We have traveled to some amazing destinations with kids, but I’m always in awe of other traveling families. People take amazing trips with kids, visiting exotic destinations that include island hopping in Thailand and hiking through the Sahara Desert. If you are looking for travel inspiration for your next family vacation, you won’t want to miss these incredible bucket list ideas from families who travel the world with kids.
Bucket List Ideas for Your Next Family Trip
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*When reading this article, note that the name of the experience (in bold) has a link to a relevant article about that destination.
Africa Travel with Kids
Wild dogs howling in the night. Lions stalking their prey. Hippos disappearing under water and giraffes peering from afar. An African safari is an incredible experience and one of the most unique vacations you can take with kids.
While many tours are wildly expensive and out of reach for families, a self-drive safari is a significantly cheaper and more flexible way to go on safari with kids.
Seeing elephants wander across the highway and watching monkeys play in the campgrounds is almost as much fun for the kids as the guide-led game drives.
For anyone considering a family safari, Botswana is one of the safest countries in Africa and is the perfect destination for a self-drive safari on a budget. Kids will love cruising the Chobe River in search of elephants, hippos and crocodiles. They can experience the thrill of the chase on a game drive through Chobe National Park and admire the abundance of wildlife in the Okavango Delta.
With some planning and an adventurous spirit, an African safari can become a real option for a unique family vacation. Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine
If you’re looking for a unique destination for your next holiday, think about heading to the Sahara Desert in Morocco with kids! The popular Moroccan city Marrakech is the perfect base, from where multiple tour companies organize these trips for normally less than 100€ for 3 days.
On the way to the Sahara, you’ll cross the Atlas Mountains and stop at various viewpoints, gorges and even at the famous town of Ait Benhaddou, which was used as filming location for Game of Thrones and Gladiator. On the second day, you’ll finally reach the desert! Camels will take you through the sand dunes to the desert camp, where you will spend the night. Watching the sunset from the top of the sand dunes and stargazing at the clear sky are some of my favorite travel memories of all time! Although I visited several deserts in the past years, nothing comes close yet to my visit in the Sahara and I’m sure your family will love this unique experience! Patrick at German Backpacker
Dahab, in the south of Egypt’s Sinai Desert, is a wonderful place to spend some quality family time. Life is slow and relaxed. One of the best things to do in Dahab with kids is snorkeling. Kids are always so amazed when they discover there’s a whole other world underwater!
Dahab is well known for its excellent shore diving. With over 30 dive sites accessible from shore, there are also numerous places that are great for snorkeling. We’re both divers and started snorkeling with our son when he was 4 years old. He couldn’t swim yet, but inflatable armbands work like a charm. It’s so cool that we can share our passion for marine life and marine conservation with him!
The Lighthouse area on Dahab’s boulevard is especially suited for both new divers and new snorkelers. All restaurants provide easy access to the water via stairs or a ramp and the reef is just a short swim away. The very first time our son put on his mask and went to take a look underwater a large school of small fish swam by. Snorkeling in Egypt is definitely an unforgettable family holiday experience! Lisa from Scuba Around the World
Oman is a country of rugged, stark beauty: ochre cliffs, intensely blue skies and, in the river canyons or wadis, turquoise waters often surrounded by green palms and terraced fields.
The whole country is amazing, but a trip into these wadis is particularly special. Even if your kids don’t appreciate the scenery, they’ll love splashing and swimming, spotting fish and frogs and – for the older ones – scrambling among the canyon rocks and even abseiling in some wadis.
The most accessible is Wadi Shab, about 1.5 hours’ easy drive south of Muscat. From the carpark at Tiwi, hire a boat to cross the river mouth, then follow the path upstream. You’re not supposed to swim in the lower reaches, but you can stop at the pools further up. After a couple of kilometers you’ll have to swim to go further… if you do, you’ll reach a magical cave with a waterfall.
Be careful though! Absolutely do not jump into any pools unless you’re with a guide who knows the depth and where the rocks are. And check the weather forecast before setting out: rain could result in a flash flood. But with basic safety precautions, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable adventure. Emma of World Best Hikes
USA Trip Ideas Kids will Love
During a return visit to Zion, we chose to go canyoneering with our kids, ages 9 to 17, since we had already hiked the famous Narrows. Canyoneering was a fantastic, challenging experience where we all got to cheer each other on. Our kids’ only complaint was that this epic outdoor adventure went by too fast!
Canyoneering combines hiking, rappelling, stemming, down-climbing, problem solving, squeezing through slot canyons, and sometimes wading or swimming. Zion National Park in Utah is one of the best places in the United States for this activity, although a backcountry permit is required to do it inside the park, you need your own equipment, and must know what you’re doing.
If you’re newer to canyoneering, hop on a guided tour through a local company in Springdale, the sweet town that sits at the entrance of Zion. They will provide all of the equipment, tell you how to dress for the adventure, drive you to the canyoneering site, teach you as you go, and lead the route.
You can choose a half day or whole day canyoneering experience. I’d recommend booking a whole day with older kids so you can really get the hang of things! Since commercially guided canyoneering trips are not allowed inside Zion National Park, the canyoneering company will take you to slot canyons like those found in the Kolob Terraces — public lands just outside of Zion. Tanya of Rad Family Travel
I doubt there is a kid who has not heard about the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It’s a childhood classic that inspires boys and girls to explore the outdoors and find their own adventures. A trip to Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain spent his childhood and where he created a hometown for his beloved book characters, is a unique opportunity to step into the pages of the great author’s most famous books.
Would you like to try your hand at painting the fence or take a boat trip along the Mississippi river or maybe search for treasure in a cave? You can do it all in Hannibal.
Imagine walking the streets of this small town and meeting face to face with Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. Yes, that’s possible too, though only during summer vacations because, you know, kids are in school otherwise. And the cherry on top? Mark Twain himself! He strolls around Hannibal during the day and performs in a local theater at night. This will be definitely a vacation to remember. Tatiana of Family Road Trip Guru
Glamping at Mendocino Grove is a unique experience that you must enjoy at least once before your kids are all grown up. The nature here is amazing with ancient trees providing a forest cover and the absolutely gorgeous beaches add to the scenic beauty of Mendocino. When your kids are young, you would need plenty of gear to carry around for camping at this beautiful spot, so choose to glamp here and have all the fun minus the hassle.
After settling into the camp tent, get a guide or map of the area and outline the hiking trails you would like to try. You will find quite a few good treks possible here through the forests as well as along the coast. There is even a water sports place called ‘Catch a Canoe’. Point Arena lighthouse, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and the famous Glass Beach of Fort Bragg are also close. Of all the activities, kids love star-gazing here! Priyardashini of Glorious Sunrise
One of the best ideas for a family vacation is visiting a National Park. Did you know Utah has five national parks? You can explore Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion for a fantastic national park road trip in Utah!
Each of these parks offers something unique to see and do compared to the others. There are a variety of activities like hiking, biking, horseback riding, river rafting and more. But the most fun and unique thing to do when you visit a national park with kids is to become a Junior Ranger.
The program teaches them to “Explore, Learn, and Protect!” There is no fee to participate, simply go to the visitor center at each park and talk to a ranger. The program is typically for kids ages 5 to 13, but anyone can participate.
To become a Junior Ranger, kids will complete a series of activities in the park and share the experience with a park ranger. Just think how fun and exciting it will be for the kids to receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate from FIVE national parks in one trip!? Jamie at Photo Jeepers
If you’re looking for a unique family vacation, and something (quite literally) off the beaten path, an RV trip on the great ALCAN highway to Alaska certainly fits the bill. Trek over a thousand miles of road, some even unpaved, passing wild life such as bears, foxes, eagles, moose and more, as you make your way up to the great state of Alaska.
The beauty of doing this drive in an RV is that you can go at your own pace and stop when you need to without having to worry about booking accommodations in advance. Alaska’s endless summer light provides you with nearly endless daylight hours to drive!
Be sure to make time to stop and see some fascinating sites along the way like the sign post forest in the Yukon Territory in Canada! Once you get your RV to Alaska you can enjoy even more wildlife and outdoor adventures like glacier hiking, glacier cruising, kayaking, fishing, and more. It’s an incredible adventure that every family should try once in their lifetime! Vanessa of Wanderlust Crew
Winter can be a challenging time for family travel. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can make it hard to want to get the kids outside and explore. But each winter in the small town of Midway, Utah, a unique icy experience will make you and your kids fall in love with freezing temperatures. Midway is home to an attraction straight out of a fairytale. It’s called Ice Castles. This acre-sized, interactive experience isn’t just beautiful to explore. It has ice slides, crawl tunnels, fountains, and slot canyons that are fun for both kids and adults. The entire attraction is made from hundreds of thousands of hand-placed icicles that cascade down, resembling a massive frozen waterfall. At night, the structures light up with color-changing lights, and on weekends you can even catch a hair-raising fire show.
Luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to Utah to see these elaborate ice castles. Midway is one of six Ice Castles locations across North America. You can find them on the East Coast, Midwest, and even in Canada. Melissa at Parenthood and Passports
Yellowstone National Park is an amazing family vacation. It is known for its incredible animal life and breathtaking scenery. The most unique thing about Yellowstone is the wealth of geology and hydrothermal features. Yellowstone sits atop a volcanic hotspot. In this one park, you can see hot springs, lakes, prismatic springs, rivers, and geysers.
While in Yellowstone, your children can see things they will not be able to find anywhere else in North America. My children loved going for the simple little hikes and walks in Yellowstone to see wonders of Yellowstone. One of our favorites was of course Old Faithful, the famous erupting geyser that shoots up a stream of water on a regular schedule.
The National Park service does a great job educating through the website and with pamphlets around the park, so if you want to squeeze in some unique learning into your trip, it is easy to make it happen. Summer months in Yellowstone can get quite crowded, so you will be able to move things along faster if you go in the off season. If your only option is summer, I recommend taking along some car entertainment for the kids if they need it as you drive from feature to feature. Valerie of Baby Wise Mom
National park trips make for great family vacations. We spent 2 days hiking the Grand Canyon with our toddler recently, and it was awesome. All we needed was a kid carrier, and the hiking possibilities were virtually endless.
For an easy hike for families with kids of all ages, I’d recommend the trail to Shoshone Point. It’s an easy 1.5-mile roundtrip hike, and the trail is so flat it’s even stroller-friendly! If you have older more sure-footed kids, try the South Kaibab trail to Ooh Aah Point (a steep 1.8 miles roundtrip) for something a little more challenging. You’ll definitely need a kid carrier for this one if you decide to bring your baby along, but the views are worth it.
One of the best things about taking kids to national parks is that you’re pretty much forced to be unplugged. That offers endless opportunities to connect with your kids. Family hikes are an especially great way to get some bonding time in. Tackling the trails as a family is fun, inspiring, and gives everyone such a sense of accomplishment. Mary Beth at MB Sees
Best Places to Visit in Asia and Australia
Australian Outback 4 Wheel Drive Adventure
I live in a very isolated part of Australia so, for me, driving on dirt roads and through flooded creeks is just another day. In recent years, I’ve seen more and more families taking the trip as a fun, adventure style holiday. The more I see, the more I realize that they are on to something extremely special!
Plenty of families now take the 1000km trip up to Cape York from Cairns and stop along the way to check out some of our rare wildlife and pristine water holes. The dirt roads turn to wetlands which then turns to beautiful lush rainforest and it’s the perfect way to get the kids unplugged (no wifi in the Outback) and back to nature!
Even the road trip itself doesn’t have to be dull, it’s common to spot kangaroos, wild horses, snakes and plenty more during the drive. Next time you are looking for a unique vacation with the family, make sure to consider an outback adventure in Far North Queensland, Australia! Sophie at Lifestyle Queensland
A trip to the Komodo Islands in Flores, Indonesia is one our family will always remember. We rented a phinisi (traditional Indonesian sailing boat) and went island hopping for 3 days and 2 nights. Some of the stops we visited included the beautiful uninhabited Kelor Island and the famous Padar Island, snorkeling at Pink Beach, chasing Manta Ray at Makasser Reef, and hiking to the top of Gili Laba Island. We witnessed some of the most beautiful creatures including sea turtles and colorful sea stars.
The highlight of the trip was seeing the Komodo dragon in their natural habitat in Rinca Island. We came upon a big dragon on top of a small dragon, and our 10-year-old son asked in wonder, “What are they doing?” I walked fast and let my husband explained it to him. Apparently, it’s mating season on the island. Haha.. I highly recommend you to do island hopping in the Komodo Islands next time you go to Indonesia. Umiko of Two Worlds Treasures
Our trip to Luang Prabang was complete after our fabulous tour with White Elephant tours. We toured a Khmu and Hmong traditional hill-tribe villages, then proceeded to trek through one of Laos’ most lush and varied jungles to the mineral-rich Kuang Si Waterfalls.
Our guide, Year, was fantastic, a wealth of knowledge, and great support to our two little guys during the trek. The tour was professionally run, and lunch and water were provided. This jungle trek itself was challenging, in some places it is steep and very slippery! We went all the way to the top of Kuang Si falls where there were beautiful pools of water and man-made bridges over the top, which certainly added to the adventure and adrenalin rush for all of us.
Arriving at the base of Kuang Si was incredibly rewarding. We were so proud of our boys, so pleased with the awesome experience we were able to share, and completely awestruck by the enormity and natural beauty of the falls – simply stunning! The pools of water at the base of the falls were very inviting. Even though we did not have our swimming gear, a shoes-off paddle to relieve our dirty and sore legs and feet was well enjoyed! Erin at Loves to Travel, Stay-Eat-Do
One fantastic way of creating great travel memories with your kids is taking them onboard one of the many luxury trains that run all across India, such as the Palace on Wheels, Maharajas’ Express, the Deccan Odyssey or the Golden Chariot. These trains are nothing like other trains you might have experienced. They redefine train travel by offering world-class services that could give any five-star hotel a run for their money. The opulent design of these trains is sure to mesmerize kids and offer them a royal experience which they will always cherish.
On these trains passengers have their own luxurious cabins, a great variety of on-board restaurants and depending on the train you choose, a butler service too! What’s great is that while you sit back and revel in the glorious services offered on these trains, you don’t miss out on sightseeing too! These trains offer various itineraries which allow you to visit a several iconic tourist spots in India, including Jaipur, Agra, Goa, Mysore, and more. Altogether, choosing to take a journey onboard a luxury train of India is a complete win-win package for the kids as well as the parents! Vrushali of Couple of Journeys
One of our favorite unique family trips was Thai island hopping. What a perfect destination when you are traveling with kids, with lots of sand on the beach to play in as well as pools and oceans for swimming. It was great because the islands were mostly small which meant that exploring was minimal and it was mostly about spending time together playing in the Thai sun.
I think all kids enjoy a combination of swimming, snorkeling and sand-castle building, so we can recommend this experience for other families, however due to the very bumpy speed boat rides I wouldn’t recommend this for families with babies.
Our recommendation is to start your island hopping from Langkawi in Malaysia. From there you can catch a great speedboat to the nearby Thai island of Koh Lipe. Koh Lipe is currently our favorite Thai island, the water on Sunrise Beach is truly surreal.
From there you can hop over to Koh Kradan or Koh Mook, head over to Koh Lanta and then head to Krabi from where you can visit the popular Phi Phi Islands. Jolene at Wanderlust Storytellers
Our Alleppey houseboat tour in Kerala, India an unforgettable family trip. We booked a five-hour tour through Lakeland Cruise. Our boat was staffed with a captain to steer and chef to prepare our traditional Keralite lunch and featured an air conditioned bedroom boat, bathroom and covered deck with a large chaise lounge swing and dining table. The open deck was definitely not baby-proof, so we were fastidiously careful not to let our 20 month old daughter near the low railings. She spent most of the cruise sitting with me on the swing or retreating to the bedroom to run around.
I thought five hours might be too long when my husband booked the tour, but we loved the opportunity to relax enjoy an absolutely superb meal, watch the birds and glimpse into the lives of some of the villagers living along the river.
There was constant activity on the river banks as the villagers went about their lives – bathing or washing clothes and utensils in the water, riding bikes along the banks and working on the rice fields.
When it was time to dock, we were thoroughly relaxed and would have been happy to have another hour or two. Our Allepey Houseboat tour was the highlight of our time in Kerala and an excursion we recommend to any family visiting India. Catherine from We Go With Kids
Awesome Adventures in Europe with Kids
Arctic Finland is a beautiful country famous for snow-covered landscapes, skiing, the northern lights, friendly, open people and of course Santa Claus. But head there in the height of summer and you’re treated to a whole new set of experiences – lovely parks, forest walks, streams, lakes and inlets, tasty fresh berries and all day sun!
It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you sort out your blackout blinds, the idea of the sun dipping slowly below the horizon at 12.30am and then reappearing again just an hour or so later is simply amazing. It doesn’t even get dark, rather there’s just that wonderful post-sunset red and gold glow to keep you entertained until the new day dawns.
We spent a perfect night at the Arctic Tree House in Rovaniemi, within Finland’s Arctic Circle. The chic modern stand-alone chalets are set on the side of a hill and are very private with lovely decks in the front.
But most impressive was the full wall of glass in the living room and bedrooms that drew your gaze to the valley below. During winter the view would be spectacular as you look out on the white wilderness. During summer we got to enjoy that amazing sunset from inside and also out on the deck.
The kids were late to bed that night, but this was a very special place and a sunset that we will never forget. Kylie of Our Overseas Adventures
Our trip on the Trans Siberian Railway is one of our all time favorite family trips. Traveling from the Mongolian border to St. Petersburg, Russia was an epic train trip that allowed us to see the incredible, diverse scenery that Russia has to offer. We made stops in the friendly, fun Siberian city of Irkutsk and visited tranquil Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.
It was fun hiking the old Trans Siberian railway line and exploring the beautiful birch and larch forests. In contrast, our week in busy Moscow provided us with iconic historical attractions such as The Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral and world class museums such as the impressive Armory and the fascinating Museum of Cosmonautics.
Despite what people may think, long term train travel with kids is fun and relaxing. We enjoyed people watching, playing games, meeting our fellow travelers, and simply looking out of the window. And there is nothing like being rocked to sleep in a cozy bunk on a moving train! Sinead of Map Made Memories
One of our favorite family vacations of all time was staying at an agriturismo (working farm) in Tuscany. We booked four nights over the Easter holiday at Fattoria Corzano e Paterno, and it was a memory we will cherish forever. Our accommodations were one of the restored farmhouses on the property, and we loved its open living concept and comfortable bedrooms upstairs for everyone. There was no television or electronics, so the kids would entertain themselves chasing the farm cats and trying to welcome the owner’s dog into our home. Corzano produces olive oil, cheese, and wine, and we saw the production of each of them and had tours around the farm. Everything about this vacation was relaxing, and simply perfect. We can’t wait to return again. Kirsten
Family vacation for us is all about creating memories that will last a lifetime. Our campervan rental in Ireland offered plenty of opportunities to create those moments. The Emerald Isle is a wonderful place to explore as a family; everyone is extremely friendly and the country has much to offer from coastal cliffs to mountains and heritage sights. Traveling by campervan has the added bonus of allowing you to be closer to nature and be a lot more flexible with your travel plans.
We took a 2 week RV trip on the Wild Atlantic Way along the west coast of Ireland and the experience was just amazing. We enjoyed surfing, fishing, cycling, kayaking, golfing and many other outdoor activities. There are many campsites along the coast with all the beautiful views Ireland has to offer, but being on a campervan meant that we were more protected from the elements than if we had been in a tent. Ireland weather can be unpredictable even in the summer months so camping with a RV will be more comfortable for families with young kids. Thassia of Family Off Duty
Curious what it is like to Interrail with children? It is great and super relaxed. When traveling by car, we often arrive a bit stressed after a long journey or when driving on busy roads. Now we arrive and are ready to explore cities like Rome, Florence and Zurich.
We travelled all the way from the Sicily to the Netherlands. What they do is just drive the train onto a ferry traveling from Sicily to the mainland so you don’t need to transfer.
Our daughter also prefers the train to the car as she can walk around. Traveling by train gives plenty of time for a card game, to read or watch a movie. And there is always a toilet at hand. Did you know that if you buy an adult Interrail pass and two children under 12 travel with you for free? They only need to pay for seat reservations. So Interrail can actually be a very cost efficient way to travel trough Europe. Tikva of Gezin Op Reis
Germany is filled with castles, as there are nearly 20,000 castles dotting the German landscape. Germany has numerous roads that lead not only to fairytale castles but picturesque villages, hillside towns, and off the beaten track sites that most tourists do not know about.
There are a variety of routes that can be taken when planning a castle filled trip in Germany. The Romantic Road takes you through Neuschwanstein, the most fairytale castle in all the world. This route also hits the beautiful town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, as well as Harburg Castle. The nearly 800-mile-long castle road is a route filled with nearly 70 castles from the smallest to some of the largest and oldest in the nation. The Fairy Tale Route takes visitors to 20 different castles up until hitting the North Sea. Visiting castles in Germany is an amazing experience and one that any visitor should experience along Germany’s picturesque castle routes. Diana at The Elusive Family
Rising majestically above the picturesque town of Zermatt, Switzerland’s iconic peak makes a memorable destination for families with children of all ages. Little and big kids alike will love riding the cable cars, chairlifts and cog trains in the area.
The ride to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the most fun. At 3,883 meters above sea level, it is Europe’s highest mountain station and has snow year round. Here you can walk inside a glacier, explore beautiful ice sculptures, ski, take a snow tube ride, enjoy a bite to eat and of course, admire the incredible scenery. Beware of altitude sickness though – if you feel dizzy or weak then head back down where you’ll immediately feel better.
There are also many beautiful hikes and walks in the region. The 5-lakes hike is particularly stunning, with views of the Matterhorn the whole way and the possibility of swimming in some of the lakes. Another option is the easy short walk through Gorner Gorge lower down, but note you need to pay to enter. The town of Zermatt is also worth exploring.
And there’s no way you’ll ever forget your trip – you’ll be reminded each time you see a Toblerone chocolate! Emma at World Best Hikes
Sometimes it is hard to find a fun and unique vacation experience to take your family! One of the most unique trips we’ve taken was up to Rovaniemi, Finland to the Santa Claus Village in Lapland to visit St. Nick himself!
The Lapland region is bursting with amazing activities for the family including dog sledding, reindeer sled rides, trying to catch the elusive lights, roasting s’mores over open fires, visiting the only Arctic zoo and taking part in many of the fun outdoor winter activities such as snowmobiling and sledding.
If that isn’t enough, then get into the true spirit of Christmas at the Santa Park and Santa Claus Village. Be sure to mail postcards to friends and family with an official Arctic Circle seal and stamp. Little ones will love visiting with Santa, learning how to become an official elf and having fun adventures in the snow. Older children will delight with ice slides, going snow shoeing and riding a snow mobile in the Finnish forest. The Lapland region offers something for everyone. Chelsea of Pack More Into Life
I love genealogy, so it’s no surprise one of my favorite trips was exploring Scotland in search of Maxwell historic sites. We visited the Dumfries & Galloway region with Solway Tours and learned about family history while touring abbey ruins and a historic castle. Any family could do this trip, you just have to research a bit ahead of time. We came away from this trip with a better understanding of our roots, and an experience we will never forget. Kirsten
Where to Go in Mexico with kids
While visiting Chichen Itza with kids easily ends up on family travel bucket lists, climbing the ruins at Coba is an exceptional experience that shouldn’t be missed! The ride to the Coba ruins is easily one of the best parts of the trip. After parking, you get a chance to either rent bicycles or hire a bike taxi to take you about a mile and a half into the jungle. On a super-hot day in the Yucatan, it’s a lovely, shaded ride, and you can take stops along the way to visit various ruins.
The crown jewel of this trip and the end of your ride is Ixmoja, the tallest pre-Hispanic structure in the Yucatan. The climb up Ixmoja is steep and can be slippery at times, so you will want to take your time. The view, however, makes the climb well worth it as you enjoy panoramic views of the Mayan Jungle from 130+ feet up in the sky. For comparison, that’s over 40 feet taller than Chichen Itza! If you are looking for a unique addition to your family vacation, you can’t beat journeying into the jungle together and climbing a pyramid! Sarah at Moment Mom
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