If the thought of holidaying with toddlers or young children brings you out in a cold sweat, hot rash, or both, we’re here to let you know that it’s not just possible to enjoy an adventurous family holiday with little ones, but positively life-affirming!
Fly and flop holidays these ain’t.
Instead, as parents ourselves, we know you don’t even have to compromise too much to make your adventure holiday fun for the whole family.
Here, we’ve highlighted which destinations can make the perfect ‘and toddler came too’ holiday, whether you’re holidaying for the first time with your little one or as part of a family with older children.
Take the Trunki out of hiding, get that passport processed and take a look at where you could be heading on your next family adventure!
Our top 10 destinations for young children
1. Holidays in Mexico for toddlers and younger children
We admit that the journey time to Mexico is comparatively long at just over 10 hours. But the flights are direct and, if taken overnight, parents and toddlers can wake up in paradise with relatively little drama. When you arrive, Mexico is an adventure playground for little ones and adults alike. Once you’ve visited a few Mayan ruins your trip is likely to be dominated by water-based activities: think swimming in cenotes (natural water holes), paddling in lagoons, or just hanging out around the pool or beach. And what beaches they are! Just take a look at the Lagoon of Seven Colours at Bacalar!
And, because Mexico has such a great infrastructure, taking a self-drive trip around the Yucatan Peninsula (have a look at our Best of Mexico Yucatan Peninsula trip) can keep costs down and make the trip much more ‘at your own pace’ toddler-friendly.
2. Toddler-friendly holidays in Morocco
Perhaps the most exotic destination you can travel to in under 4 hours, Morocco ticks all the toddler-friendly holidays boxes. No jet lag? Tick! Loads of boutique hotels and riads? Tick! Fun things to do? Tick! You can take a horse-drawn carriage around Marrakech, clamber over the ruins in Ait Ben Haddou, take a camel ride into the desert (toddler sits in front) or spend the night in a desert camp, where you can sit around the evening camp fire whilst your toddler sleeps out under the stars. Take a look at our Highlights of Morocco trip for even more activities.
3. Holidays in Thailand for toddlers and younger kids
If you’ve been to Thailand before, you’ll already know how The Land of Smiles can easily accommodate a family with a sole toddler or a family with other young children. As often the first South East Asian destination of choice for holidaymakers, this beautiful, ridiculously welcoming country has a great infrastructure and a modern transport system. And it has a vast array of family-friendly accommodation, whether that’s guest houses or hotels with pools.
English is widely spoken and, like Cambodia, Thai people adore children! Whether you prefer to hang out on the southern beaches or prefer some active, family-friendly jungle adventure, or a mixture of both, take a look at our Top 10 Thailand with Kids blog and our sample Thailand family adventure itineraries.
4. Holidays in Greece for young children and toddlers
You don’t have to have seen Mamma Mia to know that the beaches and islands of Greece are hard to resist. Even more so for a family with toddlers, where gently sloping beaches backed by characterful tavernas serving delicious food make for a relaxing break for all.
Whilst the mainland has lots of things to see and do, we recommend focussing on a particular area or island, such as Crete, the largest of the Greek islands. Easy to get around and with more family-friendly beaches than seem strictly fair (Elofonnisi, Marathi, and Bali beaches to name just three), you can also jump on a horse-drawn carriage in the charming harbour town of Chania or go for gentle hikes inland. Take a look at our sample Greece itineraries for more.
5. Sri Lanka holidays with younger children
This relatively small island packs a big, toddler-friendly holiday punch. Flights to Sri Lanka are direct (yay), boutique, 4-5 room hotels are plentiful (double yay), travel distances short (you can see where we’re going with this), the people are friendly and welcoming, the waters warm and the beaches divine. We offer two sample itineraries depending on what time of year you prefer to travel: Sri Lanka Summer Tour and Sri Lanka Christmas and Easter Tour. We also recommend checking out our Sri Lanka with Kids – Top 10 Things to Do blog.
6. Toddler-friendly holidays in Jordan
Introduce your toddlers to one of the world’s largest sand pits (that’ll be the desert) and you can see why Jordan is a big hit with the under-5s. It’s not all digging and eating sand though, as our Jordan with Kids – Top 10 Activities blog shows! There’s a huge variety of things to do which will entertain the whole family, from running down sand dunes to exploring castles and world-famous archaeological sites (Petra being the most famous).
For some R & R at the end of the trip (the perfect finale to a toddler-friendly holiday), we recommend some gorgeous hotels on the fringes of the Red Sea. The Dead Sea, we’ve found, whilst appealing in principle rarely ends well with salt concentration and toddler’s sensitive skin and eyes. Want to know more? Check out our Highlights of Jordan trip.
7. Holidays in Turkey for toddlers and young children
Allow us, if you will, to make a sweeping (but we think true) national observation: Turkish people LOVE children, and not just their own. Wherever you go in Turkey you and your youngsters will be welcomed, literally, with open arms – whether you’re out dining late, or being asked to enjoy a cooling mint tea or ice cream.
It’s not just outstanding hospitality that makes this a great place to enjoy with toddlers, though. Despite being a large nation, we recommend focussing your holiday in a smaller area, say, arriving in Antalya before heading off to the Turquoise Coast for R&R.
We love the pretty harbour of Antalya where there are lots of boats to look at. Also, the food. Is there anything more toddler-friendly than delicious, barbecued meats on a stick? The beaches all along the coast are gorgeous, the waters warm, and most hotels here have lovely pools to splash in, too. Our Turquoise Coast Adventure can be easily tweaked to make it even more toddler-friendly.
8. Toddler-friendly holidays in Cambodia
It’s hard to beat Cambodia for younger children or toddler-friendly family holidays. Relatively compact, which means fewer, ‘are we there yet’ car journeys, Cambodia’s people are amongst the most welcoming in the world, particularly where younger children are concerned. Everywhere you travel you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
You’ll be able to cycle around Angkor Wat at your own pace, wander through paddy fields with toddler-in-tow hang out on palm-fringed beaches in the south, and explore guided jungle walks in the north. The food here is also far less spicy than you’ll find in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, and eating lunch with a local family in their own home is a particular highlight for both you and your youngster(s). Take a look at our Top 10 Cambodia with Kids blog and Cambodia Highlights itinerary to see what you could be doing!
9. Holidays in Oman for younger kids
A toddler-friendly holiday oasis? Let us count the ways we love this place! Whether you’ve chosen to self-drive (very toddler-friendly) or be driven around Oman, you can’t help but notice just how much contrast there is in the landscape during comparatively short driving distances. There are no epic overland adventures required here.
We can’t begin to explain how welcoming and friendly the people are, who will bend over backwards to accommodate any specific requirements or needs. And, if there’s a more toddler-friendly hotel than the Shangri-La on the beach near Muscat we are yet to find it: an indoor play centre, toddler pool, kids’ club, a buffet packed with things you’d never let them eat at home (smarties feature heavily) whilst rooms come with free pushchairs and baby cots. If you think a 12-day Highlights of Oman will prove too much, why not take an Oman Short Break? It’s also worth taking a look at our Oman with Kids – Top 10 Family-Friendly Experiences blog.
10. Toddler-friendly holidays in Bali
Even the word, Bali, immediately conjures images of a paradise isle, with palm-fringed beaches, verdant paddy field interiors, and a rich, fascinating traditional culture. Travel with your toddler here and you’ll discover that the dream and reality are one. Bali is a place where the hotels all have pools, the staff are attentive to you and your toddler’s every whim, and your surroundings are every bit as ‘tropical island’ as you’d imagine.
Bali is well set up for tourists having been welcoming mainly Australian guests for many years, but thanks to flights with stopovers, accessible to all. Enjoy sun, sea, and sand, wander hand in hand with your little one through rice terraces, go swimming in waterfall-filled pools, and be wowed by the Bird Park and Monkey Forest. Take a look at our Top 10 Bali with Kids blog for other ideas! For our most toddler-friendly itinerary, take a look at our 15-day Relaxing Bali (yes, really!) adventure.
We’ve been travelling with toddlers and young children too…
As parents ourselves, we understand that you’ll want to be as clued up as possible ahead of your trip. If you’re still unsure about something, do give us a call on 01728 752751 or email. If there are other countries, not covered here, and you’d like to visit with younger family members, ask us for the best way to do this. There are no silly questions!
If you are travelling with older family members too, ask us about multi-generational holidays. You might also like to see our overview of family summer holiday destinations and the best places for family holidays at Easter.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
I’m always interested to hear about your travels so do email me with your feedback and experiences of toddler-friendly holidays.