Where should we go for offbeat, kid-friendly vacations?

Posted by
vacationing wtih kids
Photo by mrsebCC BY 2.0
My husband and I love traveling. We live on an island off the Pacific coast of Canada. My sister-in-law spent YEARS of her life as a backpacker. Now she lives in Australia with her husband and kids. We all really want to get together next Christmas for a totally off-the-beaten-path vacation.

We do have a few considerations: We don’t have a ton of money (flights will probably eat up most of our budget). We have quite the crew of kids between us, ranging from 2 years old to 11 years old. We have kids with egg allergies, gluten sensitivities, and Asperger’s, so self-catering is a must.

What are your suggestions for offbeat vacations for people with kids? –Emillie

Traveling Homies! What are your tips and go-to locations for when you’re traveling with a brood?

Comments on Where should we go for offbeat, kid-friendly vacations?

  1. Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines…basically where you can take advantage of the exchange rate. Southeast Asia is probably your best bet, yeah. I live in the Philippines and I can vouch for the fact that there are certain areas that are tourist-friendly. You just have to plan ahead.

  2. Im also living on a strange little island in the Canadian pacific (also with family down under!!) and I can’t wait to see the suggestions people have!! We haven’t tried to travel with our little one yet but are planning a trip to Alberta…. 5 Month old on a road trip, this could get interesting…

    • I’ve done a lot of traveling with my first kid… including moving overseas when he was 18 months. He is a pretty easy-going guy. My second child is a handful… and that makes a difference. We did a pretty similar trip with my first. When he was 3 months old, we drove from Vancouver up to Jasper and over to Calgary, then back through Nelson.

      We just planned our stops so that we did most of our driving while he was asleep. I sat in the back and played with him when he was awake.

  3. Is a camping road trip offbeat? Maybe somewhere more southern since it will be around Christmas time. Load up a camper, pack up the kids, and hit the road! Plan ahead to know what sites you’ll stop at each night, and you can plan all your own food!
    Kids can experience tons of time outdoors in nature; hiking, exploring, swimming, tree climbing…and all with the added bonus of no ‘normal’ toys and activities they’re used to at home.

  4. Wherever you go, rent a house, or at least get a long term stay hotel room.

    And don’t try so hard to be ‘offbeat’. Rather, try to go to certain places outside the tourist season.

  5. My parents took us to Malaysia when I was 15 and my little sisters were 9 and 10. We didn’t stay in flash hotels or anything, we travelled around, stayed cheap, ate locally. It was amazing. Everyone was very friendly and travelling with us kids was no problem. In fact my sisters who look like twins were a huge hit with the locals, blond, blue eyes, freckles, they stood out so much. Don’t be afraid of the language barrier, most people speak English if you are worried and there are some incredible experiences there. We went and saw the organutans, visited some incredible caves, we even climbed Mt Kinabalu.

    You could also try New Zealand, there is just so much stuff to do there. The place is a eco-wonderland. Especially if you like walking, you can swim, you can go fishing, the accommodation is cheap (at least from an Australian’s perspective) and it is just beautiful.

    The Pacific islands are always good, so many accommodation options and lots of kids clubs and stuff, swimming, snorkelling and surfing.

  6. Indonesiaaaa! The plummeting Rupiah means that Indonesia is cheaper than ever, plus (starting this month!) Americans and Canadians get FREE VISAS! There are amazing places all over Indonesia, although Bali is probably the easiest if you’re traveling with kids. A few months ago I rented an amazing private three bedroom villa (with full staff, swimming pool, etc…) in the heart of Ubud for around $150 USD per night. There’s an endless amount of stuff to do in Ubud, kids will LOVE it, and the granola-vibes of Ubud mean that catering to special dietary needs is no problem. (There’s vegan and gluten free food EVERYWHERE.)

  7. If your rellies live in Australia, why not explore Down Under?! Might be biased since I’m an aussie, but our country is so big there are so many amazing places to visit, like the Kimberleys or the Great Barrier Reef. For Americans, the exchange rate will make it cheaper and most places will be able to accomodate your families dietary/other needs easily. You could roadtrip and camp if thats your style, or make a base somewhere from which to explore.

  8. Maine! Portland is crazy fun and awesome with kids (and affordable, and easy to navigate), plus even an hour away from the city is some super-manageable, yet thoroughly legitimate wilderness. Sebago Lake area has great camping, hiking, kayaking/canoeing/etc… and just a bit further north gets you to Acadia National Park, Boothbay Harbor, and tons of other small and lovely towns with sprawling, sometimes untouched nature all around. We have a thriving brewing scene throughout the state, and some serious restaurants all over (even hiding out in the middle of nowhere), so there is really something for everyone. I’ve lived here for almost a decade, and feel like I’m discovering new, exciting things to do every month. Bonus? It’s all EASY with kids!

    • I’ve done this for vacation before and it was awesome! Though the OP said they’re looking to go around Christmas, and because I’m curious for myself 🙂 what would you suggest for a winter vacation?

      • I live in the Greater Boston area… About an hour’s drive south of Portland. Everything is so compact here in New England that the landscape dramatically changes very quickly outside of the “big” cities. The fact that there are four distinct seasons means there’s always something to do all year ’round.
        I know we are in the opposite direction from your Aussie relatives, but if you can make it to this side of the country, you’ll find something for everyone in the family!
        History: homes built before the American Revolution; Museums: Boston has some world-class museums for all ages, Ocean: Cape Cod, Boston Harbor, deep-sea fishing, whale watches, Maine/NH beaches… Lobsta and Clam Chowda! Lakes: sailing, swimming, fishing, ice-fishing, kayaking; Wilderness: get so lost that Search & Rescue has to find you! Snow: our mountains are smaller than other places in the world, but our VT/NH/ME ski resorts wouldn’t know it! Our snow sports are awesome just the same… And we ALWAYS have snow! Autumn colors: people come from around the world to see the vibrant colors on our mountains! Big-City bustle: Boston, MA, Portland, Manchester, NH and Burlington, VT; little quaint B&Bs just a short drive away. Pro-sports champions: we have a couple of trophies!
        I agree, this is a great place to start your amazing adventure!

  9. I don’t have any one location to suggest. But I highly recommend looking into Airbnb wherever your travels take you. There are a lot of listings for use of the entire home, and you would be able to cater to your family’s dietary needs.

  10. Road tripping the Southwest is awesome. You could make stops in San Diego, Vegas, Sedona, and maybe somewhere in Utah. All places that would be easy with the food restrictions. Camp in the desert, drive through the mountains, play in the Colorado River.

Join the Conversation