Planning a trip around the world can be exhilarating: as you spin the globe romantic, mystical and remote destinations beckon with dreamy promise of exotic experience - Nepal; Timbuktu; Lebanon; Indonesia!
However, eliminating non-child-friendly destinations is a reality check that can leave a long weekend at the beach closest to home as the only option!
We considered a trip to Japan - but then a tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown devastated the country; our focus switched to north Africa until the Arab Spring revolutions convulsed Egypt, Syria and Libya; Lebanon, Morocco and Israel tempted until terrorist bombings ruled them out.
Probably more dangerous still, the malarial mosquito is a real risk for little kids especially if you don't want to pump them full of toxic drugs. So, the lure of diving with whale sharks in the Philippines and saving the orangutans in Indonesia is postponed to a future time.
When you also rule out countries where travel is just too painful to be fair for little kids (hiking in Nepal; South Pacific sailing) the challenge is to find a child-friendly itinerary which still has the variety and excitement of world travel.
So it was we ended up with….
- Camping across Western Europe: safe, manageable but a lot of driving miles.
- Trip across the U.S. east and south: family friendly but again, large distances to cover.
- Japan!: Nuclear reactor cooling down (though we kept south to be safe) and a country that can use our tourist cash as it rebuilds.
- South Korea: Diverse, safe, user-friendly and not widely visited.
- New Zealand: Stunningly beautiful and family friendly parks and barbecue spots everywhere.
- Australia: Sunny beaches and familiar culture but scary poisonous critters to avoid.
- Thailand: Asia fun-style with great tourist infrastructure, lovely people and no malaria in the south.
- Sri Lanka: Cool varied culture, civil war in the past, a bit like India-lite!
The Bottom Line: The world can still be your oyster when travelling with toddlers if you prepare properly. Important things to consider:
- The security situation of the countries you visit
- The level of culture shock that the kids (and you) can handle
- The diseases and deadly things that live in the countries you will visit.
Costs are higher when traveling with delicate little ones but be assured, there are wonderful, safe, exciting destinations waiting out there for you and your family to discover together!