June 21, 2024

Marline Travel Sea

Fly to a New World, Set Foot on Every Adventure

Kid-friendly vacations by the parents who survived them

5 min read

There’s travelling, and then there’s travelling with kids.

Let the parents who’ve done the work and survived to tell the tale help you plan your next family getaway. From waffles in Europe to selfies in New York, there’s a family trip in your future that your children will remember and you might actually enjoy, too.

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Writer Heather Greenwood Davis and her son Cam in New York.Heather Greenwood Davis/The Globe and Mail

On Heather Greenwood Davis’ mother-son visit to Manhattan, she experienced a miracle. Her teenaged son, Cameron, asked a stranger to take a photograph of them – together. Parents of teenagers will recognize this unicorn of a moment, she writes.

Read more about Greenwood Davis’ trip with her teenage son here. Plus, her tips for travelling with a toddler here.

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Julia Hayhurst has fond memories of taking her children to MauiMichelle Drevlow/Handout

One of the best vacations Gayle MacDonald ever had was not somewhere exotic. It did not involve air travel, fancy hotels or five-star meals. Instead, it was a road trip she took with her parents and two younger brothers to St. Petersburg, Fla., in a monstrous green beast of a car, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala. That got her thinking … what is it about certain holidays that makes them so memorable? Even more important, how do we recreate them so that our own children have vacation memories that will last a lifetime too? Travel experts say the most memorable summer escapes are planned with T.L.C., instead of a big budget.

Read more advice from experts for a memorable family vacation here.

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In Ghent, Belgium, we had one of those magical travel moments you couldn’t possibly plan. We spent a solid half-hour with the kids shrieking and bouncing around the bubbles while we fed euros into the hat of the man making them.Shannon Proudfoot/The Globe and Mail

The secret to travelling with children is just like regular life: keep things simple, Shannon Proudfoot writes. She had no interest in spending a hefty budget on a “kid-friendly” trip that would maroon her family at some screechy, sun-baked amusement park, and was determined to recapture a pre-child sense of discovery, with lots of necessary adjustments for nine-, six- and three-year-old travel companions

Read more about the planning stage, how to make it work in the moment and her one big regret here.

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Carly Weeks and son take a turn on the iconic Mad Tea Party ride at Magic Kingdom.Handout

Carly Weeks quickly realized planning a trip to Disney World has a steep learning curve. Navigating the Disney app, figuring out what parks to go to and in what order, making reservations, narrowing down attractions and rides to a few must-do items and organizing a bunch of just-in-case-everything-is-booked backups was just the beginning. But once her family passed through those iconic gates, they slowly started to get why Disney has such a loyal following. For the kids, the attraction was immediate. For the adults, the magic is that it’s a place where you can relive parts of your childhood.

Read more about the trip, including some pro tips for snagging last-minute cancellations, here.

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Todd Babiak and his family choose to explore Vietnam on their last family vacation before his oldest daughter leaves for school.Todd Babiak/Handout

Todd Babiak writes that one way to reduce a parent’s panic about children growing up and leaving home is to book a holiday, drawing the family away from phones, teenage dramas and middle-aged corporate life. In Vietnam, the family surfed together, hiked together and connected on their last family vacation before their oldest left for university.

Read more about the journey from pre-trip research to long-lasting memories here.

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Ian Merringer and son in Buckskin Gulch slot canyon, Utah.Ian Merringer/The Globe and Mail

Teenagers are hard to impress – perhaps now more than ever. In the war for their attention, take them somewhere no amount of pixels on a smudged screen will ever live up to, writes Ian Merringer. The startling landscapes of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona are enough to straighten any neck. Autumn is the ideal time to visit. By sacrificing four days of school at Thanksgiving, you can carve out time for a 10-day, 1,300-kilometre circuit that gets the best of the southwest.

Check out Merringer’s itinerary of hiking and biking that will make TikTok look lame, here.

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Get ready to get wet on the Smoky Mountain River Rampage ride at Dollywood in Tennessee. The park opens for the 2024 season in March.Dollywood

Marsha Lederman headed to Dollywood expecting a high level of cheesiness. Instead, her group of five travellers (three adults, two teens) had one of the best theme park experiences of their lives.

Read more about how to make the most out of the theme park as moderate fans here.

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Evan at the wheel while Mark, Val and Frank keep an eye out for the next lock.Diane Selkirk/Handout

For a pretty independent and intrepid group of seven friends and family, canal boating seemed like the perfect way to reconnect with each other and with travelling. We liked the idea of doing everything on our own schedule (from breakfast to exploring to UNO matches) but still wanted the support, guidance and cleaning services of a charter company, writes Diane Selkirk.

Follow the route of their adventure here.

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Villa la Capella, Tuscany.Villa la Capella/Handout

Villa La Cappella is a perfect Tuscan villa for whiling away the days

Just outside Montespertoli, amongst the castles, olive groves and wineries, a Canadian-Italian couple turned a 13th-century home into a welcoming bed and breakfast that is kid-friendly. It served as the perfect respite after chasing a toddler through the crowded cobblestoned streets of nearby San Gimignano on an afternoon excursion.

Read more about the soothing power of their destination here.

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Natalie Preddie admires the statue of BB King at BB King Centre in Indianola, Miss.Handout

From the Mississippi Delta in the northwest to the capital, Jackson, farther south, there are people and organizations all over the Mississippi celebrating the Black strength, resilience and joy that come with a painful past. Natalie Preddie’s road trip helped her discover the strength of Black camaraderie, tasty smoky barbecued ribs and intoxicating music.

Read more about the educational road trip here.

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The five-star kid-friendly Maritim Paradise Blue with its grand marble lobby, indoor pool and spa.Handout

Bulgaria is the surprising kid-friendly beach destination you need to discover

Visitors to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast can choose from dozens of beaches and hundreds of resort hotels: head to Albena for younger families and older couples or Golden Sands for students and active families. The beaches of Albena, are 6 km long and 150 m deep at the northern end of the Bulgarian shore.

Read more about what Bulgaria’s beaches have to offer travelling families here.


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