birth through 16. If you want suggestions for traveling at specific ages, my post is here. And if you want suggestions of places to travel based on month instead of on age, I created this post.
Travel and Health Insurance
If you’re traveling with your kids, seriously think about getting insurance. We didn’t think a lot about insurance until we had an incident (at a destination not far from home) and it was a very expensive lesson. I searched around and found an annual policy through G1G that covers us for medical problems when we’re traveling, but also for travel delays and cancelations – even those related to Covid. There are other companies too. Search around, and make sure you’re covered!
Ting at My Travel Monkey says
Great post and very comprehensive. I think you’re right. Some destinations are easier then others but I do think there are always options but you just have to research and research! Amazing that you’ve been to so many places. Travel is so beneficial to children and I’m determined to keep going with my son! We’re off to Thailand soon!
Enjoy Thailand Ting! I haven’t taken my kids there yet. I’ll be following your adventures on Facebook!
elaine schoch says
Great article! We’ve taken our kids to several places and the older they get, the more fun they have. Totally agree with the Disney Cruise age suggestion. My girls are five and six and I have to agree with your tip re S. America, I don’t think my five year old would get much out of it but my six year old would love it. The difference in a year at this age really is a lot.
Thanks for the age confirmation! I didn’t know if it was just my imagination, but my kids definitely seem to get more out of travel at six than at five.
Jonathan Daniel says
We just got back from Europe with our two sons (14 & 11) and had a great time. They got a lot more out of it than I thought they would and I’m hoping this will spark the desire in them to travel for the rest of their lives.
Great suggestions for age limits … one of the couples I know was afraid to take their kids to Thailand because of its perceived sleaziness … you just have to avoid Patpong and red light districts … totally easy to do!
Exactly! We’ve taken our kids to Mardi Gras in New Orleans a couple of times. It’s the same thing – it’s largely family friendly, so just stay away from the very isolated sleazy areas and you’ll be fine.
We’ve only taken our 2.5 year old to Europe so far but I’d think that Asia would be great for toddlers. Wouldn’t they be more apt to try new foods if they see the parents eating them? As for older kids, if they know they’re eating an insect that might freak them out. I could be wrong, though, never been to Asia!
I’m trying to balance the ability of kids to appreciate a place with how easy it is to travel around that place. You’re absolutely correct that the earlier you can get kids to try something new, the better eaters they’ll be long-term. Having said that, even though my daughter was a decent eater before she went to Hong Kong at 5, she wasn’t very adventurous with dim sum or other Chinese foods there. We ended up eating a lot of pasta. By six though she was trying escargots in Paris and at nine she was gobbling up crickets in Mexico. So it’s likely cumulative – the more travel, the better the eating. But I would still pick Europe over Asia for a 2.5 year old. It’s just easier.
It seems like by 6 kids are old enough to really appreciate and understand the place they’re visiting, regardless of where it is!!
We took our girls to SE Asia (Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia) at ages 6mo & 2years and found it actually easier than when we went to France a year later. In Asia, every time we went somewhere to eat someone would scoop up the baby and carry her around until we were finished. And we ate at a lot of street stalls with little plastic tables and chairs that were the perfect size for our 2 year old. We also didn’t have to worry about bringing car seats, and just packed the kids around in Ergo carriers. And Saigon has an absolutely fantastic playground for little kids.
In Europe both girls were old enough to want to walk but they would tire easily, and the metro in Paris is not the most friendly with a stroller, albeit doable.
They were too little on both of the trips to really appreciate where we were…but they both love Pho soup and dim sum…so I think they at least got something out of the Asia trip!
I love this article. I love to travel with my young son, but you all take the cake! I have always wanted to travel a lot with him and will be going to Africa hopefully this Christmas. How do you find the money to do it? That is where we are struggling.
Eric Stoen says
Hi Michelle. Per your question, I just wrote up a post on how to make family travel affordable: https://travelbabbo.com/2016/01/affordable-family-travel/.
Great post! I think it’s so wonderful for children to get to travel and experience the world and this is very helpful for knowing what ages are best for different countries. Thank you!
I stumbled on your page from Pinterest and I am so glad I did. I just learned my husband, daughter, and myself will be moving to Europe next summer. I am overly excited as I have lived there before as a newlywed but now with a child I am nervous!!! I am excited to travel again and reading your reviews about your kids enjoying travel has helped calmed my nerves. My daughter will be four when we get there so I’m sure she will love most places. Thanks for all your reviews! Just great!
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Nicolette! Very cool that you’re moving to Europe. We were looking at going over for a year or two, and even visited a number of international schools in France and Italy a year ago, but we decided not to go…for now. If you discover great lesser-known kid things or destinations, please let me know. I’m always looking for ideas for future trips!
Jennifer Teply says
Thank you for sharing such great tips! I just want to offer some encouragement if any parents out there are taking their toddlers to Asia. We took our 3-year-old son to adopt our 3-year-old daughter from China (they are 6 weeks apart in age) and it was great! They both did well on the very long plane rides and various modes of transportation. We did break down and eat at McDonald’s a few times so our son could have some familiar food (even though we never eat McDs at home! haha). I can’t say they appreciated the trip and the sightseeing, but we really didn’t have any problems with going potty, traveling, or food issues. We are taking them (now four years old) to NYC this Christmas and I am more nervous about that! LOL
Glad I found your site!
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Jennifer. It’s great to know that China was easy at three. I still haven’t broken down and eaten at McDonalds with the kids anywhere, but in Hong Kong with my 5-year-old daughter we ate at various Spaghetti House locations at least three times – painful considering all of the amazing food nearby! But it was obviously not a huge sacrifice, and she still remembers the trip well. As you say, it’s not about sightseeing with young kids. It has to be about making them happy through doing kid things. A little culture, sure, but don’t expect to see the same sites or museums with kids as you would as a couple. It’s just not worth it. Have fun in New York! I’m heading there with my daughter next weekend for her 10th birthday.
Lucky kids! This is a helpful post. I’m hoping to take my toddler daughter somewhere international this year and was thinking Europe would probably be best, which it sounds like it is.
Eric Stoen says
Europe is always a good choice, and the nice thing about is that you can move around and see distinctly different places. Cheap flights and the lack of additional jet lag make it easy to see Paris, Vienna and Florence in one trip. Or Barcelona, Warsaw and Athens. Or Oslo, Rome and Ljubljana. The options are endless.
Jessica Pinter says
Great post. It’s a really good read. Totaly the infomation I was looking for. I’m so jealous. I’m a terribly under traveled person, but I don’t want that to dampen my kids experience.
They are 19mth, 4ys and 5 ys. we have told the two older ones ‘When your sister can walk all the way too Nana’s (1 kilometer) we can go on a ‘plane’ holiday’. We figure she can walk some, we can carry her some and that should be enough to cover a good range of activities.
We went to The Goldcoast QLD while I was pregnant and they are itching to go again. But I think we need to see many other thing before we start repeating destinations. One BIG problem when searching for information for that holiday, was when I’d ask if they have kids activities they think i’m talking about teenagers, when you make it clear they are toddlers/preschoolers they all talk about their fantastic creche facilities. If i say I actually want to do things with my kids the price goes through the roof, accommodation especially.
If I might ask you a bit of a person question about your kids. I understand that travel is a big part of their life, but for those first few trips, Where they worth it? Can you have a worldly preschooler? That change in the way they see the world that only comes from having put your feet in a different country?? or does it all just go into that melting pot of knowledge and they don’t really know how they know it, but they always have??
Eric Stoen says
Wow Jessica, great question. Can you have a worldly preschooler? Others may disagree, but I would say no. No in the sense that until 4 or so, children won’t appreciate where they are in the world. They won’t be able to appreciate cultural differences. They won’t understand the importance of the Colosseum. If a child were to travel with its family non-stop from birth until four and then never travel again, would he/she have a different world view from someone who’s never left Australia or the US? I don’t think so.
Like you say, though, it all goes into the melting pot of knowledge. It’s cumulative. As long as that child keeps traveling, then once you get past 4 or 5, he/she becomes worldly quickly, with all the good that comes from that. And then you’re really glad that you started when they were young since it becomes so easy. Plus being exposed to different foods early-on is a very good thing.
I agree on the frustration of finding really good accommodations and activities for young kids. That’s one of the reasons I started my website. If I find something amazing – a great destination, or a hotel that goes out of its way to make travel fun for young kids – I want to make sure everyone knows about it.
we are currently living in japan (we are from the states) and i have to argue that asia is an incredible place to travel with kids of any age! our kids are 6, 3, and 1. we’ve lived here for a year and a half (so since our youngest was just 4 months) and we’ve visited all over japan, including okinawa, bali, singapore, thailand, cambodia, and vietnam all with our children, and each trip has been amazing! japan, in particular, is unbelievably kid and family-friendly! there are so many great places and activities geared here for children, but even visiting the temples, shrines, and other cultural spots can still be fun and exciting for even the youngest of children.
Eric Stoen says
Thanks for the great feedback Emily!
I’d love to connect for tips on Japan! I’m heading to Tokyo with my husband and baby who will be 8 months by then, for a quick three night stay. Would love your advice, if you can, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark @TravelnPleasure says
Wow, interesting article idea…..seeing the title on Pinterest, I could not resist myself from reading this post….a really resourceful article……I already have repined it and will share it on my travel website’s twitter page…..
Eric Stoen says
Thanks for sharing your experiences! I think so many people can benefit from those tidbits. It’s all relative. We are an American family currently living in Hong Kong. Our worst experience thus far was Cambodia. As much as my husband and I loved the people and the history, our then 4 and 6 year olds only wanted to spend time at the pool. It was quite hot, however for another year or two I see us holding off on certain destinations until they can understand/appreciate the cultural aspects.
Eric Stoen says
Absolutely. Practically anywhere can be kid-friendly – after all, people have kids everywhere. But if you’re flexible as to destinations, there are places that are a little easier than others, and places that culturally are more interesting to older kids so you may as well hold off. And yep, anywhere can be bad on any given day. When we took the kids to Rome it was very hot and there was a lot of walking and my kids were miserable. But that’s not necessarily Rome’s fault – just bad timing and planning.
Hi Eric, just found your blog on pinterest and I am in love with it! My husband baby and I have been living abroad for almost 3 years now and making the most of it by travelling everywhere we can. Mostly it’s been just my husband and I and now that we have a baby we plan to continue travelling. Your blog will be very helpful. Also, I’ve just began my own blog about travelling with a baby…. (kind of embarrassed of it now that I see yours!!! hahahah)
Would love to stay in touch!
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Dani! It’s great to be in touch. If you want me to add your blog to my Resources page, send me an email at email@example.com with which category is appropriate and a couple of sentences describing your blog.
Our oldest is only 3 1/2, so I have no idea what the best age is for certain trips. All I know is that we enjoyed our India, Afrika and Europe trips when they were babies and toddlers and we probably will when they are older… because we just love to travel. And when parents do what they like, planning enough fun-for-kids-activities in every trip as well, the kids will have fun too!
Christine @ Adventure, Baby! says
I love this Eric! I have a 4.5 yr old and I’ve often wondered what ages I can take her to a lot of these destinations. We’ve lived in New York and Australia and agree with NA and Aus being fab for kids, and also Europe where we’ve done a bit of travel with her too.
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Christine! And if you take your daughter to other destinations before my recommended age, please let me know how it goes. This is all based on my experience but I love other voices as well.
Great read! We get asked this question all the time, even though our daughter is still just a toddler. She will visit every continent by the age of 10, the last being Antarctica, when she is old enough to appreciate it. Glad to read the age suggestions for that trip.
Love this article and somewhat sad to not have discovered it until now. People (family, friends and strangers) always give us the hairy eyeball when we discuss upcoming or recent trips we’ve taken with our kids, particularly the international ones, so it’s always great to find like-minded souls with a passion for travel AND family! Our kids are only 4, 2 and a third is on the way, but we’ve founds ways to engage both ourselves and our kids in travel and culture both international and domestic since their births and definitely value this as a priority as we hopefully get more adept at it each time and our kids follow suit. It seems we have an American phobia of travel in general, and it’s always refreshing to see or read about others who like to engage and push themselves rather than be satisfied with the relative complacency that permeates our day-to-day lives. Definitely looking forward to reading your reviews of particular destinations and start planning our next family adventure!
Eric Stoen says
Thank you so much Jenny – well said! I love to find people who are doing the same thing we are. Happy travels! Do you have an Instagram account where I can follow along?
Chaitali Patel says
Came upon this link on Twitter and I am so happy I clicked on it! Great post! A lot of useful info in there. I have a 4 year old and while we were reluctant travelling with her outside India we have traveled with her quite a bit inside the country and its been a lot of fun.
Thais Winmill says
Strongly disagree with the Disney Cruise Age. We went with our 2 year old and our 3 1/2 year old. Since children under 3 are not allowed in the kids club that meant my 3 yo did not want to go without her sister. Yes we could have taken them both to the nursery but that was an additional cost I did not want to incur. The biggest issue though was the pools!!!! My 2 year old was not allowed in the pools since she’s not potty trained. She had turned two a week before our cruise. I had to remove her from the pool deck and do something else with her while her sister went swimming.
Disney Cruise minimum 3 on my book.
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Thais. Things have changed then. The only cruise when we had a child under three, our first one, we spent a lot of time in the kids club with all three of our kids. I know that they no longer allow parents in the kids club, but I didn’t realize that they created a lower age limit as well. I’ll note your comment in the post.
Interesting read! We took my son on his first cruise when he was just 15 months old and another one when just 2 months later. It is true that he may not have been able to appreciate the specific places and cultures he was exposed to, but the growth we saw in him during those two cruises was amazing! His confidence rose dramatically. He became a lot more social, particularly with other adults. He willingly tried lots of new foods. The list goes on. Now, he is 2 and we are just a few weeks away from our trip to Japan. I think children benefit from travel at every age. They just don’t always benefit in the way we expect. 😊
Eric, how do you make things work with siblings? For instance, if you were taking two kids to Australia, would you go when the oldest is four and the youngest is two or the youngest is four and the oldest is six?
Eric Stoen says
It depends how badly you want to go! You’re better off waiting until the youngest kid can enjoy it, but we’ve always booked trips whenever we want to go somewhere as a family – even if one or two kids are too young to appreciate where they are. There’s really no correct answer. With younger kids you’ll just need to spend more time at parks and playgrounds – not a bad problem to have.
I found your blog while researching for a 19 day around the world trip I am planing with my husband and 9 year old twin girls. Your RTW with your daughter article really encouraged me to go on planing our trip and ignore the periodic feeling of craziness for even attempting this.
I fully agree on your travel philosophy regarding traveling with kids. I think the more you expose kids to new adventures, the more they build their curiosity and can take on.
Quick question… After stops in China on this trip, we were planing to do a stopover in Bali on our way to Sydney. We are about to start booking our trip, but fears of dengue fever have however gotten into our heads and we are reconsidering our plan. After traveling 12 countries (including Ecuador/Galapagos and South Africa) with our girls, we have somehow avoided dengue and malaria hot spots. I’m am curious on your thoughts on this topic at the moment with the rise in Dengue cases in Bali and Thailand… Thanks again for all your great tips and inspiration!
Eric Stoen says
Very cool Lise! You’ll be able to see more in 19 days than we did in 14. Where are your stops?
We still went to Bali last year on our RTW trip and simply used mosquito spray a couple times a day to keep from getting bites. Even then I don’t recall being aware of mosquitos around us. We’ve taken the kids to malarial areas and we usually end up stopping our malaria meds mid-way through the trips when we’re not getting bitten, relying on bug sprays instead, and we went to Zica-prone Costa Rica for winter break this year, again relying on sprays. Until mosquitos are eradicated completely this will always be an issue, so it’s not like you can skip Bali this year and assume that it will be better two or five years from now. So I choose to keep traveling, and for the most part I choose destinations regardless of bugs. But you need to do whatever you’re comfortable with.
Thank you Eric for your advice! That might have been all I needed to finalize our crazy fun plan!
We are only leaving in May next year, but since we’re partly using miles, we need to be ready to book soon. We will leave from Halifax in late evening for a full day stopover visiting friends in London, then Beijing, Chengdu, Bali, Sydney and then a night in Honolulu so the girls can again take surfing lessons like they did last year. Stoping also in New Delhi or Guilin would be nice, but I’m hesitating since I don’t want it to be too much. Thanks again!
Eric Stoen says
Fun! Beijing and Chengdu would both be good quick stops – major attractions at each obviously. Hawaii is a good addition too. Have a great trip! Let me know if you need any other ideas.
Lise Richard says
Hi Eric, I’m hoping you can give me your input again before I start purchasing our tickets in the coming days!
We’ll have 19 nights, so in this itinerary we still have an extra night that we could add in anywhere…
Halifax – London – Delhi (3 nights) – Hong Kong – Chengdu (2) – Beijing (3) – Singapore – Bali (2) – Sydney (3) – Honolulu – Vancouver – Toronto – Halifax
Because we don’t live near a hub and are using miles, we have lots of added layovers. This would come to 13 flights (including 5 red eyes) and 60h20 of flying.
My girls and husband believe this will not be an issue after just coming back form flying 34hrs on a 12 day trip, but I wonder is we would be pushing it too much. Cutting Bali out would be our second option.
I wish we could start off at LAX too, that would simplify things a lot ;))
Eric Stoen says
Wow! Sounds like a fun itinerary, but that’s definitely a lot of travel. That depends on your kids. If they’re saying to book it, then they don’t think it’s an issue so I’d go for it. One thing to be careful of though – if you have a missed connection somewhere, how much will it hurt your trip? Not that you have much choice on most of those routes…
The flying is the issue with your trip, not the stops, so personally I wouldn’t remove Bali. That’s actually where I would add an extra night. Bali is fun for both Ubud (culture, rice fields) and the beach, so three nights could be nice there.
This is a great post! My kids are 2 and 3 and we’ve travelled with them a lot (not compared to your list though 😉) but most of the travel has been for us and they’ve kind of tagged along. I’m looking forward to the ages where they can appreciate what they are seeing like you describe here!
Having married someone who had never left the province they grew up in has been a struggle at times to add travel. Now that our kids are starting to get a bit older (3 and almost 6 yrs) my husband is becoming more open to travel with them. I did manage to get him to travel to Argentina when I was pregnant with our oldest and we travelled northern Argentina before they had much tourism infrastructure, but he loved it and we finished it with a trip to Iguazu and a couple days in BA. (I was able to convince him to travel there as I had lived there in my late teens to get to know my grandparents who retired there) We have travelled mostly through Northeastern USA campaign all the way out to the coast and camping across Canada with the kids. We did venture to Oahu this spring (we only had 5 days unfortunately for travel due to having moved across the country recently). This blog was great to help us plan future travels as my kids have been adding countries to their bucket lists after watching documentaries and my oldest likes to watch cooking shows and has been adding restaurants from around the world to hers. I think this is a great blog to direct my husband to to help develop more of a comfort level with international travel. He is slowly starting to build his own wish list of travel destinations with the kids with New Zealand at the top. This summer will see us exploring the Rocky Mountains further as we did lots through the winter as well (we moved close to them this year). Hopefully my husband will be able to get more than a few days off together at a time next year so we can start travelling internationally with the kids. Any suggestions for places to consider with our kids with a husband who is nervous to travel?
Eric Stoen says
Hi Katy – thanks for the message! It sounds like you’re in Canada. Are you in the western part now?
Not everyone loves travel – it’s almost a genetic thing. So you may never succeed at getting your husband where you want him to be. My wife enjoys travel but is far more content than I am to stay home for months at a time. That’s one reason I do so much solo travel with my kids.
If he wants to go to New Zealand, I’d make that a priority. With a 6-year-old it won’t be bad to take her out of school if you need to in order to go at the best time – say November or February – when it’s less touristed but warm there, if your husband can get time off.
Did you look at the Top Spots section of my site? That’s meant to be a simple list of our favorite things in the world to hopefully give others ideas of where to go. We’ve done a lot of cooking classes so your daughter may be inspired?
Lise Richard says
Hi Eric, It’s me Lise again, wishing you can shed some wisdom my way as I’m finishing up booking my last flights for our RTW adventure. I need to decided on how many nights in India versus Bali…
(India ? , Chengdu 2, Beijing 3, Bali ? , Sydney 3, Honolulu 1)
– 1 night in Agra; 3 nights at the Ritz on the beach in Bali & 1 night at FS Sayan in Ubud;
Concerns here is that 1 night in Agra following double night red eyes, followed by a third one to get to Chengdu would not be enough and that 36hrs spent going to Agra would leave us missing out on Delhi Markets since it would be on a Sunday(?)
– 1 night in Delhi, 1 night in Agra; 2 nights at the Beach in Bali and 1 night in Ubud
Concerns here are that the heat in Delhi in late May will make us want do be on our way sooner. And that our shortened stay in Bali wouldn’t be as recharging as we had wished.
I think we would all like the 4 nights in Bali, but wonder how crazy it is to attempt this! …All with seeing the Taj and a tiny bit of India.
Eric Stoen says
India is amazing and deserves a few weeks. If your goal is to see the Taj Mahal this trip, then I’d just do the bare minimum in Agra and move on to Bali. Save Delhi for your India return. (I actually prefer a lot of other Indian cities to Delhi, so I don’t think you’re missing out anyway). I’d go for option 1 – refresh and relax in Bali. And let me know how you like the Ritz in Bali. They contacted me this week, but I haven’t stayed there before.
Lise Richard says
Option 1 is what we were wanting more, so your input was really valuable in giving us confidence in that route and I booked last night! The Ritz in Nusa Dua seems to have pros and cons regarding the location, but I have Marriott points I’d like to use there. The RC Mandapa Reserve seems lovely but doesn’t offer reward stays. For that reason, we were looking at booking a stay at FS Sayan (in part because of your nice review), but I wish I could find a comparison of the two. They both look so lovely.
Thanks again Eric! If we ever cross paths on our travels or if you’re ever in the Halifax/Moncton area, drinks will definitely be on us!
Eric Stoen says
Absolutely, you’re on!
Hannah H. says
Interested to know your thoughts on good ages in North Africa? We’ve got a small baby under 1, who we would like to take on our trip to Morocco versus having her stay with grandma. What would you think?
Eric Stoen says
Hi Hannah. I don’t have any first-hand experience in Northern Africa, and I was unsuccessful at finding friends/colleagues who have done it. There are no special considerations that I can think of, so you will likely be just fine taking your daughter. Obviously it will be a different trip, but it’s so good for kids to be exposed to different cultures, tastes, smells, etc… early on. Will make it much easier to travel with her later too. I’d do it. But I can’t speak from experience.
I have 5 kids and I took them to Morocco last summer. The youngest was 2 at that time. It was wonderful. The people there adore children and she was welcomed everywhere we went. Very child friendly. The 2 year old talks everyday about wanting to go back to Morocco to the beach and to see camels. Just make sure to drink bottled water.
Hi, you have some verry interesting posts! I saw the one in the hot air balloon over Chiang Mai. I was wondering if you could give me some details about the place we can do that as I am going to chiang mai soon. Thank you for your help!
Eric Stoen says
Hi Melina. I’ve never done a post on our visits to Chiang Mai, but I list the ballooning on my Top Spots page – https://travelbabbo.com/top-spots/. Just click on Asia and go down to Chiang Mai.
Jen L says
We are a Family of six currently in Boston, Ma. We just decided to spend ten months in Hawaii. We would love to continue traveling. How do you manage your children around the school year? Do you home school?
Eric Stoen says
Hi Jen. Hawaii sounds great! No, we don’t home school. We fully use our one-week winter, spring and Thanksgiving breaks to travel, and will sometimes extend those breaks by a couple days if we need to. We also travel most of the summer – in some combination. We’ll go to Europe as a family, but I also do a lot of trips with just one or two of the kids. It all adds up to 15-20 countries a year and maybe 5 states, all without missing more than 5-10 days of school max.
Have you ever taken your kiddos to malaria-risk areas? We are considering going to Victoria Falls with our five-year-old. She is a great traveler but I’ve heard mixed reviews on malaria medications with younger children. We plan to see a travel clinic but would love to hear your experience.
Eric Stoen says
Yes – we’ve been to areas of Africa with Malaria. We didn’t see side effects from the medications. The issue was swallowing pills. None of my kids had had to swallow pills before their typhoid and malaria meds. The oldest took to it easily. My son was ok after several attempts. My youngest daughter hated it though and refused to take them, so we tried all the tricks, even cutting them up and sneaking them into her pudding on the plane. Several days into the trip we weren’t seeing mosquitos, and we were using lots of spray anyway, so we all stopped taking the pills, greatly reducing our stress levels. Not that that should be medical advice for anyone else!
Hi Eric, FOA thanks for your useful post and I like to go Antarctica once in my life. I want to know about the total cost estimation for Indians.
Eric Stoen says
Sorry Soundar, I’m not a travel agent, and I’ve never researched travel costs from India to Antarctica.
I love travelling, and I travelled with my kids since they were young. Totally agree with you that things get easier as we travel more with them. During this pandemic, I can only ease my travelling crave by looking at your articles again and again…thank you so much for writing so many of them. I really wish we can start travelling again