New parents sometimes assume that a jet-setting lifestyle is off limits after baby. Just the idea of taking a rambunctious child out to lunch in a Parisian restaurant is enough to induce a panic attack. Maybe the thought of taking your kids on multiple connecting flights to Thailand makes you sweat. These anxieties discourage parents to venturing far from home. This is unfortunate, because family holidays are so beneficial to children.
“[Holidays] enhance self-esteem, sending a child the psychological message: ‘You have my full attention. I delight in you. I delight in being with you,” writes Dr. Margo Sunderland in The Telegraph. “What is less widely known is that holidays can also advance brain development in children.”
Taking a vacation with our children exercises both the brain’s PLAY system (building a sandcastle, a piggyback ride, a pillow fight) and the brain’s SEEKING system, which is activated when you explore a new place together. These brain systems are like muscles that need be regularly exercised.
Traveling with your kids may not sound like a “vacation,” but it benefits their development in so many ways that it could almost be considered necessary. Don’t limit your kids or yourself. Here are our top picks for kid-friendly international destinations to explore with your children:
International Destinations for Kid-Friendly Holidays
1. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is a wonderful city to explore with young children. The city is walkable if you’re pushing little ones in a stroller (be mindful of cobblestone streets) or kids can ride on buses for free. Stockholm is home to world-class art museums as well as Junibacken, a museum dedicated to children’s author Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking), and The National Museum of Science and Technology which is filled with exhibits that are designed to engage kids. The city packed with parks, playgrounds, bridges and boats. When you’re dining out, you will almost always see other families dining too as most restaurants are kid-friendly.
2. Bali, Indonesia
This may not be the romantic Bali vacation you had envisioned, but Bali is also a wonderful destination for families. Many of the resorts in Bali offer packages that include events and activities to entertain little ones while parents enjoy some alone time. There are also plenty of family adventures to enjoy: surfing, hiking in the mountains, museums, biking, sailing, wildlife and elephant safaris, and playing on the beach of course.
For a unique experience, the Bali Equestrian Center has garnered recognition with its 5-star international rating and certified international instructors. Avid riders, enthusiasts, and tourists can enjoy pony rides, lessons, village tours, and beach rides. The facility also has a beautiful restaurant, pool, and playground for a full-day of fun!
3. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Similar to Stockholm, Amsterdam is another kid-friendly cosmopolitan environment to consider. In every corner of the city you will find stunning parks and playgrounds with wide open spaces, children’s museums as well as public educational workshops, activities, and events for children all year round. Kids also enjoy being able to bike everywhere with mom and dad.
4. Ko Samet, Thailand
The small island of Ko Samet is a 3-hour drive and a 30-minute ferry ride from Bangkok. Parents who travel to this getaway often speak of the balance. The resorts here don’t necessarily market themselves as “kid-friendly,” it’s just woven into their business. You will frequently find children’s play areas set up near dining spots, so the kids can amuse themselves while you finish your meal. Treats are served to children at the resort bars so you can enjoy a tropical cocktail in relative peace. It’s a romantic destination for two that you can enjoy with your entire family without a “Disney World” feel.
Children are welcome just about everywhere on this naturally stunning island, including rustic pubs and quiet B&Bs. Bed and breakfasts in the more rural areas of Ireland are typically run by families with children of their own, so you shouldn’t feel the need to restrict yourself to brand name hotels in the larger cities. Having the freedom to travel around the country with children is a wonderful option for families who don’t enjoy being cooped up in a resort.
For more tips for travel and fun activities for kids, visit Angelibebe at https://www.angelibebe.com/blog/.