Written by Kim Patterson for BabyPost.com
It's a lot of fun to get away with the family, but before you can hop a plane and kick back you have to figure out where to go. Not every get-away is kid-friendly, so you'll want to do your research and plan ahead. You can find family-oriented activities to do just about anywhere, but there are some destinations that are particularly well set up for families with young kids. Here are some ideas.
This is one of the most obvious choices with its Disney offerings, but Orlando has more to offer to vacationing families including tons of other attractions and lots of family-sized condos and houses to rent (check out VBRO for options). For on-site Disney resorts there are accommodations for every budget: Deluxe Polynesian Resort; mid-range Port Orleans Resort; value Pop Century Resort.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
With sun, sand, amazing ruins to explore and several beautiful all-inclusive resorts in the area catering to families, Riviera Maya is the perfect sun basking family vacation. For luxury family all-inclusive visit Azul Sensatori. The resort takes care of all the essentials (they provide cribs, change tables, strollers and high chairs) and even has a playroom designed by Fisher Price!
Lush landscapes and spectacular scenery combine to make Kauai a fantastic family adventure spot. Hiking, kayaking, sailing and cave exploration are all popular tourist activities on the 'Garden Isle'. Check out family favourite Marriott Kauai Resort.
Related: Walt Disney World on a Budget
West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Canada
Theme rooms, an amusement park, water park, ice rink, movie theatres, mini-golf course and of course shopping (among other things) - all housed under the roof of the largest mall in North America. The mall offers two options for accommodations: Fantasyland Hotel and the West Edmonton Mall Inn.
Prince Edward Island
Check out Anne of Green Gables' stomping grounds in the charming province of PEI. With its themed businesses, stunning beaches and rolling hills you'll feel as if you've been transported into the story. Stay at the charming Kindred Spirits Country Inn and Cottages in Cavendish.
Niagara Falls, Canada & USA
Whether you check it out from the Canadian side, the American side or both, the falls and surrounding area are an impressive spot for families to explore. Where to stay: Great Wolf Lodge caters to families with an indoor water park, fun activities and is located minutes from downtown Niagara Falls Canada.
San Diego, California
The laid-back vibe, famous zoo and incredible food come together to make San Diego a wonderful choice for families looking for a casual and fun trip. Enjoy breathtaking views, surf, sand or just lounge by the pool at the family fave Pacific Terrace Hotel.
Fantastic prices, waterfalls, volcanoes, exotic animals and lots of side-trips for thrill seekers are just a few of the reasons why Costa Rica is a great vacation spot for families. Hotel Villa Belmar in Playa Hermosa is an inexpensive, but great family hotel. And the calm Pacific waters in Playa Hermosa make it enjoyable for kids of all ages.
With loads of amazing resorts for families, the Jamaica is a good choice for sun- and sand-loving parents and kids. The sparkling white beaches and water sports are a major draw. Looking for a little R&R time during your holiday? Stay at the parent favourite Franklyn D Resort where every child is assigned a personal nanny for the duration of their stay.
Enjoying a break from entertaining your toddler on a flight is normal. Feeling comfortable when their neck droops and contorts while sleeping is not. Carry on a cute neck rest and you’ll both get some ‘rest’ enroute. $25.99, available at <a href="http://well.ca/products/skip-hop-zoo-neck-rest_56843.html" target="_hplink">well.ca</a>
There are no guarantees in life. Except that wherever you go, laundry will follow—particularly if you are travelling with a newborn or an active toddler. (Is there any other kind?) Pack a portable ‘sink’ that will allow you to soak items that are soiled—anytime, anywhere. $15, available at <a href="http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/HikingCamping/WaterBottles/WaterBottles/PRD~5010-921/seattle-sports-pocket-bucket.jsp" target="_hplink">mec.ca</a>
No one would ever call a mother a lightweight when it comes to hard work. Her stroller, however, is another story. When push comes to shove, we see the appeal of a one-handed fold-up stroller under nine pounds that can go the distance. $159.99, available at <a href="http://www.lussobaby.ca/Maclaren-2012-Volo-Umbrella-Baby-Stroller-in-Jelly-Bean-Green-WDN01032.htm" target="_hplink">lussobaby.ca</a>
He’s a standup guy, which is why your little guy, or girl, can be trusted for a turn with the iPad as an in-flight activity. The iGuy stands up securely, so nothing gets shattered—including your nerves. $41.59, available at <a href="http://www.amazon.ca/Speck-Products-SPK-A1227-iGuy-Mango/dp/B007JGBD22" target="_hplink">amazon.ca</a>
Like VHS tapes and travel agents, the standalone plug-in bottle warmer receptacle will soon be obsolete. Keep liquids lukewarm—or warmer—whenever you need to with Yoomi’s portable bottle warmer. $85.98, available at <a href="http://www.amazon.ca/Yoomi-8-oz-Bottle-Warmer/dp/B005C1APZW" target="_hplink">amazon.ca</a>
You already have a diaper bag—but is it made by uber-stylish Storksak? And does it come with an insulated bottle warmer and change pad making it perfect for travelling? Your spouse may see it differently but this just made our ‘mandatory must-have’ list for travelling with kids. $225, available at <a href="http://www.pamperedtot.ca/Storksak_Diaper_Bag_Olivia_p/storksakolivia.htm" target="_hplink">pamperedtot.ca</a>
Parenting experts tell us that eventually we need to let our kids go. This philosophy is best not applied to your 3 year old in the middle of Orlando International Airport. Give them something they’ll want to hold onto—and it’ll help keep them close. $29.95, available at <a href="http://www.safetysuperstore.com/product/19994/hold_on_handles_single_handle/" target="_hplink">safetysuperstore.com</a>
A portable, breathable, lightweight playpen that also doubles as a travel cot for naps and nighttime means you can put baby anywhere you want. (Yes, even in the corner). $170, available at <a href="https://www.polkadotpond.ca/Storefront/main_pages/browseProd.php?pid=1256#.USUhuKVtijI" target="_hplink">polkadotpond.ca</a>
Need a hand? Of course you do—you’re a mom, which means you’re carrying at least three or more of the following, simultaneously: a child, a stroller, a car seat, a toy, a coat, an electronic device, a purse, a diaper bag, a ticket, a credit card, an itinerary, a sweater, a pair of shoes, a balloon, etc. These wipes attach to anything and open with the press of a button. Trust us, you can handle it. $10, available at <a href="http://www.amazon.ca/Skip-Hop-Swipe-Baby-Wipes/dp/B001LF3YQK" target="_hplink">amazon.ca</a>
Trying to control the volume with kids can be nearly impossible, but technology remains one step ahead of parents again, with volume limiting headphones that allow kids to control the sound, up to a limit. If only we could do the same from time to time. $34.87, available at <a href="http://www.amazon.ca/JKIDS-BLK-FFP-Volume-Limiting-Headphones-Kindle/dp/B007VL90RA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_ce_2" target="_hplink">amazon.ca</a>
You know from experience that no two babies are alike. The same goes for seats. Which is why this fabric highchair is our constant travel companion for kids who are able to securely sit upright (approx. from 8 months to 2½ years). $43.99, available at <a href="http://www.raspberrykids.com/totseat-travel-highchair-available-in-3-colours.html" target="_hplink">raspberrykids.com</a>
Leave emptying the contents of your purse to the professionals (airport screeners and toddlers). No need to search desperately through your bag for the bib, spoon and washcloth, come mealtime—they all come packed together in Bibagago’s hidden pocket. $30, available at <a href="http://www.bibagogo.com/cake--boots.html" target="_hplink">bibagogo.com</a>
No matter what your brand of bottles, or breast pump, they all need to be sterilized, which can be challenging in certain ports of call. Keep microwaveable bags on hand (for example, Dr. Brown’s) to keep things clean in any country. $7.99, available at <a href="http://well.ca/products/dr-browns-microwave-steam_41401.html" target="_hplink">well.ca</a>
A versatile utensil that utilizes the principal of minimal equipment to handily feed your ravenous child on the go—the Boon Squirt keeps things simple. $9.99, available at <a href="http://www.cheekymonkey.ca/BoonSquirt.htm" target="_hplink">cheekymonkey.ca</a>
Wave goodbye to motion sickness with Sea-Band’s drug-free nausea-relief wearing option. Created with the concept of acupuncture pressure in mind, a plastic stud pushes gently again a point in the wrist to mitigate kids’ (and adults’) motion malady. $13.99, available at <a href="http://well.ca/products/sea-band-child_30239.html" target="_hplink">well.ca</a>
If you’re debating the necessity of bringing car seats because of the aggravation associated with shipping them, it’s time for a priority check—and perhaps the purchase of gogo Kidz Travelmate. It turns the seat into a stroller until it ships out on the cargo conveyor belt. $104.99, available at <a href="http://www.crocodilebaby.com/p-1749-gogo-kidz-travelmate.aspx" target="_hplink">crocodilebaby.com</a>
A Canadian-made, portable, organic foam playpad perfect for putting baby on anytime you’re going to be sitting around for a while. Like, say, the airport carpet during a three-hour boarding delay. Bon voyage! $74.99, available at <a href="http://golarolla.com/shop/portablebabypadorganic" target="_hplink">golarolla.com</a>
This kind of elephant we’re happy to acknowledge in any room. Boon’s multi-snack compartment will keep them busy during travel, eating a variety of snacks sealed into one container. $17.99, available at <a href="http://www.booninc.com/products/Trunk" target="_hplink">booninc.com</a>
Since they make a fortune off realigning you after a road trip, your chiropractor won’t appreciate this suggestion. A portable activity seat will significantly lessen the amount of time you’re wrenching around to pick up dropped food and crayons that rolled behind the seat. $24.95, available at <a href="http://www.safetysuperstore.com/product/5106/snack_play_travel_tray/" target="_hplink">safetysuperstore.com</a>
It’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality while travelling, but you can pack a Medibag that will cover many of the bases and contains 117 kid-friendly first aid items such as bandages, anti-itch and antibiotic ointments. $29.96, available at <a href="http://well.ca/products/me4kidz-medibag-family-first-aid_49645.html" target="_hplink">well.ca</a>
Getting the nighttime light just right in a hotel room or at the in-laws’ can require some creative thinking—something that may be in short supply after a long flight. Pop in a Tykelight that gradually changes colour and it just may soothe them to sleep in a strange place. $14.95, available at <a href="http://www.safetysuperstore.com/product/14020/tykelight_wallmate_led/" target="_hplink">safetysuperstore.com</a>
Capture their thoughts—or just a bunch of indecipherable scribbles—as they travel. Whatever their ability, kids ages 3 and up will love their own easy-carry art set, great for use on laps, seat trays and tables. $20, available at <a href="http://www.qhousekids.com/robot-artist-journal.html" target="_hplink">qhousekids.com</a>
Your baby is perfect. The KidCo Go Pod comes pretty darn close. Highly portable, adjustable (yet secure), designed with sanitary (a floor mat) and usability (loops to hold their favourite toys in place) needs in mind. This was most definitely invented by a mother. $59.99, available at <a href="http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=11892144" target="_hplink">toysrus.ca</a>
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