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As an avid traveller, I was never going to give up on my travels when a baby came along! I ignored the comments from other mums telling me that it wasn’t clean enough or that it would disrupt baby’s routine. I disregarded the remarks about how babies can be difficult on long flights or how I will have too much luggage with a small child in tow. And don’t even get me started on the ‘know it alls’ who had neither had a child themselves OR travelled outside of an all-inclusive bubble who tried to tell me that I couldn’t travel with a baby!
So two years later with a toddler who has been on 22 flights and gained ten stamps in her passport, I would like to share with you my top destinations to travel with a baby.
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Costa Rica with a baby
Our first proper adventure as a family of three was to Costa Rica and this was the perfect first destination to travel with a baby!
We had considered a few different places, but as baby Isla was only four months old we wanted somewhere we could travel slowly and where there were not too many restrictions faced when travelling with children.
We travelled in Costa Rica with baby Isla for a month, staying in Air b’n’b accommodations along the way. This gave us plenty of time and flexibility to explore and to relax. Travelling with a baby can definitely be hard work at times and Costa Rica was the perfect destination to allow us to have the down-time that we need as parents of a four month old baby!
Here is a summary of the things that we did with baby Isla-
-Searching for sloths in the cloud forests of Monteverde
-Swimming in thermal jungle waters in Arenal
-Soaking up the beach vibes in Montezuma
-Playing in the waves in Samara
-Looking for turtles in Tortuguero
-Learning about The Caribbean culture in Puerto Viejo
-Relaxing on the beach in Montezuma
Costa Rica with a baby was a great choice. The country is generally set up well for family travel, although we did find it a bit expensive. For more information on our trip to Costa Rica with a baby and our itinerary, visit this post- Costa Rica with a baby
You might also be interested in my post- ‘How we can afford family travel so often (and how you could too)‘
Sri Lanka with a baby
By the time we visited Sri Lanka with a baby she was nine months old and we decided to have a slightly busier itinerary than we had in Costa Rica. We travelled around the country on a tailor-made tour that we had organised in partnership with a local tour operator (we always like to book ‘local’ if possible to ensure that our money stays in the country). We also used Booking.com to find some great deals on hotels.
Whilst this was a tiring trip, baby Isla was constantly entertained and stimulated the entire time. The Sri Lankan people were so accommodating and luckily she loves rice and curry!
Here are some of the things that we found were perfect activities for a baby-
-Visiting an elephant orphanage in Pinnawala
-Walking (and crawling) around working Hindu temples at Anuradhapura
-Taking in the stunning views from the top of Sigiriya Rock
-Exploring the ancient city of Polonnaruwa
-Attending a Hindu festival in Kandy
-Exploring the tea plantains in Nuwara Eliya
-Climbing into the clouds at Adam’s Peak
-Searching for leopards, elephants and crocodiles at Yala National Park
-Holding baby turtles in Bentota
Sri Lanka is a great place to travel with a baby because everybody is so accommodating! It is worth noting that the country isn’t set up for family travel in the way that European countries are- I had to travel in the car with Isla on my lap at times and most hotels did not have cots or highchairs. Whilst I would absolute recommend Sri Lanka with as one of my top destinations to travel with a baby, you do need to prepare for these things. For more information on our itinerary and why we loved our trip to Sri Lanka, visit this post- Sri Lanka with a baby.
You might also be interested in my post- ‘5 must-have baby travel items (and they’re not what you would expect)‘
Nepal with a baby
Nepal is not the first destination that comes to mind for most people when consider the best destinations to travel with a baby. However, I found it to be a very welcoming and baby-loving country. Just like when we visited Sri Lanka with a baby, Isla was the centre of attention throughout our trip to Nepal at age 14 months amongst the Nepali locals.
Due to limited time we only managed to visit Kathmandu on this trip, but we are desperate to go back again and explore more of the country! Kathmandu itself, however, had more than enough to stimulate baby Isla!
Here are some of the things that we did-
-Exploring the colourful shopping district of Thamel
-Running around the huge Boudhanath temple
-Looking for monkeys at Swayambhunath Stupa
-Meeting some traditionally dressed Sadhus at Durbar Square
-Hiking through the hills at Nargakot
-Relaxing in the Garden of Dreams
Whilst some people advised me not to go to Kathmandu with a baby because the roads were too uneven for a pram or because there was too much pollution, I was really glad that we went. Baby Isla learnt so much and there were so many different things to stimulate her senses from the exotic smells of incense to the spicy foods that she tried, the people who looked different from what she was used to and the sights and sounds of the city. For more information on our trip to Kathmandu with a baby visit this post- Kathmandu with a baby.
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One of my favourite destinations to travel with a baby is Canada. We visited Canada when baby Isla was 17 months old and she had a brilliant time!
Compared to Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Nepal, Canada is much more catered for babies and children. Whilst, for us, this is not a pre-requisite for choosing a family travel destination, I know that this will impact some people’s choices! There was no need to change nappies on restaurant tables, like we did in Costa Rica, there was no need to travel with baby on our laps, like we did in Sri Lanka and there was definitely no smog to contend with, like there was in Nepal!
Canada is well catered for family travel, from accommodation options through to catering. Restaurants always had high chairs, there were playgrounds all over the place and most places had children’s meals. If you’re not sure if a place is family-friendly or not I recommend you take a look at Trip Advisor and see what other travellers had to say.
In comparison, hubby and I preferred Costa Rica and Sri Lanka (he didn’t come along to Nepal, we travelled with grandma on this occasion). This is because we like to experience different cultures and we love warm weather! As the culture and weather in Canada was not so different from the UK, we found this to be less of an adventure for us adults. Baby Isla, however, loved it!
Here are a few of the things that we did during our month-long travels through Canada-
-Canoeing on our own private lake just outside of Vancouver
-Fruit picking in the forests of rural Vancouver
-Dancing around totem poles on Vancouver Island
-Whale watching on the ferry to Vancouver Island
-Taking a train through what used to be one of the biggest mines in the world and panning for gold in Squamish
-Riding the Sea to Sky Gondola and climbing across giant hanging bridges near Whistler
-Mountain biking in Whistler
-Playing on the many lake beaches
-Riding a horse and cart and feeding the animals at Historic Hat Creek Ranch
-Searching for bears on our many forest hikes
-Visiting hidden forest waterfalls in Wells Grey National Park
-Swimming in the hot springs of Jasper National Park
-Donning our winter clothes when visiting the freezing cold Anthabasca Glacier
-Looking for Caribou in Banff National Park
-Exploring the famous lakes, parks and caves throughout Jasper and Banff
-Visiting a grizzly bear sanctuary
-Riding the Sky Luge at Calgary Olympic Park
-Bouncing to our hearts content at the Big Fun Play Centre in Calgary
Canada is a great destination to travel with a baby and also with older kids too as there is so much to do!
I recommend that you purchase a good baby carrier as much of the country is not pram-friendly (we have tried a few out and our favourite is the Tula carrier- you can find the baby and toddler version on Amazon here). Also, take some entertainment for the car as some of the travel distances are quite long (we have recently bought Isla a kids Amazon Fire tablet which is PERFECT for long journeys- there are some pretty good offers on Amazon- click here to look).
For more information on our trip to Canada with a baby visit this post- Canada with a baby and a baby bump
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My last recommendation for destinations to travel with a baby is South Africa. I have seen a lot of people question whether South Africa is safe to travel with a baby and whether it is baby-friendly and my answer to both is ‘absolutely, yes!’.
Of course, you do need to remember that South Africa does have a pretty high crime rate and take the necessary precautions (lock your car doors, switch on the alarm in your accommodation), but at no point during our trip did we ever feel unsafe.
For us, this was another Air b’n’n trip, which made travel easy and convenient.
We travelled to South Africa when Isla was 22 months old and it has been our favourite family travel destination so far! South Africa offers the perfect blend of developing meets developed country. There are cultural differences and interesting histories to learn about for us adults, whilst there are still the familiar foods and language that baby Isla is used to.
The people in South Africa were super friendly and accommodating for family travel and there was so much cool stuff to do! Whilst Canada has the playgrounds, kids meals in restaurants and bouncy castles, we felt that South Africa has the real adventure!
Here are some of the things that we did during our 10 days in South Africa-
-Learning about the histories of Apartheid at Robben Island
-Taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain
-Taking in the atmosphere at the Victoria and Albert waterfront (we are talking giant chess games, African drummers, playgrounds, big wheels, dancers dressed as skeletons, candy floss stalls and more!)
-Penguin spotting at Boulders Beach
-Playing on the deserted beaches at Table Mountain National Park
-Lagoon swimming in Mossel Bay
-Playing in the shallow waters at Knysna
-Learning about the big lions in the animal refuge
-Hiking across hanging bridges in Tsitsikamma National Park
-Elephant spotting and safari drives in Addo Elephant Park
-Running down giant sand dunes in Colchester
-Feeding ostriches in Oudtschoorn
-Cage shark diving in Gansbaai
-Collecting shells on the secluded beaches of Gansbaai
South Africa really is a fantastic travel destination with a baby or children because there is so much to do and so much to stimulate their senses! For more details on our trip and tips and advice on finding appropriate accommodation and the unusual requirement to pack your kids’ birth certificates for immigration, visit this post- South Africa with a baby (+ a baby bump)
Top Destinations to Travel with a Baby
There are so many fantastic places that you could choose to travel with a baby or a young family, this post just provides my favourites, based on our two years of family travel.
Of course, there are plenty of beach destinations and all-inclusive holidays that are well catered for families, but I’m guessing if that’s what you like you probably haven’t made it to the end of this post! We are a family who love to experience different cultures, we enjoy active pursuits and we, of course, love adventure!
For more on our family travel adventures follow us on Facebook where I post updates, tips and travel hacks that I have learnt from our own personal experiences!
Psssst! By the way, I have recently designed a flight log book to allow your kids to record all of the journeys! If you’re looking for a special way to record your children’s travel memories then head over to Amazon to take a look!